10 Most Disturbing Scary Movies Ever Made

As with any form of entertainment there always arise creators who wish to push the boundaries of their art in directions that display them in controversial ways. Rather it be music, novels, or of course film alike there will always be variations that break the mold of normalization. Disturbing imagery and topics alike expected within the horror film genre. Viewers and fans of the horror film universe generally come to expect high levels of violence, gore, and various profonde situations.

Also Read: Director Reveals Disturbing Reason Why EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE Was Originally Rated R

It is nearly expected to watch horror films and visualize taboo and disturbing imagery within its lengthy history. Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 film Psycho dared show a female actor in a shower scene stabbed to her demise. Tobe Hooper’s 1974 slasher The Texas Chainsaw Massacre brought extreme brutality to the masses. And more modern films birthed the title of “Torture Porn” like Eli Roth’s Hostel and James Wan’s Saw films.

Throughout the history of horror films there have been plenty of films that have tip-toed between horror to outright exploitation films. They have not only pushed that boundary of extreme violence. They have even managed to create films so unbelievably violent and taboo that the films themselves have managed to become banned worldwide, heavily edited, or just downright repulsed by the masses. There are easily hundreds of films that fall into the category of profoundly disturbing views. The following is just a sample of some gut-wrenching movies. Movies that have both repulsed many and have been rejoiced by rabid fans of horror. Fans who keep attempting to seek out films that break the mold and shake the senses.

10 Most Disturbing Films Ever Made

01. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Directed By: Ruggero Deodato

Most fans of disturbing or horror films in general probably expected this to make the list. But Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust tops most disturbing films for a reason. It’s considered by many to be one of the first real examples of the “found footage” horror genre. Cannibal Holocaust presents a rescue team that arrives in the Amazon Rainforest to recover a missing team of filmmakers. The local tribes greet them with hostility upon their arrival. And through communication discover only the remains and film reels of the previous filmmakers. AWhen the team arrives back in New York and displays the recently recovered film reels is when Cannibal Holocaust really accelerates.

The films display cruelty and abuse performed by the filmmakers towards the tribes. Plus extreme local animal abuse, and killings. And the retaliation the film crew received from the peeved local tribes leading to the infamous impalement scene. The film created a trend with Cannibal Ferox and Mountain of the Cannibal Gods also produced following its release. However, only Cannibal Holocaust reached peeked infamy. Police apprehended director Deodato until all actors and actresses involved in the film were proven to be alive and well. To this day Cannibal Holocaust still holds strong as a profoundly disturbing film; based not only on its violent content but also via the actual animal killings performed and displayed in the film.

02. A Serbian Film (2010)

Directed by: Srdan Spasojevic

Along with Cannibal Holocaust, most fans of horror generally expect to see this film topping the list of disturbing films. This is a film that never holds back on pulling its punches. Director Srdan Spasojevic has been interviewed explaining that A Serbian Film’s overly violent presentation was a direct political parody on a fascist culture of his land. Regardless of what the film’s content was aimed to present as a viewer, you can expect intense sexual violence, visceral gore, and scenes that present topics to include pedophilia, rape, and profound torture.

A Serbian Film follows a former porn star named Milos. He does not want to return to his former work but also wants to financially provide for his family. Then he meets Vukmir, an independent pornographer. Now his world begins to spiral in absolute sexual depravity featuring rape, dismemberment, and even erectile murder. Which is precisely what it sounds like. In a film that features a scene discussing “new-born porn” you know you are in for a nauseating ride.

10 Most Disturbing Films Ever Made

03. Martyrs (2008)

Directed by: Pascal Laguier

In the 2000s horror fans were gifted a genre of horror films based out of France poetically referred to as “The New French Extremity” film movement. During this period French-based horror films were being released with excessive violence. They include films like Frontier(s), High Tension, and Inside. The film that really stood out as not only being an exceedingly disturbing watch but also a terrifically unfolding plot and character development was Pascal Laguier’s Martyrs. Martyrs plays out as a film with constant twists. One that unfolds in a way to keep viewers watching to understand precisely what is happening.

