The 53 Most Hard-To-Watch Scenes in Movie History

Some of the most disturbing and hard-to-watch movie scenes in film history. Including scenes similar to A Serbian Film, 12 Years A Slave & more.

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There’s an unspoken agreement between moviegoers and filmmakers who make safe, mainstream fare: if the former gives the latter’s work a look, the latter won’t do anything to disrupt the viewer’s emotions beyond what’s usually called for. There may be some laughs, some jolts, and possibly a tear or two, but nothing that will leave any permanent scars.

Then there are those directors who don’t care about that agreement. They want to leave marks. They want to push the envelope so far that their viewers aren’t even sure if they’ll continue watching. 

It’s those moments in a movie where people either cover their eyes, peek through open fingers to catch a cautious glimpse, or stare at the screen in disbelief, as if a freight train is barreling toward them and they’re frozen in fear. It can be a scene marked by such intense violence that it’s nauseating, a conversation so uncomfortable you can’t handle the second-hand embarrassment, or some other heinous exhibitions of mankind’s darkest impulses.

Whatever the case, they don’t get much more aggressive than what’s seen in the 53 most hard-to-watch scenes in movie history. They range from the disgusting to the disturbing to the downright despicable. Consider this the all-encompassing cousin of our collection of traumatic dog death scenes, and see which of these are streaming on Netflix right now (if you have a strong enough stomach).

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53. Patsey’s Whipping


52. Birth of the Human Centipede

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51. Bikini Wax

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Movie: Raw (2016)

Director: Julia Ducournau

Stars: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella

Watching somebody experience the pain of a bikini wax on the silver screen can be uncomfortable enough on its own, but when you throw severed fingers and cannibalism into the mix, things just get very gross, very fast. This is what happens in Raw when Alexia (Ella Rumpf) cuts off her own finger accidentally during a homemade bikini wax gone awry for her younger sister Justine (Garance Marillier). Upon Alexia passing out due to the shock of what just happened, Justine does what any normal person would do; she begins to eat her sisters severed finger.

This scene is disgusting, grotesque, and graphic, but at the same time you can’t peel your eyes away from the screen. -KH

50. Cuticle Cutting

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Movie: Black Swan (2010)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey

For an Academy Award-winning movie, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is rather sadistic in spots. Way before the film's hallucinogenic, full-on freakout third act, Natalie Portman's mentally tormented ballerina subjects her body to some cruel and unusual punishment—well, in her mind, at least. Still, the scene in which she poorly tends to a ripped cuticle isn't any less traumatic for its possible disconnect from reality.

As far as the audience is concerned, we're still watching Portman pull the fleshy finger piece downward…as in, all the way down to the middle of said finger, like it's Polly-O string cheese. —MB

49. Cheeseburger

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Movie: Menace II Society (1993)

Director: Albert and Allen Hughes

Stars: Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Jada Pinkett Smith

Who would've thought that a cheeseburger could exemplify the devaluation of human life? And, no, we're not talking about people who binge on fast food while destroying their insides. That's a topic for a different list.

Here, the burger in question comes from the Hughes Brothers' Menace II Society, and is used as a bargaining chip by a shamelessly desperate crackhead trying to score some drugs from the heartless O-Dog (Larenz Tate). O-Dog isn't hungry, leaving the fiend to sink about as low as any person can in a situation of this kind: offering sexual favors. He tells O-Dog that he'll blow him just for a hit of narcotics, degrading himself.

The devaluing goes both ways: O-Dog, in a heightened state of machismo, responds to the offer by shooting the druggie dead. It's sad and damning in equal measure. —MB

48. The N-Word

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Movie: Bulworth (1998)

Director: Warren Beatty

Stars:  Warren Beatty, Christine Baranski, Halle Berry

Warren Beatty is an O.G. in Hollywood, so you'd think he could get away with anything. False. The level of secondhand embarrassment induced watching a scene of him, as Senator Bulworth, rapping against special interest groups and big business is already as unbearable as watching your grandpa attempt to freestyle. However, once Bulworth starts casually dropping the N-word in conversation, he becomes nails on a chalkboard personified. —TA

47. Sweaty Sex

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Movie: Munich (2005)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hind, Mathieu Kassovitz

Nothing in Steven Spielberg's filmography suggests that the man knows his way around a sex scene, and the dripping, climactic boning in Munich confirms this.

