The Most Disturbing Movies of All Time

From ‘Martyrs’ to ‘A Serbian Film,’ ‘The Last House on The Left,’ and ‘Cannibal Holocaust,’ we’ve compiled a list of the most disturbing movies of all time.

Paul Swift carrying Edith Massey on a barrow in the film 'Pink Flamingos'
Image via Getty/ Mondadori Portfolio


Paul Swift carrying Edith Massey on a barrow in the film 'Pink Flamingos'

Mainstream comedies and dramas are great. In an increasingly complicated world, cinema as a form of escapism is a valid move, and transporting an audience to a different world to make them laugh or cry is a noble endeavor in 2018. Plus, the people who claim to not enjoy being entertained by Marvel’s huge blockbusters like Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War are liars. But cinema is an all-encompassing monster, full of strange nooks and deep crevices filled with the most disturbing movies you could think of.

Horror is one of the most escapist genres we’ve invented. The most shocking movies are those that lean into a premise that’s either impossible or more hyperbolic than can be found in our own world. The specific sub-genre of disturbing movies, in particular—with their extended, realistic scenes of extreme violence, anxiety-inducing edits, torture, and total disregard for human life—offer a wholly different kind of escape. The terrifying movies on this list come with mental scarring and potential for years of nightmares, but trust me: there are people who love that kind of stuff.

If a movie can make you squirm, scream, or threaten to throw up your lunch, then it’s done its job. The movies on this list prove that a movie can still be considered artsy or significant, even if it’s on the extreme end of the violent spectrum. If you’re looking to find out what exactly we mean by the most disturbing horror movies, browse this list, choose wisely, and have some comedies queued up to cleanse your palate afterward. You don’t have to enter the Deep Web for these shocking movies; some of the most disturbing movies can be found on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. It’s that easy, so make sure you’re really ready before you press “play.”

60. Mother! (2017)

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Director: Darren Aronofsky 

Easily the most divisive movie of 2017, mother! is really a kind of litmus test for who you should be hanging out with. The movie plays like an Aronofsky fever dream as you watch Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem take an allegorical trip through feminism, Christianity, and the environment that culminates in one of the most anxiety-induced final acts in cinema history. It’s a disturbing movie—particularly for women—and the way anyone feels about it tells you more about the person than the actual movie. Just make sure your goddamn sinks are braced.

59. Bone Tomahawk (2015)

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Director: S. Craig Zahler

Bone Tomahawk, which might well have been the best Western of 2015, lands on this list mainly for one graphic scene, when the cannibals who have been terrorizing the local town decide to kill one of their captives. The cannibals scalp the man, get him butt naked, and then tie him upside down and begin cutting him open, from his head to his, you know, genitals, with a blunt rock. Zahler’s camera, which stays fixed on the victim and forces the viewer to watch the disgusting death from start to finish, helps this scene earn its spot among other truly legendary disturbing movies.

58. Raw (2017)

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Director: Julia Ducournau

Yup, this is the movie that had people fainting and vomiting during its showing at the Toronto International Film Festival. Still, though, it was one of the best movies of 2017. Raw is, in its own bizarre and avant-garde way, a coming of age tale: Justine, our protagonist, was raised by strict vegetarians parents who work as veterinarians, and is a young teenager just trying to find her place in the world—by way of cannibalism, of course. The movie ties in a critique of hazing rituals and university culture with Justine’s budding sexuality to create a movie that is at once deeply original and gruesome, yet fascinating all the way through.

57. We Are The Flesh (2016)

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Director: Emiliano Rocha Minter

In a post-apocalyptic world, siblings Lucio and Fauna find that their best hopes of survival rest with a crazy homeless guy who forces them to do the unspeakable just in order to survive. Between the graphic depictions of sex, forced incest, brainwashing, and ultimately a cannibalistic orgy, some critics have found a critique of society (to be more specific, Mexican society) buried somewhere deep, deep down in We Are The Flesh. If you’re looking for a movie that pushes the envelope, look no further.

56. Dogtooth (2009)

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Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

If you’re familiar with Yorgos Lanthimos’s (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) very peculiar brand of weird, then you’ll immediately see how Dogtooth fits right into the canon. Dogtooth is the twisted story of a mother and father who maintain their three adult children completely ignorant of the outside world in a secure, fenced-in complex where they are forced to have sex with each other and strangers. Lanthimos’s style is hopelessly dark, and in this movie it creates an intensity that informs the child abuse at its center and creates an atmosphere of horror mixed with documentary, which is what lends the movie its disturbing tone. Dogtooth was a Cannes favorite when it debuted in 2009, and was even nominated for Best Foreign Language Film that year.

