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Horror Movie A Day: SALO (1975)
You should know there are a thousand occasions when one does not desire a woman’s anus

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.] While I was breaking today’s movie, SALO OR 120 DAYS OF SODOM, out of its plastic I noticed something that made me laugh out loud. You see the cover for the Criterion disc above, right? You probably have a good idea that this isn’t a family friendly movie, right? A naked crying girl doesn’t really scream out “Hey, kids! Want to watch a movie?” At least it doesn’t to me. On the plastic was a sticker. Usually this sticker on a Criterion release denotes the disc as a limited pressing or a director’s signature edition of the title. Here the sticker simply warned that SALO had explicit content. The sticker was positioned no more than an inch away from the tuft of pubic hair you can see on the cover. That’s a little bit of a “No Shit” moment and had me laughing. I don’t really know what the fuck I just watched. There is no real story here, only an increasing level of depravity. Basically you have a small group of older men and older women in some position of power during the end of the Nazi occupation of Italy. The first 20 minutes has these elegant men and women touring the country and finding dozens of young boys and girls to bring to a secluded mansion for reasons unknown. In this mansion it is explained clearly to these teens that they will not be leaving and have no rights. A new set of rules and laws have been written by the elders and any breaking of these rules will be punishable by extreme measures. The daily scheduled is outlined in which there’s story-time in the orgy room, followed by an orgy in the orgy room, but an orgy in which no male/female sex is allowed. In other words, there’s a lot of butt-fucking in this movie. A lot. Of butt-fucking. In this movie. A lot. Now, there is a line this movie doesn’t cross. Everything is implication and we don’t get CALIGULA-esque porn, thank God. It doesn’t go that far. And that’s about the movie. Storytime is held in order to turn on the elders, so they can get their rape and fuck on and the stories always act as a precursor to what the elders are going to do. We get these ladies talking about being covered in semen as 6 year olds and discovering sex, becoming child prostitutes, which leads to regular sex. Then we get a woman who is an expert at scat and bam… we get 30 minutes of girls and boys forced to eat shit and ass-contests. Then we get stories of torture and that takes us home, ending the movie with a series of eye-gougings, tongue removal, nipple burning and cock searing.

I suppose director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s point was to show us how desensitized we are and really try to push taboos while depicting violence as truly horrific, not something to enjoy. I can see that argument, but I tend to think that’s only a surface justification. Listen, I love horror films. I love great gore, like most of you reading this. I remember vividly seeing the shotgun to the face head explosion in DAWN OF THE DEAD as a kid. I remember looking forward to seeing how creatively Jason would hack up another stupid counselor. Hell, I still do. I love seeing moments in films that make me go “Oh shit!,” like post-bus accident attempted resuscitation in THE ORPHANAGE. I’m not going to apologize for enjoying onscreen violence. I recognize it’s not reality and I lead a very moral life. I’ve never hurt an animal, I’ve never cheated on a girlfriend, I’ve never beat anybody up. I’m a pretty passive person. So what if I like gore in horror movies? So I’m not going to attack this film for the graphic, seemingly pointless, torture. I appreciate what it did, how it made me feel, but I think the whole “it’s making a comment on society” is a hollow argument to obscure that the filmmakers really just wanted to make something really fucked up, something that will genuinely disturb people. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s that exact reason I love seeing Paul Schrader’s movies. Much like Schrader’s work I feel dirty after watching SALO, but unlike Schrader’s work SALO felt like a hollow experience. Sure, you get really awesome fucked up dialogue, like the line I picked for the subhead, spoken by one of the elders after being refused by one of the teen boys. He is offered pleasure by one of the elder ladies and his response is what I picked. I guarantee you that line has never been uttered in another movie, probably even counting porn (but I won’t cover the bet if it’s found in a porn, sorry). There are a wide array of characters in this thing, mostly the elders… presented as creepy middle-aged men and heavily made-up ladies way beyond their prime. One of the leaders looks just like chubby Gerard Butler, so if they decide to remake this… I think they have their first actor…

Another one of the elders, the President, is played by a cross-eyed, high-pitched balding man who is very, very creepy. No doubt about it, the casting is superb and perfectly off-setting. Some of the kids are creepy, too, including the Nazi-youth like guards who are drawn into the sexcapades and horrors, as well. And when I say kids, I’m sure everybody was of age. I have no doubt they cast as young as they could to really drive home how fucked up this all is, but this certainly isn’t child porn by any means. I don’t know… did the whole thing disturb me? I wouldn’t say it disturbed me as much as it made me feel dirty for watching. The tortures are graphic and gory, but without any character development they just come off as exploitation. I don’t care about the people being tortured, can’t really tell many of them apart other than whether it’s one of the boys or one of the girls I’ve seen over the course of the movie. It’s rare that anybody besides the elders speak so I didn’t feel any personal involvement outside of a standard pity for any human having to undergo a rigorous torture. People give HOSTEL a lot of shit, but like it or not in both movies Eli Roth went out of his way to develop the characters you see tortured later. You can argue how successfully he did that all you want, but the foundation is there. You can buy into it or not, but here there is no option. Shit just happens, people are fucked, tortured without any precursing development. Final Thoughts: It’s a bit of a shock jumping from two extremely fun horror movies to one so full of depravity and void of any fun, but I don’t hate the movie. I don’t feel the desire to ever revisit it… ever… nor would I recommend it to just anybody. A small niche of genre fans can appreciate this movie even if they don’t like it. And sometimes people just want to see shit that pushes their buttons, which this movie definitely does. Not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, that’s for damn sure.

Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October: Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here! Now it’s time to pull the next HMAD! Next up is:

Sweet. Looking forward to that one. See you folks soon with my thoughts on BAD DREAMS! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil

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