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Kyle Smith

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October 25, 2013 - 11:00 am
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Maniac2012

Looking for a Halloween horror movie that goes beyond screaming-babysitter and haunted-house cliches? Some of the most disturbing, vile, disgusting and off-the-hook films ever made are available on Netflix’s instant streaming service.

Here are six incredibly twisted experiences that will have you whimpering with disbelief. Tasteless? Wicked? Exploitative? These films are all of these things and then some. Don’t watch them, if you have any sense whatsoever.

6. Maniac (2012)

Even more violent and depraved than the trend-setting 1980 original (which isn’t available to stream on Netflix), this slasher flick involves the mommy-fixated owner (Elijah Wood) of a mannequin store who prowls the night in search of women to stab. Even sicker: He keeps the scalps to top off his mannequins in a fly-ridden room. You’ll almost smell the rotting flesh.

“If it’s possible to be both impressed and appalled by a movie’s pull-no-punches savagery,” wrote The A/V Club, “Maniac earns that dubious distinction.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Sorry, but as long-time student of film with a passion for paranormal (aka sci-fi & 'horror') movies, I have to disagree that 'slasher' or 'sadist' movies are really horror. I don't know what you'd call them (since I have never cared for them [at least in their modern--'70s & beyond--incarnation]), but w/o an element of the supernatural I don't see how something like "Saw" or "I Spit on Your Grave" can be called 'horror.' I'm old school. The Universal monsters of the '30s & '40s and the Hammer Studios updates of the '60s are more up my alley. We all know that the success of Hitchcock's "Psycho" gave birth to what we now, sadly, call 'horror.' Michael Myers & Jason Voorhees literally and figuratively destroyed the horror genre (which then morphed into the 'torture porn' of "Hostel" et al.). In the 2000s, the one thing that saved horror was the influx of Asian paranormal cinema. "The Ring" & "The Grudge" revitalized a dead genre that has now given way to a lot of pretty good ghost/possession/'other side' films like "The Woman in Black" and "The Conjuring." I think people want mood, atmosphere, and a good story again; not just blood & guts & 'psychos.' That's why you can go ahead and flush that whole list above.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
After having read a lot of true crime, accounts of serial killers by FBI profilers, I just can't find entertainment in the slasher/torture films. It just reminds me that there are people in this world who really do get off on doing these kinds of things.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Watch them? I wish I hadn't read about them. That is some sick stuff.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (25)
All Comments   (25)
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There's a difference between horror and revulsion.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
How ironic that "Jaws" was supposed to be series of explicit scenes of people getting eaten by a shark, but budget constraints and a malfunctioning mechanical shark forced Spielberg to go for suspense instead. You hardly even see the shark for the first hour, until it suddenly rises out of a chum slick in one of the greatest cinematic sucker punches ever.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, but as long-time student of film with a passion for paranormal (aka sci-fi & 'horror') movies, I have to disagree that 'slasher' or 'sadist' movies are really horror. I don't know what you'd call them (since I have never cared for them [at least in their modern--'70s & beyond--incarnation]), but w/o an element of the supernatural I don't see how something like "Saw" or "I Spit on Your Grave" can be called 'horror.' I'm old school. The Universal monsters of the '30s & '40s and the Hammer Studios updates of the '60s are more up my alley. We all know that the success of Hitchcock's "Psycho" gave birth to what we now, sadly, call 'horror.' Michael Myers & Jason Voorhees literally and figuratively destroyed the horror genre (which then morphed into the 'torture porn' of "Hostel" et al.). In the 2000s, the one thing that saved horror was the influx of Asian paranormal cinema. "The Ring" & "The Grudge" revitalized a dead genre that has now given way to a lot of pretty good ghost/possession/'other side' films like "The Woman in Black" and "The Conjuring." I think people want mood, atmosphere, and a good story again; not just blood & guts & 'psychos.' That's why you can go ahead and flush that whole list above.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I call them legal snuff porn...
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree. The original "The Haunting" has no violence or blood and is one of the scariest films I've ever seen.

Let's not forget the European/Italian element to the sex/gore craze starting in the late '60s early '70s. I remember an Italian film from then where a women is repeatedly seized where she is staying with women in an old big house. She is bound and gagged and then has razor blades taped to her eyes so she can't close them as the murderer kills a woman in front of her. Then she is set free til next time.

That's pretty brutally stupid stuff. I'm not sure what kind of mind comes up with stuff like that. Lovecraft used to scare me crazy, reading him alone at night. Again, no blood, no gore, no violence. I remember reading a paperback called "Bloch and Bradbury." Same thing, really frightened. It was with relief I got to the last story.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Glad you mentioned "Woman in Black" and "The Conjuring" I was thinking the same thing when watching those movies. Getting back to the old days with paranormal good vs evil without the grossout effects. Good ghost stories involve a wronged spirit returning to try to set things right from a past injustice.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
After having read a lot of true crime, accounts of serial killers by FBI profilers, I just can't find entertainment in the slasher/torture films. It just reminds me that there are people in this world who really do get off on doing these kinds of things.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well said. I'm the same way.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
And yet some classic "horror" stories are the original tales collected by the brothers Grimm. No lack of slashing or of torture there, or in such tales as those descending from the resettling of the British Isles/Ireland by the Gaels, replacing the FirBolg with the TuathaDeDaanan.

