Disturbing or Entertaining: That is The Question....
There is a fine line between disturbing films with a purpose and disturbing films for the sake of sickening audiences. Torture-porn (who coined that term?) films are on the rise with films trying to out-sicken and out disgust audiences, and since there's obviously a market for this type of film, they will continue to get worse and more disgusting. This list comprises of films that are sick to make a point, and films that are sick to be, well, sick. Enjoy!
Doesn't Look too Bad!
A definite 8 out of 10.
I didn't see the whole thing (or anything past 4 mins) so, truly, this rating says something about the film.
There also wont be a trailer on this hub since they're all a wee bit too graphic!
No 10: Shortbus (2006)
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, this film I couldn't even get 5 minutes into without nearly puking all over myself. Recommended by some people I probably wont be taking movie advice from again, I was told a review of this film would make a great hub. Off I went on my merry way, popcorn ready, pen and paper in hand, I pressed play.
The opening sequence is literally various people all over a city in various sexual acts. Diverse characters from the beginning, a gay couple, a mixed race couple, a dominatrix and submissive couple, it seems this film will be looking at modern sexual relationships. What makes this film different from the very beginning is the obvious, un-simulated sexual encounters. However, one such encounter had me reaching for a bucket to throw up my popcorn into. I don't want to get into it exactly, but its like two girls one cup thing, except with only one person, not my kind of entertainment. Although I turned it off there and then, I've heard that the film itself is very provoking and questions our opinions of sexual relationships. I'm simply not brave enough to watch the rest, but I give a massive clap on the back for anyone who can actually sit through the entire film.
5 out of 10
Some aspects of the film will definitely make you cringe and look away, but overall, it's a good enjoyable watch, with some major surrealist aspects.
No 9: Existenz (1999)
Now here's one that I thought was very enjoyable, directed by David Cronenberg, it portrays the often weird relationship we have with gaming consoles and systems. Set in the future, where gaming systems are now living organisms, and an adapter implant is put into your spine to literally hook your body up to the console. The adapter itself is so creepy, looking another butt in your back, many scenes shows the characters treating these like sexual organs, as well as being very intimate with the games console itself.
There were some really good ideas in the film. At first I wondered why the acting seemed stiff and out of place, and why the background looked like a giant poster at times, and it all has a point I promise. By the end, it all makes sense and you come out questioning the time you spend gaming, and why our society is so intent on spending as much time as possible in a virtual world. Getting to the end of the film however is a confusing and surreal experience, where audiences will question everything that's happening.
A definite 9 out of 10
Horrific, disturbing and scary. This one has got to be watched, even if its with the lights on.
No 8: Audition (2000)
Directed by Takashi Miike, this film starts with a widower looking for a new woman, and using auditions to find one. The screening process for this obviously doesn't work as the girl he chooses is not quite the wife he's looking for. Taking a very sinister turn, the woman had been abused by men all her life and now takes her revenge out on men she comes into contact with. Although its a definite horror film, you wouldn't know watching the first half, which is why the violence is so abrasive when it does appear. We see her in her apartment, alone, sitting and waiting by the phone. There's a sack that occasionally moves and groans beside her....so yeah, beware. The final minutes of the movie are near unbearable to watch.
5 out of 10
Not necessarily hard to watch, but difficult to comprehend, and due to the volatile editing and dream sequences, this films disturbing rating is based on a more emotional disturbance rather than a physical one.
No 7: Persona (1966)
Igmar Bergman is known for his unusual film making, as well as his more conventional films like 'Summer With Monica'. 'Persona' is one of his more disturbing films. The story is simple enough, however his filming techniques and jumpy editing make this film truly hard to watch. An actress suddenly stops speaking during a performance, and a nurse takes her to an isolated beach to help her. Here, the two woman seem to merge, their persona's becoming one, depicted through sequences where the two woman's faces merge. There are dream sequences, irrational cuts and perplexing scenarios, making it one of the most hard to define films. It doesn't hinder its disturbing nature however, as one simply doesn't know what they feel after watching it.
7 out of 10
Simply because the film isn't unwatchable, although the bizarre and serious talks in the film as well as perverse nature make it pretty god damn creepy.
