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Horror Film: Splatter Film

An exploration of the modern horror film, examining how we can successfully break down horror through a social justice lens.

Introduction to Splatter Film

Splatter Film, also known as "Torture Porn", is a subgenre of horror that explores the concept of human mortality and displays a fascination with the theatricality of mutilation along with the vulnerability of the human body. It revels in gore as an artform and is generally characterized by choppy camerawork and usually narrative work that is non-continuous and lacking a coherent plot.

The films listed here are simply examples and are not a comprehensive list.

All posters are cited from


Jigoku (1960) is a Japanese horror film, one of the earliest examples of what would become the splatter genre. It had a lasting effect on Japanese horror because of its depictions of graphic violence and themes dealing with Buddhism and the afterlife through a horror lens. The film has become a cult classic after its resurgence in popularity.

Jigoku can be purchased from The Criterion Collection or borrowed from the UK Libraries.


Martyrs (2008) is a French horror film, part of the New French Extremity wave of film. The film was received to varied critique, with some panning it and others embracing its disturbing violence. It explores cultdom within horror, and also explores themes of torture and the afterlife.

Martyrs can be purchased and viewed on Amazon.

Blood Feast

Blood Feast (1963) is an American horror film, renowned for being the first example of a real splatter film. It deals with a crazed food caterer who kills women to include them in his food as a sacrifice to his Egyptian goddess Ishtar. The film was the first of its kind to include such depictions of gore.

Blood Feast can be rented from Amazon.



Saw (2004) is perhaps the most famous example of a Splatter film. The film is renowned for its use of blood and gore as a vessel for theme, employing various forms of torture as a way for the antagonist, Jigsaw, to bring retribution to the victims for their prior crimes. It deals in themes of morality, loss, regret, and vigilante justice, and it spawned quite a long series that expands on these themes in good, and bad, ways.

Saw can be rented or purchased on


Hostel (2005) is an American horror film set in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It became one of the more well-known splatter films within American horror due to its ability to tell a story that was not only compelling but reflected Holocaust imagery and allusions to Nazisploitation films, along with being incredibly, incredibly gory.

Hostel can be bought and viewed on Amazon.

The Human Centipede

The Human Centipede (2009) is a Dutch horror film that has become iconicized within American horror culture because of how disturbingly violent it is. It deals in issues of parabiosis, the joining of live bodies with each other to create a literal human centipede. The film received mixed reviews but won multiple accolades and is one of the most popular examples of a splatter film.

The Human Centipede can be rented or bought and viewed on Amazon.