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A History of Icky
by Brian Yandle

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It's hard to say exactly where the timeline begins or ends as far the history of "icky" films but we all have seen them at one point in our lives. Just remember the films that grossed you out when you were a teenager & nearly caused you to lose your lunch. Do you remember eating apples for almost an entire week because everything else seemed sickening after watching those "icky" films? Perhaps you remember sneaking into the malls as a kid to see that R-rated Horror film unbeknownst to your parents & catching Faces of Death on an old VHS tape at your friend's house during a sleepover.

It brings me no great pleasure to say that this era seems to have come & gone in the blink of an eye in terms of what we can see at the local theatre. Is there anyway that we can ever have again what we once had & loved so much?

Many viewers today are becoming frustrated with the limitations of what is permitted in the so-called modern Horror film. Often, Hollywood or Indie studios work extremely hard to obtain the socially acceptable PG-13 rating in order to gain appeal with the younger audiences rather than run the risk of a financial disaster by creating something which may be restricted to certain viewers. Sadly, these films are usually unsatisfying & unsuccessful to say the least largely due to content that's often edited or deleted from the final script. Probability suggests this trend will continue to run it's course or the Horror genre will soon fade away into cinematic oblivion.

Whatever happened to the drive-in theatres which played the classics that we all loved such as The Evil Dead? Why can't we go back to having a midnight movie marathon at the local mall & play films like Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead? Even better, why not just have theatres that cater towards the Grindhouse film fans exclusively & play nothing but the cult classics or the more explicit/graphic films which mainstream theatres/viewers might shun. These would be steps in the right direction as I'm sure there are many people out there like myself who feel that Japanese Horror re-makes (or unnecessary re-makes in general) have had their day in the sun & it's time to bury this insanity.

The mere insanity of movie censorship (which may be another topic altogether worth re-visting) is simply maddening. I've never quite understood the whole concept of censoring artwork & I believe we should be allotted the right to see virtually any Horror film of our choosing without someone else making those final decisions for us. Who really reserves the right to decide or deem what may or may not appropriate for me at the end of the day? Besides that, whoever said artwork had to be necessarily beautiful?

Deodato's infamous masterpiece entitled Cannibal Holocaust has been banned & censored throughout the world. In fact, some of the footage or montages were considered so graphic or realistic that both director & producer were arrested upon it's initial release & the film was seized. Thankfully, that was a long time ago & we can now own the film in our personal video libraries for around $20 or simply rent it from Netflix. Thus, we have made some progress but still have such a long way to go.

Palumbo's Murder-Set-Pieces is another great Horror classic that has more recently suffered a similiar fate. During filming of M-S-P, producers were actually arrested & the director had to fire several crew members which refused to work on certain graphic scenes considered to be the trappings of "snuff" material. But wait, it gets better. Several different color labs refused to work on the print as they deemed it too graphic or a "snuff" film. M-S-P was one of the first films I'd ever heard of which literally had to be snipped by 20-23 minutes just to obtain an R-rating.

Palumbo's masterpiece was granted a heavily sanitized release by Lions Gate back in early 2007 which is highly inferior to the Director's Cut offered by FrightFlix. Fortunately, I was able to score a copy of the Director's cut which is getting increasingly difficult to find these days. Again, I'm saddened that we have to literally jump through hoops to see the kind of films we loved as a kid & still would gladly patronize now. Can anyone stop the madness? Can I get a little bit more sick over here please?

It would suffice to say that anything construed as particularly gory or ultra-violent will have no life at the theatres & by fate, is subject to being marketed as a made-for-video release at best. Not ironically, Adult films suffered a similiar fate in the early eighties. The upside here is that most of the films we do want to see which wouldn't normally be granted an uncut distribution are eventually released on DVD which is readily available to everyone across the world. Thankfully, we aren't subjected to high prices anymore when it comes to owning our favorite films like we were back in the glory days of VHS. I do remember there were numerous films I couldn't own as a kid because most of them were too expensive with price tags of $79.98. Thanks be to the digital gods of DVD for this miracle.

This Halloween, watch your favorite Horror films & then take a moment of silence to reflect on the Directors themselves. Try to envison the painstaking processes they had to go through & continue to go through just to bequeath their artwork to devoted fans. Read up on their stories online & you will be amazed at how dedicated they are to their craft & I pray their legacies will live on. Right now, Directors like Rob Zombie or Nick Palumbo are proudly carrying this torch & I salute them in their future endeavors.

Remember, keep it evil.

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Sinema Infatuated Junkie
Every other Saturday

Dissecting artwork be it trash cinema or tomorrow's cult classic wannabes & spreading the knowledge on how to distinguish the real from the reels. Exploring unchartered territories throughout history of film-making which have been overlooked & simply deserve a second chance.

Other Columns
Other columns by Brian Yandle:

Interview With Lucifer Valentine

Interview with Filmmaker Toby Ross

Zombies Will Eat Us

100 Movies to See Before You Die Pt. 2

100 Movies to See Before You Die Pt. 1

All Columns

Brian Yandle
If Pan met Apollo down with the sin, I would be amongst the angels who descended to Earth with great mission to seek newfound meaning & to explore great sinema. Brian was born in 1974 ofcourse on the NC/VA border & has been watching movies for as far back as he can remember. One should never forget a great movie nor pass up the chance to spread the word on a bad one.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Brian Yandle by clicking here.

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