As good friends, the WHFS has celebrated life’s ups, downs, ins & outs and we’ve been watching films throughout them all. Sometimes friends can experience a life change that we want to celebrate but we also want to acknowledge our fears and grief surrounding it. The magical realism of Horror can help catalyze difficult discussions about our fears and tensions. For example, when Whiskey Horror Film Society co-founder Ben told us he was moving to Chile we all sat down and watched Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno. Now that I’m heading to Peru for the first time I sat down to rewatch the throwback cannibal flick by one of my (least)favorite horror storytellers–
Eli Roth Speaks Out Against Violence
Artist on Artist with Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth
The Green Inferno is an insulting film. It’s as if Roth not only doesn’t care if we like it but is actively giving us very little to like. The film follows ideological-college-activists who make foolish decisions with negligent motivations and are sunk into an unforgiving situation. The humorous foreshadowing and eye-rolling hints that lead up to their being devoured indicate there won’t be much time invested in these characters’ lives. It’s silly, really but
let me be clear: big-fuckin trigger warning! This is an Eli Roth film, while he may seem chipper in his interviews this guy absolutely delivers the gore. Stepping back from everything wrong about the movie the gore is…i’m going to regret writing this…beautiful in some weird twisted way. I’m not entertained by violence yet the hyperbolic action mocks irrational fears about sovereignty in such a teasing way that it’s endearing.
I think being triggered can be healing when we have spaces to process what triggers us otherwise it can be harmful and unhelpfully retraumatize. Before entering the horror genre it’s wise to beware of and respect our individual boundaries and know your resources. If you feel depressed, are having thoughts about harming yourself or others please reach out to Suicide Prevention Hotline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or visiting their website. If you or someone you know is being trafficked call or text the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888 (TTY: 711)|Text 233733 or visit and email at https://humantraffickinghotline.org/
This throwback flick plays at its predecessors’ style and Roth’s love of film comes through in his campy work. More seriously the film invites critical “What Ifs” like What if instead of North American humans the caged actors were pigs or cows? What if the indigenous trapped and ate big cats or turkeys? How/Why does the species they eat dramatically change how we feel about the film?
Before I self-righteously rant about depictions of ‘natives eating people’ (Is this film trope a racist joke, like, been said before but not worth repeating?) Let’s remember that cannibalism isn’t just a retro horror genre it’s a rampant theme in vampire, wolverine, and zombie motifs… It’s like humanity has anxiety over its consumption…
This film is the equivalent of eating a jar of jelly beans, it’s a pile of plastic fast-food chain toys. It’s little more than vapid gore-porn, meant to be enjoyed not overanalyzed. Yet,
if an audience doesn’t just passively watch it and throw it away, even the Green Inferno can provoke rich reflection on topics like tourism, cultural narratives in media, suicide, and how losing yer virginity might save you from some kinds of sacrifice.
If it’s hard to sleep after that one here are some followup films for your consideration:
También la lluvia (Even the Rain) 2010. Directed by Icíar Bollaín.
Set in Bolivia. A powerful depiction of why water is more precious than than rubber or gold. Center of Eco-Justice 2019 Conference film pick, chosen by Dr. Miguel De la Torre.
“Icíar Bollaín’s bluntly political film “Even the Rain” makes pertinent, if heavy-handed, comparisons between European imperialism five centuries ago and modern globalization.” (NYTimes, Steven Holden, 2011)
El abrazo de la serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent) 2015
Based on the adventures in Amazonian botany found in the diaries of Theodor Koch-Grunberg & Richard Evan Schultes this black & white film follows a journey of strangers who become frienamies. Excerpts from Maximilian Von Thun interviewing Director Ciro Guerra
“MVT: Embrace of the Serpent is a record of people who are extinct or who soon will be…
CG: The main inspiration behind the film is people who no longer exist. The disappearance of cultures is something we don’t understand very well as a society – people are far more educated about endangered animal species, for example.”
“MVT: After reading the diaries of Koch-Gründberg and Schultes and spending several years yourself digging deep into the culture of the Amazon’s indigenous people, how do you feel you have changed as a person?
CG: …It’s difficult, because you’re asking me to summarise three or four years spent learning to see the world from a different perspective. The best way I can explain it is that I feel somehow lighter; it’s as if I’ve lost intellectual, emotional and spiritual baggage. I’ve learned – it sounds strange when I say it – to be transparent. Although that’s the best I can do to sum it up, it’s very limited. There’s something Koch-Gründberg wrote in his diaries that I relate to profoundly: he said “language is a prison”. So I’m grateful to have cinema, which is much more effective than words at telling stories.”
Winaypacha, 2017, (Eternity) Director: Óscar Catacora
Writer: Óscar Catacora Stars: Vicente Catacora, Rosa Nina
Most beautiful mis-en-scene in one of the most depressing films. Like, seriously, where is their son? IMDB informs us “This is the first movie entirely shot in Aymara, an indigenous language spoken by the Aymara people of the Andes in the south of Peru and in the northwest of Bolivia.” and it was submitted by “Peru for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category of the 91st Academy Awards in 2019.” (Eternity Trivia, IMDB)
Anaconda, 1997 Directed by Luis Llosa
When this came out I was like “WHOA”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a campy, cheesy movie. According to its IMDB trivia “Most of the river scenes were filmed on the Rio Negro, near Manaus, Brazil. The rest were filmed at the Los Angeles Arboretum”…”This film is listed among the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson‘s book The Official Razzie Movie Guide.” and a Lot of actors were considered the roles of this gem. Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson are among those who accepted the river challenge. (IMDB Anaconda Trivia)
Let’s wrap up
We’re exploring films set in South America. Next month we’ll continue on this journey. What themes and patterns do you see emerging? As always thanks for reading beyond the headline and
Raise hell peacefully,
“To become warriors, the Cohiuanos must abandon all and go alone to the jungle, guided only by their dreams. In this journey, he has to find out, in solitude and silence, who he really is. He must become a wanderer dream. Many are lost, and some never return. But those who return they are ready to face what is to come. “
(Old Karamakate, El abrazo de la Serpiente)