The film begins with Lucie. She just recently escaped from her abductors after experiencing a year of imprisonment and torture. From this point, Martyrs takes its viewers on a rough journey. Lucie befriends Anna at an orphanage. Anna helps her get through terrifying nightmares of a beast repeatably attacking her. Laguier continuously turns the plot on its head as Lucie executes a complete family via close-range shotgun.

That situation, as well as the nightmarish beast from her nightmares, are both explained exultantly. Martyrs does not let go from here though. A group of mysterious individuals arrives, imprison, and brutally torture Lucie in their attempt to communicate with God via a martyr. Many disturbing films push the violent viewing envelope to disgust to where Martyrs tells a fascinating story with its imagery. It is also one of the few disturbing films to be remade.

04. August Underground (2001)

Directed by: Fred Vogel

If films could be compared to historical torture devices, then Fred Vogel’s August Underground Trilogy would be comparable to being broken upon the wheel. Imagine bounded to a great wooden wheel then having all your appendages splintered with heavy tools only to experience the pain long enough to be executed via immolation, decapitation, or blunt force trauma. August Underground, which plays out as a trilogy of films. They include August Underground, August Underground Mordum, and August Underground Penance. This is another found-footage style film, but this time from the perspective of serial killers filming their victims. August Underground is a notable hard film to view.

The film follows Peter a serial killer who with an undisclosed camera operator film their lifestyle of capturing various people and mercilessly torturing and executing them on camera. Featuring everything from psychologically dissecting their victims with sexual torture and covering them with bodily fluids to outright dismemberment August Underground could nearly fool viewers into believing they have stumbled upon the video work of an actual serial killer. If the content does not unnerve you the consistent shaking and shuffling of the camera work can become nauseating.

10 Most Disturbing Films Ever Made

05. Men Behind the Sun (1988)

Directed by: T. F. Mou

Watching most horror movies generally does not stress out its viewers because, in the end, the films are still simply works of entertainment and fantasy. It can be agreed upon that real-world atrocities and events will always be far more terrible than anything created within fiction. Then we get to T.F. Mou’s Men Behind the Sun. Everyone is aware of the unfathomable events that took place during the World Wars via Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. An event not discussed as often within the historic text is Unit 731.

Unit 731, also known as Machu Detachment Camp 731 was disguised as a Japanese water purification plant but was a biological testing facility. Men Behind the Sun is a film that exposes the unflinching barbarity the Imperial Japanese conducted on their prisoners of war. Explicitly visualizing the effects of frostbite, weapons, pressure containment, and immolation on their prisoners. It’s not a film for the easily distressed. Like Cannibal Holocaust previously mentioned, Men Behind the Sun is notable due to displaying this film’s infamy; both a dissection scene using the actual corpse and supposably a live cat being fed to hundreds of starved rats. Director Mou later revealed they didn’t actually hurt the cat. But regardless the scene is an extremely hard viewing.

06. Guinea Pig (1985)

Directed by: Satoru Ogura

Guinea Pig is a six-part film series that rarely relies on any sensible plot. The films are based on manga, which are graphic novels with brutal and violent imagery. All six films rely on immense visual violence. But the first two films of the series are generally the more notable of the series. The plot of Guinea Pig is simple within its brutality. A group of men who have kidnapped a young girl proceeds to violently torture her. Mock snuff films and murder documentary films paved the way for hyper-realistic gore films.

Movies like Faces of Death and Traces of Death provided video evidence of death and torture. Guinea Pig taking their inspiration from the manga elements simply displays brutal torture that gradually becomes more excessive as the film continues. The second film in the Guinea Pig series commonly known as Flower of Flesh and Blood received the most notability. Charlie Sheen viewed a copy, assumed he just viewed an actual snuff film, and reported Guinea Pig to authorities.

10 Most Disturbing Films Ever Made

07. Aftermath (1994)

Directed by: Nacho Cerda

Nacho Cerda’s Aftermath is proof that a film does not require a long-running time or spoken dialogue to compete for the disturbing film title. Aftermath clocks in at just 32 minutes’ time. It’s the second in a three-part trilogy which includes The Awakening and Genesis. Like Guinea Pig, there’s little plot to this film. The difference being Aftermath focuses on the atrocities one can receive after postmortem versus before perishing.