55. The Skin I Live In (2011)

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Director: Pedro Almodóvar 

Antonio Banderas plays the disturbed Dr. Ledgard plastic surgeon at the center of this psychological body horror movie, with a clinical creepiness that informs much of the movie’s intense atmosphere. Banderas, struggling with the traumatic loss of both his wife and daughter, becomes obsessed with developing a new kind of skin resistant to burns. In order to test his inventions, though, he keeps a victim hostage in his mansion—not just any old victim, though. He kidnaps the man responsible for driving his daughter to suicide and subjects him to a forced sexual reassignment surgery that turns him into Vera, his effective medical guinea pig. Almodóvar contrasts the doctor’s beautiful, lush mansion and surreal, otherworldly surgical tools and techniques with an upsetting, anxiety-inducing storyline full of complex, voyeuristic elements to create a truly dark and disturbing work.

54. Pig (2017)

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Director: Adam Mason

A lot of the movies on this list are shocking, but the director behind them usually has some reason—no matter how twisted or hard to believe it may be—to stand behind the project. So just imagine how demented a movie has to be for producers to actually attempt to scrub the movie from existence. That’s what happened with Pig: it was almost removed from the 2017 SXSW slate, but eventually was shown exactly twice at the festival before the director himself declared they would be the only public showings of the movie ever. It’s an 80-minute sadistic, misogynistic torture-fest that includes a pregnant hostage, mutilation, cannibals, and the actual words: “Rape time!”  It’s, um, a lot—and good luck getting your hands on a copy.

53. Gerald’s Game (2017)

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Director: Mike Flanagan

It was great and all, but Gerald’s Game was the best Stephen King adaptation released in 2017. It’s a downright disturbing premise, precisely because it doesn’t indulge in the cannibals or demons or visceral, violent sex scenes that the other movies on this list do. Instead, the film follows a couple in the last throes of marriage attempting to spice things up in the bedroom, and the result is a master lesson in suspense. A fatal dose of viagra later, and Jessie, the wife, is handcuffed to the bed and must escape from beneath the limp body of her husband, Gerald. Let’s just say it gets gory.

52. Baskin (2015)

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Director: Can Evrenol

This Turkish art-house horror movie is an unrelenting, surreal torture fest, but there is at least some method to this madness. This part biblical, part supernatural story follows a group of police officers who accidentally find the portal to literal hell, or at least as close as you can get to it on Earth. The movie plays out like a walk through a demented asylum, complete with bloody, decapitated bodies having sex, gouged out eyes, and creepy hooded figures.

51. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

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Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is unlike the other movies on this list, most notably because it lacks any of the truly maniacal body horror that constitutes most of the other entries; the disturbing elements in this slow burn psychological thriller are far more complex. Colin Farrell stars as a famed cardiovascular surgeon whose calm, predictable life is shattered when he becomes close to a perturbed young teenager (Barry Keoghan) who is out to ruin the doctor’s life for a mistake he made in the past. Keoghan injects very real fear into an otherwise mundane scene of him eating spaghetti as he tells Nicole Kidman, who plays Farrell’s wife, about his dead father. The chilling performance exemplifies the film’s tense, complex atmosphere.

50. Hostel (2005)

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Director: Eli Roth

No doubt taking advantage of the success of the Saw series, Hostel clawed its way into theaters in 2005 and almost single handedly revolutionized the “torture porn” sub-genre. The gore and violence in this movie is so over-the-top and gruesome that it’s physically tough to get through many of the scenes, and that is exactly what director Eli Roth seemed to be aiming for.

The story itself deals with a group of young who get captured and tortured by a mysterious, and psychotic, businessman in an Eastern European hostel. That’s just about all you need to know about the film’s plot because Hostel exists solely to gross you out—not to tell you a story. For hardcore horror junkies, this movie has just about everything you could ever want: gallons of blood, severed extremities, and a particularly disturbing scene where an eyeball is pulled out of someone’s head.

If just reading any of that makes you queasy, we suggest sitting this one out.

49. Natural Born Killers (1994)

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Director: Oliver Stone

Considered one of the most controversial movies of all time, Oliver Stone’s somewhat satirical Natural Born Killers has earned that reputation by featuring abhorrent violence of the most unsettling kind. Starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, and a parade of other great talent, NBK wasn’t just brutal, it was also grounded in the side of reality that most of us don’t like to think about. The remorseless killing in this movie isn’t grotesque simply because it’s a crime; it’s grotesque because we hear about this type of random, senseless violence all the time, and here it is for our entertainment.

