Monday, February 1, 2010

My Year in Disturbing Film: Week 5 - A chink in the armor perhaps?

My year in disturbing film is my weekly column where I devote a few paragraphs to the most fucked up films ever made. Each week I plan on subjecting myself to the most horrific and mentally damaging imagery my mind can handle. I can't promise you this won't be the week I wind up in the hospital...

Here is a reminder about my rating system for these films

The fifth film in my year long series may be the most successful yet...
(A warning before you go any further, there are images NSFW in this review, so proceed with caution)

Salo or 120 days in Sodom – Won’t somebody think of the children!

What’s the movie about?
During WWII in fascist controlled Italy a group of four high government officials (who will be lovingly referred to as Creepy, Beardo, Toothy and Other guy) select 18 young boys and girls and whisk them off the a mansion to brutally beat them and sexually humiliate them and eventually kill them. The film is a retelling of a Marquis De Sade piece, so you know it’ll be chock full o’ good stuff.

Is it disturbing?
Before I get to that let me say this. Most people have limits to the things they are willing to allow themselves to see. For some it’s rape and for others it’s children being abused. I once knew a man who could watch graphic vivisection, but had a hard time seeing someone vomit. I like to consider myself the type of guy who it takes quite a bit to shake. I don’t squirm for rape, infanticide, murder, Gore or psychological terror. But I do have my limits and I have to applaud Salo for testing those limits. Despite it being significantly tamer than I was expecting, there were still scenes I had to avert my eyes for. To paraphrase my friend Ben whom I watched the film with “you have to do some compartmentalizing”, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

compartmentilize THAT!

After the youths are selected and they adjourn to the mansion the rules are read
1.) First is story time (which may be interrupted at anytime by the four to have specifics given in better detail or to have the story nudged in a direction more appealing to the four)
2.) Next up is orgy time
3.) If a man is caught having sex with a woman the punishment is loss of a limb
4.) Any religious acts, either performed or spoken results in the loss of your life

Ok so got that straight, you’d better or you’ll wind up dead. The first story time starts off tame enough. It’s a story of the woman as a child brought to see her teacher and he asks her to masturbate him. There is some talk of urination and then one of the four; probably toothy (I don’t recall at the moment) demands punishment for a boy who refuses him sex. At dinner time one of the guards trips and rapes one of the serving girls. This turns creepy on (you’ll find pretty much everything turns creepy on) and he begins to prance about the room showing off his ass to the people and then demands the guard who is raping the girl to fuck him. If you’re squeamish about gay sex on film or re homophobic, this is not the film for you (remember rule #3). At this point they bring out a chair with a mannequin sitting on it, it has a fake penis to teach the girls how to handle one. The next day they discover the body of a girl with a slit throat, they never explain if she was killed or if it was suicide, but story time begins nevertheless with her corpse right there on the floor. Creepy tell one of many many bad (and badly translated) jokes, you’re going to love creepy by the end of the film. I have to admit the tone of the film would have been completely different without him.

Story time number two is about anal sex. Somehow this give the four the idea to take one boy and one girl who they apparently have doubts about what gender they are and masturbate them, spoiler alert, the boy cums so he’s the boy. They decide to marry the two, Beardo gets frisky and feels up everyone and I do mean EVERYONE. The following story time is innocuous enough, but it’s followed by one of the best visuals of the film. The youths being walked up the staircase on leashes like dogs, they are fed on the ground like dogs. One boy refuses and is beaten ruthlessly by toothy. He then feeds some polenta he laced with nails to a female youth who bites the nails and screams, bleeding from the mouth.

So far if you’re following the story I feel most of you, my loyal readers, should be able to handle this. This is the point in the film where I begin to have my doubts. This next section of the film is titled “the circle of shit” and they fucking mean it. They change the rules for bathroom usage and put two large vats into the bathroom and everyone is required to use these specifically for the purposes of doing number two. That’s right brothers and sister; the shit has hit the fan (pun intended). Surprisingly though the story time in this section doesn’t have to do with feces, it has to do with people killing their mothers. One of the female youth’s mothers died trying to save her life so she begins crying. This prompts Beardo to drop a log on the floor and forces the crying girl to eat it. Creepy, unsurprisingly gets turned on and rushes to yank his crank in the mirror. For supper that night the chef has prepared a special dish for the guests, did you guess that it was shit? If you did then give yourselves a gold star, congratulations. This is the single hardest scene for me to watch.

Aside from what happens next here

Story time now goes from shit to Asses, thank goodness. Though the story of the ass does inspire Beardo to get urinated on. Then they hold a contest for the best ass, the winner gets the grand prize of death. They don’t kill the boy who wins, not yet. Now it’s time for the circle of blood. The three main events of this, the final segment of the film is thus. It does a fine job of teaching how life works when you live in a fascist society. When someone catches you doing something you ought not to be doing you better have some dirt on someone else. Secondly we get to see the four men dressed in evening gowns, and incredibly weird site if I do say so myself. Lastly everyone dies, since these are the most horrifying scenes of the film I’ll leave them for you to discover, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. The end of the film forces you through some of the toughest scenes I’ve ever had to endure. The acting in these scenes shows the agony that the characters are being put through and you can’t help but cringe.

The best ass contest

5 tortured youths out of 5

Disturbitude: Salo is a movie that from the moment the movie starts it’s trying to fuck with your head and the culmination of these brutal acts of violence and humiliation at the movie's apex just makes it that much worse. The director was clearly trying to shock and disturb viewers when they made this film, but I have to consider today’s movie going crowd. I’ll give it a 9, you might just find yourself seeking therapy after this one.

Next up: Un Chien Andelou - Oui Oui

P.S. how bad is it that when I watched Salo I said to myself that it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be? I must be getting jaded.

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