Extreme Cinema


Movies are the great socializing agents. Everyday people flock to movies for different purposes in their lives. There are those who want entertainment and those who want excitement (King, 2009). Different genres of movies have the variety of aims. There are comedy, action, and horror movies among others (King, 2009). Within these genres, a new category of the movies is emerging, namely, the category which goes beyond mere entertainment or excitement to focus on the extreme emotions, extreme sexual depictions and horrifying actions by the characters (King, 2009). They are movies which evoke fear to the bone and question morality to the core. It is the genre which has gained the reference extreme cinema (Beugnet, 2007). By definition thus, extreme cinema refers to the class of movies which present the beyond sanity pictures.

 In relation to the horror movies, extreme cinema refers to movies such as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, which highlight bloodshed without any consideration of the sight blood effect to the audience (Pasolini, 1975). These are movies which will highlight zombies killing people with no mercy or sane people going insane to feast on blood of others (people) is a beastly way. On sexual depiction or pornography, the extreme cinema will include movies such as I Spit on Your Grave, in which the helpless are offended sexually in the most excruciating way, in a full glare of the audience (Zarchi, 1978). Extreme cinema generally refers to the movies which live a permanent mark because of the way the pictures of the central questions have been explicitly addressed in them with no protection to the audience in terms of the emotional or psychological impact (Beugnet, 2007).

Arguments on Extreme Cinema


The direct impact of movies to the people’s lives is a proven fact. Censorship exists in the United Kingdom, United States and basically in any place where the movies are produced for the singular purpose of eliminating the extreme content from the circulation (Chibnall & Petley, 2002). It is documented how extreme cinema such as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom have changed people’s psychological states from being sane people who act rationally, to irrational people who act from the unconscious primitive motives. In the view of Chibnall and Petley (2002), every extreme cinema often leaves a residue of the behavior observed in the movie, in the repertoire of the person’s behaviors who watches because the level of engagement is very high.

According to MacCormack (2008), even where the real behaviors such as aggression by the perpetrator (villain) are not copied, the fear for the aggression is seen in the behaviors of the movie’s victims. This description befits Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom where problems are magnified and extreme punishments highlighted (Pasolini, 1975). Moreover, they basically teach on irrational and sometimes unethical responses to even minor problems (Pasolini, 1975).

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Last House on the Left is another extreme movie (Iliadis, 2009). Torture is exposed in the movie as the main endeavor of the characters as they behave towards others. The torture is carried out in a way which evokes deep emotions of pity and panic (Iliadis, 2009). These are identified as not healthy for the person spending almost two hours in front of the screen watching the movie. The strong pity, panic and the other emotional effects of extreme cinema are documented to be harmful and causation to the dangerous conditions including shock and some other heart conditions (MacCormack, 2008).

 People recount of how the extreme movies affected them into taking on unfounded fears of darkness. There are those who watched the extreme movies and found that they can no longer walk alone because of the horrific characters’ shadows which begin to invade their minds (MacCormack, 2008).  Possibly sensing all these extremities of the extreme cinema, the UK government had banned Last House on the Left until when it was remade and the extremities reframed (Will, 2009). As BFI (2006) hold, for Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, censorship on it has been the priority by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). The ban of the movie by many governments was a bane for many. The discussions around Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom resulted into a lift of such a ban and later a reintroduction for the same purpose of protecting people (BFI, 2006). Many would then question the wisdom in banning or not banning this movie. This is a movie which explores sexual violence in its bare form (Pasolini, 1975). Watching the movie, one easily questions whether the intended fascism really exists as a topic intended by the producers (Pasolini, 1975). This is the line for extreme cinema. They deviate from the substance to teach fear (Crouse, 2003).

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The acceptance of extreme cinema is held as the baseline to the moral dogma. Those who watch extreme cinema such as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom where life seems worthless and killing is exalted, are in many instances viewed as the perverts because they are ready to see an abuse to humanity. Many researchers have identified the cultism reach of the extreme cinema. As Crouse (2003) expounds, because of the extreme nature of the movies, the spiritual teaching will sink into the core of the person. It is because the person watches directly into the core of the cult practice such as blood sucking, horrific killing and possibly disturbing chants relating to cults (Crouse, 2003). All these reaching the person become of the instantaneous effect (Crouse, 2003).


Extreme cinema is not without a purpose.  It is held by those who watch the extreme movies that they get something from it which touches deeply into the emotions they are blocked from the experience in the real world. Little children, for example, live in an imaginative world where the ghosts cannot be wished away. For such (children), A Tale of Two Sisters may be extreme and horrifying, but still tells of something they experience in their private lives (Ji-woon, 2003). The movie best captures childhood fears (eatmybrains, 2005). This is also the experience for anyone watching Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pasolini, 1975). Disgust is one emotion which is depicted in the extreme cinema. As this school of thought holds, people who do not experience disgust in its fullness, thus, those who only view movies intended to be extreme but  laced with cover-up and some perfection of what is outright imperfect, cannot be seen as fully experiencing anything at all (Hanson, 2002).

