Not Showing the Gore Doesn’t Make it Scarier, it Just Makes it Cheaper

Have you ever taken the time to listen to a commentary or watch a featurette on a horror movie and you hear the words “it’s scarier because we didn’t show the gore, your mind completes it worse than we could create it”?  I’m sure you have.

You know what, that shit might have been true in the 1950’s, but with the advancements made in prosthetics, animatronics, and CG that is a load of crap.  There are two reasons:

#1: The creators of the special effects in the movie, assuming they have the time and budget, can make ANYTHING they can imagine now.  

#2: The creators making special effects in movies have better imaginations than most people who watch them.  That’s why they make movies and don’t just watch them.

You know what not showing the gore makes a movie in this day and age?  Cheap that’s what.  It costs less to not show that zombie’s head get blasted into meaty chunks, or that chick get her tits chopped off with a meat cleaver in that slasher flick.  It has FUCK ALL to do with making the movie “scarier” or “more artistic”. 

OK, well what about the importance of getting an R-rating as opposed to an NC-17 (or 18A instead of a red R in Canada)?  If you always show the gore, then the MPAA or whatever province’s rating board in Canada will get their shit all up in a knot and give you a rating that is basically calling your movie porn to most theatres, who will then not show it.  Alright, fine, cut it for the theatrical print (as little as possible of course).  However with every goddamn movie coming out on DVD and now Blu-Ray in an “uncut” or “unrated” version put it back in for home video.  You know it might be nice for these movies to actually have extra footage put back into them that makes owning it “unrated” worth it.  Instead of what it usually ends up being now which is 30 seconds of pointless dialogue added back in that you couldn’t even notice.

Here’s an animated gif of a very famous scene in a movie that I feel will illustrate an important point about showing gore in movies:


I bet you know what movie it’s from; if you said Scanners you’re right.  You know why that clip is famous and everyone remembers it?  Because it fucking blew people’s minds in the theatres when they showed a guys head exploding in ultra gory detail.  Now imagine if instead of showing the guys head explode in ultra gory detail, they had instead cut to someone in the audience’s frightened reaction.  Do you think anyone would remember that over the gore scene?  I don’t think so. 

If I were to ask 99% of people if they remember the movie about the shady pharmaceutical company that tested an experimental drug on pregnant women and the side effect was that their children had psychic and telekinetic powers, and that many of these children have banded together in an underground group to fight the evil corporation who wants to harness them as weapons, most people are not going to have a fucking clue what movie I’m talking about.  But if instead I ask those same people if they remember the movie with the people who could make your head explode I bet half of them would say “Oh Yeah,. I remember that one, it’s Scanners”.

Alright, what if your movie is low budget and you can’t afford to have convincing gore effects?  Well you have two routes:

#1: make the gore look cheesy, a lot of people (myself included) dig on that shit
#2: write a script that doesn’t call for tons of expensive special effects if you don’t have the money to follow through.

Would you put racing stripes made out of masking tap on your 1989 Chevy Cavalier and tell people it is a sports car?  Not unless you were suffering from a mental disability.  So if you can’t afford to build convincing special effects, don’t cheat the audience by cutting away every time and then handing them bullshit about how your movie is scarier because of it.  Also I think I should also mention that the caveat to point #1 is don’t decide to have your 12 year old cousin render them up on his home PC.  Poorly done CG gore is worse than no gore at all.

Don’t build up to a payoff, and then cut away.  It’s like having sex right to the point of orgasm, then pulling out, hopping off the bed, putting your clothes on and saying to your partner “sorry honey, but it’s better when I imagine cuming as opposed to actually experiencing cuming”, and then going to work.  Anyone who claims that cutting away from the gore in a movie makes it scarier is lying to you.