Sunday, June 24, 2012

PAIN IS PERSONAL by Lane Adamson

I'd intended to write a brief but enlightening discourse on werewolves, and why they still rock, this week.  Then I got a kidney stone and got distracted.

This was my second go-round with kidney stones.  The first time, the doctor at the emergency room told me that, although I was presenting with the requisite symptoms, I didn't seem to be evincing enough pain to have a kidney stone:  specifically, I wasn't crying or curled up in the fetal position (or even begging for painkillers).  I politely told him that I had a high tolerance for pain--and when the tests showed I did indeed have the stones, he apologized and paid respect to my stoicism.

Jesse Ventura, PREDATOR
Me and Jesse ain't got time for pain

Anyway, after this flare-up, I got to thinking about what one might call the Three Pillars of Fear:  the Unknown, Pain, and Death.  I don't know if this concept is original to me or not (I thought of it on my own, but that means very little); but I think you'll find that you can shoehorn pretty much all horror storytelling into one or more of those three categories.

I'll probably deal with a broader overview of the subject at another date, but I haven't had time to percolate on it yet.  For now, let's look at Pain.

Pain is the most personal of fears--even more than Death, if you think about it.  Death, at least, has finality; they can only kill you once (generally speaking).  Pain, on the other hand, can go on and on almost indefinitely, and (unless clumsily administered) is almost guaranteed not to kill you... but you might wish it would.

That's a powerful thing.

I tend to avoid the more outre movies of the horror genre--they used to be called slasher films (the Friday the 13th series, for example), now they've morphed into what's being called "torture porn" (the Hostel films and others).  I'm a sensitive sort; I don't enjoy watching people get hurt for the sake of watching people get hurt--even if they're promiscuous, drug-using co-eds who somehow "deserve" it.

Eli Roth, HOSTEL 3
I don't like to watch.

Still, just as films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Them! helped audiences cathartically deal with their fears of the Unknown, while Dracula and Frankenstein bring us face-to with Death (with a subtext of the Unknown), I suppose I can see a certain value in films like those referenced earlier for subliminally subrogating one's pain.

Or, maybe you're all just a bunch of sick bastards.

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean. I saw the first of the Saw and Hostel movies - that was enough for me! How do people go back for seconds!?