Looking controversial movies? Here we bring you a list of the 25 most controversial films in the history of cinema. Sometimes because of its sex scenes, other times because of its violence and in many things for both, some films make the most puritans cry out to heaven.
But these are not the only two reasons for a group to take their heads with some films, other reasons to censor or ban a film somewhere are lhe religion, probably the most powerful "lobby" when attacking a movie, or showing incitement to the consumption of prohibited substances, something that often scandalizes governments in particular.
As always, the list contains a limited number of controversial films so there are probably many missing, we invite you to leave your proposals in the comments. These 25 controversial films are in no order of preference, they are simply arranged alphabetically.
Table of Contents
- 1 'Hunting'
- 2 'A Serbian Film'
- 3 'Antichrist'
- 4 'Caligula'
- 5 'Cocksucker Blues'
- 6 'Crash'
- 7 'The Golden Age'
- 8 'Faces of Death'
- 9 'Henry, portrait of a murderer'
- 10 'Cannibal holocaust'
- 11 'Ichi, the Killer'
- 12 'The empire of the senses'
- 13 'Irreversible'
- 14 'Lolita'
- 15 'A Clockwork Orange'
- 16 'Nekromantik'
- 17 'Passion of Christ'
- 18 'Dew'
- 19 'Salò or the 120 days of Sodom'
- 20 'The triumph of the will'
- 21 'The last house on the left'
- 22 'The last temptation of Christ'
- 23 'The last Tango in Paris'
- 24 'Life of Brian'
- 25 'Viridiana', another of the controversial films
'Cruising' by William Friedkin (1980) - United States
The first of the list of controversial films is starring Al Pacino in his best moments, 'On the hunt' tells the story of a policeman who tries to catch a homosexual killerTo do this, he must infiltrate the most sordid gay environments.
The censorship of scenes like the one in a suspect forced to masturbate in front of a group of policemen, which amounted to almost an hour, prevented the film from being classified X. In 2013 'Interio. Leather. Bar 'by James Franco and Travis Mathews, a film that tries to recreate what was left out of the William Friedkin film.
'A Serbian Film'
'Srpski film' by Srdjan Spasojevic (2010) - Serbia
The film tells the story of Milo, who was a porn star years ago and is now retired and struggling financially. Through a former filming partner, he gets in touch with a guy who pretends to make an experimental porn tape and who wants to count on him. Not knowing what is going to roll, Milo enters a spiral of depravity and violence from which it cannot get out.
'A Serbian Film' was premiered in Spain at the Sitges Festival and no longer made it to the next competition, the Terror Film Festival in San Sebastián, because a ruling banned the film in our country for some time. The reason, the pedophilia scenes which were obviously not real but which scandalized the staff, and is that the Serbian movie can hurt the sensitivity to more than one.
'Antichrist' by Lars Von Trier (2009) - Denmark
Lars Von Trier's film narrates the unsuccessful attempt by a psychologist to treat his wife, which is not able to overcome the loss of the only child they both had. They both go to the cabin where she spent the last summer with the boy, but once there both she and nature begin to behave in a strange way.
In this movie we have scenes to shock both sexes, genital mutilation for the female lead and crushing testicles for the male lead.
'Caligula' by Tinto Brass (1979) - Italy
'Caligula' narrates the Rise and Fall of the Roman Emperor Caligula, the former nephew and adopted son of Tiberio, emphasizing his hobbies, orgies, humiliations and humiliations.
Five years after the premiere, what was a shouting secret was revealed, 'Caligula' was a porn movie. And it is that then Bob Guccione, producer of the film and founder of Penthouse magazine, brought to light a uncensored version containing real and explicit sex scenes.
Robert Frank's 'Cocksucker Blues' (1972) - United States
'Cocksucker Blues' is about a documentary about the Rolling Stones tour of North America in 1972, where the photographer Robert Frank wanted to show the members of the band in their privacy, managing to record them consuming alcohol and drugs and having sex with the gruppies.
The controversy came when showing the material to the members of the group, who refused to let the film see the light. A court ruling requires that the film can only be seen if the director is in the room. The reason the Rollings don't want the movie to be seen is, among other things, that Mick Jagger snorts cocaine with great craving throughout the film.
'Crash' by David Cronenberg (1996) - Canada
Based on the also controversial novel by JG Ballard, 'Crash' tells the story of James Ballard who one day crashes his car in a spectacular accident with Helen's. After leaving the hospital, they begin to feel a strange attraction that will lead James to a dark world dominated by danger, sex and death.
A film by David Cronenberg could not be missing from this list and that is because he is another of the controversial directors par excellence. In this case, what was not well seen by the spectators was the strange fetishism that is related in the story, the sexual arousal with mutilations and scars.
