I went to see "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum." I'd seen the first two John Wick movies and, while I they didn't raise my IQ, they were entertaining with a bit more depth than your average action flick in which nearly every breathing creature is shot, stabbed, exploded, bludgeoned or hacked to death.
No. 3, however, was a joke. Not intentionally, but a joke just the same. When star Keanu Reeves leaps onto a horse and rides it down the streets of midtown Manhattan while being chased by baddies wanting to blast him into kibble, it's eye-rolling time. Impossible fight after impossible fight, all culminating in an ending so unbelievable it's laughable.
One thing that did stand out, however, was the amount of spurting blood, the loud crack of breaking bones and the sound of bullets, swords and other various implements slamming into flesh.
Gore has never really bothered me. I loved the TV series "Ash vs. Evil Dead" and it's near impossible that anything could be gorier than that. But its head-bursting, chainsaw-slicing and gallons of blood were satire, over-the-top violence making fun of the ridiculous violence in some of today's movies and TV series.
Still, I've noticed some of the horror/genre movies these days leaning toward extreme violence. I saw the new "Hellboy" a few weeks ago. It reached the point where the gore was stupid, and not in a satirical way. When the guy got the skin of his head ripped off like removing a mask, I thought, "OK, guys, enough."
Years ago, people thought "The Exorcist" in 1973 with Linda Blair's turning-backward head, abuse of the cross and pea-soup vomit were beyond the pale. Then "Dawn of the Dead" came along in 1978 and people said that was too much. Then "Ichi the Killer" hit the screen in 2001 and, well, you know.
Perhaps the goriest movie I've ever seen was 1991's "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky," a Hong Kong-made film that set new standards for body parts flying, organ removal by kung fu and other blood-gushing moments. But "Riki-Oh" was cheaply made, so the violence was cartoonish. No one could take it seriously, so no one tried to duplicate it.
These days, it seems that some horror filmmakers feel gore is necessary, but films such as "A Quiet Place" and "Get Out" prove you don't need copious amounts of blood to generate scares.
In fact, one of the most disturbing films of all time is Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" from 1971. While there is violence, there's no gore, yet it's horrifying and unforgettable. I highly recommend it.
Contact Shawn Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.