Torture films have been around for a long time, but they seemed to have really exploded during the 2000's. Horror no longer had faceless, supernatural monster slicing and dicing people but they had regular people slipping into their basements with an unnatural taste for torment. No longer were audiences allowed to watch people die with a quick slice of the throat or repeated stabbing, we needed to see a meticulous, well crafted, slow and painful demise for the killer's captives. Audiences were strapped to their seats as killers, broke into houses on the screen and broke us down with images of people being mutilated in a variety of ways and bled us out with screams of agony.
Here are 5 Torture Movies that will Leave You Screaming:
5. The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) - This documentary style film is about a number of video tapes that the police found while searching for a killer called, the Water Street Butcher. The FBI, police and a number of experts discuss the killer, his motives and his career as they show snipets from the tapes that they have discovered. Starting with the earliest tapes, they follow his career up until they finally discover his place of residence. Have they found the elusive killer and is Poughkeepsie finally safe? This film is interesting and truly has some disturbing aspects to it but I would have liked to have seen more of the what was on the tapes. I know the the axiom, less is more but in this case, I think more would have been better. Also, I hated the effect they used on the killer's camera. It was more distracting than anything else, reminding me that I was watching a movie and not a documentary. The acting was fine, nothing that gripping and some moments were more believable than others. I may have been expecting more, from the hype around this film. It's an ok movie but a little more torturous to watch than the others.
4. Hostel (2005) - Paxton and Jay are two college buddies backpacking across Europe with their new drifter friend Oli. After partying too late and getting locked out of their hostel, they are rescued from the cold night and let into the building by another traveler, Alexei. Alex, as he likes to be called, recommends they travel to a hostel outside of Bratislava because they have the most incredible girls there. Paxton, Jay and Oli are game for anything, so the next morning they hope on a train to Bratislava and meet an unusual Dutch businessman. He talks about his daughter and when he finds out where the trio is going, he tells them about how amazing it is. Then he puts his hands on Jay's knee and smiles. Jay freaks out and the Dutch businessman apologizes and leaves the train compartment. The guys arrive at the hostel shortly after and it is exactly what Alex promised. Beautiful girls from around the world! The girl at the front desk apologizes that Jay and Paxton because they will be sharing their room with other people, but when they get upstairs, they are pleasantly surprised to see how beautiful their new roomies are. Natalya and Svetlana invite the guys down for a sauna and they all hit it off. That night they hit the club and have a blast and Oli ends up with the girl from the front desk. Jay steps out of the bar to clear his head and is approached by a gang of kids, they want a dollar but Jay refuses to give them anything. Before things get ugly, he is rescued by the Dutch businessman. Jay thanks him and apologizes for overreacting on the train and they go inside for a drink. The Dutch businessman tells him not to worry and go back with his friends and party. So Jay does and later it's back to the room for some love making with Natalya. Jay and Paxton can't believe their luck. The next morning, Oli has gone missing. The guy at the front desk tells them that he checked out last night but an Asian girl, Kana says that Oli left with her friend Yuki and Yuki is missing too. Jay and Paxton spend the day searching for Paxton but have to luck finding him or getting a hold of him on his cell phone. That night, Jay is still worried but Paxton and the girls want to go dancing again. Jay goes with them but decides to head back to the hostel after a few drinks and says he feels nauseous. Paxton stays and ends up locking himself in a closet at the club and passes out. The next morning, he guy at the front desk says Jay left too. He finds Natalya and she says that both Jay and Oli are at a museum. They head to the museum and apparently it's in a rundown building. Natalya leads Paxton into the bowels of the building and Paxton sees parts of bodies and some kind of surgeries going on. Then he sees Jay's lifeless body on a table and freaks out but it's too late. The guards grab him and lock him into a chair, he is going to be another victim. Can Paxton escape the torture? I really enjoyed this movie from director Eli Roth, it had a fun flair to it. Everything was pretty spot on script wise and it was nice to see a cameo from Takashi Miiki. I was expecting a lot more gore, like in Cabin Fever but there were still some pretty crazy shit and I guess this is where less is more really does work. Definitely worth watching if you haven't already.
