The title makes sense- Pumpkinhead 4: Blood Feud

I’ve finally waded all the way through to the end of Pumpkinhead 4 and the series has had its ups and downs. This is a down. I actually blame the third film for my thoroughly mediocre feelings towards this one, as if it hadn’t been acceptable this wouldn’t be such a let down. Nevertheless, as a fearless schlock killer, I did put this on straight after three and this is the only way I can describe it: Have you ever been to a small seaside town in the summer (Doesn’t matter what country)? You have a great time, the sun’s shining, people are happy, you eat ice cream and drink beer on the beach. It’s all very pleasant. Now, imagine (and I went to university in a town where this is really analogous) you return to the small village in January- the sky is gunmetal grey, there are tumbleweeds composed entirely of forlorn flyers blowing around the street, the rain is lashing down and all the locals have resentful and unhappy faces. It’s technically the same place, you can recognise all the same landmarks, and the beer still tastes the same, but it’s a totally different and much more rotten experience.

I’m tempted to give up on the quest to find a horror series with a good final part. I know that there are examples out there, but they usually contain at least one colossal misfire along the way, and the last part is usually so painful and obnoxious that it makes me look less fondly on the other parts along the way. Pumpkinhead 4 isn’t that bad, thankfully, it isn’t a Candyman 3, Leprechaun Back 2 Da Hood, or Halloween with Busta Rhymes (there are remakes, you say? What sort of pervert would do that?)  but it certainly isn’t a Seed of Chucky, New Nightmare or even Jason X (what they remade those last 2 as well? Really? I’m sure nobody would be that stupid).

Pumpkinhead 4: Blood Feud opens with a bang. Pumpkinhead (a really wank, shitty, unacceptable version of Pumpkinhead) is jumping like a flea on speed through the woods chasing down two arseholes on dirt bikes (a nice nod to the first film). One of them is killed and the other (Rob Freeman) arrives at a cabin in the woods. Inside the cabin is the man responsible for raising Pumpkinhead. After a bit of chat, Rob shoots the summoner and Pumpkinhead dissipates. Lance appears to tell him that it isn’t over, and he’ll have to pay at some unnamed point before disappearing. Fast forward 5 years into the future and  we’re introduced to two clans: The McCoys and the Hatfields. The McCoys are painted as being the more upper class of the two, and the Hatfields are rough redneck types (incidentally the film forgets this about 10 minutes in and they both become rural inbreds). The youngest McCoy, Ricky (played with a complete absence of talent by Bradley Taylor) is having an affair with Jodie Hatfield (an excruciating turn by Amy Manson, another cut price Scottish Actress now working in TV land in the UK). These star-crossed lovers (aren’t I fucking clever, well, smarter than the dickheads that came  up with this tripe, anyway) are conducting their affair behind their families’ backs. Jodie’s family find out, and an unfortunate accident occurs resulting in the death of Ricky’s sister. Ricky, as a result, turns to the Witch Haggis for vengeance and the chance to be free with his “beloved”. As romantic gestures go, this one isn’t going to cut it. I can’t imagine Mrs. Jarv would be particularly enamoured with me if I raised an angry vengeance demon and had him slaughter every man, woman and child that she was related to, but never mind. Events rapidly spiral out of control (Lance turns up every now and again to tell Jodie that “only she can end it”- which, by the way is utter horseshit), the two clans unite to fight off Pumpkinhead and Jodie kills Ricky. The End.

What a load of shit. Now I write it down, it’s worse than when I was watching it. I don’t know which semi-literate and point- missing fucknut decided to try to crowbar Romeo and Juliet into the Pumpkinhead series, but I suspect that this started life as a script intended for something else entirely. We’ve spent 2 films in this town, how come we haven’t heard of either of these families? Especially considering one of them, apparently, “Ruined the town”. This, actually, is indicative of the abject toss that passes for writing here, another pertinent example is that the “blood feud” started over a fucking car, and when the families make up, it’s because McCoy presents Hatfield with the same car the fucking argument was over. Incidentally, this film is meant to be set in the present day, and yet everything about it screams out “depression era”. The car at root of the dispute looks, for example, like it’s from the Untouchables (an ideal car for rural America, I don’t think), no cunt seems to have electricity or running water and so forth.

Then there are the rabid inconsistencies in the writing. For example, the two families (with a bit of help from Sherriff Dallas, the cunt that survived at the start) meet up and work out what they have to do to kill Pumpkinhead (kill Ricky), yet Lance keeps turning up and telling Jodie that only she can do it. Why? What the fuck is so special about her? Surely any cunt with a big gun could deal with that whiny little bastard. I’ll do it with a rusty spoon just to get him to fuck off, actually.

Who's seen Alien 3 then?

So far, so awful, and I’m not even started yet. The acting is on a par with the writing. Manson is diabolically dreadful, that cunt from Ugly Betty is annoying and wooden, and the rest of the supporting cast are hugely irritating. However, worst of the lot, by a long way, is Bradley Taylor as Ricky. Ricky is an obnoxious, whiny, stupid, pathetic, cretinous, useless, moronic, smug, idiotic waste of the time his parents should have spent playing scrabble. Taylor manages to take this character and put in a performance so bad that it isn’t even funny. It’s as if he thinks he was auditioning for True Blood here., and I’m unsurprised to see that he’s not been in anything else since. He’s a shitty fucking actor and I’m glad he’s sunk without trace, not to mention that he’s got a face you would never get tired of punching. Actually, he looks a bit like a slightly douchier version of that cunt in Deadgirl. The only exceptions to the level of suckitude are Lance and the Witch (played this time by the returning Lynne Verrall- another cut price British Actress). Their exchanges are the only bits of the film that could remotely be called “acting”, and they are actually both quite good. So kudos to them.