No 6: Happiness (1998)
Directed by Todd Solondz, this film is pessimistic down to a T, but what makes it somewhat enjoyable is the ironic, sarcastic, sometimes funny feel it gives. Starkly honest and playful, but with serious undertones, it's based around a family, telling the story of each member and their personal issues and problems. The Mother and father realizing they want a separation, a daughter looking for the right man and a good job helping people, another daughter happily married, but to a man who struggles with sexual attraction to minors, and a grandson who wants to hit puberty to his class mates wont tease him. There's a lot going on in this film, and as much as it is funny ( a perfect scene where one daughter tells the other, very seriously, that the family have always thought she was a lost cause, never getting married or finding a good job, and that they now realize they were wrong, a blatant irony since she is not married and had quit her job.) there's quite a bit of weird in it too. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a man who can't stop thinking about his neighbor (another sister) to the point of ringing her anonymously and shouting profanity at her. Thrown into the mix is another father and son relationship that disturbs on so many levels, where the boy, about 12, asks his father all sorts of bizarre questions ("what is Cum?") to talking pretty explicitly about his fathers perverse sexual desires.
8 out of 10
Despite the crudeness of the film, the thought of digesting someone else's excrement alone pushes this film to the extremely disgusting. If you want the gist of the entire film with a much more accurate portrayal of what it would to be like attached to another person like that, I suggest the South Park episode. Much more sickening to watch.
Not Really Scientific Looking Is It?
No 5: The Human Centipede (2010)
Directed by Tom Six this film is on nearly every most horrific films list. In college we studied some horrors, but like good ones with actual value. Everyone always spoke of this film as being the most horrific thing they'd ever seen but said that you just had to watch it to get it. And so, like a fool, I did. Basically a mad scientist trying to mutate human beings into something disgusting, not like fly man, or some crazy mutant like that, nope, this almost Nazi scientist wants to make human centipedes by stitching the mouth of one human to the butt of another and so on. In theory, its absolutely revolting, the thought alone brings on a fit of heaving, however the films low budget visuals and almost childlike portrayal takes the scary right out of this film. In a scene that I laughed the entire way through, the scientist (is it even ok to call him that?) shows his victims the procedure he will be doing on a white board with extremely crude, childish drawings, which makes the entire process comical.
Honestly the South Park rendition of this film had me more sick!
8 out of 10
A fantastic film, with great moments of wit and humor, however the blunt portrayal of violence gives this film a boost to the top.
Pretty Sinister Looking!
No 4: A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this is without a doubt an amazing film. Based on a totalitarian future where Alex and his group of henchmen enjoy various acts of violence and assaults, until he is caught and subjected to a new form of therapy. This therapy makes him sick whenever he sees or thinks of violence and he is cast out into the world where he is then becomes a victim himself. Thought provoking and disturbing on so many levels this film will have you thinking about it long after you've stopped watching. It also has varied reviews from people who thought it was pointless and bleak to those who applaud it. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you get yourself a copy.
10 out of 10.
I love this film, seen it three times and would watch it again any day. Von Trier is a like him or don't director, there is no grey area, or in between. Anti christ is one of his best films for its sheer anticipation. For the first half nothing really happens but the atmosphere throughout makes you anticipate something much darker without being able to guess what evils will show themselves. When they do, you wont be able to close your eyes and not see them! Definitely don't watch with popcorn.
Who'd have thought something so stunning could be so terrifying....
No 3: Anti Christ (2009)
Lars von Trier is one of my favorite Directors, so there was no doubt in my mind that one of his films should be on any list o this type. I chose Anti Christ for its extreme violence and disturbing themes. In saying that, it starts like a drama, where two parents are overcoming the death of their son, and retreat to a cabin in the woods where things get seriously out of hand very suddenly. The first time I watched it, I covered my eyes for the final 20 minutes, the second time wasn't so bad, but still terrifying In saying that, its one of the most beautiful films I've seen and while the horror aspects are truly disturbing, there's a lot to like about the film. The performances by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Defoe are exceptional and truly remarkable. All in all, the film is amazing, the horror is so sudden you wont know what hit you, but you will definitely not be able to forget this film! Put it on your must see film list.
10 out of 10
Not only for the over graphic, violence, sickening portrayal of every possible way to dehumanize someone, but also because it makes you wonder what kind of people watch this stuff. I get violence in films to make a larger point, and sometimes can get through more disturbing themes of a perverted nature, without feeling whoozy and sad for humanity,if its there for a reason but this film! I was fast forwarding most of it. I don't enjoy graphic and unsympathetic scenes of sexual humiliation nor do I find blatant animal cruelty anything to be proud of. This film doesn't simply portray these things it glorifies it, as proved by the massive cult following the film has somehow received over the years! I worry for humanity.
