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lloydbird's avatar

What is the appeal of extremely violent films?

Asked by lloydbird (8725points) February 21st, 2010

Some of the films of Tarrantino come to mind, but I am sure that there are others. I abandoned his Kill Bill film about half way through because I just found it ridiculous and couldn’t see the point. It is not that I find such violence unbearably disgusting, just shallow and tedious.
I also had the misfortune of watching his Inglorious Basterds film and was truly disgusted. I cannot believe how people are raving about this piece of gratuitously violent, puerile drivel! Just what is the attraction?

It calls to mind what adolescent boys would discuss when trying to outgross each other.
Am I missing something?
What does it say about you if you like this sort of stuff?
What does it say about you if you don’t?

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34 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

It’s a fantasy thing albeit a grim one.

Vunessuh's avatar

There are some people who can’t see past the violence to be able to appreciate such a film whether it be the story line or character development or the cinematography.
I’m sorry you couldn’t see past it because Inglourious Basterds was a truly amazing piece of work.
I find it funny that people get pissy about Tarantino glorifying violence when there are 65289 other directors who do the same damn thing. Perhaps it’s because he’s so famous and has a huge following.
Another thing, the violence makes it real. I would never want to watch a film where it was watered down or sugar coated from what actually happened. Granted, Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill aren’t solely based on true stories, but why would you make an action thriller and a war film without some blood and guts?

Just stick to Nights in Rodanthe from now on and you’ll be fine.

Fuchsia's avatar

I loved Kill Bill’s dramatic approach to violence. My favorite scene was Gogo fighting Uma and the scene where O’Ren runs across the table and slices off the guy’s head and a fountain of blood that looks like a decorative water sprinkler sprays from his neck!!!! Awesome!!!

Anyway, in response to your questions, it just has to do with personal preference in movies. It doesn’t mean anything really. For me, suspenseful movies, fight movies, and action movies give me a little adrenaline rush. I also find dark comedies entertaining. I thought it was funny the way the guy’s ear was sliced off in Reservoir Dogs. Some people watch movies with the desire to be emotionally moved. Some people like to watch movies they can get off on. I watch movies to be entertained and I find controled, FAKE violence to be entertaining.

LunaChick's avatar

Inglourious Basterds was one of the best films of last year. It was a fantasy war film – did you want them to be prancing through fields of flowers? War is violent, like it or not. If the film didn’t show this fact, it would not have been anywhere near as good as it was.

The opening scene was so intense – one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen in any movie.

I’m also a fan of horror movies/books, so maybe I’m just a sicko. ;)

jazzjeppe's avatar

Good question. Even though I believe that violence in movies results in a decline in understanding the real effects of violence in reality, I do have to admit I belong to the group of people that enjoys a bit of slashing now and then. Especially movies that are, how weird it may sound, humoring violence, using it as a tool of humor. Such as Tarantino and Peter Jackson in his early movies.

But I see your point, violence isn’t and should never be entertainment, but unfortunately that’s where the entertainment industry is headed. It is disgusting in that way. But still I can’t keep from enjoying it from time to time. That being said I am also pretty convinced I can “handle it” – the entertainment violence vs real violence. If one cannot, well, that’s when it gets real ugly.

I have done a lot of thinking about this and I think I need to do some more thinking…Good question.

absalom's avatar

It’s usually farcical in Tarantino’s case, isn’t it?

Otherwise I find that everyone is fascinated with violence to at least a small degree. You can’t tell me you haven’t driven by a wreck on the freeway and been even mildly interested.

Berserker's avatar

Stupid mindless violence is awesome.

While it often is the center piece, movies like Hostel or Zombieland do have stories, character development and concepts. It’s up to you whether or not you pay attention to them. Zombie movies often have metaphors to something or another, and slasher films that never die are a sick pleasure to follow when it comes to the absurd stories, dramatization and the trends of the time period it was made in make for an interesting, if sometimes not laughable attempt at setting in realism to draw out the fear factor.

There’s other stuff included, even if thrill factor and violence is the primary aspect…in which case, people have this sick desire to feel disgust and fear in the comfort of their own home. And why not? It’s a good way to relieve stress, laugh a little or otherwise have something stir up your emotions. Fear slaps the soul, and souls need much slapping, so to speak. It’s healthy. That’s why movies exist, whether you’re looking for a deep story about cowboys cheating on their wives or people bashing one another and painting walls red.
You get to explore a darker side of man, even if it’s all fake and hardly realistic. It’s also art if you ask me, and everyone likes art, even those of us who don’t limit themselves to fruit bowls and flower vases.
And even better if it DOES look real. As long as it isn’t, you know?

That said, movie violence isn’t real life violence. If you’ve ever seen someone getting punched out in real life, or the body of someone who was brutally killed, either through murder or a car accident or suicide, you’ll come to appreciate the light hearting of movie gore.

Not saying everyone is, or should be, into it, but even if violence is all there is, which often isn’t the case, it’s just morbid fun. It isn’t real, and therefore does not compliment one’s motivation to kill or slaughter people in real life.
If it does, then the person has a problem, and the film mainly adhered to an already sick mind which would have acted eventually, regardless.