'The Golden Age'
'L'âge d'or' by Luis Buñuel (1930) - France
After a documentary prologue on the customs of the scorpion, bandits discover a group of archbishops praying on a cliff. The founding of Imperial Rome, celebrated on the site where the clergymen prayed, is interrupted by the love affairs of a couple which is separate. The man is taken to prison but manages to escape and takes refuge in the house of his beloved. During a party, the couple tries to consummate their passion without success. Finally, the survivors of a criminal orgy, including the Duc de Blangis, emerge from Selliny Castle.
If we consider that the film was intended to be released in the 30s, the film was controversial in its entirety, although the most scandalous was its end, which to this day still makes the most devout's hair stand on end, a text by the Marquis de Sade announces the most depraved character in the world and it is then that we see Jesus Christ himself leave a castle. 'The Golden Age' did not premiere in France until the 50s and the United States would not arrive until 1979.
'Faces of Death'
'Faces of Death' by John Alan Schwartz (1978) - United States
'Faces of Death' is the epitome of the mondo genre, which is defined as a sensational documentary. The film leads the viewer through very explicit scenes depicting various ways of dying.
On this occasion we do not show any photograph of the film since it could hurt sensitivities and the film is a succession of corpses, many of them real, which is not suitable for any stomach.
'Henry, portrait of a murderer'
'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' by John McNaughton (1986) - United States
As its name suggests, the film is the portrait of a murderer, specifically that of Henry Lee Lucas, who did not have a good childhood and who ended up in prison after stabbing his own mother. once released it becomes a murderer who chooses his victims at random and uses a different method each time to end it so as not to be discovered.
Large doses of violence and a necrophiliac scene, they sentenced the film to four years without distribution, when it was released in the United States it did so without a rating by the MPAA and it could not be seen in the United Kingdom until 20013 and in New Zealand until 2010.
'Cannibal Holocaust' by Ruggero Deodato (1980) - Italy
One of the first found footage films which tells the story of four young people who travel to the heart of the Amazon jungle to make a documentary about the tribes that inhabit the place, of which it is said that they still practice cannibalism. Two months after these boys disappear, a rescue group finds the filmed material, which will reveal what happened there.
A film about cannibalism was not going to leave anyone indifferent. After it was shown that scenes like the one with the girl employee were not for real, the controversy came with the animal deaths that if they were real.
'Ichi, the Killer'
'Koroshiya 1' by Takashi Miike (2001) - Japan
When a Yakuza chief disappears with a lot of loot, the rest of his clan members, led by his right hand the masochist Kakihara They go in search of him, since they do not believe that he has escaped. What they end up discovering is that he has been killed by Ichi, a schizophrenic killer as or more violent than they who have disowned members of the clan at his side.
Very violent film like other films of the director, see for example 'Audition', which reaches its peak with the torture, mutilation included, of a girl. Many countries were only able to enjoy the censored film, not here in Spain where this time we got the complete work.
'The empire of the senses'
'Ai no korîda' by Nagisa Oshima (1976) - Japan
'The empire of the senses' revolves around a couple who take their love story to unimaginable limits. Passion makes sex the most important thing to them and the desire to possess their man makes them begin to confuse pleasure and pain.
As in Lars Von Trier's 'Antichrist', the genital mutilation was the reason for the scandal, obviously much more commotion brought about this film since it was released in the 70s.
'Irréversible' by Gaspar Noé (2002) - France
The tape tells the revenge story of a man whose wife has been raped, all this narrated with the scenes staged in reverse order.
Gaspar Noé `as always looking for controversy, this time the nine minutes no rape cuts they achieved what the author intended, to make the viewer uncomfortable, although perhaps even too much.
Stanley Kubrick's 'Lolita' (1962) - UK
Adaptation of the also controversial levels by Vladimir Nabokov, 'Lolita' tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a teacher in his 40s who rents a room in the home of Charlotte Haze, a widow who lives with her 11-year-old daughter. Humbert falls in love with the girl and decides to marry the mother so that he can be close to her.
Obviously one love relationship and we intuit that sexual, between a 40-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl It could not be well seen, and it is that everyone can imagine what happens when little Lolita is taken to a hotel.
'A Clockwork Orange'
Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971) - UK
The film tells the story of Alex, an extremely aggressive and passionate young man from Beethoven. Together with his gang he is dedicated to beating and raping people indiscriminately until he commits a murder and ends up in prison, there he will voluntarily submit to an experiment to repress his behavior.
An ultraviolent tape as the main character himself would say. The filmmaker himself banned the film in Great Britain after the controversy at its premiere and could not be seen in the country until his death in 1999. In Spain it would come with the end of the Franco regime in 1975.
'Nekromantik' by Jörg Buttgereit (1987) - West Germany
'Nekromantik' tells the story of Rob, who steals body parts from corpses from the morgue to take to his girlfriend Betty. Both are necrophiles and decide to have a threesome with a rotten corpseBut one day Rob gets fired and then Betty decides to elope with her decomposing lover.
Once again we ruled out putting an image of the tape so as not to hurt sensibilities. The reason for the controversy is obvious, a tape that deals with necrophilia is normal to raise blisters. In spite of everything, it had its success since four years later the second part would arrive.
