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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Horror reveals male fears, lusts, insecurities

From Marie Haws, Vancouver, B.C.:

Your reader Ben Smith wrote in a letter to the editor:

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"I still consider myself somewhat hip (I like going to rock shows and eating sushi), but am I just exhibiting what happens when you get older? Just like when my parents would shake their heads and wonder why I wasn’t satisfied with "The Creature From the Black Lagoon"?

"I don’t know, I can’t really give an objective reason why the movies I enjoyed were somehow better or classier, but they seemed more artistic and fun. These newer Torture Porn movies don’t seem to stimulate the artistic part of the brain, but rather the PTSD/adrenaline part of the brain that someone experiences when watching someone getting shot on news footage."

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More artistic and fun? Horror films from the '70s and '80s are loaded with misogynistic images of women being brutally attacked in the guise of entertainment. It was the golden age of slasher films.

Ever ask yourself what gave birth to the horror genre in the first place?

A: You're a horny teenage boy and girls terrify you -- which you find exciting: the combination of fear and the erotic. Almost every horror film taps into it and that's why it's a genre watched mostly by males.

It wasn't until the arrival of feminism that horror films began to grow increasingly dark. And it soon became an in-joke that the only girl who survives is the "virgin." Girls who like sex are dirty and must be punished.

From my point of view, the monster in a horror movie is a metaphore for lust, raging hormones, male insecurity, conflicting emotions etc. Guys watch themselves in the guise of something else behaving in a way that both excites and genuinely frightens them.

What's changed is that it's less about sex now and more about what truly disgusts and using it like a troll to get a reaction; in part a consequence of needing to compete with the past and what's come before (as opposed to improving upon it) and why you end up with so much mindless shit now.

And that is why I personally hate 90% of all horror movies. I don't see the movie -- I see what's underneath it: i.e., no story. Just a filmmaker's issues, and those of his audience.

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