Wednesday, November 16, 2011

5 Movies You Can't Un-Watch

So, I'm on a "5 things list" kick this week, sue me.  I can't always be blessed with epiphanies of brilliance and tons of compelling garbage to write about as if anyone gives a shit.  Yesterday, I posted about 5 great/awful cheesy 80's movies that are kind of hard to sit through unless you're stoned and/or mocking the movie the entire time with some friends who equally appreciate good cheese and today I'm posing about 5 movies that will likely cause everyone in the room to stare silently at each other during the ending credits like they just watched a live donkey sex show on a drunken dare only to realize it went a little too far... well, the ones who aren't in the bathroom puking up their beer and pizza that is.

5.  Martyrs

This is a French film, you can find either dubbed or subtitled versions.  I prefer subtitles, just because dubbing almost always sounds horrible and I am capable of reading and watching a movie at the same time.  This movie starts off unassuming and palatable enough - it's ostensibly about a girl who is rescued after escaping from a makeshift prison in a warehouse where she was beaten and tortured and is put into an orphanage where she befriends another girl.  The girl is mute from her ordeal but gradually begins to open up to her friend while also struggling with a schizophrenic alter-ego that torments her.  15 years later, the mute girl - Lucie - enters the suburban home of a normal-looking family and proceeds to slaughter them all with a shotgun.  She calls her friend from the orphanage - Anna - and asks for her help in cleaning up the mess.  Anna arrives to find the carnage and Lucie seemingly abusing herself by slamming into walls and cutting herself, though Lucie is hallucinating being attacked by her disfigured imaginary tormentor, who it turns out is a vision of a girl that Lucie left behind in the warehouse she escaped from as a child.  Lucie tells her imaginary demon that she has killed the family who tortured them and the torment can finally end, but it has no effect and with that realization, Lucie slits her own throat and dies in Anna's arms.  The next day, Anna is cleaning up the mess from Lucie's killing spree when she discovers a secret entrance to an underground dungeon where a woman is imprisoned and appears to have been beaten and tortured for a considerable length of time.  Anna frees the woman, but a group of people arrive and shoot the woman in the head.  Anna is taken prisoner and introduced to an old woman who appears to lead the group and is called "Mademoiselle".  She explains to Anna that the people belong to a secret society that seeks to discover "martyrs" - women who, through extreme and prolonged physical torture, are able to enter a transcendental state and see the afterlife while still living.  She tells Anna that they use women because woman can handle far more severe levels of torture without breaking.  Unfortunately, all of their previous attempts to produce a martyr have failed, including their efforts with Anna's friend Lucie, which led to her insanity and eventual suicide.  With that, Anna is imprisoned and subjected to a daily regimen of extreme physical abuse, torture and degradation.  After an unspecified, but lengthy period of time, Anna begins to hallucinate and see Lucie, who tells her to just "let go" and she won't be afraid anymore.  Anna is soon informed that she has progressed further than any other subject, that she has reached the "final stage" and will soon suffer no more.  After that, she is taken into a room with a surgeon who proceeds to skin her alive.  The intense agony of being flayed alive pushes Anna into the euphoric state Mademoiselle spoke of and she becomes a "martyr".  The group is quickly assembled and Mademoiselle approaches Anna to hear what she has witnessed.  Anna whispers something into Mademoiselle's ear and dies.  As the group awaits Mademoiselle's revelation of what Anna told her, Mademoiselle is sitting in another room preparing herself.  She asks her attendant if he could imagine what comes after death.  The man says "no" and Mademoiselle replies "keep doubting", then produces a pistol, puts it in her mouth and pulls the trigger.