Movie genres are often a lot more complicated and intricate than some initial facades seem to present, so you can’t really use that to define much of a person who enjoys a certain genre. If you do, really you’re as shallow as you might accuse them to be for enjoying gore.

I love horror because it brings me into a world where solving problems is easier. That’s all I ever watch is horror. But I’ve never killed anyone, I don’t have the desire to, and I know the line between ficiton and real life. What does that say about me, do you think?

Stuff like that also compliments the imagination, that is if you have one, most especially because of the monotony of seeing someone release 583490 gallons of blood from a nose bleed. Denno if it makes any sense, but really, guts and bones are just a nice little treat, as in icing on a cake.

Hmmm, juxtaposition.

Morbid fascination. Curiosity. It’s part of us, a remnant of the animal within, much more sternly tied in movies than in third world countries where you get your head lopped off for not believing in the right thing.

ucme's avatar

Essentially it’s escapist fantasy.Anyway, it’s good to see the bear jew beat the shit out of nazi scum with a baseball bat.Batter up!!

davidbetterman's avatar

These films excite people who haven’t the cahonies to do the same.

DominicX's avatar

I’m not into extremely violent films and I probably wouldn’t want to see the film you’re referring to. Violence (actually gore is more accurate here) makes me sick, it makes me uneasy, it makes me look away from the screen. Not my thing.

Now, in a movie like Taken, where there isn’t much gore, but all the bad guys get killed, it’s just satisfying seeing them killed. If it was all blood splattered everywhere and guts flying, then no thanks. I think it was the lack of gore in that movie that made the violence tolerable.

For the most part, I enjoy movies without violence/gore.

lloydbird's avatar

I don’t have a problem with violence in films when it is realistically done and properly in context with the story being told, I can even see the funny side of movie gore, but when it comes to dominate the film as an expected trade mark of a particular director or is couched in ridiculously unrealistic fight scenes, I tend to part company. And in such circumstances, I fail to see the entertainment factor. I may as well be watching the goings on in the local abattoir!

JLeslie's avatar

I hate violence, I also hate scary movies, I wonder if most people who hate one hate both like me? I really think some people are wired differently in their brain. Ihave found that people who like scary movies also are generally more thrill seeking, having a “need for speed” things like that. I figure they get a different kind of chemical rush from these things than someone like me. All of this is just my observation of people I know, I have never read anything about it. I also think that people who don’t mind, or even enjoy violent movies do not identify with the characters being hurt. When I watch something like that I think about the pain it inflicts if it were real.

SeventhSense's avatar

It’s just another expression of an artist’s palette and can be quite disturbing and effective when done right such as in Goodfellas or Pulp Fiction. Sometimes it can have quite an impact when used to tell a story about a counterculture for example.

Tarrantino can get completely silly and strangely dark at times and ironically that is sometimes his most effective. Such as Lucy Lieu beheading her enemies with precision in a boardroom or Travolta accidentally shooting a hostage. Although he kind of loses touch at times and can easily drift into B movie excess.

His last movie was a perfect example of this schizophrenia. He started with some brilliant movie making with wry and cutting commentary and then ¾ through the movie just went into a sharp descent into banality. As if a child was pissing on his own carefully crafted art project. In considering directors there is hard to find anyone better in interesting time distortions, and risks with violent subject matter than Tarantino. Yet for overall skill and confluence with writing it’s hard to beat the likes of Coppola or Scorsese in realistic depictions of violence that are plot driven as much as sensational such as Raging Bull, the Godfather or Gangs of NY.

LunaChick's avatar

@SeventhSense – I don’t think Tarantino drifts into B movie excess…he dives in head first. It’s part of his appeal.

cbloom8's avatar

These are for people who, for whatever reason, have an inclination towards violence. These movies allow them to be violent through the movie instead of in real life.

SeventhSense's avatar

@LunaChick
That’s true. I guess I’m saying that sometimes his approach feels disjointed. I think he actually is best in short films such as his contribution to Four Rooms. His portion with Tim Roth in the Penthouse with Bruce Willis was far superior to the other three scenes. Also in Pulp Fiction he has an interesting time distortion where the beginning middle and end were all mixed up and they almost had the feel of different films yet in that case with a definite confluence.

