We look at ten of the most controversial horror films that have polarized audiences and left an indelible mark on the genre — for better or worse.
Thank you for visiting Morbidly Beautiful and for reading my newest top ten! This week I’ve decided to go with the most controversial horror movies to ever grace the genre. There are a lot of movies that have caused many to complain over the years and to seriously question what they just watched. I’ve seen most of the movies on this list.
Not only will I be giving my opinion, but I’ll also be warning you whether you need to see this movie, or if you can die happy knowing that you never have to see such horrible sights.
10. Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)
Before the world of social media and the Internet, we could watch movie and not know anything about the director or any of their criminal history. That’s what happened when the first two Jeepers Creepers movies came out, no one knew that the director and writer of the movie, Victor Salva, was a convicted Pedophile. People enjoyed his movies, completely blinded to the fact that he molested a 12-year-old boy that stared in his movie Clownhouse. Jeepers Creepers was his big comeback after serving 15 months of his 3-year sentence.
When the age of technology came around and people could read anything they wanted about their favorite celebrities, it didn’t take long for Victor’s past to make it around social media, especially when he announced he was making Jeepers Creepers 3. A lot of people were conflicted about watching the movie. Nobody wants to support that kind of person, but he’s also allowed to work in Hollywood. So what does that say to us?
I did see the movie, because the Creeper is one of the scariest horror characters, but it definitely was not worth the anticipation. Not saying it was bad, but it has nothing on the first two.
So if you are one of those people who are on the fence about watching it, you can skip this one.
9. Psycho (1960)
Psycho was one of the original horror movies to be considered controversial. If you’ve seen this movie today, you would describe it as cheesy because of how it compares to the gore we now have in our movies. However, back in 1960, this was something they had never seen before. It’s reported that people fainted during showings, and a critic even quit her job after having to see it for work.
It was the first of its kind and paved the way for horror movies to come. Psycho was even the first movie to show a toilet flushing, and the famous shower scene was a first of its kind as well. Janet Leigh, who played Marion, received threatening sexual letters after the films release that the FBI became involved.
It really is a work of art and truly makes you appreciate the horror genre, because this is the birthing of it!
8. The Last House on the Left (1972)
Wes Craven was a master at pushing the boundaries for horror, and he made sure his first directorial debut would start off with a bang. The Last House on the Left was very controversial for its time and one that could be considered even more controversial today. The long-depicted rape scene turns the audience off within a few seconds; the remake would go on to make an even longer and intense rape scene.
It is an acquired taste, one that critics weren’t biting, except for Roger Ebert, who surprisingly gave it 3 and a half stars. Wes was surprised by the amount of backlash his movie received. It was even reported that someone, unfortunately, had a heart attack during one of the screenings.
No matter how sexually violent this movie can be, Wes was great at having strong female characters, and his first movie would show that women can literally go through hell and come back swinging.
7. Nekromantik (1987)
This movie is proof that anyone with a camera and a couple people can make a movie; however, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to turn out good. Nekromantik’s purpose was to shock and disgust people. The director, Jorg Buttgereit wanted to create something that broke all the rules because of the censorship ratings in Germany.
The movie was released for adult audiences and only 10,000 copies were made on Blu-Ray by Cult Films. The movie has its own cult following and some people consider it a work of art; others consider it the most disgusting and disturbing film they have ever seen.
Necrophilia is clearly the theme of this movie, so watch with caution; because it is not how you would imagine it to be.
6. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
This movie has caused a lot of controversy over the years with women’s rights groups. It has been depicted as one of the most anti-women films to be ever made, despite the fact that the Director originally wanted to call it, “Day of the Woman.” There happens to be a ginormous gang-rape scene that makes the viewers cringe and pray for it to be over. It’s actually the longest rape scene in all of cinema with an insane 25 minutes.
Despite what happens to her, the main character goes on to take revenge on those who left her for dead. The male actors decided it was only fair that they be nude for their scenes because Camille spent most of the movie naked. One make-up artist actually quit because she couldn’t handle the rape scene. She was once gang-raped, and it was causing her to relive the attack over and over.
Despite the overly long rape scene, the movie has quite the powerful message. The director was actually inspired by a woman he had found who had been assaulted and who he brought to the police station. She had been sexually assaulted, and the police forced her to answer their questions before bringing her to the hospital, where she was told her jaw was broken.
Whether you find this movie highly offensive or women hating, the director did come from a good place, and that can’t be said for all.
5. The Exorcist (1973)
This film’s controversy was the first of its kind. The audiences had been loosened a bit with sex in movies previously to this movie’s premier, however, they were not ready for children wielding crosses and masturbating with it.
Religious fanatics deemed this movie a glorification of Satan, and they attacked a child actor with death threats. It got so bad for Linda Blair that the studio hired bodyguards for her after the movie’s release. The release is one of the most talked about of all time. Paramedics were called to many people fainting, vomiting and reportedly even dying of heart attacks.
Despite the controversy surrounding the films opening, The Exorcist would go on to be nominated for an Academy award, becoming the first horror movie to be nominated.
4. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
This is the only movie I have not seen, or attempted to see on this list because, when I asked my boyfriend what it was about, his answer was, “They force people to eat shit.” That’s enough of a description for me not to watch a movie. I get everyone poops, but there’s just something gross about making a movie around that specific subject, or for it to have such a big role in the story.
It’s been said that it was chocolate and orange marmalade that was used for the excrement scenes. It was one of the movies that Roger Ebert died without watching, owning the movie on laser disk for years but never watching it because of its disturbing content. Even forty some years after the release, this movie is still banned in many countries.
It has somehow become claimed as a work of art to some, like John Waters, and it was even included in the famous book, “1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die.”
3. The Human Centipede (2009)
We have the last movie to thank for inspiring the director of this movie. This is another movie that doesn’t shy away from people and their bowel movements. This movie is considered one of the most disgusting films of all time, and its sequels aren’t any easier of the stomach.
It was the 2011 sequel that had people questioning whether the movies should be banned. Even potential actors walked out during test screenings due to the movies controversial themes.
There’s also the fact that the movie is based in Germany, and the people of Germany didn’t really like their country being depicted in such a gross manner. It also didn’t help that the film includes a Nazi-type experiment.
2. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
This movie I shut off very quickly but have always wanted to watch fully. Not only is this movie terribly graphic, it also shows real animal abuse and their deaths. The version I had been watching had the real animals dying, but there is a version that has prop animals.
The Director, Ruggero Deodato has expressed his regret for killing the animals for film and that he wishes he never even made the movie at all. The human deaths were so graphic that the Director was charged with murder until he could prove that the people in the film, were in fact, actors.
The film just feels “too real” and because of the realism, it makes it hard for people to enjoy. The movie was banned in over 50 countries, but it would go on to be a cult-classic amongst horror fans.
Before we get to our number one film on the list, let’s take a look at some important Honorable Mentions: A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Hostel (2005), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).
1. A Serbian Film (2010)
This is not a movie that eases you into its controversial storyline. No, this movie makes you uncomfortable from beginning to end. I watched this movie because I was one of those people that asked, “What’s the grossest horror movie you’ve ever seen?” and this movie happened to be at the top of the list. Not only is the gore in this movie extreme, but the whole plot to the movie is extremely disturbing.
I’ve never had such a bad reaction to a film before; I was so upset that something could be made and shown, just out of pure shock value. It’s like the director took something from each of the movies on the list and turned it into his own horrific masterpiece.
The movie has officially been banned in over 46 countries and was banned in Norway specifically for the sexual representation of children. Censor boards have tried everything to stop this movie from being shown and bought. The most extreme scene has to do with a baby and an adult man.