There is not a whole lot to say about Aftermath. It focuses on a mortician who engages in necrophilia after dismembering and fondling a recent corpse brought in from a car crash. Within 30 minutes’ time, you’re exposed to vaginal dismemberment. Plus, disembowelment and sexual intercourse with a corpse,. All filmed by the mortician’s personal camera. Aftermath is capable of presenting a truly terrifying ordeal as one does not truly know how their body may be treated once they pass and are left to the care of other strangers.

08. Salo: 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Directed by: Pier Paolo Pasolini

If a viewer is aware of their history, then it would be reasonably easy to be aware that Salo is going to be a difficult watch. Salo: 120 Days of Sodom is based on the 1785 novel known simply as just 120 Days of Sodom, written by Marquis De Sade. Marquis De Sade was a French author who was notorious for his erotic writing which included the use of sexual fetishism of violence, sodomy, and cruelty. Sadism a word used to describe sexual endearment off the physical pain of others was a word coined off De Sade’s work. With Salo: 120 Days of Sodom being a film directly influenced by sadism the content is sure to disgust.

Most of the films previously listed rely on physical brutality and torture to shock the viewers, Salo focuses on the extreme sexual perversion of mankind. Taking place in the 1940s, a group of rich fascists in Italy kidnap groups of young boys and girls. They fixate their sexual debauchery through torture, rape, humiliation, and forcing bodily fluids to be consumed. Salo is another film to receive infamy status as some of the young actors and actresses presented in the film were underage at the time of filming. Even within that opprobrium Salo: 120 Days of Sodom stands as one of the only disturbing films to be released via The Criterion Collection, which are films selected for being important cinema classics.

10 Most Disturbing Films Ever Made

09. Megan is Missing (2011)

Directed by: Michael Goi

Those who follow horror and disturbing films have come to expect copious amounts of violence, gore, sexual disgust. Just checking out the films featured previously within this list would proclaim the truth in that. So why is this film listed? A film that does not utilize excessive violence and brutality? Megan is Missing is a film that dances close to a fear that is very real and unfortunately common within our society.

This film follows Megan a young fourteen-year-old high school girl. She goes missing after meeting a boy she communicated with via the internet. The film plays out as a found footage style with parts being interview style, security camera footage, and social media footage. It is not until the climax that the film reveals the terrible fate that becomes of Megan. In a society where pedophiles, sex trafficking, and rape are very prevalent this film displays a very real horror story. This is a film that boastingly proclaims that monsters in horror films are not the undead, but the very living counterparts all around us.

10. Audition (1999)

Directed by: Takashi Miike

Anyone who is a fan of foreign films specifically Japanese cinema needs no introduction to filmmaker Takashi Miike. Takashi is an absolute ace in films ranging from horror, thriller, and crime alike. His Masters of Horror entry, Imprint was considered too disturbing to air. Then his absurdly over-the-top violent films like Ichi The Killer cemented Takashi as the Quentin Tarantino of Japan. With a vast series of films under his belt, it could be hard to select his best disturbing film. But Audition captures the art of deception and sexual brutality.

Audition follows Aoyama a widowed businessman. With the help of his friend, they conduct an audition to secure him a new date. Aoyama meets Asami, who he becomes quickly smitten by. After a few dates, Asami disappears. And within Aoyama’s search for her using her resume stumbled on to more and more clues of her past. The climax of the film finds him poisoned in his home by Asami followed by paralyzed and tortured by her. Audition welcomes the viewer into the realm of a psychopath. But turns it around by victimizing the male. Scenes of extreme bodily torture and also dismemberment follow.

Honorable Mentions: Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, Murder Set Pieces, Irreversible, Combat Shock, Inside, The Girl Next Door, I Spit on Your Grave, The Last House on the Left, The Human Centipede 2, and also In A Glass Cage.


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