Eric Bana's character Avner has aggressive sex with his wife upon his return to America after years of hunting the terrorists responsible for the attacks at the Munich Olympics. Cutting back and forth between the final moments of those attacks—the violence at the airport—and Bana's moist mane shaking and tossing as he writhes atop his wife is meant to suggest something about the high cost of living, the price Avner has paid and the lasting damage of the attacks. Or something.

It's too silly to work, which makes this an especially difficult hard-to-watch scene. It's hard to watch because it's ridiculous (in a bad way), and it's hard to watch because it hurts what is otherwise one of Spielberg's most complex and challenging films. Double damn. —RS

46. Pawn Shop

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Movie: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman

Pulp Fiction sees tough guys Butch (Bruce Willis) and Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) get held at gunpoint, gagged, and tied up in the basement of a pawn shop. Butch manages to break free, but, before leaving, he decides to go back and rescue Wallace. When Butch opens the door, he sees Marsellus getting sodomized by Zed (Peter Greene).

Even though Bruce Willis comes in to save the day in typically epic fashion, it’s already too late: our eyes have already been subjected to the sight of rough thrusting, the grunting, and the close-up of accomplice Maynard’s (Duane Whitaker) sweaty and aroused face. —JR 

45. Brother Against Brother (and Wife)

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Movie: Raging Bull (1980)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty

Fighting between brothers is a common and expected occurrence, though De Niro and Pesci, as Jake and Joey LaMotta, took the sibling squabbles to a whole new level. In a fit of jealous rage, the titular boxer barges into Joey's home, lands a few punches on him, throws him through a glass door, and starts stomping the man into a bloody pulp over the assumption that Joey had an affair with his wife.

In an attempt to calm her husband down, Vickie, played by Cathy Moriarty, finds herself knocked out by one of the fighters's blows. The emotional violence coupled with the physical domestic violence makes for a potent combination. You want to look away because it feels too real, like hearing the neighbors go at it. TA

44. Thumbsucker

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Movie: Cape Fear (1991)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Nick Nolte, Robert De Niro, Juliette Lewis, Jessica Lange

In an effort to get back at the lawyer who had him wrongly imprisoned, newly freed convicted rapist Max Cady (Robert De Niro) targets his lawyer's family, including his teenage daughter, Danielle (Juliette Lewis).

Posing as her new drama teacher, Cady seduces the girl in her high school auditorium, as groping her face and making her suck his thumb before practically devouring her lips. Watching a creepy Cady manipulate an entirely naive girl is enough to make your blood boil. TA

43. Oral Sex on the First Date


42. Elevator Stomp

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Movie: Drive (2011)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston

Drive, the best film of 2011, delivers its most memorable deathblow rather sweetly. Throughout the film, Ryan Gosling's nameless character, simply known as The Driver, develops a loving bond with his pixie-cute neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and their passionate smooch in the elevator is the culmination of endless, silent flirtations.

But keep an eye on the dude who's cock-blocking Gosling from getting some love in an elevator, a la Aerosmith. He's a hit-man sent to kill The Driver, and Sir Drive knows it-his lip-lock with Irene is actually a goodbye kiss, one last tender exchange before The Driver goes to war against criminal mastermind Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks).

