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A Hostel Reception

There’s obviously a lot of excitement in the horror community about the release of Hostel: Part II, no doubt because Lionsgate has done a solid job with its creative advertising campaign.  Much is being written about this campaign and how it’s being thought of as one of the most graphic in movie history.  The campaign for the film Captivity also caused trouble, and the debate is on over what is appropriate in public advertising for horror films — even as a shrinking box office may suggest that audiences are already looking for something new.

Here are two representative takes:  The L.A. Times’ Patrick Goldstein compares the graphic horror ad campaigns to images coming out of Iraq and says, "The next time you see a ‘Hostel: Part II’ poster, perhaps you’ll ponder for a moment why so many of us get a kick out of movies in which kids are gruesomely hacked to death yet so few of us will bother to look at the carnage when it’s real kids in a real war."  Meanwhile, Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon takes issue with the Captivity trailer, comparing it to footage of the stoning of Dua Khalil, a 17 year-old Iraqi girl murdered because she was seen in the company of a Sunni Muslim, which was taped by members of a cheering crowd that did nothing to stop it.  "The trailer resembles nothing so much as the CNN story on Dua Khalil", Whedon writes. "Pretty much all you learn is that Elisha Cuthbert is beautiful, then kidnapped, inventively, repeatedly and horrifically tortured, and that the first thing she screams is ‘I’m sorry’.  What is wrong with women?"

Horror films have long stirred debate regarding the relationship of movie violence to real violence.  Even if these two latest films were just made to generate ticket sales, they do at least have people talking about the issues.

What do you, the fans, think?  It’s long been said that horror movies always reflect the times in which they are made.  During the Cold War, we had films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing that suggested fears of communism and government witch hunts.  In the 70s, Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre reflected the violence of the Vietnam era.  Now, in this age of the war on terrorism, a more brutal type of horror has emerged.  Do the horror movies of today really speak about the times in which we live?  You tell us.

(Special thanks to Kim Morgan)

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