I’m really beating the shit out of this film here, and I’m making it sound like a huge failure. It isn’t that bad, being far better than  part 2, it’s just not as good as either part 1 or part 3. There are, however, two things about Pumpkinhead 4 that redeem it. The first is that there is a massive amount of gore and violence in this film. I think, honestly, that it’s far messier than the other 3 put together. Pumpkinhead rips off heads, tears out spines, opens up chests, crushes skulls and so forth (this is the only one where you see him actually kicking some arse- even though it does look like his victims are forming an orderly queue), and this is the film with the single nastiest scene of the series- a man has to cut his own leg off to get out of a bear trap. Ouch. The effects in this are all practical and all good- with one in particular (the spine removal that showers the camera with blood) being spectacular. The other redeeming feature is the score- it’s a flagrant rip off of The Terminator (at least I think it is) and is both atmospheric and effective.

Overall, I do not rate this at all, it’s crap, actually and a depressingly lacklustre way to end the series. This is a monumentally ill-conceived attempt to force a story that does not work into a series not designed for it. Even were the acting, writing and the rest top-notch (which they certainly aren’t) this would still fail by duty of the clichéd and irritating central narrative. Purely for the carnage and the score I give this film 1.5 Changs.

As for the series as a whole: well, it’s patchy. The first one is great fun, and thoroughly enjoyable, the second is shit, the third is surprisingly acceptable and the last is pretty mediocre to shit. So, as a series, I give Pumpkinhead a completely in the middle 2 Changs- 2 films worth watching out of 4 is about as average as it gets.

I’m thinking about Children of the Corn next, but don’t hold out a lot of hope for it.



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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

179 responses to “The title makes sense- Pumpkinhead 4: Blood Feud”

  1. Continentalop says :

    Ok, I didn’t read anything in your excellent review that said otherwise, but are the two families really the Hatfields and the McCoys? Really?

  2. kloipy says :

    Yeah I was wondering that too. I guess Old Romero was a fan of Pumpkinhead 4 as it would explain Survival of the Dead. Another great review Jarv. I think Children of the Corn would be a good series, though I still think Puppet Master is a good choice as well. Just wait until you get to COTC: Urban Harvest

    • Jarv says :

      Were the Hatfields and McCoys in Survival of the Dead or something? I won’t watch another Dead film since Diary so don’t know.

      • kloipy says :

        i think he calls them something different but it’s the same story

      • Continentalop says :

        Well the two families seem to be based on the Hatfields and the McCoys is SotD as well. But at least Romero changed the last name.

      • Jarv says :


        Romeo and Juliet with zombies?

      • Continentalop says :

        What kloipy said.

      • kloipy says :

        I haven’t seen the movie some I’m just going off what I heard, but it takes place in I guess after Diary of the dead, but these folks live on an island and have gone back to the old ways. And they fued as well.

      • Droid says :

        Xi reviewed it.

      • Jarv says :

        Oh for fuck’s sake.

        Romero you hack.

      • Jarv says :

        Just finished reading it. SotD isn’t like this- this is honestly more Romeo and Juliet than anything else.

        The fact that it feels like they’re fucking primitive is entirely down to the shitty design. I wonder if this wasn’t meant to originally be Pumpkinhead set in the Depression era, actually, but they had lance under contract so just shovelled it into the modern day.

        Having said that, Pumpkinhead does kill someone in a wheelchair. Which is funny.

      • kloipy says :

        I can’t understand this Jarv, because how can their be a redneck Hatfields and Mccoy’s when we all know they come from the same inbreeding?

      • Jarv says :

        You joke, but there’s a really creepy bit at the wedding at the beginning where several different McCoys keep trying to set Ricky up with his cousin.

        Not to mention when Pa Hatfield finds out that a McCoy has been nobbing his daughter. It’s all very icky.

      • Continentalop says :

        Maybe I’m misreading your comments Jarv, but it sounds like you might not be familiar with the historical Hatfields & McCoys. Or am I reading you wrong?

      • Jarv says :

        Wait, wait, wait-

        Hatfields and McCoys are real?

        off to wikipedia.

      • Jarv says :

        Holy shit!

        The escalation reached its peak during the 1888 New Years Night Massacre. Several of the Hatfield gang surrounded the McCoy cabin and opened fire on the sleeping family. The cabin was set on fire in an effort to drive Randal McCoy into the open.

        That is word for word a description (minus the deaths) of the scene just before the feud ends in Pumpkinhead 4.

        I’m tempted to go and take a Chang off it for that.

  3. kloipy says :

    Best wheelchair death was Franklin in TCM 1. Couldn’t wait for that annoying fuck to get it

  4. Droid says :

    I’m brutally disappointed that this series was as good as it was. I hope all this will be rectified when you take on my other suggestion, Children of the Corn. I aim to maintain my standards of suggesting only film series that will annoy, irritate and anger.

    • Jarv says :

      Yeah, number 3 did truly scupper your plans.

      This one wasn’t great though.

      • Droid says :

        Would you consider doing the Final Destination series?

      • Jarv says :


        I think the first one is shit, so feel no desire to sit through any of them. I’d be Orangutan of Doom awarding every time.

      • Droid says :

        Excellent! Then it’s agreed! You will document the entire Final Destination series!

      • Jarv says :

        Erm, no.

        I feel the monkey is your man for this one.

      • Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

        I liked the first Final Destination. It was a little different for a horror film and some of the kills were clever. The sequels weren’t much good, though.

        And, no, I’m not watching that series. After Highlander, no more series for awhile.

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, no problem there, Frankie. Jarvs taking care of it.

