DISTURBING MOVIES!
The Ten Sickest I Have Ever Seen!


Movies are designed to be full sensorial experiences. Through the power of cinema, we are allowed the capabilities to feel the gamut of human emotion, and undergo the trials and tribulations of existence without the aftereffect of suffering, sorrow, and physical pain.

When we watch romantic movies, we feel a material form of love. When we watch action movies, we feel a material form of exhilaration. When we watch comedy movies, we feel a material form of humor. The list, ultimately, goes on and on.

So, if we go to movies to feel all of the pleasurable aspects of being (at least in proxy form, anyway), then would it not also make sense that we would use the same form of media to wallow in our least desirable of experiences?

I think very few of us would ever want to be a soldier waltzing around Omaha Beach, or get chased around the South by redneck cannibals. That being said, we certainly enjoy watching movies like Saving Private Ryan and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, so could it be that we are using cinema as a way to safely experience these most horrid of empiricisms?

We love to be horrified. We love to be shocked. We love to watch movies and feel disgusted, depressed and depraved. Is our fascination with such disturbing fare an indication of moral decadence, or are we simply experiencing the atrocities of real life in a safe, prepackaged form of de facto consumption?

Ultimately, these disturbing movies are, in essence, artistic metaphors for the countless real life horrors that permeate our ways of life. As depraved and sickening as these simulated pictures are, they are not one fraction of one iota as disturbing as humanity is in reality.

Horror films are, surreptitiously, reflections of our sociological worries, and if that is indeed the case, then the extreme horror film is the reflection of our most extreme of societal fears.

The ten movies I have listed in this article are most certainly extreme motion pictures about extreme social apprehensions. I think it goes without saying that this article is NOT for the weak of heart, and although I have done as much as I could to PG-ize the article. . . Yeah, this thing is not PG in any regard.

A couple of additional words of warning before this countdown begins:

1. I decided to disqualify documentary films from contention, since no matter how disgusting and unsettling movies can be, there is no way in hell they can ever match the absolute depravity of what real life things man has done to one another. Simply put, if I were to make a list of the 1,000 most truly disturbing films of all time, I assure you that all 1,000 spots would be reserved for documentary pictures.

2. For the love of all that is holy, no adult films, either! I am sure there is at least three of you that will read this article and leave angry comments about how I left off some Japanese octopus snuff fetish picture from 1987 from the countdown. That, I assure you, is very much for a reason.

3. Some of these movies are fairly recent, so if you are one of those ardent retro defenders (or as the rest of society calls you, virgins), tough noogies.

4. Finally, did I say that this article is NOT FOR THE WEAK OF HEART AND TOTALLY NOT PG BY ANY MEANS? Well, uh, it is, so keep that in mind.

Think you are well adjusted? Well, by the time this article comes to finality. . . You won t be. Prepare to get traumatized, folks!

#010 Nekromantik 2




You simply KNOW that a movie is extreme when its banned in Germany. In fact, Nekromantik 2 was the first film released in Deutschland since the fall of the Nazi regime that was ordered to be seized by government officials.

Why the hubbub, you may ask? Well, Nekromantik 2 is a German film about a woman that does not stop loving her ex boyfriend, even after his death. . . And yes, that does mean EXACTLY what you think it means.

Right off the bat, the fact that this movie is a film about a woman that REALLY loves the dead is enough to get your skin crawling, and in case you are wondering, oh yeah, they SHOW IT. However, what makes the film truly disturbing is the fact that it is played as such a humorless, sincere motion picture. Believe it or not, this film actually does try to tell a quasi romantic story, and serves as something of a psychosocial metaphor for female sexuality. Is Nekromantik 2 a super gross horror film about one of culture s most taboo subjects, or is it a phantasmagoric social fantasy, or god help us, the most messed up romantic drama ever put on camera? The reality is, this film is all of the above, and a surprisingly well pieced movie that really nails you in the gut with just about everything it attempts.

This movie also gets bonus points for having what is one of the most ghoulishly awesome endings in movie history. You think Ape Lincoln or Jack-is-actually-Tyler-Durden are kick ass finales? Not after seeing this one, you won t. That, and I think the leading actress is pretty damn hot, even when she s riding the kosher pony of a dude that looks a dehydrated eel.