Once their kiss is done, Refn switches the tone without hesitation; Gosling rams the guy's head into the wall, flings him to the ground, and stomps his head into a pile of skin chunks, skull shards, and brain. Kiss of death, anyone? —MB

41. Chopping Bodies

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40. The Loss of the Dogtooth

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Movie: Dogtooth (2009)

Director: Giorgos Lanthimos

Stars: Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia

The last few years have seen a shock of new talent in Greek's cinema, with Giorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth marking the first time most Americans were made to take notice. The conceit is eyebrow-raising: A couple has raised their three children in isolation from the outside world, and to keep them handicapped further, the parents have instructed them in language incorrectly. For instance, "sea" means chair. The children are young adults now, the parents' plan having gone smoothly.

This starts to crumble, however, when Dad brings an outsider to the family's compound to sleep with the son. The world begins to intrude, and the parents find themselves out of control of their kids.

At the film's climax—SPOILER ALERT—the more willful daughter decides to leave the home. She's been told that this can happen when the dogtooth falls out. Her parents have promised. She won't wait. With a hand-weight, she takes matters into her hands. It takes more than one blow. —RS

39. "Put Me in Your Mouth"

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38. Slow Stabbing

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Movie: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

The violence in this moment near the end of Steven Spielberg's gamechanging WWII picture isn't as violent as the opening. The storming of the beaches at Normandy set a new standard for the war movie, and, to this day, it knocks the wind from the viewer as a total sensory attack, something to be endured.

If you want to talk about hard-to-watch moments, though, you have to fix your attention on the film's climax, where one of the American soldiers (Pvt. Stanley Mellish, played by Adam Goldberg) engages in hand-to-hand combat with a German solider. They fight over a knife. The German soldier pins down Mellish and begins to lower a knife into his chest. Mellish fights back, tries to keep the knife from connecting, but he can't. The slow drop, coupled with the fact that one of Mellish's compatriots is hanging back, too afraid to help, makes the viewer irate. It's the kind of scene that makes you want to get up and pace, shouting at the screen through half-closed eyes. —RS

37. Soggy Spaghetti Dinner

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Film: Gummo (1997)

Director: Harmony Korine

Stars: Jacob Sewell, Nick Sutton, Lara Tosh

No one's being beaten to a bloody pulp, no one's jerking off, and no one is eating shit. Instead, a peculiar looking teenage boy is sitting in dirty bath water, with his hair soaked in suds, as he slobbers over a plate of spaghetti.

For dessert, his mom comes in and hands him a chocolate bar, which he accidentally drops in the tub. Of course, it doesn't bother him and he chomps down on the soggy chocolate, as pasta sauce and bath water drip from the corners of his mouth. Try to swallow that image down with dinner tonight. —TA

36. Scorsese's Magnum Conversation

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Movie: Taxi Driver (1976)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) picks up a fare in Taxi Driver. This particular passenger is played by Martin Scorsese, and he asks to be driven to an apartment building. Bickle wants to stop the meter running, but the fareas talkative as the famous filmmaker—tells him to let it run. He wants to chat a while. He starts talking about how his wife is up in one of the apartments. She's having an affair. That Scorsese's character calls the man making a cuckold of him a "n****r" sends up the first red flag.

The viewer's now on edge. Making things worse, Scorsese's character talks about his plan to shoot them both with a Magnum. He asks Bickle, "Have you ever seen what a .44 Magnum will do to a woman's pussy?"

Scorsese's quick, cagey delivery suggests that he's just as uncomfortable using the gross slang for a woman's genitalia as the viewer is hearing it. "Now that you should see," he says. Thankfully, the film never shows you anything that appalling. But the words are enough. RS

35. Fingering

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Movie: Rushmore (1998)

Director: Wes Anderson

Stars:  Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams

Max Fisher (Jason Schwartzman), the protagonist of Rushmore, thinks he's older and wiser than he is. This is alternately charming and infuriating. And in one moment, it becomes the source of serious discomfort.

Max has fallen for a teacher, Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), at the prestigious private academy he attends. During their most heated conversation, Max tries to kiss her. Mind you, this is after she's made it quite clear to him that he can't have a relationship with her, that this is all the way wrong, and that he's acting like a brat. Tragic Max doesn't get it. When he goes in for the kiss, Ms. Cross pushes him, and he tumbles over a plastic bin.