      • koutchboom says :

        I’ve seen all but the newest Final Destination film. The first three are fine, it wouldn’t be very interesting until probably the last one because I saw some clips of that and it looked dumb as hell. The first three are fine though I doubt you could come up with that much to hate about them.

      • Jarv says :

        THat’s to both Droid and Koutch as in

        Wanna bet that I’m taking care of that?


        Wanna bet that I couldn’t be extremely rude about all of them for being garbage.

        I’ll lose one of these bets, but at least I won’t have to sit through that boring wank.

      • Droid says :

        I think you’ll lose both bets.

      • koutchboom says :

        Have you seen the second one?

        That one is actually good. The car crash scene at the very begining is worth the price of admission alone. 3 is just fun and silly. I can see not really liking the first one but not hating it hardcore. I guess if you want to be the loud obnoxious guy in the theater screaming at the characters to do something that will get them out of the situations they are in, but everyone hates that fuck.

      • Droid says :

        Actually, I like the first one. But I fucking hated the second one. I think I might have seen the third one. Is there a rollercoaster in it?

      • koutchboom says :

        YEah the third one is the rollercoaster and has death by tanning bed.

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, the third one sucks, but it’s much goofier than the first two.

      • Jarv says :


        Only the first one- I hated it so much that I’m not watching another. The problem with it for me is that they’re trying to cheat death- the cause and effect stuff is well put together, but at the end of the day, you can’t avoid it.

        The whole thing bored me rigid.

      • koutchboom says :

        Thats odd. So you don’t like it because of the mechanism?

        I don’t see how its really any different than some unstoppable killer.

      • Jarv says :

        It’s hugely different. I actually consider Final Destination to be Torture Porn. Bear with me on this, and I know it is the most vanilla TP that could exist.

        Final Destination only exists to have the kids killed by ludicrous cause and effect nonsense. They aren’t fighting a villain- rather just trying to stave off death. In Halloween, say, you know (or at least strongly suspect) that Laurie is going to survive, however, in FD the teens are cheating DEATH! You can’t beat death, and the only reason that 2 of them survive the first one is that the film simply runs out of time- it finishes, remember with one of the three dying.

        If you take the kills out, which are inventive, then you’ve got nothing to watch, nothing entertaining, and nothing of merit.

        I detest those films.

      • Droid says :

        No, they figure out how the cheat death. The problem with the first one is that they stick in an unecessary “shock” ending. The film cheated with that ending, because it clearly set up the rules.

      • Jarv says :

        Sure, but once it’s done that, it made the rest of it into exactly what I described.

        I was already bored of it by then, though.

      • Droid says :

        I really liked it until the ending. That detracted from the film a lot. But I still like it. And it was a little bit unique in that it wasn’t some masked killer.

      • koutchboom says :

        I liked the ending because it just said fuck it, no one wins.

        James Wong is producing The Event, I hope it ends the same way. I can’t stand anyone on that show. Except for maybe the Sweens.

      • Droid says :

        I gave up on The Event after watching the shitty pilot episode.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah you were smart. Its fucking worthless.

      • Jarv says :

        I give it marks for oringinality, and perhaps if they hadn’t cheated their own rules with the ending then I’d be more ambivalent about it.

        It did bore me, and if it weren’t for that end I’d give it 1.5 Changs. However, like you felt in Buried, once that cynical, and frankly cheap, end scare comes in the film drops. And as I didn’t like it to begin with, it becomes an Orangutan of Doom candidate for me.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah but in that manner they are just like Jason and Freddy. Plus you just gotta see the car wreck in the second one.

      • Jarv says :

        No I don’t.

      • koutchboom says :

        I mean if you can’t enjoy that car crash Mr. Bond, then there just is no pleasing you.

        Who doesn’t enjoy a good car crash?

      • koutchboom says :

        Well I guess you already know the rules before you saw the film?

        Thats the fun of the first one, weather or not you can actually cheat death. Going into the first one not knowing anything about it and watching it unfold you aren’t sure if you can actually cheat death or not. Just going by the rules set out by the film as it goes, no one knows for sure if you can cheat death. You are just assuming/guessing that you can cheat death because you’ve always been told you can’t cheat death.

        Just like in all those Jason films they are always told you can’t beat jason, yet they always manage to in the end. So death sort of acts like a stand in for Jason. And the kills in Final Destination are just like the deaths in Freddy. So the whole film Devon Sawa is trying to figure out a way to cheat death. Sure in the end you find out you can’t, but you don’t know that until the end, the whole time you think you can. In fact I think some of them do and make it to part 3?

      • Jarv says :

        I knew nothing about it before I saw it. It isn’t really comparable to a Friday 13th film- for example, in a Friday 13th (although they would be shit without actually seeing the kills) say Jason is chasing a girl through the wood, he catches her and then the scene ends. The next day the other campers can discover the body and it’s obvious that he’s killed her.

        In Final Destination, take, for example, the bathroom scene- now if this scene took place with the guy outside and you never saw the slip on the soap and the clothes line come down before the poor fucker strangled to death the film wouldn’t work. There isn’t a tangible threat, just some cause and effect “death”.

        Saw, actually, is a bit like this as well.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah I see your point there. But there was that tension the first time you see it wondering just how the fuck these people are going to die. Just as in the freedy/jason films wondering how they are going to be killed.

        Also because of Freddy and Jason you can no longer just FADE TO BLACK, dead body the next day. Because those movies started showing MORE and MORE. Its just escalation brought on by movies before it.

        I bet there is some old ass movie about death killing people, and its just like you explained. Someone opens a door and a dead body falls out and its all just deaths doing. But we live in the age of the hamburger pizza.

      • Jarv says :

        Sure, I do appreciate that we live in the age of LCD. Is that necessarily a good thing? There are still horror films made that don’t rely on that mechanism.