A lot of people will watch this film and just feel freaked out beyond words, and that s for good reason. That said, it s also a legitimately well done film, and a movie that has impact beyond the visual of the main character making out with a corpse in her bathtub. This is not a movie for all tastes, obviously, but for those of you that are adventurous, it s not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Oh, and don t bother with the first Nekromantik. It pretty much the exact same thing as its sequel, only executed WAY less effectively.

#009 Guinea Pig: The Mermaid In The Manhole




Let s talk about Japanese horror for a minute. I think the general rule of thumb is, no matter how sick and depraved your country s art is, the stuff the Japanese have done is WAYYY more perverse. The Guinea Pig series is one that certainly validates such a hypothesis.

To begin, the Guinea Pig series is perhaps best known for an installment called Flower of Flesh and Blood, which may very well be the most famous fake snuff film ever made. The urban legend is, Charlie Sheen saw it back in the 90s, thought it was real, and had his MPAA buddies arrest the director for murder. Of course, that movie wasn t real, but its reputation as one of the most brutal films ever released remains to this day.

That said, I happen to believe that this installment of the series is a FAR MORE disturbing offering. Obviously, there s no denying the fact that this one is fiction. After all, it has the word mermaid in the title, doesn t it?

So anyway, this is another psychosocial story, only this time about urbanization. You see, as a kid, the main character saw a mermaid in a lake, and as an adult, he sees that same mermaid in a sewer. Anyway, the dudes wife just died, and since he s an heartbroken artist, he decides to take the mermaid, which looks like something out of Jeffrey Dahmers nightmares, home so that he can paint it. With its own blood and mucus. Yeah, my reaction was the same as yours.

It s really hard to describe the movie, but it simply has you drawn from the first five minutes of the feature. Its one of those movies that s disturbing not just because it features a dude poking a gory blob with his fingers for an hour, but because it gives you this horrible sense of bleakness and nihilism. If you are in a good mood, this is the perfect film to snap you out of such blissful ignorance.

#008 ReGOREgitated Sacrifice




The funny thing about most of these kinds of movies is that the guys that make them are, for all intents and purposes, pretty normal, boring people. Lucifer Valentine, certainly, is not alike his peers.

To begin with, the dude claims to have been raised by Satanists and had an, uh, closer than normal relation with his own sister. He is also a dude that professes an attraction to, well, puking, so yeah, the word normal is not one that you would apply to Mr. Valentine, whether or not his accusations are as valid as he claims them to be.

There really isn t a plot in ReGOREgitated Sacrifice. It is simply mock-mayhem for an hour and a half, and the kind of stuff that goes on in the flick had even an experienced degenerate cinema student such as myself in a state of shocked disbelief. For example, there is this scene early on in the film involving a tarantula, a young woman and. . . Well, like I said, I am TRYING to keep this as work safe as I can.

Oh, we have seen decapitations in film before. That being said, the decapitation sequence in this film is so sickeningly perverse that I simply refuse to further expound upon it. All I will say is that when Mr. Valentine said he had a thing for upchuck, he WASN'T lying.

And then, there is the film s grand finale, which is one of the all time great gross out finales in movie history, as what begins as a practically X-rated love scene slowly transmogrifies into one of the most over-the-top, stomach churning bloodbaths in the history of cinema.

Although still a fairly recent film, there is no doubt that this one is destined for greatness in the annals of vile video lore. I am not quite sure what Valentine s point to all of this extreme debauchery is, but it makes for a fairly involving anti-art opus that s more nauseating than a 24 hour roller coaster riding session. Regardless, if you have the grapefruits to see this one, you best bring something to hurl in for the screening.

#007 Vase de Noces




Australia is a nation that was literally founded by bloodthirsty criminals. To give you an idea of just how messed up this movie is, it remains banned to this day in a country settled by British sociopaths.

Vase de Noces is a Belgian art house film, which is also known as The Wedding Trough and The Pig (Expletive) Movie. I will leave it up to your imagination to determine exactly which expletive I am referencing.

This 1974 film actually predates Eraserhead by a good three years, and its obvious the kind of influence this flick had on guys like Lynch , Cronenberg and Tarr. There is nothing even remotely resembling a traditional narrative in the film, an virtually zero explanation given to what s going on in the picture. All you need to know is, it s about a farmer with some TRULY disturbed habits involving making dolls out of dead pigeons, killing chickens and making bacon with ACTUAL LIVE BACON.

