How about approaching a different kind of modern film? When I first read your question, my thoughts immediately went to a new genre of horror flick that focuses on gore, the kind that are very appropriately rated NC-17.
The focus on the heroic in these very early English stories and epic poems had to include a fair swath of awesome gore such as the scene when Grendel ravages the soldiers in the hall. Why my mind went directly to The Hills Have Eyes where a mutant mutilates people in a mobile home, I'll never know. (Makes me question my darker side, actually.) Still, I can see the connection.
Humanity is somehow attracted to this kind of violence. Twas always thus, it seems. As Anglo-Saxons of old gathered around to hear the scops relive dramatic poetry about bloody battles, ... modern Americans pay to go to the movies and relive those same bloody battles on screen. Go figure. I love 'em, too.