      • koutchboom says :

        LCD? Least Common Denominator?

      • Jarv says :


        I feel fully confident in losing the first one and therefore losing the second.

        I lose both, but it’s worth it.

  5. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    Can I ask a serious question that’s not meant to impugn anyone’s sexuality or manliness?

    What’s with the extreme (almost puritanical) resistance to so-called ‘torture porn’?

    I don’t get it, man. Isn’t torture an aspect of many horror films? How do you decide what falls into the TP category and what doesn’t?

    For example, is The Exorcist torture porn? Or The Evil Dead? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

    I’m just curious, because Jarv and Droid seem to have become almost rabidly opposed to it (like how I’m rabidly opposed to Josh Hartnett) and I don’t really understand why.

    • koutchboom says :

      Good question Frank. You put it a lot nicer then I ever would.

    • Droid says :

      Frankie, you’re so gay.

      • Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

        Yes, but I’m not gay for Josh Hartnett. Ryan Reynolds, maybe, or Jensen Ackles; but never Josh Hartnett.

        Now please help me out here. I am just a simple west country man trying to learn something.

      • koutchboom says :

        I think TP only really applies to a certain amount of horror movies. Mainly just Hostels 1-2, Serbian Film and Martyrs. Where they soul point of the film is to torture people. Other wise its just lazy writing.

        Any other case Hills Have Eyes/The Collector/Saw/Final Destination, its just escalation because movies like Freddy/Jason/Exorcist have set the bar so high in terms of gore and gross its just about trying to out gross anything you’ve seen before.

        While there still are certain horror films that can be scary without being gory (Paranormal Activity, House Of the Devil) I think that is a lot of the fun with horror films. Seeing all the blood and guts. I mean who enjoys Dead Alive for its plot? I think gross out horror movies have just turned nastier recently, because killer monster films have gone out of style. I think Scream caused a shift in this trend to seeing people doing fucked up shit to other people. And Scream is pretty showy, so its just escalation from there.

      • Jarv says :

        Also, bear in mind that I don’t mind a bit of nastiness and gore in a film.

        What I object to is the cynicism of the genre- it’s not horror- just TP.

    • Jarv says :

      For example, is The Exorcist torture porn? Or The Evil Dead? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

      No, no and no.

      Torture Porn, for me, is if you take the torture out of the film, does it have any point. If the answer is “no” (Hostel) then that’s TP. If the answer is “yes” (Saw 1) then it isn’t.

      It’s about the glorying in the suffering of the victims- pain for gratification and that’s it.

      Take the Exorcist as an example. Say you didn’t see Regan bloodying herself with a crucifix- would the film be any worse? No, of course not. However, say you take the torture and rape out of LHOTL, would it still work as a film? No, it would be an exercise in pointlessness.

      • Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

        But isn’t the purpose of a horror film to horrify the audience?

        Torture is horrifying, therefore it seems entirely appropriate to include it in a horror film.

        I ask because I know a lot of people who like these (and I really dislike this term) ‘torture porn’ films, and none of them watch because they’re getting off on torture; they watch because the thought of being in a similar situation upsets and frightens and them (same as the thought of being chased by a loony with a knife upsets and frightens them).

        I don’t understand how a TP film ‘glorifies’ torture any more than a slasher film glorifies stabbing semi naked girls.

      • Jarv says :

        It doesn’t “glorify” torture except in a few really nasty cases.

        the term TP actually refers to the classic meaning of the word pornography not the modern one. Pornography= anything obscene and gratuitous that only serves to stimulate the base instincts of the audience for entertainment. It doesn’t mean give them a boner.

        Sure, Horror films are to horrify you. They’re also meant to scare you- they aren’t meant to be a fatuous and cretinous exercise in endurance. TP forgets the first two parts and just makes you wince. They aren’t horror films- and there’s no great skill goes into them.

      • koutchboom says :

        But I mean you compare The Exorcist to Psycho it seems fits your TP definition.

        I do agree though that new films aren’t as scary because they are too into showing, in some cases they are more thrillers than scary films. Saw one being a good example of this. Because certain thrillers are almost like horror movies. The silence of the lambs series is a good example of this.

      • Jarv says :

        Psycho doesn’t. Remember you don’t see anyone actually killed in Psycho.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah I’m not talking about Psycho I’m talking about Exorcist. Comparing the shit they show you in The Exorcist when put up against the shit they show you in Psycho it makes it seem like TP. People called The Exorcist pornogrophy when it first came out.

      • Jarv says :

        I know, but that was partially the jabs at catholicism.

        However, the point still stands, if you take the gore out of the Exorcist you’ve got a functioning and effective film. I really, really want someone to adapt it for the stage Woman in Black style because I bet that you’d be shitting yourself by the end of that.

      • Droid says :

        As much as I like the show, I think 24 glorifies torture (Conti will agree I’m sure). If Jack Bauer has to resort to torture, he always seems to get the information he’s after. But when he is tortured, he never gives up any information no matter what. That, to me, is glorifying torture.

      • koutchboom says :

        They should’ve had a throw away line in 24.

        “Hey Jake what’s your favorite movie?”


      • Droid says :

        For me, TP glorifies the pain and suffering of another human being for entertainment purposes. It’s an all encompassing description not necessarily limited to actual scenes of torture. For example, I felt Buried was something of a glorified TP film. There are no scenes of someone physically torturing another person. But its a film entirely based around the mental and physical suffering of a human being. As Jarv said, take out the torture and what do you have? Opening and end credits.

    • Droid says :

      I don’t like films that are simply an excuse to watch people die in slow/excruciatingly painful/horrifying ways. The Exorcist is not ONLY about depicting the death of someone. Neither is The Evil Dead. But films I consider TP and avoid, are ones that seem to linger on the death and the brutality. And they’re not about eliciting fear in the audience, they’re about eliciting disgust.