Normally, I wouldn't give the entire plot of a movie, but you really have to see how fucked up the whole premise of this movie is to understand how hard to watch it is.  The majority of this film is the prolonged beating, degrading and torturing of Anna that finally ends with her being skinned alive.  It's so brutal and unrelenting that at some point about halfway through the movie it stops being entertaining from a horror/gore standpoint and just becomes fascinatingly disturbing.  It's like watching a snuff film, something that could probably be said of all the movies in this list, but it's something that you finish not because of how much fun you were having watching it, but out of a weird sense of just wanting to know how much worse it gets before this poor girl is finally put out of her misery.  Again, this is a recurring theme here, most of these films are less of an entertainment experience and more of a test of endurance.

4.  Audition

This film is directed by one of my favorite Japanese shock/horror directors, Takashi Miike and it stars one of my favorite gore/horror actresses, Eihi Shiina who starred in the amazing Tokyo Gore Police.  This movie is about a middle-aged man who was widowed 7 years earlier when his wife succumbed to illness and begins searching for someone new again at the urging of his son.  His son's friend is a film producer and decides to plan a mock "audition" where women would try out for the "role" of the man's wife under the auspices of auditioning for a part in a film.  In the "audition", the man falls for a girl named Asami (Shiina) who tells a story of being a ballerina but having to give up dancing due to an injury.  The man, Shigeharu, is touched by her story and is immediately attracted to her.  Shigeharu is warned by the producer that he has a "bad feeling" about Asami, due partly to his not being able to find references or any real back story about the girl at all.  Unfettered by this, Shigeharu proceeds to date Asami and the two go away to a seaside hotel together, where Asami reveals a past of physical abuse.  The next morning, Asami is gone and in his efforts to locate her, Shigeharu learns that many people in Asami's past have turned up missing or dead.  Meanwhile, Asami visits Shigeharu's home, finds a picture of his dead wife and in a rage she drugs his drink.  When Shigeharu returns home and makes himself a drink, he passes out and awakens to Asami who injects him with a drug that paralyzes him.  She tells him that she cannot tolerate anyone who doesn't love only her, including platonic love for Shigeharu's son or missing his dead wife.  She then tortures him brutally, including cutting off one of his feet with a wire saw, before Shigeharu's son comes home and kills Asami in an ensuing struggle.

This is another film where just describing it sounds bad enough, but watching it is 100 times worse.  Takashi Miike is famous for his brutal depiction of hard-to-watch violence in his films and this one is the crown jewel of his work.  Eihi Shiina is so compelling at terrifying at the same time, it's a real head-trip to watch this movie.  On the one hand, I kept thinking how beautiful she was and at the same time realizing the last thing on Earth I would ever want is to be in a room with this psycho.  It's not just the violence that makes Miike's movies so disturbing, but the psychological reactions of all the characters to what's going on.  Even as the tortured Shigeharu is staring at Asami's dying face, he is touched by his feelings for her and reminisces about a conversation they had before everything went to hell.  It's tough to watch, but unlike Martyrs, I felt more legitimately entertained by the intriguing plot and less like I had just watched a documentary about women being tortured to death, so I guess that's a plus?

3.  The Human Centipede:  First Sequence

This movie has become almost legend since it premiered in 2010.  Much like the scatalogical internet shock-porn clip "Two Girls, One Cup", there are people who have seen The Human Centipede, people who've heard about it but are afraid to actually watch it and people who stop you mid-sentence as soon as you begin to explain what it's about because they don't want to hear another word about it, lest it haunt them in their dreams.  The Human Centipede is about a mad German doctor who begins to kidnap people in order to create his experimental vision of a "human centipede", which consists of three people sewn mouth to anus that would eventually become one living creation sharing a digestive system.  At the beginning of the film, the Dr. drugs and abducts a truck driver and we get some foreshadowing about his weird peccadilloes.  Things take a turn, however, when two American girls on vacation get lost on their way to a party and break down by the Dr.'s house.  When they walk to his home to call for help, he drugs the two women and decides to use them in the place of the truck driver, who was determined to not be a genetic match for the surgery.  The women try, unsuccessfully, to escape and eventually the Dr. performs the procedure by which the two women are attached to a 3rd victim - a Japanese man.  There is a surprisingly tame amount of actual blood and even though there is one infamous scene where the Japanese man at the "front" of the centipede has no choice but to defecate into the mouth of the middle girl, there's no depiction of feces either.  For a movie with very little blood or gore to speak of, it's the content and concept of what's happening on screen that's so disturbing.  The idea of watching a girl helplessly forced to ingest feces because her mouth is sewn to a guy's anus is disturbing, whether you can see anything or not.  The sight of 3 people sewn to each other trying to negotiate their way around the house as they try to escape is brutal without the need for a lot of blood.  Even the ending of the movie is rough.  The film climaxes with an escape attempt, as I mentioned, where police arrive and in a shootout with the Dr., both the Dr. and the officers are killed, but the girl at the "end" of the centipede succumbs to illness and infection and dies while still sewn to the "centipede".  The Japanese man at the front of the chain decides he can no longer bear the shame of his condition and slits his own throat, leaving just the middle girl to survive, presumably not for long, with no way to contact anyone for help.

