Ratings Game

Perhaps my favorite part of reading reviews of horror movies I’ll never see is the critics’ explanation of how a film earned its rating. Some of these one-liners serve as perfect summaries; others expose the faults and biases of the ratings system. If horror films reveal people’s worst nature, they also bring out critics’ best sass.

The Last House on the Left: “Characters are raped, stabbed, shot, mangled and fed to labor-saving devices.”

The Hills Have Eyes: “You name it, the movie’s got it: rape, immolation, cannibalism, dismemberment, the biting off of a parakeet’s head.”

Shuttle: “The “R” rating proves once again that it is impossible for a film to be rated NC-17 for violence alone.”

Saw IV: “Imagine every conceivable form of torture, then add the inconceivable.”

Interview With The Vampire: “It includes violence, scenes in which blood is sapped from murder victims, horrific special effects and nonsexual scenes with unmistakable sexual overtones.”

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning: “Extremely graphic sadism and stomach-turning nihilism.”

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.