This is one of those movies that you certainly should not watch if you are a member of PETA, since it contains scenes of ACTUAL animal cruelty. No matter your experience with esoteric film, NOTHING can prepare you for the WAYYY out there things this movie hits you with, including a plot twist involving humanoid pig babies that ends up making Eraserhead look like Beauty and the freaking Beast by comparison.

This is the kind of movie that is really beyond criticism or review. I really can t make a concrete assessment of what the film s sociological intent is, but any sociological statement involving manure eating, tea made out of urine and porking, well, uh, pork, is probably a pretty serious indictment of, um, something.

No matter what definition you take away from the film, one thing is for sure: after watching Vase de Noces, you will NEVER look at ham the same way again.

#006 Cannibal Holocaust




Cannibal Holocaust, to this day, remains banned in about twenty different countries, and stands as the second most controversial film of the 20th century (next to Birth of a Nation, of course).

The film was seized by Italian officials just ten day after it premiered, and the director was actually booked on murder charges: ultimately, the Italian government though that the violence depicted in the movie was so realistic that it simply had to have been authentic, and director Ruggero Deodato had to fly in the actors from New York to prove that they were still alive

Cannibal Holocaust is a fake documentary film in the style of Mondo Cane, a film that basically demonstrates the sickness of modernized culture by juxtaposing it with the brutality of nomadic, savage civilization along the Amazon. The film certainly does an incredible job of blurring the line between reality and fantasy, and any and all psychology buffs out there NEED to see this movie as a lesson in mental conditioning.

The film concerns a group of American documentary filmmakers that fly to Brazil to study a cannibalistic tribe. The filmmakers proceed to do some TRULY unspeakable things to the natives (a metaphor for Anglo-Saxon imperialism?), and sure enough, the locals decide to have themselves a good old fashioned American BBQ. . . With the Americans serving as the BBQ.

If you have ANY strong feelings about animal rights, STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM THIS PICTURE, as it features SEVERAL scenes of real life animal slaughter, including a scenes of monkeys getting whacked with machetes, a muskrat getting stabbed by an actor, and a scene involving a sea turtle that will MESS YOU UP FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Anyway, like I said, this is a movie you need to see if you are interested in the way the mental faculties of humans operate. There is a lot of juxtaposition involved in the film, and behind the ultra-realistic mayhem, there is certainly a statement to be uncovered about society and the nature of humanity.

This is not a movie for the weak of heart. Hell, this is not a movie for the STRONG of heart, for that matter, but for those of you that are looking to experience one of extreme cinema s most ineffaceable achievements, than this is a movie you simply MUST view.

#005 Suicide




Suicide is a German film, and a movie that is distributed by TROMA. Of course, the TROMA movies have a reputation for being over the top, but by that same token, you kind of expect a little bit of affable goofiness from their offerings. Assuredly, Suicide is NOT that kind of offering.

To begin, this is another movie presented in a fake documentary styling. The film is about a bunch of kids that operate a website that posts videos of people committing suicide (what else?) on camera, and the movie follows them on a day of filming. What REALLY gets me about this movie is the fact that it looks STAGGERINGLY authentic, and instead of simply trotting out the goriest deaths they could imagine, the filmmakers decided to throw in some hauntingly realistic scenes involving people doing themselves in via sleeping pill overdoses and injecting air into their veins. Ultimately, watching the guy writhe around in agony after he shoots a bubble into his arm is a totally bloodless sequence that s more horrifying than 99 percent of the cinema s most blood soaked scenes of carnage.

Like I said, the realism of this movie absolutely blows me away: sure, anybody can stage a dude getting chain sawed, but how in the hell do you stage a person drowning? This movie just feels real, way more real than most movies of the type feel. If you do not walk out of this flick feeling like you need about thirteen showers in a row, you are probably a good candidate for a stay at a mental hospital.

Oh, and two more notes about the movie: how many times have you seen a guy a.) slitting his wrist and b.) blowing his brains out on camera? Odds are, you have seen these staples wheeled out numerous times. Without question, this movie contains what are the single most HIDEOUS scenes involving either acts of self erasure that I have witnessed in a good fifteen plus years as an extreme cinema aficionado.

Needless to say, only the TRULY hardcore should dare tread here.

#004 Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom




Considered by just about anybody whose opinion means something to be among the last truly great works of Italian neorealist cinema, Pasolina s Salo is an amazing film that juxtaposes the classical sadism of Marquis de Sade s literature with the horrors of Italian fascism. Undoubtedly, Pasolina s work is meant to convey a lot of hostility and resentment towards the libertines of Mussolini s society: this is without a doubt one of the most depressing, unsettling and nihilistic films ever to run through a movie projector.