  6. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    Okay, here’s a follow up question.

    What films do you think fit into this torture porn category?

    • koutchboom says :

      Alvin in the Chipmunks 1-3.

    • Jarv says :

      Hostel 1 and 2 definitely.

      Hills have eyes 1


      Guinea Pig

      August Underground

      I spit on your grave

      Chaos (sorry Demon Dave Defalco)

      Saw 3

    • Droid says :

      That I’ve seen?


      The Collector


      Captivity (even the original version. I haven’t seen the one they reshot to include more torture and gore).

      And Saw is on the brink. But there’s enough of a shitty detective movie there for it to sneak by. Haven’t seen any of the sequels though.

      Haven’t seen Hostel.

      • Jarv says :

        Don’t bother. It’s fucking wank on every conceivable level and a few not even thought of yet.

      • Droid says :

        I’ve never once been remotely interested in watching it.

      • Droid says :

        See, I consider The Hills Have Eyes as being survival horror. Fucking brutal, survival horror, but I don’t see it as any different to something like House of Wax or Wrong Turn.

      • Jarv says :

        Actually, if I can ever think of something lower than the Orang of Doom to grade a film, then Hostel would get it.

      • Jarv says :

        I’ll tell you where Hills crosses the line- it’s quite early on:

        The rape and torture in the trailer. Horrifically unnecessary and grotesquely unpleasant. The character hadn’t been properly established (We just knew that she was some salesman douchebag asshole’s missus), and it was an extended scene of sheer grimy unpleasantness. Furthermore, the film actually works much better if you fast forward that scene.

        They’re fucking inbred cannibal mutants for the love of god. We know they’re bad, we don’t need to see that.

        If you take that out, then it’s survival horror.

      • koutchboom says :

        So then is Deliverance not TP because the characters are well established before the ‘Australian Hello’ happens?

      • Droid says :

        Australian Hello’

        Pathetic. And what’s more, it smacks of desperation. Either come up with something genuinely witty or give it a rest.

      • koutchboom says :

        I’m going to refer to Randy on this? Its up to him if the joke makes it to hollywood or not. Randy?

        (For this I’ll be Ellen Degeneres because she is the manliest person on the show. Jarv you are Randy Jackson (or as they say in England Sharon Osbourne) and Droid of course is Simon in both languages).

      • Jarv says :


        We care about these characters, and that scene is fucking harrowing, but it’s only one scene in the film, that’s partially hidden. If it was made now, you know it would be a full wide shot with CGI blood fountaining from ned Beatty’s torn arsehole.

        By the same score, Straw Dogs is also not TP.

    • Jarv says :

      There are also a LOT of borderline TP films, that I don’t consider to be TP.

      For example, Audition. Now this film builds to one of the most agonising torture sequences ever filmed. (Kiri Kiri Kiri) and could quite easily be classified as TP. However, I think that this horrendous ending is not as cynical and nihilistic as, say Saw 3. The film is expertly constructed (Still Miike’s best) and the feeling of abject fucking terror by the time she breaks out the needles is awful. It’s effective and it’s borderline TP.

      The reason I think it isn’t, is that if the brutality was implied (and it’s nearly a cathartic moment when she finally goes to worK), the dread of the first three quarters and the sheer wrongness of it would still carry the film.

      Second example: Saw 1.

      This isn’t TP, although I do see how it could be construed as being. It’s actually an effective thriller and not even a horror movie. The kills and bloodshed (including whacking his own leg off) are actually effectively hidden through clever editing and camerawork. Where it pisses me off, is the reveal at the end with the key going down the plughole and the fact that they couldn’t survive actually edges it (much like Final Destination) closer to TP for me.

      • Jarv says :

        Also with TP, a lot of the time the characters are blank cyphers and we just don’t give a fuck about them- they’re either flat out unlikable (hostel) or meat puppets (Saw 3) that only exist to be damaged. Where Saw 1 earns bonus points is that we DO give a fuck about the characters and don’t want them to get hurt and that, I think, helps to raise it out of the sewer.

        I quite like Saw 1, actually.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah like I said Saw 1 is a pretty amazing film. Also now knowing that it only had a budget of 1 million. WOW.

        Its always amazing how effective horror movies can be with their budgets. While something like Juno fucking cost 11 million to make? Where’d that money go?

        Though I guess it cost more to rent a house then to just film in some abandoned warehouse.

      • Jarv says :

        I’ve often wondered that.

        Saw 1 was exceptionally good considering the limitations they were under.

        I’ve got HOUSE OF THE DEVIL coming!!!


      • Droid says :

        What you were saying before about how you hated Final Destination because they couldn’t win, is what I hated about Buried. And it’s even worse because you do actually like the guy. Reynolds really is very good in it. But it’s just so fucking cynically manipulative that it shits me.

  7. Jarv says :

    How did a nice schlocky splatter film like Pumpkinhead bring out the academic TP discussion.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love me some TP discussion, but it’s faintly ironic that we’re having it on a film where a guy cuts his own leg off to get out of a bear trap before Pumpkinhead crushes his bonce under his mighty demon foot.

  8. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    I think it’s this issue of glorifying torture that’s tripping me up. I don’t understand that at all.

    I’ve seen a lot of these films with women, and in every single case those women have not remotely been excited by the glorification of torture (neither have I). What they do is sit there and wince and yelp and cover their eyes – they’re empathising with the victim, not enjoying pain and suffering.

    That, to me, is what a horror film is supposed to do.

    Sure, there are probably some people (younger guys mostly) who think it’s a hoot and a half to watch people get ripped up, but they’re in the minority.