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The human beings are seen as discovering who they are. They are held as the primal beings forever at a loss on what they can do in the situation that they were not applying all the sanity controls they do apply. As the proponents hold here, extreme cinema is best because it is extremely natural (Crouse, 2003). The view here is that the more extreme the more human nature is exposed in its finest and purest form (Hanson, 2002). Therefore, the extreme movies such as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom are the best for understanding the natural motives. The understanding of these motives in the end helps the persons, and the audience to control their own motives (Hanson, 2002).

One distinguishing factor between the extreme cinema and the cinema viewed as a normal range is in the degree of depicting. Many people hate it when they are introduced to the societal experiences in the half measures (Choi & Wada-Marciano, 2009). To them, the entertaining power is in the richness of the highlighted details (Choi & Wada-Marciano, 2009). Extreme cinema, be they horror, sex movie, or discovery movies, tend to highlight everything. Those who watch movies such as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom have to live with these extremist detailing. For the lovers, nothing is more exciting than to have all these details because with such an advantage is gained over those who simply watch the chosen and in the sanity parts (Choi & Wada-Marciano, 2009). For such audience, the extreme movies allow an experience with the creativity. To them, it is only this kind of movies which can satisfy the human’s curious nature (Crouse, 2003).

Audience Reactions

The audience to extreme cinema tends to behave differently. There are those who will spend the last penny to watch the latest movie which portrays things in the way many would see as extreme. To them, the extreme is worth this money (MacCormack, 2008). For them, a movie which depicts things so vividly and without fear as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom does is worth the price. They hold that they are ready to be offended on their morality and on their emotions. This is why they should watch each and upcoming extreme movie (MacCormack, 2008). For instance, this kind of people would watch every detail of a movie where a woman is being raped by many men in turns as is in I Spit on Your Grave (Zarchi, 1978). For them such scenes are a social reality thus something which needs to shed light on. For those in the opposite direction, however, being offended on their morality, religion, beliefs and humanity is unacceptable. They tend to hold away the penny they have from such a movie because they view their paying for such movies as a task which would continue the rape to their morality, religion and other beliefs they hold (MacCormack, 2008).

The Production Intent

It is clear that even amidst the increased censorship as well as opposition from those who hold themselves to be on the right of morality, these movies will not go away. The producers keep coming up with more. Two reasons underlie this. First is the intention to target special groups in the audience (MacCormack, 2008). For the producers, the audiences who love extreme scenes are as important as those who want the informational movies or any other group.

Second are the benefits of representation of the distorted and double personalities. In many cases, these movies are developed from the true experiences of people. They exist as some people’s bolted-up world’s depiction (MacCormack, 2008). It opens the world of those who see themselves as potentially different from the rest. For such movies’ producers, stopping to produce extreme movies will be blocking expression of negative personality which is a reality (MacCormack, 2008).

For the producers of these movies, the continual production is also because of their presented quality in the development phase. Here, the producers identify that such movies do not really need so much of qualifying with the reality (Beugnet, 2007). They do not have to directly relate it with the real life because it is beyond life in the normal sense. The meaning of this is that there is no possibility for the lack of plot to develop a new extreme cinema. This is because there can never be enough of these kinds of movies to satiate the view that there will be repetition. A single detail on life can be framed to have an extreme cinema (Beugnet, 2007). Such movies as Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom are even developed from a very diverse content base (Pasolini, 1975). Such flexibility is what makes the availability of extreme cinema something which must be expected beyond the expectations placed on the other movies which follow the daily life events (Toledano, n.d).

The preference by the producers has also been related to the tasks and cost associated with the production. As Beugnet (2007) states, extreme cinema is sometimes simply a work of the producers intending to make the overall production easier. With extreme cinema, as opposed to comedy, or romance, one can shoot in a single location or even a single room and still appeal (Beugnet, 2007). In these movies, a single character is possible to use. All these indicate that it is easier to come up with or produce extreme cinema than is the case for others (Beugnet, 2007). For the producers too, the objective may never be so much about the entertainment than it is about their movie being in a special category of sensations that the other movies have failed to elicit (Beugnet, 2007).  Bearing this in mind, it is logical to hold that extreme cinemas are not about to lose the money invested in them. This is because the audience to them, as with the other movies, is a category who has an undying honesty to attend this kind of movies (Beugnet, 2007).


The above discussion identifies extreme cinema as the movies which elicit the highest possible emotions such as fear and pity through the display of blood, scary images among others. As identified, these are movies forming the other categories such as horror, comedy among such but which add elements which identify them as going out of the bounds of what is morally acceptable to communicate through the cinema or watch as an audience. As the discussion expounds, there are many movies in this category which bear the mark of being emotionally threatening but also entertaining to a category who have remained loyal to them. The discussion identifies that these movies are relatively easier to produce. The view of the discussion is that such is because they can use a limited location and cast. According to the discussion, the producers coming up with these movies intend to produce something new in the market.

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