As the least gory and gratuitously violent film on this list, it's the idea of the centipede and the thought of being one of the poor victims of the Dr.'s experiment that makes this movie so brutal and hard to watch.  There is palpable tension indicative of all good psycho killer type horror films, but the added gross-out factor of the digestive daisy chain that's formed just kicks it out of the "ok, this is a twisted psycho movie" arena and into a whole other completely screwed-up universe of "what the hell did I just watch?"  When I realized the movie was going to end with the only survivor being the girl stuck in the middle of the chain, I felt bad for her, like she was the unlucky one because she didn't die.  When a movie makes you feel bad for the sole survivor, you know it's some sick shit.

2.  The Human Centipede:  Full Sequence

When the first film is described as "The most horrific film ever made", you kind of have your work cut out for you if you make a sequel.  Director Tom Six described THC2 as a film that would make the first one "look like 'My Little Pony" by comparison.  This is a pretty accurate statement, much to the delight or abject horror of anyone who subjects themselves to watching this movie.  THC2 begins as the credits roll on the end of the first movie.  In THC2, the first film is exactly that - a movie - that the antagonist in the sequel happens to be completely obsessed with.  The villain of THC2 is a man named Martin Lomax, an overweight, mentally ill tollbooth operator in a parking garage who lives with his emotionally abusive mother.  He is disturbingly obsessed with the Human Centipede and keeps a scrapbook about it.  In one scene, he masturbates to the film with sandpaper wrapped around his penis.  Yeah, that's the kind of movie we're talking about here...  Eventually, Martin's psychosis takes over and he decides to create a "full sequence" of the human centipede.  Not being a surgeon, Martin is forced to use far more crude methods to create his centipede, including a staple gun.  Martin sets out to "collect" victims for his creation, including the actress who portrayed the girl in the middle of the centipede in the first movie.  She plays herself in the sequel, an actress who responds to his faked invitation to audition for a film.  Martin collects an assortment of victims, including a woman who is 9 months pregnant.  He graphically hobbles them by slicing the tendons in their ankles, knocks their teeth out with a hammer, slices open their anuses and staples them together.  In a twisted act of mercy, he makes the actress the "head" of the centipede so that she won't be forced to eat anyone's feces.  Yes, this is the kind of movie we're talking about here...

Unlike the first film, the sequel is shot almost entirely in black and white.  This has the effect of adding an extra creepy atmosphere to the movie and while it does tone down some of the graphic and gratuitous blood and gore - which is certainly not lacking in this installment - it also enhances the shock factor in a way as well.  THC2 has all the blood, brutality and, yes, feces that the first one lacked.  It also has a moment that was completely surprising, mouth-droppingly shocking to me and just so far out that I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I don't know if I want to give it away, but let's just say the pregnant woman ends up giving birth while trying to get away in a car and it just goes downhill from there.  Director Tom Six has already said that he's working on a third - and final - film in the series and that it will make the second one "look like a Disney film".  Given his delivery on his lofty promise last time, I both await and dread THC3...

