Halloween is one of the earliest, greatest, and most discomforting horror movies there is. Earlier this year John Carpenter announced he will be returning to oversee a new Halloween flick, more than three and a half decades after introducing the iconic slasher saga. He’s promised to make this one the most disturbing of the lot.
Most of us are pretty familiar with the horror genre and all of the classics in its canon. Lesser known, however, is a collection of films that are so soul-suckingly unpleasant that they make Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde look like an enticing prospect.
So now that the holiday is over for another year, and while you wait for Carpenter’s new dose of damaged, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most obscure and disturbing movies (which are definitely NSFW) out there to keep you occupied… Continue at your own risk.
Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)
Director: Hideshi Hino
What It’s About: Guinea Pig 2 follows a sadistic and insane “samurai” who kidnaps a woman and then dismembers her slowly, trying to turn her body into a work of art. The flick largely exists as an exercise in nauseating gore effects, which are surprisingly well done and charmingly '80s (the third film in the series features a man who finds a boil-laden mermaid in the sewers and uses the blood and pus from her wounds to paint her portrait… So there’s that).
Most Disturbing Part: To see a woman be dismantled so calmly over such a sustained length of time is enough to make you wonder why you're even watching the film. In fact, Charlie Sheen watched it and immediately thought it was a snuff movie, before reporting it to the cops. (When you’re “banging seven-gram rocks,” a lot can seem very real.)
Director: Pascal Laugier
What It’s About: The perverse French-Canadian horror flick first screened at Cannes, scandalizing the film festival with reports of audience members fainting in the aisles and vomiting after watching its scenes of extreme torture. The hope-sapper of a movie follows a young woman on a quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tortured her as a child, all the while refusing to allow us, the viewer, to relish or enjoy the painful scenes.
Most Disturbing Part: Throughout the course of the film we see Lucie self-mutilate due to her past traumas; the film’s final section is almost entirely composed of dispassionately clinical scenes of torture by which Game of Thrones’ Ramsay Bolton would be disgusted; and in one pivotal scene, Anna discovers an emaciated woman chained in a cellar dungeon with her eyes covered with a metal visor which has been nailed into her skull… We’re spoiled for choice!
Director: Jörg Buttgereit
What It’s About: This German cult shock-flick is probably one of the most transgressive films ever made. It follows a street sweeper who cleans up after grisly accidents, who brings home a full corpse for him and his wife to enjoy sexually, but is dismayed to see that his wife prefers the corpse over him. She just wants a bit of cadaver, all right?
Most Disturbing Part: We’re not going to bang on about how gross this film is. Everyone knows it's gross. (We will now proceed to tell you exactly in what kind of ways it is gross.) Girls pee, guys pee, women are bisected by trains, eyes are plucked out, eyes are sucked, corpses are screwed, men are decapitated, rabbits are killed, cats are killed, penises ejaculate blood – not a single depraved box is left unchecked.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Director: Ruggero Deodato
What It’s About: Pro-tip: Do NOT eat buffalo chicken wings while watching this film. The story revolves around a New York university professor who returns from a rescue mission to the Amazon rainforest with the footage shot by a lost team of documentarians who were making a film about the area's local cannibal tribes. The film is still pretty horrifying by today’s standards and it has that disturbing, grimy feel that only low-budget exploitation has.
Most Disturbing Part: A fairly large turtle is captured in the water and dragged to the shore. We are then treated to an incredibly gruesome and completely real scene where we see the actors decapitate the turtle. It doesn’t stop there: the actors than rip the limbs off the turtle and remove its shell. They tear its insides out and finally eat it. It’s pretty disturbing to willfully murder animals on screen as Cannibal Holocaust is notorious for and wont to do…
Dear turtles, we apologize on behalf of the human race. Sincerely, Highsnobiety.
I Spit on Your Grave / Day of the Woman (1978)
Director: Meir Zarchi
What It’s About: The core of the story is the brutal, animalistic rape of a woman and her ensuing reaction – a rampage of revenge that is astutely brilliant in its completely unrealistic composition – while being highly entertaining. There’s more to the story than just rape and violence, however: The revenge is so satisfying – and the film so focused on Jennifer’s character development – that I Spit on Your Grave can be seen as a brutally brilliant piece of feminist cinema.
