Shock value is sometimes the gimmick that draws people into watching a movie. With censorship being fairly nonexistent now, it proves to be more difficult when attempting to drive that gimmick. Even big TV networks are spouting out cocaine references on their half-hour sitcoms or daring to explore graphic violence in police dramas. Where word of mouth about a movie where a woman castrates a man after being raped several times in a bathtub was enough to search for a bootleg VHS, now any channel or streaming service can host its own supposedly shocking feature.
This no doubt rose from the torture porn sub-genre, popularized by Eli Roth and the SAW franchise. These movies banked on gross-out factors and audiences loved being made to squirm in their seats. I will admit, I am one of those people.
In 2013, I was in line at a local movie theater that was hosting screenings of A Nightmare on Elm StreetT as well as autograph sessions and photo ops with Robert Englund. The line was wrapped around the building and it was a good three to four-hour wait for me until I got to his table. This was my first experience like this as I had yet to attend a fan convention and learned one of the best things is making new friends with similar interests. Talking movies with those around me, a woman behind me asked if I had ever watched A SERBIAN FILM. I had heard references here and there, but no, I had not seen it yet. She said it was one of the grossest things she ever saw and people won’t stop daring others to see it.
Part of what intrigued me about seeing this was not just the reputation, but that it was not an easily accessible movie. Not since Battle Royale (at the time) was it difficult for me to secure a copy. Amazon is great, but it doesn’t have everything. I found an import through a third-party site and eventually found a copy sitting in my mailbox. It was a three-disc set where only the film disc worked as I didn’t have a region-free player, but that’s all I wanted. Anyone reading this is most already familiar with A SERBIAN FILM’s story: an aging porn star in desperate need of cash finds himself involved in scenarios reminiscent of snuff films where each becomes more extreme than before. He starts off as a man of morale, but the financiers don’t believe in limits, laws, or consent.
Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no argument that A SERBIAN FILM is sick and that’s why it’s still a hot topic in the horror community. While completely a work of fiction, it’s a piece that pushes the limits of censorship. There are not just scenes of graphic violence and sex, but drug-induced sexual assault and introduced me to the phrase “newborn porn.” It truly has earned its notoriety and joins the ranks of films like Martyrs and Salo as one of the most controversial films are made.
Unearthed Films has released what is rumored to be the first of multiple SERBIAN-related Blu-rays. This first has several special features worthy of purchasing for fans until the extended cut comes out. There are two commentaries, one with writer/director Srdjan Spasojevic and Stephen Biro, the other with Movie Crypt hosts Joe Lynch and Adam Green. The Movie Crypt track is definitely worth a listen as not does Lynch provide plenty of insight on the film’s reputation throughout the entire movie, but we get to actually experience Green’s first viewing. Anyone familiar with Green’s work is aware that he loves the fun side of blood and guts based on his Hatchet franchise, but he is clearly disgusted by this film especially during the second half. There’s a brief, but interesting look at an exhibition that took place (you might recognize some faces in the crowd) as well as a couple of Q&As with the crew.
The most intriguing feature is labeled as “A Serbian Documentary Preview” which gives us just a glimpse of what it was like being a part of a movie that caused some cast and crew to become blacklisted for taking part. Those involved are well aware of what comes with being a part of this and that self-awareness makes watching the interviews feel refreshing. Hopefully, the full-length version gets released soon as this truly is a tease.
A SERBIAN FILM is not a movie for everyone and is not something one just easily recommends to another. If you know it, then you know it. If not, then maybe it’s best it stays that way. However, Unearthed Films has delivered a top-notch release for one of the nastiest movies ever filmed that’s surprisingly beautifully shot. You can now purchase a copy here.