The State of Things – By Josh Samford

How ya doing kiddos? When talking to a mass group of strangers as I hope I am doing by writing this article, I don’t know if I particularly care to know the answer to that question; but it makes for good conversation. When you’re dealing a free-form writing excercize about anything and everything, like I am doing here, ignoring your audience is usually a good idea – since I get the feeling a lot of this is going to be seen as blathering insensitive retardation: which I don’t particularly see as a negative. At least not for little old me.

So, is this a rant? Nah, not really, not angry enough. I wish I could go off on a tangent like Maddox and gripe you all out for wasting your time on [insert popular sitcom/movie/musician] – but hey, who am I? I guess I will offer some opinions. Right now, the state of North American horror and, if you want to call it by the name, cult cinema is at one peculiar turning point. It’s hard to particularly guage this moment in horror cinema against any other movement out there – but North America is contributing possibly some of the most interesting work in the world of horror cinema if you can believe it. I know, after all the Screams, I Know What You Did Last Summers and even Final Destinations – to think of us Americans (and Canadians) as being on top of the map once again in any respectible (or not) field is kind of an odd turn of events. Believe it or not though, I see things in just that manner. We’re finally stepping up to the plate; but it’s not all gravy. Our filmmakers here in the western hemisphere may be making some of the most groundbreaking and often repulsive films – but we’re all asking the question about how far is too far.

Where the debate in the past has been about realistic effects and gory slasher films; this new wave of independent cinema is pushing the boundaries of just how real is too real? With films like the August Underground series, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls and Murder Set Pieces – the obsession with realism and sadistic killers is being pushed to the limits. No longer would you watch one of these serial killer films, getting inside the head of the killer as you would in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Now we’re often witnessing random carnage displayed in brutally graphic ways with no repentence. Often times with no sense of justice ever delivered. Mixed in is as much reality as can be imagined. With Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, an obsession with Emetophelia (aka: Puking, some people get off to it, as the director does) is in full force. Real human purging, eating, etc. Sickening, well duh! The August Underground series also features real vomit at times when the scene demands it (hehehe), as well as a Blair Witch/Cannibal Holocaust style documentary setting – giving you the absolute most disturbing of experiences.

Now, I’m not standing on some pedistal or any of that noise, but my personal feelings? I’m glad to see someone other than Japan taking steps in directions others were scared to walk in as of late, but is it for me? I’m not so sure. Not that I’m a sissy, I really didn’t even find Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh & Blood to be outlandishly hard to take – but I’m just not attracted to this obsession with realism; but taken out of reality. Where killers kill with utmost brutality but never have a worry about police intervention. Where the moral of the story tends to be: people gon’ get real dead. Not that I demand any kind of morality check; but I guess I’m just a stickler for a true cinematic experience. So, with all that said, am I pansy who is too old school for his own good? I gots no idea. Heck, maybe I’m just not goth enough. That could be a stereotypical possibility, but I’ll leave it up to you. All I can say is that with mainstream films like Hostel and The Devil’s Rejects being released along with these obscure little terrors – the future of American horror is actually seeming pretty bright for those of us who enjoy a good exploitation-tinged horror flick. We’re in a growing phase right now, but it’s nice for the eyes of the world to be on us once again.