Since I've been a child, I've been obsessed with horror films. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, you guys know the classics, but my whole life was turned upside down when I started getting into older grind-house and exploitation films. One of the first ones I ever watched was the infamous Salo, aka 120 Days of Sodom. I was shocked, disgusted, and I honestly didn't even know what to think of it. I felt absolutely numb by this film and it took me a couple days to re-watch it, just to figure out what the fuck I just saw. After my second viewing, I started to enjoy it, mostly for the fact that I was paying attention to the message that the film was trying to push into my skull, and now it's one of my favorite films. Salo was a film about fascism, and the abuse of power and corruption that fascist countries endured during World War 2, and by facing the horrendous imagery that Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo throws at you, I was able to understand the message that film was conveying to its audience. These films are confrontational, and they make you think about certain disturbing topics by smashing your face in with intense dialogue and imagery. After getting into these films, I started to understand their message, and some of these helped me confront some extremely distressing topics and taboos that I really didn't understand at the time. Obviously there are a lot of ridiculous exploitation films out there, but here are some examples of confrontational cinema that delve into some serious topics.
One of my favorite films in this genre is Combat Shock,by Buddy Giovinazzo. A Vietnam veteran returns home after experiencing the horrors of war. He loves in the slums with his wife and sickly child, he can't find a job, and all of his veteran friends are dying in the streets. It's an incredibly disturbing and depressing look into how veterans were treated (and are still treated) by the country that was supposed to be there for him. You're confronted with the horrors of PTSD, and mental health plays a massive part in this film, with the main character losing more faith in society, and in himself through out the entirety of this film. It's absolutely realistic, and it just scares you into thinking about the dog shit that soldiers have to endure when they go to war, and when they come back. I was absolutely distressed by this, and it just makes you sad for this character. A perfect example of confrontational cinema within the exploitation genre.
Films like Lars Von Trier's Antichrist, Larry Clark's Kids, and even Lucio Fulci's The Devil's Honey. They all touch on subjects that make us uncomfortable. Issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, rape, child abuse, drugs, STD's, etc etc. Of course if some of these topics are incredibly troubling to you, work your way up. When you get to something you want to delve into, go for it, because I absolutely believe that these films are therapeutic in a way, and confronting certain topics and scenarios opens up some sort of thought spectrum that just keeps you thinking. I have my own personal issues and fears, and I just went to films to help cope through some of these problems. Maybe it can work for you, but these films are definitely not for everyone. It's just that sometimes being shocked to the core helps. Open up to exploitative cinema, and confront the bullshit that lingers inside of you.
Maybe I think too much. But hey, I love this shit.