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah thats why I’m with you Frank, thats why I only see films like Hostal and Serbian film as TP. Because those films show people enjoying the pain and have scenes showing us that, not showing it to us from the victims POV.

      • Jarv says :

        Oh, that’s a bullshit distinction. It’s more about the way it’s filmed, and the purpose of it.

        Saw 1 for example- there’s an excrutiating trap in that with razor wire and the fat guy- however it’s deliberately obscured and you can’t see what’s going on.

        Saw 3 for example has an excrutiating trap where a guy gets ripped apart. And you can see every damned thing.

        Neither scene shows people taking pleasure in it, but the second is TP and the first isn’t.

        And if you hear the commentary on the Saw 2 DVD, then you know damned well that you’re meant to revel in the deaths. They spell it out. It’s juvenile and moronic.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah but in that sense how is that any different then Freddy eating his prey? Or Jason cutting up some one, one limb at a time?

        Like I said its escalation.

      • Jarv says :

        There’s a sense of fun and innocence to, for want of a better expression, splatter films than there is to TP. Freddy and Jason the kills are hyperbolic and totally unrealistic. For example, in Friday 6 Jason grabs a guy by the hand and swings him into a tree, the guys body falls backwards, and there’s a big red smiley face on the bark. Jason then raises the machete that the guy was holding and there’s the arm still attached.

        This is funny, and completely unrealistic. TP in things like Hostel, later Saw etc tends to the realistic and humourless.

    • Jarv says :

      I know- but they do exist.

      It doesn’t necessarily have to glorify it- just revel in it and show every single cut etc.

      I watched hostel with Mrs. Jarv and she winced all the way through and called it unspeakable shite at the end. She’s right it is. However, at no point did she empathise with the victim. It’s nauseating stuff, but not because you care what happens, but because Roth is lovingly showing a close up of Achilles tendons being slit and well balanced people should wince when that happens to another human being.

      • koutchboom says :

        I hated Hostel mainly because the effects were shitty. Like troma level shitty.

      • Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

        Eli Roth, I think, is just a bad writer and an arrested adolescent. His problem seems to be that he can’t write sympathetic characters and he’s probably spent far too much time reading Fangoria.

        That bastard really hurts my argument.

      • Jarv says :

        Hostel is a fucking dreadful film- And the crass “point” at the end with Jay Hernandez was wilfully offensive.

        Oh, and Roth also cheats in that when chinese girl throws herself in front of a train. Way to go Eli, you fucking hack.

  9. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    Another problem I have is the whole idea of ‘torture porn’ being delineated as a genre. I’m not saying these guidelines people have for what does or doesn’t constitute TP aren’t right; I’m just saying I don’t really care, especially when those genre distinctions are used to dismiss a whole bunch of films without giving them a fair shake. It reminds me of punk rock fans who will refuse to listen to certain types of music because it doesn’t fit their narrow definition of what ‘punk’ is.

    That’s a personal thing, though. I also don’t care whether a film is noir or not, or whether a film is ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ sci-fi. Either I enjoy a film or I don’t, what box it fits into has always seemed completely irrelevant to me.

    • Jarv says :

      I’m with you, and that’s why I laid it out quite clearly. I will dismiss films as being TP shit, but I usually come to that opinion by myself.

      There are a lot of grey areas with it.

      Oh, and Roth fucks your defence right up, you’re right.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah thats what I’ve said this whole time. The whole term TP is just lazy writing and a buzz word for critics to use.

      • Jarv says :

        I agree that there’s a misuse of the term, and I’m quite careful where I apply it (see above description of Audition, say).

        Half the problem is that a lot of critics are morons and use the term without knowing what it means.

        August Underground is TP. Saw 1 is not.

        As the meerkat says;


      • Jarv says :

        On that note, I once saw the Descent labelled as TP.

        Fucking morons.

  10. Jarv says :

    At the end of the day, this is a complicated subject and people far smarter than us have been arguing about it forever.

    Here’s a good one: Funny Games- TP or not?

    • Droid says :

      Haven’t seen either version, but it sounds like TP from your descriptions.

      • Jarv says :

        The German one arguably isn’t. It’s an offensive art movie. There isn’t actually a lot in the way of violence in it. Certainly little bloodshed. People drop eggs and suchlike.

        The American one, on the other hand, by duty of already existing is just repeating the point and is totally gratuitous. Therfore I consider it TP.

        Both of them are torture for the fucking audience

      • Droid says :

        See, the horror movies I do like are nearly always the goofy ones. Recently, I liked The Blob, and Midnight Meat Train. Both of which were fairly gory and had a couple of good jump scares, but both were made with a knowing sense of the absurd.

        Horror movies I rate as genuinely scary are the first Nightmare, original Halloween, The Thing, The Exorcist and The Descent. I loved all of those movies.

      • Jarv says :

        I agree. The more absurd the film, the more enjoyable it tends to be.

    • koutchboom says :

      Well that depends.

      Can something be called TP when its just total shit? Or is it then just total shit?

      • Jarv says :

        It can be total shit because it’s TP, but many films are more than capable of being total shit without any help at all.

      • koutchboom says :

        See the thing that gets me about Funny Games (the original) was mainly how dumb the husband was. But also that 10-15 minutes scene with the wife just crying. That to me is the TP aspect of it, just sitting there watching this poor women cry for that long because of all the fucked up shit thats happened to her.

        I get the directors point, but it was fucking beating a dead horse. And its very narcissistic to sit there and go, “I’m GOING TO HOLD UP A MIRROR TO THE FILTH WE PUT UP WITH IN MOVIES…..BUY MAKING ONE OF THOSE MOVIES?”

      • Jarv says :

        Oh yeah, he’s an absoulte twat.

