Disturbing List Epilogue: (Dis)Honorable Mentions and More.

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Before we get to Simon Augustine's addendum, his lengthy list of (dis)honorable mentions, other Disturbing Films, he first has this suggestion to get through your viewing party.

Items you may want to have handy in addition to DVDs:

  1. Ouija Board: you may want to leave this lying on the coffee table. You'd be amazed how many otherwise rational and reasonable adults, who adamantly believe in science, evolution, and Einstein, and who shrug condcscendingly at the mention of Sasquatch, The Bermuda Triangle, UFOs, crop circles, ghosts, aliens, and A Divine Creator will refuse to use or even touch the magical Ouija. A lot of people don't believe in God these days, but they believe in power of the Spirit Board. Moving the pointer around and inviting Satan and his hellish minions to join you at DNATM can add to the fun and anxiety.
  2. Draw a pentagram on the floor. It can't hurt.
  3. Candles, candles, candles.
  4. The Necronomicon, Disturbing Founding Father H.P Lovecraft's fictional, Henrymythic bible of demonology and the occult, with important or relevant passages ear-marked; (note: a copy may be hard to find, considering the book doesn't really exist; and
  5. A disconcerting framed picture of Charles Manson or Sean S. Cunningham.

Caveat Emptor: The most important criterion for this list is visceral barf-bag impact. Because of censorship in the first half of cinema history, and thankfully increasingly lower societal standards in the second half, the extremely graphic nature necessary to be truly sickening did not fully appear in the movies until the late 60's/early 70's when Last House On The Left, et. al. paved the way for a quick descent into more explicit sex and violence. Thus all of the films on the main list were released from 1968 to the present.

However, for all you Disturbist historians out there, this is not meant to diminish the impact of groundbreaking Disturbing Films throughout the 20th century, which were truly shocking for their time and still have the ability to make us uncomfortable. To wit:

The Tod Browning Memorial Historical Achievement Awards go to:

Dishonorable Mention:

  • Almost anything by bad-boy Takashi Miike, especially Audition and a skinned face thrown against the wall in Ichi The Killer;
  • Invocation of My Demon Brother, Kenneth Anger's 12-minute homage to Satanism, late 60's nihilism, and Mick Jagger that was a flickering freak-out 20 years before Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson got on the bandwagon via MTV;
  • The entire Warhol/Paul Morrissey/Joe D'allasandro Oeuvre: Flesh, Trash, Blood For Dracula, Flesh for Frankenstein…etc.;
  • Russ Meyer, who is the closest thing Disturbing Night At The Movies has to a true auteur it can call its very own, a genius - minus a peg or two - of bawdy, ribald, wild Americana, a man dear to our hearts, the Mark Twain of Ta-Ta's, the Baudelaire of Boobs, whose bodacious, randy, and happily sophomoric Bosomania series of films - the seminal Faster, Pussycat, Kill!, Kill!, Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, and perhaps his masterpiece, 1975's SuperVixens ( the poster for which alone can stop you dead in your tracks) - creates a surreal, vibrant, and cartoonish US of A worthy of R. Crumb, the Marquis De Sade, Jonathan Swift, and Tom Wolfe;
  • The Japanese Pinky Violence series;
  • Bob Guccioni lost his own empire due to the expensive, long, luxuriously cast, and bust-a-gut hilarious filth bomb Caligula;
  • Hubert Selby Jr.'s tale of misogyny and moral vacancy Last Exit To Brooklyn (OOP on DVD at the moment);
  • The psychedelic 70's homage The Manson Family;
  • Monsters and sex and revenge in Entrails of The Virgin;
  • Maybe the most dysfunctional family ever in the Japanese Visitor Q;
  • A nipple sliced off and a knife going in-through-the-out-door are the only effective moments in a the otherwise crappy non-official Last House on The Left remake Chaos;
  • What the heck is going on? in Let's Scare Jessica To Death;
  • Eight Is Enough cutie Laurie Walters goes to a dreamlike mansion run by a very unnerving old woman in late, late show lost wonder Warlock Moon; based on a real case;
  • An odd story in which a man looking to be intimately held and then eaten gets his personal ad answered in a gay love story German-style in Cannibal;
  • Kathleen Turner takes it off and Anthony Perkins is a sinner/savior in the sordid Crimes of Passion;
  • Herschel Gordon Lewis's Blood Feast, generally considered the first splatter film;
  • The Producers meets aggressive dominatrix hijincks in the absolutely inappropriate scourge of decency ILSA, She Wolf of the SS (and its two sequels);
  • The always intense Brian Cox is a pedophile veteran taking advantage of Long Island teenagers in L.I.E.;
  • A magician has white slaves in NYC in the funny and disgusting Bloodsucking Freaks;
  • Chuck Connors is a road attraction manager with a secret and Tanya Roberts wears denim cut-offs in Stephen King fave Tourist Trap;
  • River's Edge, lost boys + Dennis Hopper in one of the most depressing films of the 80s;
  • Hopper strikes again with Out of the Blue, with the enigmatic Linda Manz playing a punk rock teenager who burns her mother to death in the cab of a eighteen-wheeler, and of whom the movie's poster states: "The only adult she admires is Johnny Rotten;"
  • Low budget writer and auteur Alan Ormsby is a demented hippie actor getting his cast to do some grave-digging in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things;
  • Kids in a "planned community" lose their shit and riot in Over The Edge;
  • And the first half hour of The Strangers.