3. Bloodsucking Freaks (aka The Incredible Torture Show) (1976) - Sardu runs a small theatre with his midget henchman, Ralphus, where people can come a view naked ladies being tortured. Surprisely, there are a number of people there, including New York's top critic, Creasy Silo, and famous couple, quarterback Tom Maverick and his girlfriend, prima ballerina, Natasha Di Natalie. On stage they watch as ladies are being tortured and parts of their bodies mutilated, best date night ever. After the show, Creasy gives Sardu a piece of his mind, calling the show awful and a third rate magic act but Tom and Natasha seem to like it and reassure Sardu that his show is "different". What they don't know is that the show is real! And Sardu and Ralphus are in the white slavery game and send girls all over the world. Also, they have a ton of girls in their dungeon below and love to torture them just for fun. However, Sardu is upset about Creasy's words and has Ralphus kidnap him. Sardu tells Creasy that he is going to write the greatest ballet and have the greatest ballerina star, Natasha Di Natalie in it. Creasy laughs at him and says there is no way Natasha Di Natalie will ever be in his ballet, so Sardu has Ralphus kidnap her and they torture her mentally until she finally gives in. Days have gone by and Tom is noticing that Natalie isn't coming home, so he calls the police. Will Tom ever find Natalie and stop Sardu and his Theatre of the Macabre? This may be my favourite out of the 5, simply because it has some seriously dark humour going on in this B-movie triumph. I've also seen it like 5 times and the looks on people's faces when I watch this with them never get old. The story is pretty crappy and doesn't ring true in any way but it has some serious gore, which makes up for it. The acting is on par with what they spent on budget. It's unfortunate that both, Seamus O'Brien, who played Sardu and Luis De Jesus (former Ewok), who played Ralphus have passed on and missed the torture film renascence. Lots of red paint gore and hard to watch scenes of mutilation will keep you glued to the screen.
2. Grotesque (2009) - Aki and Kazuo are on their first date, when they get hit on the head with a hammer and stuffed in a van. This has to be the worst first date ever. When they wake up, they are gagged, strapped to tables facing each other and a man in an operating gown is smiling at them. He asks Kazou if he would die for Aki and in a flashback it shows Aki asking him the same thing. He tells her that he would do his best to protect her and nods feverishly to the doctor. The doctor then gets personal and asks how many times they have had sex with each other. The doctor realizes that they never have, so he makes them a deal with them and tells them that if they turn him on, that he'll let them go. He starts with Aki and using his hands rapes her while Kazou watches helplessly. Then he does the same to Kazou, spraying semen all other Aki. Unsatisfied, the doctor puts them under again and when they awake they are chained to another table. The doctor is going to perform surgery on them with a chainsaw, until he can get the right stimuli from them. Can Kazou save Aki from the torment of the madman and save himself or is this going to be the worst date ever? I was pleasantly surprised by this film. When I first started watching it, I thought I hit another Japanese sexploitation movie masquerading as a horror tale but when it got going, wow, does this thing ever deliver. It's probably one of the most gruesome films I've seen in a long time. Director Koji Shiraishi is brilliant, creating a lot of gore with minimal tools. There is 3 people in this film and it's shot in maybe 5 locations. You'll recognize the actress, Tsugumi Nagasawa, who plays Aki from Tokyo Gore Police and Hiroaki Kawatsure from his appearances in other Shiraishi films. Brutal story, lots of blood and a lot of wincing while trying to watch. Not for the faint of heart.
1. Salo (aka 120 Days in Sodom) (1975) -In the Republic of Salo, in 1944 during the fascist occupation, a Duke, a Bishop, a Magistrate and the President decide that the want to do an experiment involving torture and experiencing the greatest sexual gratification. With a small militia they round up 9 teenage boys and 9 teenage girls and bring them to an out of the way chateau. On the way one of the boys jumps out of the truck and is gunned down for trying to escape. The convoy continues to the house leaving the boys riddled body in the woods. Once they get to the house, they are introduced to the four aged prostitutes that will "take care of them" and tell them stories of their life experiences. The first tells of her sexual experience as a young girl and the group of men try and re-enact these tales on their victims. The next prostitute speaks of shit and how she would be asked to feed shit to her Johns and the group of men decide they would like to try this as well. The third prostitute speaks about her experience with life and death, and the men want to share this as well. The fourth prostitute is the piano player and plays the music during each story. Through out the film, these young people are abused, tormented and beaten and who knows if they would want to live when it is all over. Banned in many countries and still considered one of The most controversial film of all time! It comes from the novel written in prison by the Marquis De Sade. Director Pier Paolo Pasolini mixes the infamous novel with Dante's Infernal, breaking each segment of the film up into the Anteinferno, Circle of Manias, Circle of Shit and Circle of Blood. This is a very disturbing film on every level and gets crazier and crazier until the end. Unfortunately, I found the ending quite anticlimactic and was a little confused but there are images in this film that will not soon be forgotten and the ending will be the least of my worries. This is a difficult film to view but is worth a watch if you have the stomach.
These films are hard to watch and exploit the dark side of our human nature. Deeeeep down inside our brain chasm, there has to be something that allows us to enjoy, perhaps not to these extremes, watching people inflict pain on one another and degrade themselves to survive. This reasoning would explain why reality television has lasted so long. (I'd like to see Jeff Probst or the Bachelor eat a poo.)
P.S - Big shout out to the effects team on all of these films, you guys and gals are really the unsung heroes of these films. I wouldn't be completely grossed out and disturbed if it wasn't for your hard work and brilliance. Thank You!