In this day and age when marketing for just about every movie does everything it can to get you to go to their films short of showing up at your house and giving you a full body massage (give them a year), there are some films that succeed in accomplishing the opposite. They are so violent, disgusting, and disturbing in nature that their very presence defies, nay, dares you to see them.
By Danny Gallagher
The term "torture porn" has been thrown around a lot by wimpy local newspaper critics who probably get squeamish carving a Thanksgiving turkey. This classic revenge tale from South Korea features brutal torture scenes that not only enhance the story, but could make those critics' stomach crawl up their esophagus and out of their mouths, pouncing with wet-sounding splat-steps straight for the exit. After the film's hero is imprisoned for 15 years for seemingly no reason, he exacts his revenge on his captors in a number of cruel and painful ways that will make you wince so hard, it'll sprain your eyelids.
9. Hard Candy
A year before Ellen Page became America's sweetheart as the title character of Diablo Cody's Juno, Mrs. Page was actually America's "heart-eater." She played a very vengeful, pedophile-baiting hero in the extreme psychological thriller Hard Candy who lures a pervert into a trap and spends a good portion of the film building more uncomfortable tension than a fart at a funeral. She deems amateur castration as the ultimate revenge and spends the majority of the film alluding to the fact so much that the need to reach the unkindest climax of all becomes almost unbearable. Watch it with a good strong cup over your crotch (whether you have a penis or not).
8. August Underground's Mordum
Some might think that Hollywood grade-A special effects and make-up can make movie kills look the most realistic. Tell that to the drooling, lumbering masses that stumbled out of the theater after watching this underground snuff screener. The direct-to-DVD murder masterpiece from the aptly named "Toe Tag Productions" only had a shoestring budget but still had one goal in mind when they were making it: go for the throat (and other various body parts). The violent special efforts stick to your id like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth long after you've seen them. The entire film such a bloody mess that I'm surprised Febreze didn't jump at the chance to sponsor it.
7. Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
When you think of indie documentaries, you probably think of tweed jacket-sporting yuppies who attend immaculate movie theaters that serve lactose-free snacks and herbal teas at the concession stand. Tell that to the people who lined up to watch this bit of twisted real life. Sick follows Bob Flanagan, a lifelong sufferer of a harsh case of cystic fibrosis that makes breathing feel more like a privilege instead of a right. To numb himself from the pain, he joins the BDSM lifestyle and turns torturing himself into an art.
His pleasure-seeking goes far beyond whips and chains, though. The most graphic scene features him nailing his "manhood" to a board directly towards the camera, proving once and for all why art-house theaters don't sell hot dogs. You would think that would be the hardest (no pun intended) part of the film, but it's the emotions that are really the eyeball grabbers since the film captures his slow and painful death on film for the whole world to see. It'll make your soul's testicles retract.
This Japanese film from notorious horror director Takashi Miike doesn't really get heavy until the final 20 minutes, but its slow pacing grates against your nerves and the final, brutal scene has you grasping for a climax because you physically want it to end. A beautiful young girl auditions for what she thinks is a movie but is actually a mock trial to help a recent widow find a new wife. The girl waits by the phone for days for the call she was promised and as the widow dives into her life, he peels back layers and layers of a very evil onion. The final scene in which the woman tortures the widow with needles and a piano wire has caused more than a few audiences to leave the theater.
Usually if a friend tells you that you have to watch a French film because it will totally blow your mind, you immediately imagine said friend as a coffee house snob who reads books without pictures and considers going to Starbucks akin to going to a hoedown. If, however, that film is Martyrs, consider them one ballsy motherf***er.
This ain't no black-and-white snorefest. It's an incredibly disturbing revenge flick about a cult of high society sadists who believe bringing their victims to the brink of death is the only way to know if there is truly an afterlife. One scene in which the lead character Lucie methodically guns down an innocent family as they are enjoying a morning breakfast, children and all, is actually one of the more tame ones. The special effects are absolutely astounding, making watching this film to the end all the more difficult. It will make you curse the day you called the French a population of Jerry Lewis-watching cheese-munchers.
4. I Spit On Your Grave
There was a time when people who craved vile and depraved acts of human mutilation had to do more to fulfill their bloodlust quotient than turn on their computer. They actually had to put on pants, go outside, and hit the local drive-in if they wanted to see something that went for the jugular, both symbolically and literally. This classic revenge-fest also went for the penis and balls with one of the most infamous kill scenes in American cinema history.
In I Spit On Your Grave, the film's heroine seeks revenge for a brutal rape that the audience must endure in uncomfortable detail. She does so in exponentially violent and cruel ways. In one scene, she seduces one of the men, lures him into a bathtub and slowly massages him in that special place that is never on the menu of your local massage parlor. Just as he reaches his crescendo, the heroine grabs a knife and saws the sucker off, leaving him to bleed a slow, ear-piercing death in the bathtub. It doesn't show as much gore as most films on this list do, but leaving such a violent scene to your imagination can fill in more unwanted blanks than an episode of Match Game '76.
If you have the unique opportunity to explore someone's mind a la The Cell, the last name on your brain spelunking list should be Takeshi Miike. As evidenced by the previously mentioned film Audition and other notorious works, the man has more than just the most bloodstained moviemaking record in cinema. His films reach some of the deepest, darkest corners of total depravity and drag your soul kicking and screaming the whole way there. His addition to the underrated Masters of Horror anthology series delivers no less than what anyone would expect, i.e. unrelenting torture, incest, and some scenes related to abortion that will burn a permanent scar into your mind. It was so crazy and uncomfortable that the final cut had to be sent into editing several times before Showtime even got to see a cut -- and that cut was still deemed too graphic for broadcast. Seriously, if you're the type of person that finds it difficult to get certain images out of your mind or you're a pro-lifer, do not watch this movie.
2. Inside (À l'intérieur)
Truly groundbreaking horror movies not only take you down a path that you didn't see coming. They take you down one you never thought could be shown on-screen, real or otherwise. This French fear-inducer goes down a very, very dark path that will have you showering long after you've seen it.
In À l'intérieur, a pregnant woman who survives a brutal car crash is the victim of home invasion just before delivery day. It's one of those movies where just when you think the antagonist has been beaten, something unlikely occurs to keep the horror going. The attention to detail in the violence is disturbing yet somehow impressive, and watching this film will make you hope that the mind behind this flick is a rare breed. If you can make it through the final scene without looking away from the screen then you have a much stronger constitution than we do.
1. Salò: The 120 Days of Sodom
It might sound like a BDSM parody version of "500 Days of Summer," but even that would look like a Disney movie compared to this depraved and revolting bit of Italian cinema. The film, loosely based on the works of the Marquis de Sade (and if that's not a big enough warning label for you, then nothing will be), features just about every vile, lewd, disgusting, and nauseating act of sex and violence a diseased mind can fathom...and then takes it a step further.
And the acts themselves aren't the most disturbing part. It's the cavalier and jaunty attitude the Italian fascist "depraviteers" display toward the innocent as these men of extreme wealth and power react to human depravity as if it were a particularly funny episode of How I Met Your Mother. Don't, I repeat, don't watch this on a full stomach. Or better yet, make sure you remove your stomach before watching it. That is, if you can even find it.