Commentary

[Note: Simon accidentally omitted this from his original Disturbing Movies List but we think it was worth waiting for.--ed]

18. Sweet Movie artistic: 7 / gross out; 6

Once you begin to watch this 70's oddity--an obscure and shocking ode to the joys of communal living and nonconformist thinking--you soon think to yourself: "When is something going to happen?' And then realize nothing is going to happen...at least not in the way you think or could reasonably expect. Director Dusan Makavejev's bizarre trip down a river in Amsterdam in a ship of revelry and rebellion--a journey both literal and figural into heart of counterculture idealism--consists of a surreal series of episodes, loosely involving the strange adventures of a beauty contestant.

"Miss Monde 1984" symbolizes just about everything wrong with American capitalism (greed, possession, conversion of people into commodities) and, like the protagonist of Terry Southern's Candy, another well-known freak-out, she encounters a series of lovers and loonies who defile or enlighten her in one way or another (in the process, escaping the clutches of John Vernon, before he was the sleazy college dean in Animal House, here a sleazy businessman to whom she is betrothed as a game-show trophy wife.)

Blog entry 12/18/2009 - 2:24pm

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.

Blog entry 11/11/2009 - 12:06pm

Finishing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #2]

1. Irreversible (2002) 10/10

The undisputed king - no doubt about it. Bar none. No holds barred. Hold everything. Hide the kids, lock the door, be prepared to white knuckle it and hold on tight. L'enfant terrible and talented sonafabitch Gaspar Noé used some of the most prodigious command of sight, sound, and atmosphere since Kubrick to completely envelop you, rendering you helpless and utterly aghast.

Irreversible, still banned in several countries, is an all-out assault on the senses: the camera swirling and dipping like a drunk sailor getting sea-sick; the grinding, insisting, dread-soaked musical score; the flashing effect that can cause seizures; the backward titles; the backward chronology; the backwardness of the characters who get caught up in a maelstrom of violence; the foreboding bell of horror tolling, that signals the beginning of the film.

Blog entry 11/11/2009 - 11:08am

Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #3]

2. Salo (or 120 Days of Sodom) (1975) 10/9

This is high falutin' stuff for such a reprehensible list as this: it's the only Disturbing Film that is accompanied by a bibliography in the opening credits (just what an audience wants - homework). In this case, however, such ambitious gestures are warranted; Italian poet and provocateur Pier Paolo Passolini assembles all of his considerable directorial skill and visual mastery to deliver a really, really bad time -- an unflinching look at the savagery and absurdity of the sadistic impulse brought to its logical, and most banal, extreme.

Blog entry 11/10/2009 - 3:26pm

Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #4]

3. Last House on The Left (1972) 8/10

In the horror genre, Last House on The Left is the seminal modern Disturbing Film; it was to the downer hippie crowd sliding out of the bad trip of Vietnam what Psycho was a decade earlier to audiences covering their eyes during the shower scene. A gang of drugged-out killers, lead by Krug (David Hess, one of the standout exploitation roles of all time; far too convincing) drags a pair of upper class girls to the woods of suburban Connecticut after the teenagers are ensnared going to the big city to see a rock band. They proceed to viciously humiliate, rape, and dismember them in some of the grimmest and unsettling scenes ever put to celluloid.

Based loosely on Bergman's The Virgin Spring, Last House has slapstick “comic-relief” cop scenes (with a young Martin Kove, who would later command “finish him!” in The Karate Kid), some goofy music, and bad production values, but when Krug and his gang and their victims are hidden away in the idyllic woods with nothing but silence and the sadistic glee of humanity at its worst, nothing in film horror had reached that level before. 

Blog entry 11/10/2009 - 10:30am

Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #5]

4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) 8/8

Tobe Hooper, a talented and innovative filmmaker who never quite got his mainstream due, even after making Poltergeist (and be embroiled in controversy with Steven Spielberg about who actually directed it), made this perennial classic on the cheap in the early seventies. Taking the baton from Wes Craven and Last House on The Left, it expresses the miasma of violent dread and disorientation that hung over an America left schizophrenic by the auto-cannibalism of Vietnam, Kent State, Attica, Watergate, etc. Hooper swings at the audience with the kind of gritty haymaker that only very hungry, very creative, and very poor directors just out of the gate can make.

Blog entry 11/09/2009 - 1:57pm

Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #7]

6. Requiem For A Dream (2002) 9 (gross out)/8 (artistic merit)

Darren Aronofsky, the DIY auteur who burst onto the scene with the black and white religious-techno fable Pi, and more recently made the wrenching The Wrestler, may have reached a creative peak with this adaptation of a novel by one of the stars of the disturbing branch of the literary world: Hubert Selby, Jr., who also wrote the book Last Exit to Brooklyn. In perhaps the most jarring and skillfully unnerving chronicles of drug addiction ever made, we witness the destruction by heroin and prescription pills of a mother, her son, his girlfriend and best friend (Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans, all top-notch). 

Blog entry 11/09/2009 - 11:11am

Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #8]

7. Tie: Aftermath (1994) 7/10, Flowers of Flesh and Blood (Guinea Pig II) (1985) 10/7 

Two films about the systematic desecration of human bodies which have been rendered inert and still as they lie on a madman's table full of instruments.

In Aftermath, Spanish director Nacho Cerda presents us a short (30 min.) film with no dialogue, about the rhythmic and morbid procedures governing an autopsy room. Some of the most realistic looking dead bodies you will ever see in a film are cut, sawed and pried open, organs are removed, blood and gristle is drained into stainless steel basins, brains are removed from head, and skin is peeled back. The tone is ominous and a bit hypnotic, but what keeps disconcerting us is a sense that one of the surgeons - or whatever the heck you call 'em - seems, well, not right. A little too intense and a little too intent. Well, we find out that our worst suspicions are founded: most men like their sexual partners to be alive, but not all are that picky and choosy.

Blog entry 11/06/2009 - 2:18pm

Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #9]

8. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) 7/10
Ruggero Deodato's exercise in The Ugly American's confrontation with jungle cannibalism is an admired and feared placeholder on any respectable Disturbist's desert island list. Made a full twenty years before Blair Witch Project, Deodato's film cleverly played with the line between movie reality and reality-reality by using a story of found footage: film stock is found in the jungle that chronicles the self-made video diary of an intrepid naturalist/would-be documentarian and his cohorts as they cut a swath through the Amazonian jungle to capture the lives of a “primitive” and, unfortunately for them, cannibalistic tribe.

Blog entry 11/06/2009 - 12:07pm

Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #10]

9. Forced Entry (1974) 5/9
Two years after starring in the most famous X-rated film of all time, Deep Throat, Harry Reems starred in Forced Entry (billed as Tim Long), tellingly the only film that Reems "regretted being in." Reems plays a recently returned Vietnam vet who has been transformed by the war into a psychotic killer. Cruising the fire escapes and alleys of Queens, NY, Reems breaks into the homes of women he has been spying on, rapes them, and then kills them. Unlike most everything being produced then or since, the film combines the explicit and real sex of hardcore with the realistically portrayed violence usually reserved for mainstream slasher films.

Blog entry 11/05/2009 - 4:37pm

* You can comment on articles

* Private messaging to others in the GreenCine community -- and more features coming soon!

* Keep apprised of happenings in the world of films festivals, independent, international, cult, classic, horror movies and more!

* As a free registered member, you can upgrade your account to a rental subscription -- or if you want a rental subscription right away, click here.