Monthly Archives: February 2014

Hellraiser: Spitting on Jesus

It’s a dark room. A man is shocked to see a number of dark-clad demons facing him. He tries to escape. Dozens of chains and hooks are lashing out for him. They render flesh and tears skin apart. During this unholy crucifixion, the man screeches in agony. Finally he calms down, stares at us, licking his lips, and with a grin hisses:

“Jesus… wept.”

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Recognize it? It is from the first Hellraiser movie (1987), an adaption of Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart. This spawned a legion of sequels, but they all centered around a common theme: everyone has their own private Hell, and for certain punishments, horrendous pain equals pure pleasure. This paradox is stated in the first movie in a couple of scenes, but it is not until words “Jesus wept” that its meaning is expanded. Or, does it have a meaning?

The victim in question (a man named Frank) is not a man of God, so we have to assume he doesn’t mean Jesus Christ sincerely and that his intention is to mock. His ugly grin afterwards confirms this. But what exactly is he mocking?

In the Bible, there is only one passage in the Four Gospels (correct me if I am wrong) where they mention Jesus actually crying: after the news of the death of Lazarus (John 11:35), before Jesus resurrects him. Frank might refer to the situation of his own fate, when he – at the beginning of the movie – escaped from Hell, and then entered the living world again. Lazarus also entered the living world when Jesus resurrected him. But still, he wept, even though Jesus must have known he could bring him back in the first place. Perhaps Frank mocks this fact?

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If we see it in a different perspective, Frank could simply refer to Jesus and his sufferings. When Jesus shouted at the Heavens, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he was apparently in anguish, and must have shed tears while on the cross. So Frank might say, “Jesus wept. But I don’t.” He overcomes his own agony with a grin, while Jesus himself was crying. A megalomaniac point of view.

Then again… the actor Andrew Robinson improvised the line on the spot. It might be just a whim, a side track with a sole purpose: to confuse, or to create atmosphere. It doesn’t have to mean anything.

But I think it does.

In this particular scene, in this particular context, I think those two words creates a chilling statement filled with double meaning and interesting interpretations.

Like I have said: you just have to look.

There is poetical darkness everywhere.

Horror: Cheap, Uninventive and Dying?

The new focus in The Horror Seeker is primarily the result of pondering around aesthetics.

As I have already stated in the beginning of my blog, “horror” can be difficult to distinguish because of the somewhat obscure meaning of the term.

However, the horror as a genre (especially in movies) have suffered a lot from the accusations of being a “mindless” genre without any substance, originality, or the lack of aesthetic pleasure. Granted, there are a lot of exceptionally bad works of horror out there, the majority of them from the cinematic world. Laziness is one of the main factors. The easiness of jump scares weights more than well-crafted atmospheric disturbance. Rushed manuscripts are prioritized before well-planned and slowly paced literary texts. The world of horror is by many considered cheap and uninventive.

This doesn’t have to be.

In fact, hope is everywhere.
philosophy of horrorThere are existential questions in the grotesque. There are philosophical questions in terror. There is potential for really poetical imagery or literary achievements, although towards the sphere of the macabre. You just have to look in perspective, and with an open mind. There are several interesting works and authors if put in a social or political perspective. Noël Carroll mentions in his The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart that the genre might be considered xenophobic, introducing urban and strange outsiders as a threat to humanity, in form of fictional monsters. And then there are, of course, the question of women in horror fiction; often presented as helpless victims, damsels in distress, and otherwise the weaker gender, women has often been unjustly treated in both Gothic fiction and horror fiction – and that’s for centuries, not decades!

What do you think?

Is the genre dying?

Is it unjustly treated?

Is it bad entertainment?

Does the genre say more about ourselves than most people realize?

This can create many discussions. And I hope it will. The comments section is always present and invites you to further thoughts about a genre in shifting popularity. If not now, then fortunately in the future.

In short: I’m not going anywhere 😉

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