25 Most Disturbing Movies List:, #9: Forced Entry

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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.

Previously, there had been horror-themed X-rated films, but mostly they were silly and half-hearted, primarily concerned with serving as a kinky turn-on. The killing in Forced Entry is seriously portrayed, and the result is singularly unnerving. The creep factor that had always been lurking behind Reems' lustful and mischievous grin, even in "comedies" like Deep Throat, is here drawn out to full effect, and becomes the leering of a madman. Reems goes after three sets of victims; the most effective sequence involves his second victim, Reems's real-life girlfriend and veteran porn actress Laura Cannon, who is attacked while in the shower. Cannon was actually had some training as an actress, and she brings a level of emotional reality to the scene that is unusual for grindhouse or hardcore fair. While she is crying and protesting, the deranged Vietnam vet forces her into sex (while spewing an endless torrent of obscenities), and then immediately, and nonchalantly, slits her throat, allowing the blood to spill over her naked body and onto the floor.

All of this alone would be enough to make the film notorious. But what makes it nearly unbearable is something unexpected for an exploitation film: the insertion of authentic footage from the Vietnam War, in all its grainy black and white glory, amidst the action. This artistic touch is an important moment in the history of Disturbing Films, because it may be the only time an exploitation director added an element to his film that, despite himself, renders his production less financially viable but indicative of real moral anguish.

The Vietnam footage removes any possibility for Forced Entry to remain a particularly demented escapist entertainment; it is so odd in juxtaposition to the exploitative X-rated sex and violence because it denies the typical grindhouse audience any chance to disconnect or forget that what they are watching is a simulation of real terrors that are actually happening in the world, perpetrated by their own country: children with their skin peeling from napalm, mass executions, innocent Vietnamese having their villages burned to the ground.

If not conventional entertainment, the film is not exactly art either, but merely a revelation of how powerful the moral crisis had become in this country during that era; it even touched the souls of unrepentant grindhouse filmmakers. This strange development makes what is merely a naughty downer into a really, really bad trip by breaking the one major Grindhouse rule: shocking us with the presence of real suffering, which is not exciting or suspenseful but only profoundly depressing. For a genre that is based on illusion, this film is singularly disillusioning: it says even in the funhouse there is no lasting escape from real horror. For that reason alone, it is an important time capsule.

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