This is where the second-hand embarrassment starts, with Max looking utterly pathetic. Then, Cross spells it out in the brutal language of middle school boys. "How would you describe it to your friends," she asks. "Would you say that you fingered me?" The word is perfectly calibrated to make the skin crawl. Max appears aghast, just like the viewer. —RS

34. Motel Seduction

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Movie: Wild at Heart (1990)

Director: David Lynch

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe

Though Diane Ladd's bonkers performance as Marietta Fortune in David Lynch's adorable Wild at Heart is a thing of beauty, Willem Dafoe's turn as Bobby Peru provides the movie with its real rotten core. Fortune angers viewers by keeping the film's lovers, Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nic "The Cage" Cage), apart, but Peru has the audience reaching for the vomit bags. Sporting the most fucked-up grill in cinematic history, Peru is the abject personified, a small-time gangster with a shitty stick-up plan that ensnares our couple.

In the most squirm-inducing moment in the film, as a prelude to a pass at Lula, he asks her to take note of the "deep" sound he makes when urinating. In just a few minutes worth of dialogue he likens his sex game to that of a jackrabbit; inquires after the current moisture level of Lula's "pussy"; compares her genitals to a Christmas present; breathes on her heavily (obviously); and threatens to remove her heart, all while speaking largely in the third person and wearing a tasseled leather blazer. He fingers her, while whispering, "Fuck me." It's awful. —RS

33. Who Can Shoot a Child?

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Movie: City of God (2002)

Director: Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund

Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen

For a movie titled City of God, there's little mercy to be found here. And at the center of the brutality is the unfeeling drug dealer Li'l Ze. Irritated by a group of petty young criminals (as in, they wouldn't be old enough to even see this movie) named The Runts, the gang leader breaks up a meeting between them and captures a member too slow to run away.

The kid, who can't be any older than 10, stands in a corner, peeing his pants in fear as his pot belly hangs out of his tiny shirt. Li'l Ze gives him the option of which he'd rather have shot, his hand or his foot. As the crying little boy offers his hand, Li'l Ze fires into the child's shoe. —TA

32. Dinner's Served

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31. "Baby Wants to F*ck"

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Movie: Blue Velvet (1986)

Director: David Lynch

Stars: Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper

With repeat viewings, David Lynch's masterpiece Blue Velvet becomes funnier and funnier. Dennis Hopper is a joy, really, providing ample over-the-top-comedy. All except for one scene.

The first time Frank Booth (Hopper) appears, ain't shit funny. He inhales nitrous while ordering Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), the woman whose husband he's kidnapped, to spread her legs for him. He stares into her vagina with a look somewhere between lust and fury. He hits her. He sexually assaults her. He babbles to her, saying, "Baby wants to fuck." You can joke all you want about Pabst Blue Ribbon and love letters sent from the heart, but this scene never, ever gets funny. —RS

30. Cigarette Eating

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29. Teeth Pulling, No Dentist

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Movie: Bug (2006)

Director: William Friedkin

Stars: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr.

Calling Michael Shannon the king of creep (a compliment, by the way) without having seen William Friedkin's adaptation of Tracy Letts' play Bug is akin to labeling Nas hip-hop's greatest MC without owning a copy of Illmatic. Shannon's unhinged performance in the 2006 psychological shocker remains his crowning achievement. He plays an ex-soldier plagued by paranoid feelings of being watched by the government, stemming from biological tests he endured during his military service. And now, according him, experimental bugs are both following him and implanted in him.

And he's not about to let Big Brother win. In Bug's most violent scene, Shannon's character swears that a whole lot of insects are lodged into one of his teeth, so, naturally, he grabs some pliers, locates the problem tooth, and gives it the old yankity yank. Friedkin, to his credit, doesn't turn the camera away, though we can't say the same about viewers and their eyes. —MB

28. Needle to the Heart

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Film: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman

At first, the scenes with Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) in Pulp Fiction are cool and sexy. They drop by at 1950s-themed diner called Jack Rabbit Slim's, where she orders a $5 milkshake, describes her days acting as a secret agent in a TV pilot called Fox Force Five, and they do the twist together.

