My work is art, says man at corrupting-morals trial
MONTREAL - A Quebec special-effects expert on trial for corrupting morals defended himself and his gory work as art while testifying Tuesday in a Montreal courtroom.
Remy Couture testified in his own defence, telling a jury trial that the horror website he ran, Inner Depravity, which brought to life a psychopathic killer character of his own creation, is not the violent pornography the Crown makes it out to be.
The material in question includes hundreds of photos and a pair of videos that depict gruesome murders, torture, assaults and necrophilia — all with young female victims appearing partially or completely nude.
The website that hosted his work came to the attention of law enforcement after an overseas complaint.
"My objective was to create horror, plan and simple," Couture, 35, said during a fifth day of testimony before the Quebec Superior Court.
Couture faces three counts of corrupting morals through the distribution, possession and production of obscene materials in a rare case that explores the boundaries of artistic expression and Canadian obscenity laws.
Under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Michel Pennou, Couture denied that he'd created what resembled a "snuff film" and brushed off suggestions that he was creating violent pornography.
"I create horror. I'm not a pornographer," Couture told the jury.
"The goal is not to excite, it's to disgust."
Couture said he was inspired by horror films and literature he'd read and simply created a serial-killer character and a universe for him. He described the work as the "fake diary of a serial killer."
Couture said the sexual nature of some of the photos is secondary — he referred to that as an "accessory." He said the special effects and artistic value are what he's most interested in.
The Crown describes the material on the site, not currently online, as obscene and says it goes too far. The prosecution says the work is dominated by sex and is criticizing the fact there was nothing to keep minors off the site.
The Inner Depravity website was popular enough that Couture had to switch to a U.S. server to handle the increase in traffic.
Couture told the jury that some people didn't believe the images were fake and would write to tell him so. He said he would send them the "making-of" images to prove it. He sometimes received threats over his work as well.
Questioned by the Crown about the fact that all the victim characters were women, Couture said he'd planned to create a project where a female victim would get revenge on the psychopath.
That work never came to fruition. An ever-growing special effects business had left Couture with less and less time for his Inner Depravity project, he said.
Couture said his goal was to raise the bar on his effects and makeup work. He wanted to create horror but did not want to mislead anyone.
CAUTION: GRAPHIC CONTENT MAY DISTURB SOME READERS
Even Couture acknowledged he has his limits.
Couture said he would not participate in a genre known as "newborn porn" — fake sexual scenes purporting to involve babies. He called such work "disgusting."
Later Tuesday, a Universite de Montreal cinema professor gave the jury a rundown on the history of horror films — and the gore genre in particular.
Richard Begin was the last defence witness. He showed a dozen movie scenes to the jury from films dating from 1929 to 2010, explaining how the genre had changed over time.
"The goal of horror films is to disturb," Begin said.
"And the goal of gore films is to put the accent on the moment that people die."
A seven-woman, five-man jury has been hearing the case, which continues Wednesday.
Under questioning from his lawyer, Robert Cote, the jury heard the 35-year-old special-effects artist speaking passionately about his trade, which involves using fake blood, latex and silicone among other tools to create realistic gore.
Couture provided a lengthy list of movies he'd worked on as an effects specialist.
He said his work took him to Europe to do art for a heavy-metal band in Hungary. He described being invited to speak to Grade 10 and 11 students at a high school in Shawinigan, Que., about working in the movie industry. Couture even used his special-effects knowledge to help put together a training video for the union representing federal prison guards.
Couture said he'd appeared at a number of horror and movie-related events. A university-level arts student was assigned to work with him for a course.
He said his late 2009 arrest is the only run-in he's ever had with the law.
"The first and I hope the last," Couture said.
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