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Friday, October 30, 2009

The Mexican Morass -- More Gore Than Ever Before

          Halloween nowadays is much more gory that it used to be.  A Halloween character many years ago might have incorporated some fake blood in their make up and doused on their costume, but it was pretty moderate and obviously fake.  Now things have changed considerably.

         In the first 60 or so years of cinema, there was usually not much graphic violence or gore.  Filmmakers used more eerie insinuation and off-screen action to scare the audience.  When a make up effect such as Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera character appeared on the screen the audience was truly shocked. Then at some point, starting mostly in the '60's, but really busting loose in the '70's, realistic gore became common in film.  A number of factors probably contributed to this.  There was the TV war in Viet Nam that brought injury and the horrors of war into the family living room each evening, desensitizing Americans to death and suffering. There were more advances in movie special effects and make up allowing for filmmakers to create more realism and more fanstastic visuals.  A moral ambiguity developed as concerns for free expression allowed for more lax censorship.  One blood and guts movie tried to top the next as more extreme gore and horror was dished out to rapacious audiences.

         This trend toward gore began to be reflected in the Halloween crowd.  Wanting to recreate the scariness of what they saw in the movies, some masqueraders sought more realistic special make up effects.  Now costume shops offer not just the old fake blood, but stage blood in varying grades of color and viscosity, blood with chunks, and dried blood.  There are prosthetics and appliances to similate scars, gashes, and all sorts of disgusting disfigurements and anomalies. There are kits, books, and videos that can guide the user in creating stomach turning appearances.  Some of the results are amazingly realistic and horrifying.   But do these people who use these make up effects think about  the real life counterparts of what they create for amusement?

       Mexico has a long history of gruesomely brutal violence dating back to the Aztecs with their propensity for bloody human sacrifice.  However, the violent behavior of the Mexican drug gangs have probably outdone anything the indigenous cultures ever devised.  Mass slaughter by gun-wielding thugs, decapitations and dismemberments, bodies dissolved in acid "soups", and any other imaginable forms of murder have become so common-place that the Mexican army has been called in to assist terrified police forces and tourism has dwindled severely.

        Factor in the many other non-drug, non-gang related crimes and tragedies and the losses become not only staggering, but also perplexing.  Abuse of women driven into prostitution or murdered for no good reason, kidnappings, and mysterious killings and disappearances are commonplace.  Adding to the stream of illegal entrants into the U.S. that our nearest Southern neighbor already sends us, untold quantities of illegals from other countries throughout the world make passage into the U.S. through Mexico.  Untold numbers of all of these human beings making this perilous trek end up missing or dead somewhere in Mexico or after they cross the U.S. border.  Most of us have heard the terrible stories of train cars or truck trailers opened to find inside many border crossers dead or dying.  Many more of them have vanished, left to die in the desert, their fates unknown to the families they left behind.

         In my very brief research I could not find a precise figure on the number of missing persons in Mexico each year, but I'm sure that the numbers must be huge.  And more than likely no estimate is ever made of the non-Mexican citizens who vanish in the country or in transit to the U.S.  There are many more whose bodies are found and never identified.  This brings us to the payoff on this posting, and my advice to most readers is take what you've gotten from this article so far and ignore the link I'm about to give you.  I discovered this website from an article in the L.A. Times a few years back.  The website consists of photos of unidentified bodies in morgues in Baja California.  If seeing dead people, some having been apparently brutalized or accident victims, is of interest to you then check out Servicios Periciales   and then click on "semefo".  From that point you can navigate the morgue locations and years on your own.  I don't know what the real value of this is other than satisfying morbid curiosity. Movie special effects and many of the current halloween offerings are very real looking, but seeing that which is truly real I am reminded that these are real people who had real lives and now they rest unknown and unclaimed.

         To follow up on the story of Mitrice Richardson, a story I have followed for the past few weeks.  There have been reported sightings of her in the Los Angeles area recently, but nothing has been confirmed.  The family said that people had told them about this, but no one had called the police -- was it a lack of trust perhaps.

         Stay tuned for tomorrow's posting for news about upcoming events on TOSSING IT OUT.

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