But things take a hard left after Mia discovers heroin in Vincent's jacket pocket back at her pad. After snorting the heroin, confusing it for cocaine, she ODs. To revive her, Vincent has to inject a shot of adrenaline straight to her heart. Tension in the scene comes from knowing Vincent's never done this before, that Mia's life is on the line, and that the needle has to penetrate her breast plate.

After some intense build-up, Vincent does the deed, but we're not sure who gasps louder: Mia or the audience. —JR

27. Dead Baby

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Movie: Trainspotting (1996)

Director: Danny Boyle

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller

Although the behavior of the drug-addicted protagonists of Danny Boyle's Trainspotting is self-destructive, the most tragic casualty happens to be a baby. As Allison (Susan Vidler) screams for an unknown reason, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) looks down at the crib to check on his baby, Dawn. Then, the camera pans into the crib, slowly revealing a still and dead-looking infant—the consequence of neglect after too much drugs. Not every day that you see the corpse of an infant at the movies. —JR

26. Pulled Over

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Movie: Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Director: Abel Ferrara

Stars: Harvey Keitel, Victor Argo, Paul Calderon

As the titular character, Harvey Keitel plays a crooked cop trying to change his dirty ways. The road to redemption, however, isn't smooth, and he takes one of his many setbacks out on two unwitting young women.

After pulling over the pair of girls, who were on their way to a club, Keitel's character forces them to strip down and simulate fellatio as punishment for not having proper licenses. While they do so, he unzips his pants and starts panting and mumbling obscenities as he jerks himself off. Gross. TA

25. Mandingo Fight

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Movie: Django Unchained (2012)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio

In Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's slave revenge epic, most of the atrocities committed against the slaves come at the hands of their white owners. And yet, perhaps the worst moment comes from when two slaves are forced to fight one another.

We're first introduced to twisted plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio, reveling in his first villainous role) during a mandingo fight between two slaves. They fight for his wicked amusement. As much as the scene is hard to watch, the sound effects are even worse. Screams, the cracking sound of a breaking arm, and the splattering as eyes are gouged out. All of that before Candie throws his slave a mallet to finish off his opponent. —JR

24. "Squeal Like a Pig!"

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Movie: Deliverance (1972)

Director: John Boorman

Stars: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty

Unwanted sodomy is an uncomfortable subject no matter its context—any movie scene in which someone gets sexually violated is cause for repulsion. What separates Deliverance's infamous rape scene from the pack of similarly intrusive moments is how far director John Boorman and his team went with it.

Ned Beatty gives a fearless performance as one of four Atlanta businessmen on a canoe trip in the Georgia wilderness that goes savagely haywire. For Beatty's character, the excursion's toughest episode finds him face down on the ground, in the woods, naked, and with a nasty redneck smacking his derriere, invading his backdoor, and commanding him to "squeal like a pig!" He does. —MB

23. In the Woods

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Movies: The Last House on the Left (1972)

Director: Wes Craven

Stars: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David Hess

Horror icon Wes Craven's 1972 debut, The Last House on the Left, is a fascinating exercise in contrast. On one hand, it's a pitch-black work of angry, gruesome exploitation. But it's also a wannabe dark comedy distractingly punctuated by an idiotic subplot involving two bumbling cops. The juxtaposition makes for an uneven, imperfect film that nonetheless deserves all of its accolades for being a genre landmark, and the credit all goes directly to the film's exceedingly horrifying centerpiece.