Trillian's avatar

Yeah. Not a Tarantino fan. And as a movie director, I think that Rob Zombie is a great musician. I don’t like movies with pointless violence, gore, or sex.
Unless it’s a Zombie movie. (A non – Rob Zombie) I have no excuse. They terrify me on a visceral level, make me jump and scream all the way through, my heart races and yet I freely admit that the appeal for me is undeniable. It may be linked to the appeal for me of a roller coaster. I love roller coasters.
I like to see a good horror movie and if the blood is integral to the story, I’m ok with it. I prefer it to be realistic as opposed to cheesy.
I do not equate horror movies with “extremely violent” ones. I think it’s a completely different thing. Movies like Devils Rejects, The Hills Have Eyes, Hostel, The Saw and even the Final Destination franchises, are nothing more that excuses for filming elaborate ways to mutilate the human body. IMHO anyway.
So what is the appeal of the pointless gore? Again, IMHO, I think it’s a symptom of something much darker on our society that has to do with the desensitization to which we are subjected. It’s like a drug that requires larger doses to get the same effect. I hate to keep beating the same drum over and over, but the parallel between our society and that of Rome is once again brought into sharp focus. We need to see more elaborate dismemberment because the effects that freaked us out ten years ago make us laugh today. And as a society, we are not able to recognize this.
There was a study done recently; A reality show was advertised and contestants were to apply for positions on the show. They were asked if they would be willing to eat human flesh. They were also presented with meat and told that it was human and told that they had to eat it to be on the show.(it was pork) Over half said that they were willing, and I believe more than half actually ate the meat. I’m trying to find the study, for those of you who want hard figures.
The point is that we as a society are so jaded, so completely desensitized that we need that stimulation to get off. It will not surprise me if we have true blood sport like the Romans had within the next ten years.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Trillian
Today I find really dark movies like Saw to be very strange but some people look at their capacity to overcome their fears as therapeutic. I remember as a kid sneaking into see Halloween in the theater. I was 11 at the time and had to walk home like 2 miles past a cemetery at night. Who even knew where my mother was.. probably working. Yet somehow I wanted to be strong or overcome my fears. Probably easier than home..
I do agree though we need to consider very carefully ratcheting up the level of desensitization to others pain both real or imagined. But fear and excitement are often quite close on the emotional scale. If you note a disturbing event or accident hits you at the base of your spine or root not unlike a thrilling prospect with a new lover.

As to the flesh eaters. I imagine most people just thought it was a gag as very few people would so blatantly have a cannibalistic casting call outside of a South Sea Island

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I’ve never been attracted to horror films or any films that glorify gratuitous violence. That includes exorcisms and films depicting supposed demon possession.

Instrumental violence depicted in telling a compelling story does not put me off.

I have no deep psychological insight about groups of people with different tastes in films.

While excessive exposure to violence may desensitize impressionable young people to realistic violence that may transfer to real world behaviour, many mature adults enjoy this kind of high tension and explosive violence without exhibiting any violent, antisocial behaviour at home or in their daily life.

I don’t see the appeal of extremely violent films, but I see no basis for attempting to prevent such films from being made and exhibited to suitable audiences.

faye's avatar

They don’t appeal to me- instead of good writing they do hardly dressed teens and violence.

TexasDude's avatar

We get a survival rush off of imagining what it would be like if someone was cutting our heels with razor blades, or eating our eyeballs, or whatever the violent flavor of the week is in movies.

TexasDude's avatar

delicious balls

SeventhSense's avatar

nothin like some tasty Schweaty Balls

Kraigmo's avatar

I saw some movie with Brad Pitt where he played a drug using homeless predator guy. He did good playing the part, but the movie was stupid. Lots of pointless violence. And yes, this movie is tame, compared to films like Fargo or The Saw.

A brilliant film can be excused for violence. Such as Schindler’s List. But Fargo, it was all gratuitous and pointless. Same goes for that Brad Pitt film whatever it was.

The gratuitous violence appeals to a simplistic type of mindset. It’s natural for teens and kids. But adults who learn what real fun is in life get beyond stupid little thrills like pointless violence on film. Sometimes a story requires it. Then it’s not pointless.

Unless a story truly requires it, the handling of violence should be done like Hitchcock did in the 50’s and 60s.

faye's avatar

I think for Fargo it was supposed to be kind of funny.- loved that movie

YARNLADY's avatar

Some people seem to get some kind o vicarious experience from these things, and it is cathartic.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Kraigmo The Coen brothers are brilliant, and Fargo is my favorite movie of theirs. It was a dark comedy crime film that earned 7 academy award nominations and winning two awards, one for best original screenplay. It was definitely a bit violent, but I’d leave the gratuitous definition for a film like Natural Born Killers. There is nothing simplistic about a Coen movie.

TheJoker's avatar

For me, it’s that I’ve become so desensitised to violence that it takes something really extreme to get a reaction.

mattbrowne's avatar

For ancient hunters aggression and the killing of animals was a way of life.

Attacking a $7.99 plastic-wrapped flank steak with all the power of our archaic instincts seems to give us infinitely more satisfaction when our 3000-watt Dolby Surround home theater Pioneer Premier subwoofers blast out the loud roar of a power tool, while Gaear keeps pushing Carl’s dismembered foot down into the woodchipper on our new 63-inch Fujitsu HDTV plasma screen.

It guarantees you one hell of a hunt.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have no idea. It just looks silly to me.

Berserker's avatar

If yall want a good laugh, check out Wrong Turn 3.

Kraigmo's avatar

I don’t get the Fargo thing. I’ll have to trust @jonsblond and @faye for seeing something that I can’t see.

Which reminds me, this is why its never good for governments or committees to ban movies of any sort, unless the person in the film is a victim of a real crime committed while making the film.

Misspegasister28's avatar

It’s just primitive.

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