Splatter Horror, the precursor to modern Torture Porn, is a type of horror that depends on violence and gore to accentuate the vulnerability of the human body and the art of its graphic dismemberment. Drawing on the aesthetic themes of Grand Guignol theatre, splatter horror as a genre movement has its roots in horror movies from the 1950s and 1960s, but the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis codified many of the tropes and imagery associated with what was then a new subgenre. Splatter horror grew in popularity in the 1970s, leading Moral Guardians to try to censor or ban such gory films, a move which led to the creation of the Video Nasties list. As movie special effects have improved, splatter horror has experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 2000s, in the form of Torture Porn and the works of Eli Roth. Incidentally, not all gore is played for drama or horror in these works; films where the violence and bloodshed is so over-the-top that it's played for laughs are known as "splatstick". Splatter horror is not just a film genre: certain authors of extreme horror novels have adopted the term splatterpunk to describe works that include gory depictions of violence. Subgenre of Horror and Sister Trope to Exploitation Film.
Tropes associated with Splatter Horror:
- Bloody Hilarious: In splatstick, the blood and guts are played for laughs.
- Body Horror
- Crosses the Line Twice
- Gorn: One of the main elements of this genre, though while gorn is used to excite the viewer, splatter horror uses similar themes to upset of horrify the viewer.
- Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death
- Kensington Gore: An initial component of splatter horror, due to censorship limitations and special effects limitations. As movie effects have improved, so has the realism of the gore (for better or worse).
- Torture Porn: In the 2000s, splatter was revived as this.
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- Herschell Gordon Lewis is considered the father of splatter films, using so much stage blood in his movies that they were labeled "two gallon" or "three gallon" pictures based on how much he ordered from his distributor.
- Peter Jackson is best known for his sweeping epic fantasies today, but when his career was first getting started he was responsible for splatstick films like Braindead (described in more detail below).
- Eli Roth has stated that he wants to get back to the roots of horror from the 1970s and 1980s, especially the gore. As such, he was one of the forerunners of splatter horror's resurgence in the 2000s See Hostel below.
- Blood Feast, directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis, is considered the first splatter film, notable for its depictions of onscreen gore. As such, it is the oldest film to be included on the Video Nasty list.
- The first splatter film to popularize the genre was Night of the Living Dead, as Creator George A. Romero attempted to replicate the gore and atmosphere of EC Comics on the big screen. Romero would later coin the term "splatter cinema" to describe his later film, Dawn of the Dead (1978).
- Evil Dead 2, in line with the increasingly comedic tone of the series, featured gallons of stage blood of various colors and visual gags involving zombie parts as it essentially parodied its own (more straightfaced) prequel.
- Braindead is one of the more infamous "splatstick" films, with grotesque special effects mainly surrounding the slow decomposition of Lionel's mother Vera and her victims, culminating in a climax that involves a chest-mounted lawnmower, a basement full of zombies, and the most stage blood that had ever been used in any film at that time.
- Hostel was the first film in the Torture Porn resurgence of splatter horror in the 2000s, featuring a pair of college students who fall afoul of an organization of sadists while backpacking across Europe.
- Saw and its sequels emphasize the psychological aspect of splatter horror, as Jigsaw forces his victims to survive gruesome deathtraps or mutilate themselves or others in order to escape, though as the series progressed, the focus became less on psychological horror and more on the gory setpieces.
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