Five films which may make you squirm.

With the DVD/Blue Ray release of Srdjan Spasojevic’s highly controversial ‘A Serbian Film’ fast approaching, it seems rather fitting to take a look at some of the most graphic, shocking, and downright disturbing movies ever made.

So how do we define shocking, or disturbing? For some it is the mere sight of a naked breast on camera, while others are completely unfazed by unstimulated fellatio. Some people are repulsed by the slightest  glimpse of gore and blood, while hardened horror fans can sit and watch limbs being hacked off in realistic close up, sniff and then mutter ‘is that it?’. People classify movies as disturbing or shocking for different reasons, but generally it is films which feature graphic scenes of sex or violence (films featuring the two combined will always raise eyebrows), or deal with taboo subjects such incest. It could be that subject matter is unsettling, or the imagery is gruesome. Often they are movies which create a lasting and decidedly uncomfortable impression with audiences and range from torture porn, to thought provoking psychological drama.

So here is a short but certainly not sweet selection, of some films which are certainly not for the faint hearted:

Cutting Moments 1997 Dir. Douglas Buck

This short, low budget film follows the story of married couple whose tedious relationship has resulted in them barely speaking and a nonexistent sex-life. The husband (Patrick) soon turns his sexual urges towards his son and when his wife Sarah realises her husband’s perverse intentions, she blames herself and tries to get Patrick to notice her again. Expect to see breasts and penises being sliced off as well as the very uncomfortable-to-watch process of Sarah literally scrubbing her lips off with a heavy duty scouring pad, before taking a pair of scissors to them.

Irreversible 2002 Dir. Gaspar Noe

This well acted and scripted film starring Vincent Cassel and Monica Belluci, gained notoriety due to its unbearably long nine minute rape scene. The plot cleverly features thirteen scenes in reverse chronological order and follows the story of Marcus (Cassel) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) as they seek revenge for the rape of Marcus’ wife Alex (Belluci).  As well as the brutal rape scene the film also features Marcus brutally bludgeoning the skull of a man who he believes to be his wife’s rapist.  Responses to the film were hugely divided and while many recognised the film’s originality and craft, others felt that any artistic merits were overshadowed by what they saw as overly gratuitous violence.

The Evil Dead 1981 Dir. Sam Raimi

A true cult classic which is perhaps laughable now with its cheap looking special effects and poor acting, yet in its day it was viewed as highly graphic and shocking. The story revolves around five teenagers, who whilst on vacation in a remote cabin in the woods find an audiotape which unleashes evil spirits. It’s notorious and highly controversial ‘tree rape scene’ made sure that it was placed onto the Director of Public Prosecution’s infamous ‘Video Nasty’ list and it’s title has become synonymous with the 1984 Video Recordings Act. It has had a huge influence on the horror genre, with many films copying its teenagers-in-peril style plot and even today, a copy of the full uncut version is regarded as a ‘must have’ by true horror buffs.

Salo, or 120 days of Sodom 1975 Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini

Very rarely does a film evoke such feelings of revulsion, that more than three decades later it is still regarded by many as one of the most disturbing and controversial films ever made- in fact even to this day it is still banned in several countries. This is a film where few taboos are left untouched; including sodomy and coprophagia. The film tells the story of four fascist libertines, who kidnap a total of eighteen teenage boys and girls and subject them to 120 days of horrific mental and physical (including sexual) torture. The story is told in four segments loosely parallel to Dante‘s Inferno: the Anteinferno, the Circle of Manias, the Circle of Shit, and the Circle of Blood. Like many controversial films it has left critics divided; whilst many regard the film as depraved and disgusting others have hailed it as a masterpiece.

The Human Centipede Part One 2010 Dir. Tom Six

This is a film which does not necessarily shock due to its graphic visuals but rather due to the concept- one can often argue that we are disturbed more by what is implied than what is made explicit. The film tells the story of a German doctor who kidnaps three tourists and joins them surgically, mouth to anus, forming a “human centipede. The doctor tries to train his centipede as a pet, and watches with great delight as Lindsay (the girl forming the middle part of the centipede) is forced to swallow Katsuro’s (the front part of the centipede) excrement. The director has apparently said in interviews that a surgeon assisted him with the design of the medical procedure and that the film is “100% medically accurate”. This however, has subsequently been described as laughable and “rubbish” by both a physician and movie critics- yet I doubt there will be many willing participants who would like to test this!!

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