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MFF debates: Gore, what is it good for?

October 28, 2013

MARK, HERE!  I was in the midst of a writing a review for the tough guy fights the devil movie called Solomon Kane and I had extreme writers block. The only thing on the page was “Too much gore” and “I dislike medieval peasant extras.” The micro-budget movie was decent but incredibly slight and I felt that the gore kept the producers from hiring extras to fill out the battle scenes. I mentioned the need for less gore to Co-writer John and he strongly disagreed. He proclaimed  “Gore makes everything better. Mary Poppins would have been better with gore.”

I thought about the comment and Poppins killing zombies sounds fun but it would be shoehorned in and take away from the rest of the film. Gore is okay in spurts (sorry). Saving Private Ryan was understandable and any movie featuring this song. gets a pass. Gore = laziness and many film have suffered from more gore (Saw sequels…pretty much every sequel). I didn’t like the lost limbs and following blood geysers in Kill Bill, Evil Dead (remake) and the Saw Sequels because the story was lost.

So, because of this comment we decided to resurrect the MFF debates. In our last debate John made an impassioned plea for The Vow’s right to be called a good movie. However, I dismissed his argument with well-timed pithy comments and expect that from him this time around.

Sidenote: John loves horror movies and I’m writing this while watching The Iceman. 

What do you think John? More gore? Less gore? Less is more Gore? Less gore needs more gore?

JOHN, HERE!  MY OPENING ARGUMENTS…

First off, gore does NOT equal laziness.  Gore ALWAYS requires more work.  If Saving Private Ryan had less gore it would have been cheaper and easier to produce.  I can’t help but to feel that you’re targeting uninspired filmmakers who happen to use gore to cater to a niche audience.  Bad 80s horror, or bad horror from any decade for that matter, often used loads of gore because they knew they had a hardly serviceable script of an overdone and heavily borrowed story concept, no name talentless actors whose best attribute was their willingness to take off their clothes, and a director who hasn’t done anything more than what I just addressed.  For these people it’s niche work.  But the addition of gore, more gore, and yet boatloads more gore simply draw additional smiles to its fans.

Take Final Destination 5 (2011), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Drag Me to Hell (2009) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012).  These movies were well-written, staged to perfection (even though not always so serious) and had their share of well-crafted scares.  Do you feel the gore cheapened them?  I’d hope not.  No.  It enhanced them.  It made them more funny, outstanding and, at times, too gross or outright too difficult to watch for some.

I’ll freely admit that movies like Piranha 3D (2010) and its sequel Piranha 3DD (2012) basically relied on gore to justify their existence.  But even in their case, more gore equated to more fanfare.

Now you suggest Mary Poppins shouldn’t have gore?  I beg to differ.  I’d like to point out the upcoming movie spun from the wildly successful book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  If we had this argument years ago, you likely would have proclaimed that Pride and Prejudice couldn’t possibly have benefited from the addition of gore…or zombies.  I mean, sure, we’d have a laugh about it over a beer. But that’s about it.

Well, sir, you have been weighed, you have been measured, and your goreless films have been found wanting (to modify a quote from another movie that needed more gore: A Knight’s Tale).  Just the same, I’d say that removing the gore from Saving Private Ryan would reduce viewers’ sense of urgency and intensity.  After all, gore doesn’t have to be slapstick or released in Anime-esque Evil Dead eruptions.  It just so happens that the majority of gore-heavy movies happen to do that–because they’re niche films.  Saving Private Ryan was no niche film but a major release and, as such, film crewmen weren’t throwing rubber guts in front of the camera like in the Tokyo Shock sensation Tokyo Gore Police.

No, they were tactful.

Now I’ll play Devil’s Advocate a bit here.  I maintain that any movie can be improved with gore.  Any movie!  Again, take Pride and Prejudice as an excellent example.  But, like Pride and Prejudice, the addition of gore will have the tendency to transform the movie into something entirely different.  So, Mary Poppins would likely become Mary Poppins: Hell-Spawned Nanny or Governess of Hell: A Spoonful of Satanic Entrails or something…certainly nothing fit for children.  But I hate Mary Poppins and never liked it.  Throw in some scenes of her ripping open someone’s ribcage with their bare hands and you’ll have my undivided attention and fanfare.

So, all be it in a strange, roundabout argument, I think I’ve made my point.  Gore makes everything better and there is never…NEVER…too much gore when handled appropriately.

MARK’S CROSS EXAMINATION…

Solid points. You know what movie would be better with gore? The Vow. Imagine the terrible parents, that sleazy guy and the hipsters on a spelunking vacation and BOOM! Subterranean monster death!

The Descent

I’m still not a fan of gore but I understand your appreciation of entrails exploding in interesting and capable ways.

I have a question for you. You mentioned Mary Poppins ripping open a rib cage with her bare hands. If you were a director and had to make this scene work how would you do it? Alien style? Original Dawn of the Dead style? You are not that director who thinks more “blood, boobs, brain and blood” will help because you have a script about a giant vampire sloth lesbian. You are Neil Marshall the wonderful director of The Descent, Doomsday, Dog Soldiers and the Blackwater episode of Game of Thrones. Give me a gore Poppins scene with story that I might like!

JOHN’S CLOSING ARGUMENTS:

To answer your question, I’d have Mary Poppins rip open the ribcage of an H. R. Giger Alien in Dawn of the Dead style.  However, then a facehugger would leap out on to her face and use her as a host to develop a giant vampire sloth lesbian which would later chestburst out of her ribcage to a musical number extravaganza featuring oodles of “blood, boobs, brain and blood”–and PRESTO!  We have a Broadway success.  Eat your heart out, Evil Dead: The Musical!

LOL.

In many aspects we’ll never completely agree on the inclusion of gore for the improvement of ALL THINGS CINEMA. LOL.  But in the most important aspect we are: I also want story and character development with my gore.  But since gore is a crutch for those who can’t deliver on the others, I take what I can get.

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