Among horror films, "Saw" became a trendsetter upon its release. Besides spawning a never-ending parade of sequels, it broke new ground with previously unthinkable levels of gore and graphic violence that spawned a new sub-genre. "Saw" and a barrage of sequels and clones are clustered together under the umbrella of torture porn. The sub-genre is either loved or hated for its unsettling images of gore, blood and general nastiness.
These six offerings outside the "Saw" family tree show just how fast and freely the blood and guts flow in movies of this ilk:
Eli Roth established himself as the patron saint of graphic torture scenes with this bloodfest. The horror movie centers on American tourists who are taken captive at a remote hostel and tortured by European businessmen looking to act out disturbing fantasies on their foreign victims. Plot really does not matter here as the film moves from one gory scene to the next with reckless glee.
"The Devil's Rejects" (2005)
Rob Zombie seems disturbing enough as a rock musician. His horror films really give an inner look at how warped his mind is away from the stage. Zombie has a penchant for allowing virtually every character in this "House of 1,000 Corpses" sequel join the fun of sadistically murdering and torturing everyone in sight. The success of "The Devil's Rejects" set the stage for Zombie to slaughter a beloved horror classic with his pointless "Halloween" remake.
You got to wonder if Elisha Cuthbert has had her fill of playing characters in life-threatening situations. First, she is a perpetual target of terrorists in "24." Then, in "Captivity," Cuthbert takes it to new heights by playing a young fashion model who is kidnapped and tortured by a pair of sadistic captors. She eventually turns the tables on her captors and kills them in brutal fashion – channeling a little bit of Jack Bauer, the father of Cuthbert's most notable character to date.
Another vacation from Hell movie in the vein of "Hostel." This time, it is backpacking tourists who are kidnapped by guerrillas in the jungles of Brazil. The guerrillas intend to harvest their organs to help poor hospital patients in Rio de Janeiro. A few of the tourists manage to escape and play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the guerrilla leader. There are better ways to go about encouraging organ donation than this route.
"I Spit on Your Grave" (2010)
A woman is gang raped and left for dead in this stomach-turning remake of a stomach-turning 70s horror film. What happens to the protagonist redefines sadistic and her methods for revenge on her attackers are equally jarring. Everything from the sexualized poster to the sadistic rape and murder scenes has drawn justified criticism as a celebration of gory excess.
"Final Destination" (2000)
Technically, "Final Destination" preceded "Saw" by four years, but it shares many characteristics of torture porn films. The main characters spend the bulk of the film trying to outwit death itself after a premonition from one of the group gets them kicked off a plane moments before it crashes. This film and its sequels are notable for the outlandish and spectacularly gruesome ends each character meets as death evens the score. No simple heart attack will suffice when death is out to get its own in the "Final Destination" series. The more complicated and implausible, the better.