        Funny Games, the original, is the one of only two films to tell me that I’m a cunt for watching it. The other one is the remake, which I wasn’t going to bother with but Mrs. Jarv was curious to see it (she hadn’t seen the original).

        I actually felt offended at the end of them.

  11. Jarv says :

    This has been an excellent debate. Good arguments made by all.

    Just in case we’re showing signs of maturity:


  12. Droid says :

    House of the Devil is also another horror movie I rate. And the bluray says it has something like graphic violence and horror or something along those line and rates it 18. Apart from one or two moments, I don’t remember any graphic violence or gore. Blood, yes, but not really graphic violence.

  13. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    Okay, cool. Thanks, guys. Good discussion, I have learned a lot.

    Ultimately, I don’t agree with Jarv and Droid (God help me, it looks like I’m on Koutch’s side here). This idea of separating a group of horror films and saying, “These deserve our contempt because they fall into a category we don’t approve of,” makes no sense to me. I don’t get it. And I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys these films because they glorify torture, so I can’t go along with that thinking, either.

    They’re just another kind of horror film as far as I’m concerned – some of them are good and some of them are bad, just like any other horror film.

    I do agree Hostel is shit, though.

  14. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    So should I watch this Funny Games?

    I’ve yet to hear anything good about it, and I am often drawn to those kind of films.

    Is it long? Maybe I can fit that one in after Lost Boys 3 later tonight.

    • koutchboom says :

      I thought Funny Games was boring. Mainly because there is a 15-20 minute scene of a lady crying. I’d say check it out just to see what all the noise is, but the original not the remake.

    • Jarv says :


      It’s offensive.

      And boring.

      • koutchboom says :

        The original, you just need to see the trailer where the angry voice over guy says SPIT! like a hundred times.

        I’ve seen the original. Its just stupid and silly to watch now. And as fucked up as this sounds……movies have UPPED the anti on realistic looking rape. Its a movie of its time that almost looks tame compared to shit we see now. Its still fucked up, but Jarv’s right its sort of boring. Also the acting was awful. Its not effective anymore either, I’d say the original Last House On The left is much better and much more effective also it shows less. SO that should tell you something.

      • Droid says :

        Did Hoffmans missus get raped in Straw Dogs? Man, I only saw that film a few years ago, but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting.

      • Jarv says :


        Raped and then sodomised.

      • Droid says :

        Ugh. Pretty harsh fucking movie that. And they’re remaking it.

      • Jarv says :


        Fucking hell. That’s a terrible mistake.

        The biggest problem with Straw Dogs is that Susan George is a terrible actress, and as a result it looks like she’s “enjoying” the rape scene.

        She’s not meant to be, but she just can’t act.

      • Droid says :

        Rod Lurie is remaking it. It stars James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods, and Dominic Purcell.

      • Continentalop says :

        I think a lot of the blame has to fall on Peckinpah. It’s not like he was a feminist. I easily see him as seeing her enjoying the first rape because she’s attracted to this real man.

        Just look at Junior Bonner where he hints at a rape as a joke.

      • Jarv says :

        I disagree. I saw her interviewed, and she was damned clear that she wasn’t meant to be enjoying it. Unfortunately, Peckinpah does paint the film as her “asking for it”.

  15. Droid says :

    That new I Spit on Your Grave sounds like complete and utter shit, and dare I say it… TORTURE PORN!!!

  16. koutchboom says :

    If there is anything to take away from all this, its that Hostel is a shit film.

  17. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    Right, I’m going to watch this Funny Games now.

    Is it torture porn? Is it not torture porn?


    I am looking forward to enjoying this rip-roaring comedy action adventure about clowns or something. That’s what it’s about, right? Funny clowns?

  18. Continentalop says :

    If I can add my two-cents about torture porn, I think many films I consider torture porn DO show the victim suffering and acknowledge their fear/pain. But they draw the line at making us see them as people.

    TP to me imitates the mind frame of a serial killer. How some killers will get off on the fear and pain they are causing. It is a power trip that happens by not empathizing with the victim but basking in their suffering.

    I think a lot of 80s Slasher movies were slasher porn, and a lot 70s exploitation film were rape porn. TPis just the newest version of this.

    The problem is it really a “you know it when you see it” and “the eye of the beholder” thing. I don’t consider A Clockwork Orange as exploiting rape, but it would be hard for me to justify my decision that is tasteful and I Spit On Your Grave as tasteless because it is in the tone and the subtext, not some easy thing you can point to like dancing when you want to say something is a musical.

    • koutchboom says :

      Hahahah so what you are saying is that TP is art?

      • Continentalop says :

        Actually I think TP are the films that are devoid of art. But it is hard to argue that one movie is art and another isn’t, no matter how obvious it seems.

        I mean it is hard to say GoodFellas is art and then say “such-and-such” movie just exist to glorify crime. Sure GoodFellas is obviously about something and is artistic, but that is an intangible quality. You can’t point out moments of artistry and intent like you can boobs and violent death.

    • Jarv says :

      That’s the crux of it- you know it when you see it, and this subjectivity comes down to why it is so difficult to define.

      • Continentalop says :

        I agree which is why I can only say that personally view some films as torture porn and have my own personal criteria.

        For me films I label as torture porn must only about the killings (any story or side plot is just superfluous and a cover) and that the filmmakers shot any torture/death for the audience entertainment (even if the deaths are gruesome and uncomfortable, it’s like a Geek show). Both things are hard to prove but you can detect it IMO.

      • Jarv says :

        I do tend to throw the term around, but really it’s about the level of exposure, level of realism, purpose and value of the scenes in context. Audition v Hostel is a great example.

        Torture can be in a film without it being TP (Marathon Man).