Pasolina knew what he was doing when he made this movie, and everything is deliberately terse and nauseating: by selecting the youngest looking actors and actresses he could find, this movie has been falsely accused as exploitative sleaze for almost forty years now.

If you are a sociology nerd like me, then you need to see this movie PRONTO. Salo is a remarkable, albeit disgusting parable about the dangers of ideology, and what happens when myopia takes over the masses. In the world of Salo, the clergy, the government and the judicial system are all ran by psychosexual madmen, free will constitutes slavery, and the young are beholden to the sickest displays of generational tyranny one can imagine.

I do not think I have to give you a preamble about the content of this movie: it s graphic. VERY graphic, and involves numerous scenes of torture, assault, abuse and humiliation that has not lost a single ounce of visual power since 1975.

I do not think I have ever seen a movie in which moral depravity has been displayed as effectively as it is in Salo. This is just a brutal, hopeless, lifeless movie that captures everything that is wrong about cultural idealism, and a movie that has at least two or three of the most unsettling moments in the annals of filmdom. More than just being a great example of extreme cinema, this is an example of flat out great cinema, regardless. I certainly doubt that most people will have the stomachs, or souls, to make it all the way through: ultimately, that is a sad thing, for Salo conveys a very important message about a very sad, and very real, aspect of the human condition.

#003 Cannibal




If someone tried to pitch me the story behind Cannibal as a work of fiction, I simply would not believe it. It is just too gruesome, and deranged, and unbelievable. And then, you realize, this ultra perverse little German film is not just shock cinema for the sake of shock cinema: it is actually based on a true life incident involving a man that had the romantic urge to devour another human being, and the human being that actually wanted to go along with him.

At heart, Cannibal is the most messed up love story you will ever see, and even the most hardcore of hardcore extreme cinema goers will likely be revolted by its contents. Ultimately, if you have even the slightest hint of homophobia floating through your veins, steer clear of this one: the man on man action in this movie just about borders on an X rating.

So, yeah, did I mention that this movie is based on a TRUE story? That little notion is what gives the movie its power, this sense of beyond screwy magnetism that keeps you glued to the screen like a doe staring down the headlights of a transfer truck. Ultimately, you KNOW exactly where its headed, and by the time it finally reaches, ahem, climax, it is every bit as shocking and stomach churning as you would imagine it, if not more so.

Alike Nekromantik 2, the movie is effective because it plays its cards so seriously despite the fact that its centered around something so uncomfortably taboo. This is surprisingly well acted, well scripted and beautifully choreographed film: by the time the movie gets to its point of no return, you cannot help but fall into the abyss alongside the characters. It is a beyond messed up tale, a beyond messed up movie, and with a beyond messed up conclusion. This movie is certainly NOT for everybody, but for those of you that have the desire to catch the most extreme of cinematic experiences, this is one off kilter import worth tracking down.

#002 August Underground's Mordum




To begin, I have to say this: Mordum contains what is, without question, the single most shocking scene I have EVER seen in a motion picture. In fact, I simply refuse to even remotely go into detail about the scene, but I will just say this: it is so far beyond disturbing that I literally questioned the mental stability of the people that made the film after watching it.

Ultimately, this is what makes Mordum such a shocking film, and a movie that, despite itself, is an incredible statement about the waywardness of Twenty-First Century America. What happens when you have a society with all of the free time in the world, all of the material riches it could want, and absolutely none of the responsibilities and scruples that come along with such surpluses? Well, the new wave middle class starts producing stuff like Mordum, which is just about the most vicious anti-art, anti-modernism, anti-everything picture to come down the pipes since. . . Hell, ever!

You think you have seen nihilistic movies before? Gummo, Happiness, Kids, The Doom Generation? Oh, those movies are amateur hour compared to the amount of depravity that goes on in this flick. As yet another fake-documentary, Mordum chronicles the exploits of three totally immoral nihilists that drive around murdering, assaulting, abusing and torturing anyone that is dumb enough to get in their way. So, is this just a Devils Rejects - Natural Born Killers redux?