Two young girls, while en route to a rock concert, get kidnapped by four reprehensible criminals, taken into the woods, and forced to perform sexual acts on each other as their captors watch on in hysterics. That alone would qualify as hard-to-watch, but then Craven takes matters to a much darker and tragic place. One of the girls tries to run away, but she's caught, stabbed in the stomach, and has her guts pulled out, just for her killer's sick kicks. Her friend, meanwhile, suffers a more prolonged fate: The head baddie, Krug (David A. Hess) carves his name onto her chest, rapes her, and then lets her walk into a lake, only to get shot to death from afar.

Heightened by a jarring, synthesizers-from-Hell score (composed by Hess), The Last House on the Left's toughest scene is, regardless of its thematic foulness, a landmark moment of uncompromising, realistic horror. —MB

22. Father and Son

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21. Soap Beating

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Movie: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio

Private Pyle (Vincent D'Onofrio) is an overweight weak link among his severely hardened platoon in Kubrick's Vietnam picture, and it's the rest of the group's responsibility to help him improve. That means that one little fuck up from Pyle will result in punishment for the lot of them, though the bumbling soldier will be spared.

In an act of hazing, the troops enact their rage on Pyle, tying him down to his bunk as the men, one by one, beat him a bar of soap wrapped in a towel. Pyle's cries are the hardest thing to bear here. TA

20. Casper the Friendly Ghost

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19. Eyeball Slicing

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Movie: Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Director: Luis Buñuel

Stars: Simone Mareuil, Pierre Batcheff, Luis Buñuel

Sixteen minutes was all that Spanish provocateur Luis Buñuel needed to freak audiences out. In his notorious short, Un Chien Andalou, Buñuel embraces surrealism, ditching logic and narrative, to simply rattle viewers' senses with a barrage of strange imagery. In the famous opening scene, a guy (played by the director himself) slices a woman's eyeball open with a razor in a close-up shot that's intercut with the sight of a cloud shrouding a moon. —MB

18. Vomit

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Movie: The Piano Teacher (2001)

Director: Michael Haneke

Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Annie Girardot, Benoît Magimel

The tender Michael Haneke of Amour? Don't look for him here. The Piano Teacher, an adaptation of Elfriede Jelinek's novel of the same name, has a set-up that horror fans should find appealing. A tightly wound piano teacher, Erika (Isabelle Huppert), lives with her possessive, abusive mother (Annie Girardot). Because of mom's chokehold on her life, not limited to curfews and dress codes, Erika has an unhealthy relationship with sex. It's not limited to self-mutilation and sniffing semen-filled tissues discarded at the viewing booths of a porno shop. And then Erika finds herself pursued by a young man (also, a pig) who wants to study with her.

In her last interaction with the sonofabitchSPOILER ALERT—she goes down on the bastard, and then vomits after he ejaculates in her mouth. The way he degrades her, her vulnerability—it all conspires to churn the viewer's stomach. —RS

17. Car Masturbation

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Movie: Little Children (2006)

Director: Todd Field

Stars: Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Patrick Wilson

One of the subplots in Todd Field's adaptation of Tom Perotta's novel Little Children concerns a pedophile who has been recently released from prison. Ronnie McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley) did time for exposing himself to a minor, and his mother would really love to see him turn over a new leaf. She sets her son up on a blind date. It goes terribly.

At the end of the evening, Ronnie's date parks to let him out. In a flash, she looks over to find him furiously masturbating. They've parked near a playground. So much for second chances.—RS

16. What Happened at the Bar

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Film: The Accused (1988)

Director: Jonathan Kaplan

Stars: Kelly McGillis, Jodie Foster, Bernie Coulson

Loosely inspired by a real crime, The Accused is a courtroom drama. The crime? Rape. Jodie Foster's character is gang-raped by several drunk men at a bar one night. Adding to the trauma, multiple patrons watch the event but fail to act.