'Passion of Christ'
'The Passion of the Christ' by Mel Gibson (2004) - United States
The film, as its name suggests, narrates the well-known story of the "Passion of Christ" in a way as realistic as possible as the actor and director Mel Gibson always looks for in his films.
A close look at the gore of the torment of Jesus Christ and with anti-semitic overtones Mel Gibson was worth being at the time a man as much praised as he was hated. The most stale Catholicism hailed the filmmaker, not the Jewish community.
'Rocío' by Fernando Ruiz Vergara (1980) - Spain
Documentary about the origins of the brotherhood of El Rocío, sadly famous for being the first film to suffer censorship after the Franco dictatorship, since she was judicially kidnapped.
Criticizing the traditional Andalusian pilgrimage is nothing short of daring, it was clear that the sum of religion and tradition in Spain is untouchable as Fernando Ruiz Vergara confirmed in his day. When a scene was finally screened on television in which a local cacique boasted of having been responsible for 100 executions during the Franco regime, the television broadcast the sound of that sequence with the screen black. In 2013 the documentary 'El Caso Rocío' by José Luis Tirado explained all the controversy surrounding this film.
'Salò or the 120 days of Sodom'
'Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma' by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1975) - Italy
Four gentlemen, four prostitutes and a group of young prisoners under the same roof. Everyone in the house must follow the orders of the lords and any transgression is paid even with death.
Pier Paolo Pasolini ventures into more than complicated terrain such as the gore and eschatology. The director did not retaliate for the film's premiere as he was murdered earlier, while the producer was arrested in Italy for obscenity.
'The triumph of the will'
'Triumph des Willens' by Leni Riefenstahl (1935) - Germany
Documentary about the triumphalist and patriotic Nurembreg congress of 1934, a year after Hitler came to power. In it the racial and national values of the German Aryan people are exalted.
Many propaganda films were very controversial especially in the 20s and 30s, but 'The triumph of the will' may take the cake for everything that happened in the following years. As of today, the film can only be screened in Germany on a restricted basis.
'The last house on the left'
'The Last House on the Left' by Wes Craven (1972) - United States
Another controversial film is 'The Last House on the Left' which tells the story of two teenagers who cheat on their parents to be able to go to the concert of their favorite group, but when they arrive in the city they are scaught by a threesome of sex maniacs.
As Gaspar Noé did later in his film 'Irreversible', something commented previously, Wes Craven sins of recreating himself in the rape scene, although this scene has ended up becoming a milestone of cruelty on the big screen.
'The last temptation of Christ'
'The Last Temptation of Christ' by Martin Scorsese (1988) - United States
'The Last Temptation of Christ' tells the story of a Nazareth carpenter named Jesus who decides to answer the constant call of God. He must face the greatest of temptations before completing his mission and making a sacrifice in order to save man.
It is very difficult to satisfy the most devout when a film is made about religion and even more so when Jesus Christ is shown contemplating how his life would have been without having preached the message of God, including copulation with Mary Magdalene. The film was boycotted in countries such as Spain or France, where a cinema was burned.
'The last Tango in Paris'
'Ultimo tango a Parigi' by Bernardo Bertolucci (1972) - Italy
'The last tango in Paris' tells the passionate relationship between a man and a young woman found while visiting a rental apartment in the French capital. After making violent love, they decide to meet again in the same place without even giving each other names.
In Spain it could not be seen until 1978, while in the United States it was released with an X classification, and it is that the sex scenes like the mythical one in which the couple uses butter as a lubricant they were too much for the time.
'Life of Brian'
'Monty Python's The Life of Brian' by Terry Jones (1979) - UK
The film tells the story of Brian, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem on the same day that Jesus Christ was. A series of misunderstandings make him lead a life parallel to the Son of God with his own ordeals that come from the hands of his own mother, a revolutionary feminist and Pontius Pilate himself.
Laughing at religious topics, such as making a parody of the bible, is never a good idea if you don't want someone to bother and less if you end up with a group of crucified singing. A hilarious film like all the works of the Monty Python, although this time it was not funny to everyone. Banned in several countries such as Norway or Ireland and with boycotts in the United States.
'Viridiana', another of the controversial films
'Viridiana' by Luis Buñuel (1961) - Spain
We end the list of controversial films with "Viridiana", a film that tells how the arrival of a young novice named Viridiana at his uncle Don Jaime's house awakens desire in him. He lived lonely retired on his farm since the death of his wife on the same wedding day and now her niece is the spitting image of her.
We cannot say that Luis Buñuel has been what is called a politically correct director, on this occasion he sits a group of poor people at the table emulating the image of the sacramentThey all pose for a photograph, although they are not going to take it precisely with a camera. The incestuous themes of the film also did not help the censors to ignore the ordeal that the filmmaker sent him.
Do you know more controversial movies that should be in this list? Tell us what your favorite controversial movie is and why.