Ohhhh, no. Hostel and Rob Zombie s movies are freaking Nick Toons compared to the abject social horror of Mordum. Heroin junkies are beaten to death while lying in comatose states. Brothers and sisters attempt to make more brothers and sisters with themselves. People are brutally taken advantage of with the regularity of a handshake. A dude is given a pair of nail clippers and told to. . . Seriously, you DO NOT want to know. People are forced to puke on each other. And then, there is the ending. Like I said at the beginning of this review, it is unquestionably the most SHOCKING thing I have ever seen in a motion picture, and something that made me feel more imperiled as a moral human being than I have ever been as a filmgoer.

As far as shock cinema goes, this is about as shocking as I dare travel. Mordum is the kind of movie that stays with you LONG after the movie comes to finality, and I really cannot state that it is something that you will WANT to remember, either.

And my pick for the single most disturbing movie EVER is. . .

. . .

. . .

. . .


#001 Philosophy of a Knife




I think it is safe to say that, unless you decide to tread into truly X rated ventures, Philosophy of a Knife is about as hardcore as extreme horror films come. While I still think that Mordum has the single most shocking scene in movie history, this movie is far and away the most depressing, disturbing, and depraved film I have ever seen as a total, complete feature.

For starters, the film is about something that ACTUALLY occurred, and that s the atrocities committed by General Ishii s Unit 731 scientific experimentation brigade in mainland China. For those of you that require a history lesson, Imperialist Japan did some down right HORRIFIC things to the mainland Chinese in Manchuria, and this film documents some of the beyond depraved things that Unit 731 did to the interned Chinese.

Now, there actually are a lot of Hong Kong movies made about this very subject. However, Philosophy of a Knife is a Russian film, and serves as a hybrid documentary - extreme horror picture. The things that are displayed in this film go so far beyond shocking that even seasoned cinema goers may have a hard time stomaching what they see. This is heightened by two factors: obviously, the fact that atrocities of the like ACTUALLY transpired in real life, and the fact that the film is almost FOUR AND A HALF HOURS in length.

That is right, you heard me: FOUR AND A HALF HOURS of unyielding mayhem and depravity. Philosophy of a Knife is without question the most draining, stressing, and morally taxing motion picture I have ever experienced. By the time it finally comes to a conclusion, you feel totally insensate to the world, mortified into a state of absolute lifelessness. I walked away with a feeling of nauseating emptiness that I have never felt before as a moviegoer. This movie doesn t just shake you to your core, it pummels you into subservient stillness as a viewer.

Women have their teeth ripped out one by one. Children have their skin ripped off. People are dissected while still alive. People are thrown into hyperbaric chambers and depressurized. There are scenes involving abortions, and gassings, and a scene in which a woman is attacked by a syphilitic. How do we know he is a syphilitic? That is right, because they SHOW it.

By the one hour mark, you are absolutely disgusted and beaten down to the point of hopelessness. And it goes on, and on, for another three and a half hours. This movie doesn t just depress you, it makes you feel like you ve been visually assaulted by the film. After watching the movie, I was rattled for days on end, and several weeks after my viewing, I still had a hard time shaking off the feeling the film assailed me with.

Philosophy of a Knife is one of the most amazing sensorial experiences you will ever have with a movie. If you have ever wanted to feel like a sufferer of combat shock, or experience a de facto form of blunt trauma, then I say give this movie a try. It will deaden you, and beat you, and make you feel absolutely horrible beyond words. This is a movie that goes beyond shocking and disturbing: it exhausts you, it dehumanizes you, and it makes you feel positively tormented. It s one of the hardest movies I have ever sat through, and perhaps the single least pleasurable experience I have ever had with a motion picture.

No doubt about it, Philosophy of a Knife is the sickest film I have ever seen. In that, it is also one of the most remarkable, and a film going experience that the most strong-stomached of viewers should suffer through at least once.

- -

Well, that is my list of the ten most disturbing movies I have ever witnessed. Certainly, there are far scummier and depraved flicks out there, and you probably have a few on your list that even an esoteric film buff like myself has not heard of. Either way, to reiterate my original point, these films are about more than being shocking. Believe it or not, these films are indeed works of art, and works of art with very profound statements to make about society, culture, and the nature of human existence. They may not be pretty, and they may not be accessible, but for those of us with strong stomachs and inquiring minds, such extreme examples of cinema are among the most noteworthy and memorable of all medium experiences.

Just don't see them on a full stomach, though. . .


James Swift is a 20-something writer currently living in the Metro Atlanta area. His first book How I Survived Three Years at a Two-Year Community College is now available at Iuniverse.com. Hey, how about picking up an e-book copy or two?