Not only are you forced to watch, but you're forced to others watching and not doing anything. It's a reminder of the dangers of passively absorbing on-screen violence. It's an indictment of the viewr. —RS

15. Skinned Alive

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14. Tongue Cutting

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Movie: Oldboy (2003)

Director: Chan-wook Park

Stars: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang

The masochism associated with voluntarily watching Oldboy's hardcore tongue-slicing scene is twofold. One, there's the visceral, straightforward reaction that comes from watching a man cutting his tongue clean off. To director Park Chan-wook's credit, he drags the moment out just long enough to prolong the misery without giving audiences enough time to look away. You know it's coming, you think there's a chance that it won't actually happen, and then, wham, you're fighting back intense nausea.

The scene's other kind of impact is contextual. Oh Dae-su (Min-sik Choi) snips his licker to atone for the sin of unknowingly having sex with his daughter—if he can't speak, he'll never be able to tell her the truth. —MB

13. Hobbling

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Movie: Misery (1990)

Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth

Misery lives up to its title thanks to one sequence in particular: the infamous hobbling scene. After taking in her all-time favorite author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) after a car accident, crazed fan Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) wants him to stay and rewrite his latest novel. It's very important to her that he not leave.

When she discovers that he's broken the rules and left his room, she tucks a block in between his ankles and takes out a sledgehammer. What follows—his ankle flailing to the side after the first strike—is a truly miserable sight. —JR

12. Arm Amputation

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Movie: 127 Hours (2010)

Director: Danny Boyle

Stars: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn

You know it's coming. That's what the whole movie is for: the arm-cutting scene. Everything that happens before the amputation—the climber, Aron Ralston (played by James Franco), embarking on his hiking trip, meeting a couple girls, and falling in between a canyon, his arm trapped under a rock—is just one long prelude until that scene.

Stuck for a few days without any sign of relief, Ralston decides to saw his arm off. Slowly, he chips away, poking and proding at his forearm with a dull knife, as flashes to his unborn son alternate with glimpses of veins being severed. With one last tug, he's able to free himself, the rest of his appendage left beneath the boulder, and the nub of his arm hanging down. —TA

11. Newborn Porn

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Movie: A Serbian Film (2010)

Director: Srdjan Spasojevic

Stars: Srdjan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic, Jelena Gavrilovic

Up until this point in A Serbian Film, the most violent thing retired adult film star Milos (Srđan Todorović) has been forced to do is punch a woman in the face. In another movie, that would be totally reprehensible, but what comes next rewrites the standards.

In order to convince Milos that his crazy little porno is "not pornography, but life itself," just one of the flick's many laughably ostentatious lines of dialogue, his employer Vukmir offers a private screening of one his prized works. In it, a large guy dressed in medical scrubs delivers a baby, which we see in all of its painful and vivid gruesomeness. Then, as the newborn cries uncontrollably and the mother looks on with a devilish grin, the doctor has sex with the just-born child.

Milos is, understandably, repulsed; Vukmir, meanwhile, declares, "It's a new genre! Newborn porn!" And us? We're wishing that this was Baby Genuises, or Look Who's Talking. —MB

10. Maid Marion

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Movie: Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans

Requiem for a Dream is a great movie to rent if you want to convince yourself to never touch drugs again. Any of them. Even Advil. If watching the mother and son (Ellen Burstyn and Jared Leto) slowly disintegrate from the effects of amphetamines and heroin isn't enough, viewers also witness the complete destruction of his girlfriend Marion, played by Jennifer Connelly. Smiling and fresh faced in the early scenes, she's the image of fear in the final shot. 

In a desperate bid for dope at the end of the movie, Marion goes back-to-back with an unnamed "party girl" (Heather Litteer) on a stage surrounded by horrible men in suits clutching wads of money and flashlights. Marion's face shows only fear and hopelessness. —MB

9. Lousy Meal

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8. Curb Stomping

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Movie: American History X (1998)

Director: Tony Kaye

Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo

There are only two ways a person can sit through the above scene from American History X without either shutting their eyes or covering them with their hands: They're either blind or their eye-lids are propped open Clockwork Orange style. Otherwise, they're one desensitized son of a bitch.

