To be fair to Friday the 13th (which I do think is a bad movie, tho' not for reasons of violence), the only time it uses a POV shot for a murder scene is in the very first sequence; the rest are simply attempts to create tension, the killer watching from behind trees and so forth. I actually read a persuasive close reading of that opening sequence which argued that the effect of it was to give the killer an omnipresence, an unbounded sight that could take in everything, with the implication that the POV saw not only where everybody was spatially, but what everyone's faults were, too. It was a representation of the killer's all-consuming desire for vengeance. (It should also be pointed out that at bottom the POV shots were included because Halloween opened with a long POV sequence from the killer's perspective and Friday is copying the pattern). Friday the 13th not a good movie, but I don't think there's anything immoral about it either. I think the pornography label is unhelpful, too, since what the lable ends up indicting isn't the blood but the very structure of suspense: tension followed by release. If Friday the 13th is pornographic then so is Halloween, Hitchcock, and what-have-you.DominoHarvey wrote:I think films like Friday the 13th, where we go into the killer's POV for what amounts to pornography capped with an ejaculation of blood, are doing exactly as Siskel and Ebert claim.
I'd agree that the idea that a well-made film somehow has a greater share of morality for being well-made is a specious idea, but at the same time, aesthetic decisions concerning certain techniques can prevent them from being immoral. Take the POV shot in the slasher movie, for instance. The popularity of this technique comes primarily out of Dario Argento's films, but where most slashers or giallos use this technique unthinkingly, because it's a genre trope, Argento is always using his shots from the killer's perspective to advance very specifically designed themes. For example, using a sexually heightened POV gaze only to reveal later that the subject of this gaze could not actually have any genuine or normal sexual feeling, and that the entire sexuality of that gaze has mislead us even as it has offered clues that we are being mislead. If the audience begins to share the sexual feeling behind that gaze, it is later alienated from it when the movie reveals that much of the sexual meaning had been supplied by audience assumption as much as anything.dominoharvey wrote:but then they lose me with the very dangerous suggestion that aesthetics can help differentiate between a "right" and "wrong" slasher film
The presence of a conscious design in Argento's aesthetics prevents them from being "wrong" slasher films in ways that those movies which unthinkingly pick up his techniques miss.
What a lot of people, Domino included, like to disapprove of is the link between sex and death in these movies. Yet I never see any acknowledgement of the fact that this is an old and likely inescapable link. It used to be thought that every orgasm you had brought you slightly closer to death, which lead to its being called le petite mort. That horror movies also find it difficult to extract eros from thanatos is fascinating and deserves more than swift condemnation. The link between them is a lot more complex and a lot less prurient than I think is being assumed. Some movies deal with this link more consciously and with more intelligence than others (I think of the beautiful film Cemetary Man, whose Italian title, Dellamorte Dellamore means literally "Of Death, Of Love," and which explores these two concepts in all of their range and ambiguity), and some use it to dip freely into hateful emotions (New York Ripper). But I do not believe the link in and of itself deserves dismissal. What it needs is intelligent unpacking.