This film is one of those brutal spectacles where quality was given preference over quantity. There is little horror, but what bits remain are aimed right where it hurts the very most. Specifically, the genitals.
It’s no surprise that the film got more than its share of walkouts, as well several audience members surrendering to gravity. It’s not as if the film isn’t already macabre in its overall mood and story, but they had to go ahead and throw in graphic mutilation scenes of both male and female private parts. Total bummer. Good horror though.
Not only did this piss off the audience, but the jury as well, who went out of their way to give the film an ‘anti prize’ at Cannes after its showing there because of what they claimed to be misogynist undertones within the film. I may be dense – but I didn’t notice such things. Then again – all I can remember about this film is Willem Dafoe’s penis, a log, and a general feeling of uneasiness.
3. 127 Hours
You can watch limb after limb being torn off in any given horror film out there and not feel a thing – but the moment someone comes along and actually puts that injury into context it’s a way different story. 127 Hours did just that. It did it very slowly and very seriously, and in result we got to see one of the harder to watch moments out there. Don’t believe me? Ask the three people who fainted during the first screening, or perhaps the one dude who suffered a seizure from it. At its most relevant the fainting total went up to 13 as the movie screened across the country.
It’s the double whammy of a situation that not only appeals to the phobias of your average arm-loving citizen but also has an extra layer of intense claustrophobic terror. Personally – the worst part of the entire ordeal wasn’t the scene itself, but everything leading up to it. Anyone going into this film knows damn well how it’s going to end, so watching the struggle that leads up to it is like watching people try to keep the Titanic afloat. You know from the start what needs to be done, and you know that it won’t be pretty.
From what I’ve heard, director Gaspar Noe would have been disappointed if audiences didn’t walk out of this film at its Cannes screening. It would have meant that he either didn’t do his job right, or the human race is way more desensitized than anyone could have ever known. Luckily for humanity, 250 people ended up leaving the theater during it – 20 of which apparently had to be given oxygen due to fainting. Holy shit.
Of course, having seen the movie there are several factors at work here. It would be one thing to have graphic depictions of rape and violence – but it’s a whole other circus when the entire film looks like it was shot by a lunatic. The camera swings back and forth through a series of tracking shots as if it were literally hanging by a rope. It takes astronaut-level control to get through each scene without feeling at least a little dizzy – and couple that with a man getting his head caved in with a fire extinguisher, well… it’s tough. Not to mention that when this movie first premiered at Cannes, it was early on a Saturday morning. Imagine waking up to this.
1. The Exorcist
This movie had everything. According to a 1974 article by Judy Klemsrud in the New York Times, “It’s been reported that once inside the theater, a number of moviegoers vomited at the very graphic goings-on on screen. Others fainted, or left the theater, nauseous and trembling, before the film was half over. Several people had heart attacks, a guard told me. One woman even had a miscarriage, he said.”
There were even riots outside the cinema as people scrambled to get a seat.
Of course this is one of those things were it’s hard to tell truth from fiction. Director William Friedkin himself tried to downplay the problems the film was causing saying, “I’ve heard reports of people fainting or throwing up during the picture, but I don’t think there has been a significant number of such occurrence.” But even at it’s very modest, the reports about audience reactions involve – at the very least – vomiting and fainting.
One of the funnier details is that one of the problem scenes didn’t turn out to be what you’d think. The real sick-inducing scene came when the doctor puts the needle in Regan’s neck and causes blood to spurt out. Apparently it got people pale to watch. Really goes to show that you can masturbate with a crucifix all you want, but all it really takes is a little bit of blood in just the right way to make someone fall down.
What’s your favorite disgusting scene?