Opinion: When is there too much gore in movies?

Patrick Wiggins


Each week, I will be bringing my opinions on different subjects from the movie world. Some will be about movie genres, others will be about actors, but most will be everyday questions that I find myself asking. And since Halloween is just around the corner, what a better first question than, “How much gore is too much?”

When it comes to gore, I believe it falls into two categories. First, you have realistic gore. Second, you have non-realistic gore.

When I think of realistic gore, I think of war movies or other movies based on a historical event or something that could be based on a historical event. We have all seen “Saving Private Ryan” (well, most of us. In that case, SPOILERS). The opening 20 minutes or so depicting the D-Day landing at Normandy beach is considered one of the most brutal, rough openings ever. You have the usual large amount of gunfire, explosions and guys falling down dead, but there a few scenes that stick out to me.

You see the random Marine looking for something when he reaches down and picks up his own arm that had been blown off. You have the Marine who is lying down with his intestines hanging out after being hit in the torso. Then you have Marine who gets shot in the helmet, which saves his life. He takes it off, not believing his own luck, before another bullet goes through his head.

All these examples are full of gore. A lot of people I know have a difficult time getting through the opening scene, and some people complain that it is just too much gore, and that the movie could have been made without it.

Then there is the non-realistic gore, which, believe it or not, doesn’t really seem to bother as many people as much as realistic gore does. Take “Zombieland," for example. Other than having one of the greatest opening credits of all time, is covered in gore.

It starts off with a woman getting in a wreck and sliding across the pavement, leaving a trail of blood. Then you go through different scenes of people spewing blood out of their mouths, with blood covering their shirts. You have people on fire, people crashing through glass and people spitting blood all over windows. Not to mention, all of this is in slow motion.

So how is it that realistic gore can affect people more than non-realistic gore? My theory is that the more realistic it is, the more an audience can realize that this is very possible. Also, realistic gore is usually in a more serious movie, so your mind is in a different place as opposed to seeing non-realistic gore in a movie that’s meant to only scare you or make you laugh. In a way, it’s almost cartoonish.

In movies like “Zombieland,” there is a suspension of disbelief. You know zombies are not real, and you know the situations can never happen. Maybe this is why, even though technically there is more gore, it’s not as bad as it is in movies like “Saving Private Ryan”.

Now back to my original question. How much is too much? Can either of these movies work with less gore? While you may be quick to say yes, it all comes down to the message the director was hoping to get across. In “Saving Private Ryan,” Steven Spielberg was creating a realistic image of what happened during World War II. Did those exact scenes happen? Maybe. Maybe not. Could they have happened? Yes. Would the movie have been as impactful if it cut back on the gore?

Using gore is just another way of telling a story. It’s no different than using jokes or curse words, other than it’s visual and not audible. If it works in getting across a certain idea, then I say use as much as needed.