10. The New York Ripper
Dir: Lucio Fulci
This movie, director Fulci’s most notorious, was banned and censored in Britain for 25 years. The plot follows a police detective on the trail of a sick serial killer who cuts up women in the most creatively disgusting ways imaginable (think razor blades and VERY sensitive organs). This film is disturbing not only for its nudity, excessive gore, and ultra-sleazy atmosphere, but also for the subtext of misogynistic cruelty to women, perhaps a statement about the world we live in.
Dir: William Lustig
Exploring ideas of psychology and Oedipal urges, this films asks the question: what happens when you’re mother is a cruel prostitute who locks you in the closet when she goes to sell her body? You turn into a psychotic killer, of course. This film, with some of the most shocking graphic violence of the 1980s, follows serial murderer Frank Zito around New York City as he kills, dismembers, and memorializes his female victims.
8. Cannibal Holocaust
Dir: Ruggero Deodato
This groundbreaking film is a must-see for any serious horror aficionado. If you thought that The Blair Witch Project was the beginning of the “found footage” genre, think again – this film nailed the format. And it’s such a disturbing film that it’s producers were investigated for murder, eventually producing the entire cast for police to clear the allegations.
The story involves an NYU professor who travels to track down his missing students, who had gone into the Amazon jungle to study native tribes. He finds the brutal, disgusting and horrible documentary footage they left behind (that also includes actual animal cruelty, which was legal at the time of production in Italy).
7. I Spit On Your Grave
Dir: Steven Monroe
A remake of the 1978 version, the plot of the film remains the same. A writer who is working on her new novel heads to a cabin in upstate New York for some peace and quiet, but winds up attracting the attention of a group of local men, who proceed to rape and abuse her multiple times, destroying her novel in the process. The majority of the movie, however, follows the merciless and brutal revenge spree she exacts upon her attackers. Inspired by true events witnessed by the director, this films seeks to explore questions of women’s rights, vigilante justice, and morality – albeit through purely horrifying 45-minute-long rape scenes.
6. The Girl Next Door
Dir: Gregory Wilson
This movie is an adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s 1989 novel, which was based on the true story of Sylvia Likens, who was tortured while staying with her aunt.
The plot follows two sisters who lose their parents in a car accident, and subsequently go to live with their sadistic psychopath of an aunt and her three sons. Their only hope is a young neighbor, David. This film is disturbing to the core of one’s soul, because it portrays the evil that human beings are capable of in the form of one of the most terrifying film villains you’ll ever meet. It is, like many things in life, devoid of meaning, catharsis, or redeeming qualities – it’s the horrible truth. The film presents the innocence of youth compared to the cruelty adults, and the idea that children can perform evil actions and even enjoy them, because of the crimes they are exposed to. Good luck trying to enjoy this one.
Lars Von Trier
The acclaimed Danish director’s creepy but gorgeous film is divided into four chapters, telling the story of a couple whose son has died. The couple retreats to a cabin in the woods where horrible acts of sadism, Satanism, magic, and sexual depravity begin to occur. While the film lacks a traditional narrative, message, or closure, it is a disturbingly memorable story of gender, murder, and the darker side of nature that is not interested in traditional morality. This film contains some of the most deplorable and violent images to ever come from a “mainstream” director. So, while you may not figure out what this film is actually about, it will still be worth watching, “the most shocking film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival.”
4. Santa Sangre
This Mexican produced film is a gem of the disturbing horror genre. In the plot, a young man in a mental hospital flashes back to his traumatic childhood, which consisted, among other things, of a dismembered mother, suicide, and religious cults. He decides to go on a disgusting rampage of murderous revenge. If you can get past the first 30 minutes of this horrifying film, you’ll probably appreciate its edgy visuals and cinematic power.
3. Guinea Pig
Dir: Satoru Ogura
This Japanese film is the first in a series, and is simply the sickest, most horrifying set of images you will ever witness. Much as the already-unsettling title suggests, this movie’s plot consists of a group of men who capture and torture a young girl in a bevy of ways that should probably not be allowed on film. One cannot exaggerate how disgusting this film’s torture scenes are, including: torn off fingernails, animal intestines, worms in body crevices, and mutilated organs. Most people simply will not want to watch this repulsive film – the closest thing to a snuff film that one could imagine being legal. The shocking news? The sequel is even worse.
Dir: Alejandro Amenabar
This first film by now celebrated director, Amenabar, is a more sophisticated look at death and the fascination we have with it. A young film student discovers a snuff film in which a girl is tortured and murdered, eventually learning that she was a student at her own school, and delving deeper into the story. Aside from a mix of wonderful music and images, the film disturbingly deals with serious issues like violence in our society, and ironically, the morality of horror films.
1. A Serbian Film
Dir: Srdjan Spasojevic
Here’s the plot: a retired Serbian porn star is facing financial difficulties, when suddenly he gets a million-dollar offer to star in an “art film.” Eventually he realizes that he is involved in a an industry of snuff films, pedophilia, necrophilia, and torture that he cannot escape. This will probably be the most disturbing, frustrating, heartbreakingly tragicm, and well-made horror film you will ever see – if not because of the horrifying scenes of pure cruelty and violence, then because of the emotional attachment you feel to the protagonist who is caught up in a web of sickening evil. More than pure shock value, this film has excellent plot and character development.