10 Gratuitous Horror Films that Can Be Hard to Watch


A lot of genre freaks really get a kick out of gore. That’s easy to understand as special and makeup effects practitioners invest an awful lot of work in their fields. You want a cool looking severed head? You better find yourself a talented effects guy, plain and simple. Effects are more often than not a key element of horror, so we pay attention to the gruesome.

But every once in a blue moon filmmakers and special effects crews take things too far. We’re talking way beyond the bounds of decency. Sometimes carrying on to such a degree that we’re forced into fits of laughter as opposed to disgust.

martyrs - 10 Gratuitous Horror Films that Can Be Hard to Watch

That’s when it’s all gone too far. That’s when the gruesome becomes the gratuitous. That’s an issue that each of the following 10 films suffer from. That’s too bad really, as a few of these flicks are serious winners, when they’re not attempting to drown home viewers in sweet syrup.

Haute Tension: There’s no point in delving too deep into this film (although I’ll say that for the record, I enjoy it quite a bit), when all that really need be said is this: severed head oral sex. Jesus Christ, if that doesn’t send chills down the spine, nothing will.


Wolf Creek 2: Greg McLean took grotesque to entirely new heights with his follow-up to Wolf Creek. And let’s not pretend that the first Wolf Creek was a PG film. It wasn’t. It was gruesome, and it was unforgiving. But McLean’s follow-up… well, this one took the graphic gore to stunning and stomach-turning depths. Need an example? How about a man having his manhood chopped from his body… while we watch? McLean is a superb filmmaker, and he knew good and well that he was going to push every boundary imaginable in Wolf Creek 2. It worked to disturb us on an unparalleled level, and it’s impossible to forget. Cheers, mate. Cheers!


Martyrs: Any film that features the skinning of a living being is just… awe-inspiring. And not necessarily in a great way. The original Martyrs is supremely disconcerting with image after image designed to turn the stomach. Job well done, Pascal Laugier – many a nights went sleepless as images of this film haunted the mind as the head lay on the pillow. But, to Laugier’s credit, it wasn’t just horrific visuals that empowered the film so; it was the narrative and the gradual buildup to utter chaos that still haunts a great deal of us!

Dead Alive: Once deemed the bloodiest film in history (I’m pretty sure that honor has been claimed by something else – perhaps on this list – by now), Dead Alive still holds up for gorehounds. Gallons upon gallons of blood are spilled in this comedic zombie piece which is loaded with gut-busting dialogue, outrageously over-the-top comedic performances, and one of the most unbelievable finales you’ll ever see. Peter Jackson, you, sir, are a true visionary and a filmmaker that will be looked back on as iconic in every sense of the word!

Tokyo Gore Police: Uh… holy fuckin’ shit? If you can think of an absurd, over-the-top, totally and completely gratuitous means of death, Yoshihiro Nishimura’s Tokyo Gore Police puts it on full display. We’re talking enough blood spraying about to dive in and swim. Bodies split in half. Every limb imaginable cut off, penis exploding in a hail of blood spray. The list just goes on, and it’s all so much that you can’t help but laugh at the excessiveness of it all.

Ichi the Killer: Ichi the Killer is already starting to feel a bit dated, of this there can be no denying. However, if the one and only thing you’re really after in a film is gore, then Ichi not only holds up still, it has to be considered one of the goriest films in history. The sheer amount of memorable shots, loaded with disgusting aesthetics, is staggering. It may not be the most stomach-turning sequence in the flick, but I’ll always love the moment when that poor bastard gets his fist caught by that gnarly Jokeresque grill. Chilling stuff, Mr. Takashi Miike!

Cannibal Holocaust: What the hell even need be said of this film? It’s repulsive. Cocks are chopped right off, animals are brutally murdered for our “viewing pleasure” (seriously, who in the hell thought that would be pleasurable?), people are raped and impaled. The entire production feels less like a film and more like an exercise in profound sadism. It’s disgusting, and even after 36 years in existence, I tend to avoid it like the plague. I saw it once, and once was far more than enough.


Adam Chaplin: I’m still not entirely certain of what this flick is about. I’m pretty sure it’s just a revenge story that gets a little out of hand. But what does it matter? It travels so far beyond the realm of decency or reality that it’s more likely to leave you dizzy than emotionally affected. And I say “dizzy” because your head is going to spin at the absolutely stunning gore and copious amounts of plasma flying about every frame. Think of a way for a bad guy to die, and it likely happens in this movie… even though all the victims seem to have about 90 more pints of blood in their bodies than the average human being. That’s curious.


Cabin Fever: Eli Roth’s original Cabin Fever was gross. We’re talking “I don’t want to eat for a while” gross. Although it begins with tolerable gore, it quickly descends into something far different. Something that borders on offensive, it’s so disgusting. Sure, the movie helped to launch Eli Roth into bona fide stardom, but it’s also so gratuitous that it’s hard to watch more than once. Especially that damn leg-shaving scene. I still can’t get that out of my head. Something tells me I never will.

A Serbian Film: Jesus wept. Seriously. If he’s up there, looking down on us, he more than likely wept when he saw Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film. Any time a picture treads into snuff territory, it becomes a risky affair. A Serbian Film doesn’t just tread into snuff territory; it redefines the term. Seeing a few disconcerting scenes is tough, but when each sexual act becomes increasingly more depraved, it’s safe to label it too gratuitous. By the final sequence, the word “gratuitous” feels far too tame, and you’re going to need a shower. A really, really long shower.

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