No 2: Cannibal Holocaust (1979)
I loath this film. I had heard about it from college friends and ended up having to watch it as part of my thesis study on how animals in the film industry are treated. Turns out, quite preposterously. This film was the worst for its animal abuse and blatant violence. Having killed muskrats, snakes, shooting pigs in the face, hacking two monkeys heads off, and portraying vivid rape scenes, actual killing of human beings and acts of violent cannibalism, this film makes me sick just thinking about it. The deaths on screen were so realistic that the production and director were brought to trial on murder and had to prove that no human was killed in the asking of the movie. What they couldn't prove was that no animal was killed in the making of the movie, quite the opposite in fact. each animal murder is portrayed slowly, graphically and hideously. The camera never flinches. This film is disturbing not only for its attitude towards the animal kingdom, but also what it says about the film industry and audiences opinions of the animal kingdom.
This is not for the faint hearted, and honestly I wouldn't tell anybody to watch it, but its too disturbing not to include it in this list. I don't suggest watching it, unless you wish to condone and contribute to murder of animals on screen, graphic rape on screen, and third party footage of actual murder, along with overall disgusting scenes of dead bodies on a spit displayed quite proudly. I am always anxious when I meet someone who says they like this film, it makes me wonder what kind of Sh*t they're into, you know?!
Im not going to show a trailer or pictures of the film for this one, if you want to see them search Google, and if you still want to see it, look up a really good therapist, you probably need it.
10 out of 10
Everything about this is disturbing, from the characters, interactions, dream sequences, to the visuals and script. Nothing escapes the crazy, not even the viewer.
No 1: Eraserhead (1977)
Davi Lynch is another like him or not Director, and another of my favorites. Having studied 'Blue Velvet' in college, I fell in love. His films are so clever, thought out and deeply disturbing that I thought I'd never find a film of his I didn't like. I was wrong. Eraserhead is a film I despise, but that doesn't mean I think its crap, quite the opposite. The overall atmosphere of the film is eerie, creepy, surreal, and deeply disturbing. The Chiaroscuro throughout is jarring and uncomfortable, the props are not something to be desired (that fricken baby!!) and yet the story is quite simple. A woman gets pregnant, and moves in with the father, who tries to come to terms with the new situation. It has dream sequences that will have you dumbfounded and freaked out, and even outside of those, its all dreamlike is appearance making it impossible to comprehend. As I've said, I hated the film, every second I felt uncomfortable and wanted to run out of the room just to feel a sense of normalcy again. Which actually means its a fantastic movie, that's exactly what it wants you to feel. I didn't enjoy it at all, but would recommend it to anyone who enjoys weird and surreal. Its a movie with amazing effects for the time, a sinister atmosphere and quite the jarring experience. Keep it for Halloween, it will freak you out!
Your Opinions Matter!
What Have We Learned?
So what have we learned from this list of deeply disturbing films:
One- Sick Sexual encounters usually always play a part in disturbing audiences. If its not flat out disgusting (like Shortbus) its the theme of perverse sexual nature (Happiness and Eraserhead-since the baby was born grotesque and ugly, a product of perverse sexuality) or graphic sexual humiliation (Cannibal holocaust, A Clockwork Orange). If in doubt, throw in Sexual Harassment to the extreme.
Two- Films don't have to be violent to Disturb viewers. As seen by Happiness, and Existenz, which don't center the horrible aspects of their films on Violence. Films that don't show violence can be truly as disturbing as those that do. Funny Games (not in the list) is one such film that actually shows no violence whatsoever, while at the same time being a totally violent film.
Three- Older films were just as disturbing as new ones. Older films were somewhat more experimental with their disturbing films. David Lynch is the king of films that will freak out audiences, Bergman was also notorious for his uncomfortable films. In a way, the oldies will never be outdone. Films now are trying to outdo the others, by going overboard. What the classics show us is that its not necessary to go to that extreme, just make great films with a lot of thought.
Four- If your going to use violence, Make it severe! Yep, horror films are getting more gruesome and more violent. Cannibal Holocaust shows us this extreme, and with little to offer in way of redeeming value, many of these films will be forgotten. So the Horror-thon is on, and production companies are thinking up the sickest of story lines and the most disturbing characters. At least films with this level of violence but with actual film making involved do exist, with AntiChrist and Audition. Otherwise the entire genre would be pretty crap.
Muttface from Portugal on May 02, 2015:
Great article! But I'm afraid I won't be watching any of them - I'm a proud chicken!
belleart (author) from Ireland on August 31, 2014:
thanks for stopping by! hope you get a chance to check out a few on the list, well worth the watch....most of them anyway!
Kim Milai on August 31, 2014:
Excellent reviews and perspectives. I've only seen Eraserhead but appreciated the overviews of the other films that are just as disturbing.