Edward Norton is a force of nature in the film, playing a skinhead who's the worst kind of influence on his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong). Lucky little bros get to watch their older male siblings work hard, kick it to girls, etc. But not Danny. His role model forces a black kid to get on his stomach and bite down on the curb.

We'll let you witness the rest for yourself, but just know that it involves a human skull getting cracked in half like a cashew. Good luck chewing for the rest of the day. —MB

7. Final Murder

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6. Organized Beating/Body Inspection

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Movie: Hunger (2008)

Director: Steve McQueen

Stars: Raymond Lohan, Michael Fassbender, Brian Milligan

Visual artist Steve McQueen's first narrative feature is a grueling exercise in limitations. How much can the human body take when put under the pressure of confinement? How much can the viewer take?

To tell the story of Bobby Sands, an IRA leader who starved himself to death while imprisoned as an act of protest against the British government in 1981, McQueen's camera is an unflinching eye inside the prison.

One of the film's most breathtaking scenes comes in a long tracking shot as prisoners are dragged from their cells, forced down a gauntlet of riot police with batons, and forcibly inspected above a mirror. The mirror has been placed on the ground and the prisoners hoisted above it so that the guards can check to see if any are stowing contraband in their rectums. You'd look away if it wasn't for the technical brilliance. —RS

5. Snip-Snip

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4. The Most Terrible Shooting

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Movie: Benny's Video (1992)

Director: Michael Haneke

Stars: Arno Frisch, Angela Winkler, Ulrich Mühe

Part of Michael Haneke's project is to make cinematic violence grueling. Benny's Video accomplishes this through duration.

In the film's violent centerpiece, a young boy shoots his friend with a bolt pistol. She falls to the ground. She is not dead, and begins to crawl. Haneke shoots with the camera in a fixed position, with no music. The girl crawls out of the frame, but the camera doesn't pan to follow. Her last moments, then, are conveyed totally through the terrible sounds she makes while dying.

As is the case in many of the most traumatic film experiences, what you don't see is most powerful. RS

3. Baby Removal

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Movie: Inside (2007)

Director: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury

Stars: Béatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis, Nathalie Roussel

It's a moment so gruesome, so get-the-fuck-out-of-here, that there's not a single still image available online. Our guess: No one wanted to stomach the scene again to freeze-frame a snapshot. We can't blame them-proving that writers/directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo are fearless and crazy bastards, the deservedly cult-beloved French knockout Inside's climax is the culmination of 70 minutes' worth of "They're not going to go there" speculation. And then they do.

The film's premise is rather straightforward: An enigmatic and psychotic woman, dressed in all black, breaks into a grieving pregnant lady's home on Christmas Eve night to steal the unborn baby from her stomach. And she's armed with scissors for the majority of the movie's running time. And she hacks her way through the homeowner's mother, boss, three police officers, and one arrestee. But then, she's just left with poor Sarah (Alysson Paradis), though she's not going to actually cut Sarah's belly open, right?

Viewers' jaws, already smacking the floor from Inside's previous oh-shit moments of gore, uncontrollably slink even lower once the intruder starts a-snipping; cutting Sarah's stomach open like a pumpkin, the psycho chick pulls the fetus out of the now-dead Sarah, and Maury and Bustillo show the whole thing, steady cam and all. Just one of the many reasons why Inside is arguably the best horror movie of the last 10 years. —MB

2. The Final Montage of Murder

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1. Le Tenia

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Movie: Irréversible (2002)

Director: Gaspar Noé

Stars: Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel

Told backwards, extreme French auteur Gaspar Noé's Irréversible depicts the aftermath of the most brutal rape scene in all of cinema. Clocking in at nearly 11 minutes long, the unbearably savage sequence is the film's cruel centerpiece. Shot in one unbroken take, the crime is committed in an underground walkway lit red, like everything is occurring behind a wall of blood. Monica Bellucci, who plays the victim, is something like a performance artist for her work here.

Is it worth it? That's up the viewer. —MB

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