Most Disturbing Part: You see an innocent woman get gang-raped for almost 40 minutes. It’s unrated because Zarchi couldn't cut enough to get down to an R-rating, so he just threw it all back in and said "to hell with it.”
A Serbian Film (2010)
Director: Srdjan Spasojevic
What It’s About: The migraine-inducing movie follows an aging male porn star who agrees to participate in an "art film" in order to make a clean break from the business, only to discover that he has been drafted into making a pedophilia and necrophilia-themed snuff flick. The film is meant to be a political allegory; Milos represents the Serbian people, while the director of the film represents the Serbian government.
Most Disturbing Part: By all accounts – and accounts are pretty hard to come by, since most people who have seen this film find it difficult to put what they have just witnessed into words – A Serbian Film is beyond any rational certification. Spasojevic has courted controversy for its gruesome depiction of rape, child sodomy and murder. This film isn’t just one of those conservative moviegoer's up in arms “ban this sick filth” type of films – this is the real deal and it will leave you scarred.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
What It’s About: Often regarded as one of the sickest films of all time, Salò follows a group of extremely powerful and corrupted fascist libertines who capture a number of victims and force them into physical, sexual and mental torture. Pasolini puts a huge amount of effort into portraying an intense fetish/taboo community and the incredible actors’ small physical tics defining sexual deviancy and hunger for control are phenomenal.
Most Disturbing Part: People are peed on, forced to have sex with each other, mutilated, tortured and abused. The single most disturbing scene in the movie, though, is the feces eating scene. (No. That is not a typo.) It’s thoroughly revolting and literally left us questioning what is wrong with humanity… Don’t be fascists, guys.
Green Room (2015)
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
What It’s About: The jaw-droppingly gruesome neo-Nazi story follows a punk band who, after witnessing a murder (life lesson: knock first), are forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads. The movie’s star, Patrick Stewart, talked about how the film’s script disturbed him. After reading it, he “put the script aside and I went all around my house, checking that all the doors and windows were secure and locked…and poured myself a large glass of scotch,” he said.
Most Disturbing Part: You know those big budget action scenes with everyone making flawless gymnastic combat moves and taking absurd amounts of punishment without receiving more than a few aesthetic scratches? Yeah, well there’s none of that here. Look out for the pit bull throat-ripping scene… Holy hell waters.
I Stand Alone (1998)
Director: Gaspar Noé
What It’s About: If you thought Noé’s Irreversible was bad, you’re in for a shock. A horsemeat butcher is released from prison after serving time for defending his mute daughter with a knife. He believes he is making a fresh start but hatred and self-pity quickly raise their ugly heads and he's soon back on a downward spiral. The film looks beautiful, sounds amazing, and drags you through the sewer by your throat.
Most Disturbing Part: Noé’s debut feature film left our minds racing in stunned chaos. In one of the film’s most brutal moments, the butcher beats his mistress, kicking her pregnant stomach, as Noé stands back and asks us of the man we’ve so far felt sympathy for, “how do you like your hero now?” Shortly afterwards, as the film ends, our protagonist unzips his mentally ill daughter’s jacket and begins fondling her. You'll never ever see Paris in the same light.
Director: E. Elias Merhige
What It’s About: A wholly surreal film, Begotten is a grotesque bible of sorts – a creation myth brought to life, the story no less than the violent death of God and the rebirth of nature on a barren earth. It’s super dark and visually stunning – just feel your eyes wander over the screen as they try to make objects of whatever trainwreck the frame is giving you at any moment. There is no dialogue in the movie but the background score is so horrifying that it makes dialogue irrelevant.
Most Disturbing Part: Even eating three tabs of acid and walking into Walmart on Black Friday is not as unnerving as this film. It will creep up on you in your dreams and give you countless nightmares. Yes, that’s what you get when you see God disemboweling himself with a razor, until nomads rape and kill him.
In case you missed it, here are Highsnobiety staff's favorite horror flicks.