The slasher/torture genre is not new, it's just been more new to the screen than some other film genres.

Some day I hope to see the Kalevala done with modern film-making techniques, I'll be glad of the day.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once upon a time horror meant something with lots of atmosphere, usually a rather slow build-up, and where the main characters were, more often than not, the ordinary people fighting against the monster, and clearly heroes. They often won in the end too.

Then the monster became the main character, and the victims started to morph towards more and more unpleasant, still ordinary people but ones you were likely to start hating, and you'd look forward to their gory ends. Atmosphere and slow build-up was replaced with guts, blood and dismembered bodies. No clear divisions anymore between the monster and the victims, they are all just different degrees of the same, and often there is nothing you could call actually good - and those rare times there is good it tends to lose, one way or another, either the good person dies, fails to save anyone or gets corrupted herself. Or all three, especially when we are talking about a longer series of movies.

No, I don't think modern 'horror' says anything particularly good about our society. The monster is the hero now, and good can never win, even those times it exists at all.

Besides, the damn things are no longer scary - I do not count the occasional jump 'scare', when something unexpected happens, as scary, that's just a reflex. Most times they are just disgusting. And if I wanted to get grossed out I could get that for free by doing some dumpster diving. That way I might even find some occasional treasures, and maybe get money instead of losing it.

I used to like horror movies, but I haven't watched anything with that branding for years. Well, we do still have something like that, only now it's in the 'action' category. Like those zombie flicks where the main characters actually manage to survive. I do rather miss the slower old horror, though.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't like Horror? Don't watch it. I thought the remake of "I Spit on Your Grave" was pretty entertaining. But I love a good Revenge movie. Those guys messed with the wrong chick. I like movies that are scarier than hell. Some of my favorites are: Silence of the Lambs, 30 Days of Night, The Loved Ones (totally sick) and, for an olden goldie: The Conqueror Worm, with the great Vincent Price.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
The original Carrie was the defining moment in movie history when creating horror morphed from creating scary entertainment to bundling carnage.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was a kid I was a HUGE horror film fan - my older brother got Famous Monsters of Filmland (RIP, Forry!), Monster World, etc. The old Aurora model kits of The Mummy, Frankenstein, etc. were a staple of my childhood.

True horror films are barely made any more. As Thane points out below, most of them are just torture porn. I refuse to watch any of the Saw films or Hostel for that reason.

Two good horror films from the 90s (which in the old days might have been called "chillers": "Flatliners", and "Stir of Echoes", both, oddly enough, starring Kevin Bacon.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Slasher and Gore flicks are a subset of horror. They picked up because the cheap sensory gags and brutality were easier to throw together than a genuinely well crafted and frightening tale.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Slash and gore films can work when they're so over the top and silly that they're more comedy than genuine horror. And likewise slasher movies that don't focus on gore and sadism and instead focus on suspense can also work. I think the genre that Kyle most highlights here is what another commenter named - torture porn.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I should have known that the Human Centipede would be on here. I really think that entry in particular ought to have a warning before the description that readers might not want to continue. It's something I wish I could erase from my memory, something I wish I didn't know existed (I unexpectedly read it somewhere myself).

I used to be a bit of a fan of horror films, but they stopped having any value when they stopped exploring questions like what it means to be human and good vs. evil. Instead, today's so-called horror films are only about finding ever more gruesome ways to torture, demean and destroy the human body (and humanity itself, by extension). There is perhaps still one interesting thing about the genre: a culture's monsters say a lot about that culture (think Beowulf, for example). I haven't quite decided what our monsters say about us, but it isn't anything good.

Once I had my baby, I really had no stomach for watching the torture of the human body.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Back in the '80s there was a sleeper film called Lady in White which was an excellent ghost story. I also like the original Fright Night. I haven't seen a "horror" movie that didn't bore me silly since. I watched Saw. It was garbage (and boring)
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Torture porn. I'm not sure when that term originated, perhaps around the time of the first "Saw" movie. You are right that that is what most of these "horror" movies really are about. Even the old "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies had that element of good vs. evil. Most modern horror movies are just splatterfilms.

In my teens and 20's I was a big horror fan. However, they deteriorated in quality so quickly in the 1990's that it wasn't worth bothering with them. The older ones which relied more on character, atmosphere and story rather than gore were better.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think it was around Hostel. The first 2 Saw movies were pretty strong but not quite the sadism fests of the later entries in the series and in post-Hostel movies. (And Hostel's director Eli Roth has admitted that the film is indeed a comment on the extremes of pornography.) But I would still argue that several of the Saw movies and the first Hostel have at least more creativity and artistry and substance to them than the kind of stuff on the list here. They're defensible as extreme but still within the realm of acceptability in the R-rated horror genre.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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