1.  A Serbian Film

After hearing about the other 4 movies on this list, you might be wondering what could possibly be in the movie that tops the others and earns the number 1 spot?  You also might be wondering what the hell is wrong with me that I sat through these movies and decided it would actually be cool to tell you about them.  I guess these movie reviews can't be un-read either!  Well, in answer to the second question - I guess I'm just a really messed-up individual.  In answer to the first question, the most hard to watch, what's been seen cannot be unseen movie I've ever witnessed is A Serbian Film.  As for what's in it...

Let me just say this, because giving a full plot summary is actually really hard for me to do, A Serbian Film is so far beyond the worst type of shit you can imagine that I was legitimately questioning not just the kind of mind that could think this movie up, but my own mind in being witness to it.  The movie is about a man named Milos, who is an aging porn actor with a wife and a young boy.  He is on hard times, financially and wants to make a clean break from the industry to start a new life with his family.  To do this, he agrees to take part in a secretive and controversial "art film" being directed by a mysterious man named Vukmir.  Vukmir is interested in hiring Milos based on his ability to maintain an erection without any stimuli, which is important to the rest of the film.  Vukmir offers Milos enough money for the film that it would give him the financial ability to leave the industry and start over that he so desperately wants so he agrees to do the movie, even though the plot and nature of the film is intentionally kept from him.  On the first day of shooting, Milos is instructed to have sex with a severely physically abused woman while a girl dressed as Alice in Wonderland sits in the corner.  Milos initially refuses but is forced to shoot the scene.  Now, you might be saying "ok, that's kind of rough, but not the worst thing ever." and you would be right.  However, this is just the warm-up.  So, Milos has some reservations about the film he's working on now and confronts Vukmir, who shows Milos another one of his projects.  In this movie, a woman is shown giving birth to a baby.  Immediately after the baby is born, a grown man proceeds to rape it in what Vukmir calls "newborn porn".  Yeah, The Human Centipede is kind of sounding like no big deal now, isn't it?  Milos, obviously repulsed by this, storms out of the building and attempts to drive away but is stopped by Vukmir's attractive female doctor who drugs Milos while attempting to seduce him.  Milos wakes up three days later at his home, bloody and beaten and with no memory of what happened to him.  He returns to the set of the film and finds a series of tapes that piece together the past 3 days and reveals just what Milos was made to do.  During his 3-day blackout, Milos was fed a drug cocktail that caused him to be extremely aggressive, sexually aroused and highly suggestible.  While under the influence, he was led from one shocking act to another, starting with brutally beating a woman while having sex with her and ultimately beheading her with a machete and continuing to have sex with her body until rigor mortis sets in.  Next, he discovers a tape of him being sodomized while unconscious.  Then he finds a tape of a former co-star with her teeth knocked out having a penis forced down her throat and her nostrils pinched off until she suffocates to death.  Lastly, Milos discovers a tape of himself and a masked man having sex with two unconscious bodies under a sheet.  The sheet is pulled off and it is revealed that the masked man is Milos' brother and he is raping Milos' unconscious wife, while Milos' victim is revealed to be his own young son.  In a rage, Milos fights and kills the guards in the room and escapes with his wife and still-unconscious son.  He then remembers locking them in his basement at home and returns there.  After reuniting with his wife and son, he begins to contemplate killing himself out of shame and guilt, but his wife tells him they should all kill themselves and be together.  Milos lines himself, his wife and his son up and fires one shot that kills all three of them.  Ok, so now you're saying "Omg, that's the most horrible, fucked-up shit I have ever read!"  Yeah, and I cleaned that up to make it as palatable as possible.  Oh, but there's one more thing... After Milos kills himself, his wife and his young son, a second director enters the room where the three bodies are lying, accompanied by another male porn star and instructs the actor to "start with the little one".  Yeah, you can't even un-read that.

So there you go, 5 movies you can't un-watch and 5 reviews you wish you hadn't just read.  Go take a shower that you don't really need to wash off the invisible layer of filth and shame that's on you now.

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