A Mediation On Violence In Film

I happen to be a big fan of genre films, with horror and science-fiction being two of my favorites.  Now, they aren’t for everyone, which I understand, though what I don’t get is the reason why some of those people don’t at least give them a chance.

In this essay I am emphasizing horror, though I will address science-fiction at a later time.

What I am often told is that they (horror films) are either too violent or that there is too much blood.

So, when I mention films like Dawn of the Dead (the George Romero original, not the Zach Snyder remake because zombies running around like Olympic sprinters never has quite made sense to me.  Besides, the scary thing about more traditional zombies isn’t their speed, but the fact that they are dead and walking about and that there are generally more of them than there are of the living.  When thought of this way, their slowness actually makes them scarier because they are like an inexorable tide of death, threatening to overwhelm us all.  Besides, running zombies has never quite made sense to me because, after all, they’re dead, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to healthy muscle growth and conditioning) I get looks from people as if I were speaking about grabbing little bunny rabbits by the ears, and slamming them into walls.

And sure, when you’re talking about zombies (as they are generally depicted in the cinema) a bit of violence is necessary because they eat humans; so some degree of  violence is built-in.

But, what always interests me, is that the same people that complain about the violence of such films, seem to take no issue with a movie like Platoon (war films are a favorite genre of mine.  There’s something about a small core group of individuals caught in a hostile situation, fighting for their lives, that has always appealed to me) or Scarface, a film where Brian de Palma wasn’t exactly hesitant about spraying the red stuff about.

There are some great crime or war films out there that are remarkably violent, so I am not quite sure that I understand why some draw the line at eating a person, as opposed to shooting them.

Or blowing them to pieces.

Or burning them up.

Then, there’s the fact that zombies, as they are pictured in most films, (though there are such things as zombies, which was explored in Wes Craven’s The Serpent and The Rainbow) ARE NOT REAL.  I mean, no matter what a zombie in a film does, I don’t expect to encounter any.  Sure, you have people like Jeffrey Dahmer, but that’s not quite the same.

Now being shot, that’s something that can happen to anyone, at anytime.  Sure, the odds lessen or increase based upon where you happen to be, but there’s a randomness to gun violence that’s scarier that any zombie that I have ever seen on film.

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