chapter  14
12 Pages

Welcome to the (neo) grindhouse! sex, violence and the indie film

BySarah Wharton

In 2004, an independent horror film called Saw, made for just $1.2 million,1 took more than $103 million at the worldwide box office for its stand-alone distributor, Lions Gate. It was quickly followed in 2005 by Saw II – an even bigger hit, taking $147.7 million against a $4 million budget. This success seemingly kick-started a cycle of gory horror films that would come to be termed ‘torture porn’ by David Edelstein of New York Magazine (Lockwood 2009: 41) and would include, in addition to Saw and its six sequels, films such as the Hostel series (2005-2011), Paradise Lost (2006), Captivity (2007) and Borderland (2007). However, this essay will argue that the so-called torture porn trend is actually part of a much broader cycle which I will term ‘neo grindhouse’ and which includes the above films plus examples such as Cabin Fever (2002), the Wrong Turn series (2003-2011), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its prequel (2003, 2006), the Hatchet series (2006-2010), The Hills Have Eyes and its sequel (2006, 2007), Slither (2006), Grindhouse (2007), the Australian-American Rogue (2007), the Italian-American Mother of Tears (La terza madre, 2007), Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), House of the Devil (2009), The Last House on the Left (2009), I Spit on Your Grave (2010), Machete (2010), Piranha 3D (2010), Shark Night 3D (2011) and the Canadian Hobo With a Shotgun (2011).