Being a fan of extreme/exploitative horror has always found me in the position of hunting down fare that would make the average horror fan avert their eyes, turn the movie off and throw on something mundane and safe. The average horror movie rarely engages me, rarely moves me, rarely has me pimping it out to anyone and everyone who’ll listen. I want the stuff that was banned, that was deemed controversial, that shocked audiences around the world. Stuff that would crush the very souls of those who view it. Stuff that makes the average viewer wish they could unwatch it. Which brings us to my favorite horror film of all time: A Serbian Film.
For those who don’t know the story of A Serbian Film, here it is: retired porn star Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) is offered the chance to star in a film directed by Vukmer (Sergej Trifunovic) for a large sum of money that will guarantee his family’s comfort for the rest of their days. Milos agrees, only to later wish he hadn’t when things take a turn for the worse.
By now, most people know about the film’s shocking content. However, when I went into it back in 2013 (I viewed the 104-minute uncut version) I knew nothing about it besides the summary in Rue Morgue’s 200 Horror Alternative Horror Films You Need to See. At best, I figured it would be a mildly diverting time-waster, something I’d watch and forget about a minute later. I was wrong. The film reached out with an iron fist, took me by the throat and squeezed, not allowing me to look away or be distracted for a second. I felt like Alex in A Clockwork Orange when he’s watching those violent films in the hospital. The only difference? I loved every minute of it.
Yes, I’m sick. I know I’m sick, and I wear that badge proudly. Just be glad I’m not disclosing what I do when watching Nekromantik…
Anyway, A Serbian Film burned itself into my brain like a tumor. A horror film hadn’t hit me with such force since watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) at the age of ten. Finally, after all those years, I’d found another Holy Grail of Horror. I thought: This is it! This is what horror needs to be! Away with pale ghosts who do little more than rattle kitchenware, lame monsters created by dubious science, vampires whose bites are as limp as a corpse’s pecker, and soap opera zombies who do little more than shuffle about and trip over their own shadows. This is what we need more of: horror with an all-too-human face. The very face we see when glancing at strangers in the streets, when looking at our loved ones, when looking in the mirror. Sure, human horror has always had a place in the horror pantheon, but it usually amounts to little more than cheap thrillers that fail to actually thrill. Rarely, if ever, is it as uncompromising, vicious and unrelenting as it is in A Serbian Film.
Now, unlike most viewers, I didn’t find the flick shocking or disturbing. Sadistic? Sure. But not shocking or disturbing. I mean, more shocking and disturbing stuff happens on a daily basis right outside your door. Just watch the news. No, I’m not just saying this to sound tough. I’m being honest here. I will say the infamous “newborn porn” scene prompted me to raise an eyebrow or two, mainly because I was shocked that someone put that in a movie before I could – you know, assuming I ever get around to making one.
But the film’s ability to shock others – especially those who have no clue what they’re in for – is a source of great joy for me. There’s nothing I love more than going to an uninitiated and uninformed friend’s house with A Serbian Film in tow or recommending the film to my coworkers. Here are some examples:
Coworker: “I watched A Serbian Film this weekend. It scarred me for life.”
Friend 1: “A Serbian Film is the only movie I legitimately wish I could unwatch.”
Friend 2: “Ever since you showed me A Serbian Film, sex has not been the same for me.”
But what I love most about A Serbian Film is the fact that it is an exploitation film, pure and simple. And being a fan of exploitation cinema, it warms my heart to know it is still alive and well; that it is still able to deliver the goods just as it did in its heyday.
My love and appreciation of A Serbian Film grows with each and every subsequent viewing. Horror fans can rip me all they want for loving such “vile filth,” but that isn’t going to change my stance or opinion on the film. They can have their other stuff; I’ll be in the corner with the dangerous flicks, a happily deranged grin smeared across my face.
And if you haven’t watched A Serbian Film yet, then I highly recommend you do so immediately. And don’t forget to bring your baby.