 The Classier Side:

  • Bobby DeNiro takes Cybil Sheppard to a skin flick and gives himself a Mohawk in the mainstream king of DNATM Taxi Driver;
  • Deliverance adapted poet James Dickey's electrifying and seminal "Beset By Hillbies" blockbuster, featuring the legendary swine role-playing man-on-man rape scene: "boy you look just like hog!"
  • Jon Voight works out childhood trauma by cruising as a gigolo in Midnight Cowboy;
  • Deliverance protégé and Vietnam allegory Southern Comfort;
  • Sam Peckinpah's magnum opus of balletic shoot-out orgies of death and moral hopelessness The Wild Bunch, and Dustin Hoffman blows his fuse and kicks some British townie ass in Straw Dogs;
  • Paranoia was never done better than in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant;
  • Warren Beatty depressed an entire generation with the surprise bloody ending of Bonnie and Clyde;
  • Olivier's Nazi Dentist pulls teeth unnecessarily in Marathon Man;
  • Brad Davis is locked up in a Turkish prison and proceeds to bite a fellow inmate's tongue off in a blood-smeared fit of primitive hysteria in Midnight Express;
  • James Earl Jones brings Stacy Keach to a late-sixties experimental psychological commune called "The Farm" in End of the Road;
  • A penis enjoys coitus post-castration in the powerful X-rated Japanese drama In The Realm of the Senses;
  • Jesus really takes a beating in the effectively moving The Passion of the Christ;
  • Concentration camp survivor Charlotte Rampling and her former Nazi tormentor Dirk Bogarde reunite for a love affair in the controversial 70s kink fest The Night Porter.