  19. kloipy says :

    Late as usual, but I consider TP to be mostly what Jarv had stated, like the August Underground, just showing everything for the sheer pleasure of the torture aspects, which you can even attest to someone like HGL. I believe in most situations, what is implied is what’s scary not just what is shown. I think my biggest problem with TP is the fact that it seems the go-to method for horror these days. I can handle some in movies, but I don’t really find it to be scary. I think it’s a lazy technique to use to pull out the ‘shock’ factor.
    Like- even though I know Jarv will disagree with me, I think a movie like Martyrs isn’t TP. Yes, there is torture in the movie, but it’s not like an hour of just brutul slicing and dicing, most of what you think you see is just implied and even when *SPOILER*, they skin her alive, you don’t see it happen, just how she looks afterwards. It’s a weird thing to catagorize, but I put all fake-snuff films in the TP category

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah Martyrs is a weird one. I think its just the most fucking brutal film ever. But some of the other stuff like the chick with the metal underwear sort of pushes it into that TP area. God what a fucked up movie. That fucking twist half way through, jesus.

      • kloipy says :

        yeah, but it would be one thing if you saw that happen to that girl, but you just see her like that to begin with, unlike saw 3 where the guy gets all these compound fractures due to a slowly turning machine.

      • koutchboom says :

        Though to Saw 3’s credit???? The scene where the chick gets frozen to death. They were going to cover her with a white t-shirt, but thought that would make it seem too sexual in nature, like a wet shirt contest. SOOO yeah theres that.

      • koutchboom says :

        But there are some brutal beating scenes in Maytrs. Its a difficult movie, also without much purpose. Like I get the concept and its fucked fucked up. But yeah that movie man that fucking movie. Much more haunting then anything else i’ve seen.

      • Jarv says :

        Martyrs is TP. There’s far too much lasciviousness to it.

        Me no likey.

      • koutchboom says :

        Thats the thing. I think Martyrs really takes TP to an art form. Its the only TP movie I can honestly say is good. Its fucked up beyond belief and its attempt at a point at the end isn’t entirely damning. Also everything about that movie is good. The acting and effects the look, camera work, score. Its a very well made movie. Also it is very scary, and very scary in the middle of the day moments, which are very very hard to pull off.

        Have you seen it Jarv?

      • Spud McSpud says :

        And to think Pascal Laughier was linked for ages to the remake of HELLRAISER. Imagine what the director of MARTYRS could do to such a brilliantly twisted concept as HELLRAISER – and then weep, because the fucking bean-counters took too long to agree on something and Laughier walked.

        Laughier’s HELLRAISER… That could have been one truly unendurable movie…

    • Spud McSpud says :

      Great discussion guys – and weirdly I seem to have found myself accidentally watching TP movies lately. Which is odd, and apart fom the SAW movies, they really aren’t my bag. 14-year-old Spud would have LOVED them, but 38-year old Spud knows that some sick fucks out there actually DO shit like this (check out the Daily Mail website today for a couple of choice examples of the depravities in the UK today), and thus I get bothered by it. But anyway…

      THE CHILDREN is DEFINITELY TP – there’s fuck-all in the way of a story beyond “families don’t get on at New Year parties” – and there’s more plot development in that sentence than in the movie. However, **SPOILERS** Jeremy Edwards gets offed spectacularly – serves him right for being (a) really good-looking, (b) the guy who Natalie Imbruglia goes all gooey over in the TORN video, and (c) being all smug in CASUALTY.

      Film itself is quite good – for no apparent reason (well, it does become apparent) the kids in this movie suddenly start killing adults. There’s kind of a reason given for this, and all in all the movie is fun – though it’s gonna be brutal if you have kids – there’s a few toddler / young kid deaths in this that are fucking merciless. That said, watch the Making Ofs afterwards – the kids LOVED making this movie!!

      Also saw WAZ – The “A” is some Greek pyramidal letter. WAZ stars Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hardy (excellent as always), Melissa George, and Ashley “So Solid Crew” Walters. Basically, it’s about a serial killer,who **SPOILERS** kills people by restraining them in a torture room with someone they love, and then gives them the option of enduring unimaginable pain as inflicted by extreme torture, or ending said torture by pressing the button at their fingertip and electrocuting their loved one. An interesting twist in a sick kind of way, and Skarsagrd gives it all he’s got, but the film isn’t as great as it thinks it is. Some excellent acting – Tom Hardy is, as always, magnificent in a very small and sketchily written role, and Ashley Walters is fucking revelatory – not only can he act, but he’s GREAT – but its strength lies in the ending, and in its antagonist having, for once, a rock-solid, logical and emotionally resonant reason for doing what they do. It’s got the most intelligent villain since SEVEN. It’s actually quite a clever idea, and a well-written script – let down by murky visuals, too much verite hand-held camerawork, some dodgy screen geography at the beginning (who’s fucking chasing whom?), and some blank-faced character acting between George and Skarsgard – at least, until near the end of the movie. not as bad as you’d think.

      As, fuck it. All you Wolvers should watch THE CHILDREN and WAZ. I recommend them both…

  20. Continentalop says :

    I got to also comment on an earlier post:

    One of the things I hate about modern movies is the fact that that they think you have to show everything. I don’t think it has as much to do with audiences demands for blood and gore as much as it does laziness on the part of the filmmakers and lack of visual story telling ability.

    Sure a lot of movies might have more intense scenes but do they have as cool and stylish and cinematic scenes as this?

    • kloipy says :

      totally agree Conti. I love how just in Psycho how you feel like you’ve seen a horrible death, but watching it in slo-mo you never see the knife go in. It’s always what you don’t see that’s more horrific

  21. ThereWolf says :

    You nearly had me with the wheelchair death. Nearly. Thought about a rental…

    Still might have a bash at Pumpy 3 though.

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