Another industrious Finke link: Hostel director Eli Roth ripped into Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwartzbaum last Thursday (9.20) for views posted two months earlier (7.19) saying that she hates torture-porn and that she refuses to see films of this type. Roth replied that Schwartzbaum’s “smug, holier-than-thou attitude” makes him sick because “there’s no such thing as ‘torture porn‘” and that “it’s time for her to hang up her critic’s pen.”
I think we’re all tired of hearing this stuff debated. I’ve felt repelled, naturally, by any and all torture killings in any films, and I don’t look forward to seeing anything else in this vein (the torture-porn vogue is over anyway), but Roth is not without talent. He has sharp instincts and some first-rate chops and knows his filmology, so I wish he’d hunker down and apply himself in other directions. That said…
“Never saw Saw or its sequels, never will,” Schwartzbaum wrote. “I’m not impressed with the ‘quality’ of the gore or the ‘wit’ of the filmmaking. I’m not enjoyably scared; I’m horrified, and not in the way horror fans get off on, groaning and screaming with pack-mentality excitement. Instead, my horror is one of disturbance and anger: Who makes this vile crap?”
“I hate to break it to you Lisa, but there is no such thing as ‘torture porn,'” Roth answered. “It’s a made-up term, made up by people who don’t understand these movies, who are afraid to even watch them, and who feel some bizarre sense of moral obligation to warn the public about them, despite the fact they don’t watch them and never would.
“Would you not watch Three Kings because there’s torture in it?” Roth questioned. “What about Marathon Man? And are you implying that the millions and millions of people who do watch these films actually endorse torture themselves? It’s too bad [Schwartzbaum] doesn’t know what she’s missing. Which is why I’m thankful they have Owen Glieberman over there, who’s someone who clearly gets it.”