Other Horribly Disturbing Things Not To Miss

  • A depressed sociopath films himself killing victims in the demoralizing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer;
  • The true-life crime chronicle The Girl Next Door, the rare horror movie in recent memory that can be called truly "shocking;"
  • A really revolting rural grand-daddy shows his grandson how to "get a header" in the crude and absolutely putrid Header;
  • A filmmaker follows a serial killer in the Belgium import Man Bites Dog;
  • The first Saw;
  • The Larry Cohen-penned cult theological meditation/mass hysteria epic God Told Me To;
  • XXX-rated sophomoric mess and demerit for humanity Forced Entry (Extreme Associates) - the subject of one of the only federal obscenity cases in recent American history;
  • Val Kilmer as John Holmes, porn legend/drug addict, takes part in a brutal revenge attack with bludgeons in the true story Wonderland;
  • Cherubic Swedish sex goddess Christine Lindberg is kidnapped, shot up with heroin, made a whitethriller slave, and escapes to exact awesome revenge in Thriller: A Cruel Picture (a.k.a. They Call Her One-Eye) (acknowledged as the inspiration for Kill Bill 1&2);
  • Al Pacino sniffs a handkerchief soaked in amyl nitrate and tracks a killer through the underground gay leather-bar scene of the late 70s in the perennially entertaining Cruising (somewhere out there is a legendary Heaven's Gate style excised 40 minutes of footage, so graphic executives blanched and refuse to release them; but director William Friedkin does manage to insert frames of hardcore gay sex during the murder scenes in a perhaps impractical act of subterfuge/ subliminal advertising - use the frame-by-frame feature on your DVD remote and have a ball!);
  • Wes Craven follows up Last House on The Left with the vicious tale of a suburban family attacked by tribal hillbillies in the gut-wrenching minor classic The Hills Have Eyes;
  • sexual aggression in an insular, eerie Canada is caused by interstellar slugs, mysterious virus, and people who like to crash cars in David Cronenberg's They Come From Within (a.k.a Shivers), Rabid, and Crash, respectively;
  • Brian DePalma's early and quite garish look at split personality Sisters;
  • The race-baiting grindhouse classic Fight For Your Life;
  • Titus, Broadway wunderkind Julie Tamor's version of the only Shakespearean play I know that has cannibalism in it
  • More classy cannibalism in pretentious Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover;
  • Mentally ill man deals with Susan Tyrell as a mom and a hot next door neighbor in Emmanuelle (that's two "m's") Seigner in the little-known but terrific Buddy Boy (stay tuned for the mind-fucking last 5 seconds);
  • George Romero's vampirism-as-teenage addiction shocker Martin;
  • Anything and everything by Jess Franco, Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, Jean Rollin, Alejandro Jodorowsky;
  • Peter Boyle as violent hippie-hater in Joe;
  • Japanese cyberpunk desecration of the flesh Tetsuo: Iron Man II;
  • The Suicide Club, a Japanese film about a secret plot involving hypnotic states and a sugary girl-group rock band linked to a rash of school-girl lemmings-style mass suicides;
  • Perhaps the most famous campfire urban legend of them all is turned into a scary-as-hell PG-rated slam-bang first 20 minutes in When A Stranger Calls;
  • Gaspar Noe's existential nightmare I Stand Alone;
  • A very unglamorous Eric Bana gets his ears voluntarily cut off in his portrayal of the baddest Australian ex-con who ever was: Chopper;
  • Regular college students are recruited to take part in a psychological experiment in which they assume the roles of prison inmates and guards in the fact-based, very unnerving, and very German Das Experiment;
  • Eric Roberts gives one his amazing early performances as Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten's really, really slimy boyfriend/Svengali in Star 80;
  • Berlin teens get addicted to heroin and angel dust, see David Bowie in concert, and grab needles out of each other's arms to selfishly stick in themselves in the despairing and tragic Christiane F.
  • …and whatever I've left out or forgotten, but that should keep you degenerates busy for awhile.

Omitted Because of Trying Too Hard: Everything by Catherine Breillat, Lars Von Trier, Tarantino, Eli Roth, Todd Solondz, and Harmony Korine (except his screenplay for Larry Clarks playground-as-apocalypse cautionary tale Kids.)

Suggested Further Research in Officially Recognized Subgenres: Women In Prison flicks, Hammer Bodice Horror, Nunsploitation, Japanese "Pink" films; almost everything put out by video company/Disturbist's archive Something Weird, Tentacle Porn Anime (even I don't really know what this is), Blaxpoloitation, the infamous Animal Farm (if you need to ask, don't bother; suffice it to say nothing to do with George Orwell), Italian Giallos, the recent French New Wave of Horror's psycho-sexual shenanigans and Isabelle Huppert performances including Ma Mere, Inside, Them, The Piano Teacher, High Tension, Martyrs, and Frontier(s); anything with hirsute warthog Ron Jeremy.


this article is dedicated to micah moses, fellow disturbist and co-producer of nightmare and cleaver: "il miglior fabbro."

Contact the author Simon Augustine.

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I wondered how you selected these...

"The most important criterion for this list is visceral barf-bag impact."

I wondered about that. For me the most "disturbing" also included some movies I walked out in the middle of: "The Piano Teacher" and "Rush" (rape-y scenes), "Jude" (general pathos of life, when they discover what their kids had done), etc. They made me sick to my stomach, but at least I could tell myself 'these are just stories.' And I don't ever recommend them to anyone.

However, I also put "A Time for Drunken Horses" on my most disturbing list, because it is a convincing portrayal of what life is really like for Iranian border Kurds (especially since Ghobadi used non-professional locals for his actors). I can't say it's just a story when I know they really live in that environment, so I can't distance myself from that horror. "In This World" holds a similar place. And I've recommended these both several times.

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You forgot "Sick"

I love, love, love that somebody is out there thinking about this. Even though I generally avoid "nightmare fuel" films, I've somehow seen many of the ones on your list.

One of my "most disturbing" films has to be "Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist." As the GreenCine blurb reads, "The film includes explicit scenes of genital self-mutilation." The most disturbing parts for me, though, is seeing Bob Flanagan's steady decline and death, especially after he charms the viewer with his quirky wit.

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