Can horror stories go too far?
The Midnight Meat Train by Clive Barker is a well written a horror story that takes the reader to the limits of civilization by virtue of the nature of its content. I read this story several years ago when I was studying Clive Barker's content and style. Many of his stories emphasize the psychological nature of horror, which I believe is a more effective to means of depicting horror than headless corpses and scenes of abattoirs.
I read the entire story but felt more than a little revulsion at Barker's descriptions of what happens on the subway train in question. I was impressed with his style, and the vividness of his imagination, but wondered if it was necessary to overwhelm the reader with gory details. I am aware, as are most people, there are many movies depicting bloody violence to an extreme that would sicken most people. The fact that such material finds an audience is a commentary on how much more humanity needs to grow to distance ourselves from the baser aspects of our being.
I was more than a little surprised when I read that Barker's horror story was to be made into a movie. I wondered wether they were going to show all the gruesome details that Barker depicted in his story. Recently, this movie was on one of the cable stations to which I subscribe. I recorded the movie so I could watch it when my wife was asleep. She cannot tolerate the violence in so many of our movies. It would be unimaginable for her to watch any of the slasher movies.
The other night I sat down and watched the first fifteen minutes of the movie, which was all that I could stomach, both literally and metaphorically. That was long enough for me to see the movie had been faithful to the details of the story. But on screen? Repeated bloody bludgeonings? The potential harmful effects of pornographic films pale in comparison to what this movie could incite. But the first amendment protects the right of this movie to be made and shown. It doesn't provide an explanation of why people would want to see it.