Friday, August 21, 2009

Grotesque Decision of the UK Censor

Because it was just banned by the UK censor, Grotesque is getting plenty of press right now.

It was released in Japan earlier this year, and hit the gray market circuit pretty quickly.

Some scribes have talked about it being "influenced by Saw and Hostel". Let's back up a bit, shall we folks?

James Wan's Saw ('04) was influenced primarily by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ('75), but many other films are referenced also. Hostel ('05) was influenced by a shitload of films including Chainsaw, Saw, Mute Witness, Deliverance, Evil Dead Trap, the Guinea Pig films (Hideshi Hino's Flowers of Flesh and Blood and Devil's Experiment), and a couple of others.

Grotesque, which I saw a month or so ago, is influenced by all of the above, but you can also add Woman in the Box - Virgin Sacrifice ('85), Go Ijuuin's Captured for Sex 2 ('86), Niko Daruma (Psycho - The Snuff Reels, '98) and the repetitive Red Room ('99) films by Daisuke Yamanouchi.

Like Captured for Sex 2...

... the plot is more accurately a premise. A couple are captured and subjected to physical and mental torture. Where it differs from Captured for Sex 2 is in the way the relationship between captor and captives develops. In the '86 film, the male becomes the captor's apprentice and the film rockets to a rare psychosexual plane. No such luck here. Male and female are subjected to a catalog of gory outrages. That's pretty much it.

Should the film be banned? No. It was legally made, so it shouldn't be banned. End of argument.

After a while, it becomes monotonous. It's well shot and cut and the effects are mostly excellent. If the torture sequences had been part of the movie and not the entire movie, I would have enjoyed it more (ala Star of David - Hunting for Beautiful Girls).

But the film is what it is. Aestheticized cinematic torture. And it's certainly horror.

From imdb:

In a statement, BBFC director David Cooke said, "Unlike other recent 'torture'-themed horror works, such as the Saw and Hostel series, Grotesque features minimal narrative or character development and presents the audience with little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism. The chief pleasure on offer seems to be in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake." The board said that allowing the film to be shown in Britain would put those viewing it at "risk of harm."

Cooke's take on the film is accurate. I'm not disputing that.

Where the bullshit starts is with the board's blanket psychological assessment that allowing the film to be shown in Britain would put those viewing it "at risk of harm".

The health of adults will be at risk, will it?

Did it harm members of the board? Or are they intellectually and socially above such primal influence?

And, please, please, please, can I see your concrete examples of Brits who have been "harmed" by movies in the past, Mr. Cooke?

Even better, I'll shoot you some evidence of adults "harmed" by cigarettes and alcohol (which are legal) and you can shoot me exhibits of adults "harmed" by graphic horror films (your files must be bursting).

What a bunch of arrogant bullshit.


  1. At first I thought this was about the Linda Blair flick from the 80's. This seems much more interesting.

    I'm not a huge fan of the Guinea Pig series though. In your opinion, is Grotesque better than those films?

  2. Rev -- 'Grotesque' is more of a "feature film" than any of the Guinea Pig films. Woprth seeing for sure.

    My interest in 'Guinea Pig' has never blinded me to the fact that they're pretty dull, protracted experiences.

    I like Hideshi Hino's comics a lot, but he's no director.

    'Mermaid in a Manhole' is the only "Guinea Pig" that resembles a real movie.

  3. I've seen this recently as someone on IRC was chatting it up. He was a limey and I doubt he would have even heard of its existence had it not been for the censurious hijinks of the BBFC. Way to go, ineffectual twats.

    I liked the film well enough (except the climax, which was, oh, just a tad ridiculous). The splatter element is strong but it's informed by classic ero guro (CFS 2 also sprung to my mind) which makes it stand out from the pack, imho.

  4. I'm so sick of governments, no matter what which political party is in charge, trying to control our lives. They want to be our parent and baby us.

  5. d -- I wasn't too impressed. Will write about it shortly.


    Keith -- it never ends, unfortunately. And over on some message boards, some more conservative horror farms have even supported the ban, implying that such films encourage maniacs. Nobody went from sane to crazy because of a film. Nobody!

  6. jervaise brooke hamsterAugust 29, 2009 at 12:49 AM

    Britain is an ocean of ludicrous lies and hypocrisy, remember between 1970 and 2000 british people were denied access to hard-core pornography, thats right for 30 years british people were denied access to images that their american and european counterparts had free access to. Even now britain is still being run by ludicrous, lying, hypocritical, cowardly, deceiving, pretentious, highbrow, elitist, racist, snobs.

  7. jervaise -- you live in Britain? Interestingly, Australians are still officially denied hardcore porn outside the two territories. There is a thriving mail order market (which is kinda tolerated), but the official line is even more Draconian than in the UK.

    The US is hypocritical in a much more subversive way. Their censorship of porn (and locking up of porn makers) is horrendous in terms of how much it contradicts "freedom".