Laundry-listing the violent movies of November-December, N.Y. Times columnist Caryn James wonders if viewers “really want a river of blood” at this time of year or any for that matter. The turn-off factor is not blood or bleeding itself — it’s the sense that the director is indulging some kind of blood-pain fetish and trying to arouse the audience into sharing in it the way a master chef will tantalize diners with a whiff of some special sauce.

The only ’07 movie that seemed to play this game, by my standards, wasDavid Cronenberg‘s Eastern Promises, which James acknowledges is “probably the year’s bloodiest film.” I’ve called it a Russian penis movie — queer for knives, reeking with odious machismo, seeming to lust for the thrill of dominance and the stabbing and slicing of flesh. I hated, hated, hated it, and I’m speaking as a worshipper of A History of Violence.

The only other film that may, according to buzz, be guilty of a blood fetish is Tim Burton‘s Sweeney Todd. The word is that in certain scenes the blood comes in gobs, torrents, rivers.

I’m cool with the “red, red vino” in all the others — the visually witty bloodlettings in No Country for Old Men, the faint use of the stuff in American Gangster, etc. There Will Be Blood shows it, I recall, in exactly one scene — the notorious final one. I don’t know why James even mentioned Lions for Lambs since it barely shows any traces of hurt or redness or anything.

I’m wondering which films may have struck others as too much, too sticky, too covered with the stuff. Not just this year but anytime since blood became allowable or semi-fashionable.