During the movie’s opening scene, Harrelson and Lewis wipe out an entire diner in grisly fashion with little empathy or remorse. If that’s not disturbing enough, the couple is then glamorized by a country obsessed with shocking crimes. It tapped into the zeitgeist of the times perfectly when big-time murder cases were all the rage, such as the O.J. Simpson trial. And as the country is glued to the story, we see the true nature of humanity.

The movie was so foul for people at the time that it was almost given an NC-17 rating and even was linked to a series of copycat crimes around the country.

48. Transsiberian (2008)

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Director: Brad Anderson

During the first two-thirds of Brad Anderson’s Transsiberian, the movie moves along like an homage to the type of suspense film Hitchcock would have put out back in the day. But towards the end of the movie, Anderson gives us a torture scene that is among the most disturbing you will ever see. Making Saw look like On Golden Pond, this grotesque scene took us completely by surprise with its sheer brutality and malice.

On an operating table lays Abby (played by Kate Mara) with sickeningly-deep gashes on her legs. In order to get information out of her companions, a man named Kolzak sits next to her and begins to carve more and more wounds into her leg. It’s an absolutely brutal scene that will have anyone in the audience squirming in their seat.

47. Valhalla Rising (2009)

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Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

What separates Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising from a lot of violent movies out there is the raw, animalistic way the characters go about their business. This is close quarters combat at its finest as One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) bites, claws, and rips flesh off of his opponents’ bones for survival.

Valhalla Rising is a filthy, grimy film that doesn’t go for any frills and, instead, brings us unrestrained violence in a way that most filmmakers simply don’t have the stomach to handle. And speaking of not having the stomach, there is one standout scene in this movie where One-Eye literally disembowels an opponent with his bare hands. It's one of the most uncomfortable moments to watch during the whole film.

46. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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Director: Stanley Kubrick

For the dozen or so people out there who have yet to see Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, it can be easily described as a bleak look at a dystopian future where free will is controlled by the government and ultra-violence is a way of life for the street kids of London.

Kubrick’s masterful blend of shocking violence and unrepressed sexuality caused Clockwork to get an X rating when it hit the States. And Kubrick himself even withdrew the film from theaters in Britain after fears that people were committing copycat crimes linked to the movie. The ban was lifted after his death in 1999.

But it’s not even in the abject violence or multiple rape scenes where the film is truly disturbing; it’s one scene in particular that really lands it on this list. When the main character of Alex is brought into a government center to retool his violent personality, he is strapped to a chair and forced to watch video after video of repulsively savage footage until the mere thought of violence makes him physically ill. While doing this, his eyelids are forced open by metallic clamps, exposing his eyes to every second of film.

It’s a gut-wrenching scene that is made even more disturbing once you realize that actor Malcolm McDowell actually had to physically endure the same torture as his character just to get the shot right.

45. The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011)

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Director: Tom Six

Last year, Dutch filmmaker Tom Six unleashed The Human Centipede onto the masses, giving creepers everywhere the original idea of a lunatic surgeon who stitches three people together, ass to mouth. The plot and title alone were enough to cast a notorious reputation upon the movie, but it’s sicker in concept than presentation. In the first Centipede, not a whole lot is actually shown.

And Mr. Six knew exactly what he was doing. An unremitting, 90-minute response to anyone who down-talked Centipede’s concealed gruesomeness, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is Six’s black-and-white “fuck you.” The sequel’s meta set-up is rather clever: Obsessed with the first Human Centipede flick, a repugnant, live-at-home parking garage security guard named Martin (Laurence Harvey) bludgeons patrons, drives them to an abandoned warehouse, and forms his own 12-person centipede without any medical training.

What’s the next best thing for someone who doesn’t have proper stitching equipment? A rusty stapler, of course. Martin staples mouths to butt cheeks, which Six shows up close and wrongly personal; in order to make their gums easily attachable, Martin bashes out their teeth with a hammer, which, yes, Six shows in full-on shots; and, to make it easier for the victims to be on all fours at all times, Martin cuts open their knees and snips the tendons, which, indeed, Six…. You get the idea.

And we haven’t even discussed the crushed newborn baby, or the gastronomical symphony of canned-beans-induced shit. Made for no other reason than to punish audience members, The Human Centipede II leaves nothing to the imagination. Though, to be fair, Six does leave Martin’s sandpaper masturbation off screen. What a humanitarian.

44. The Exorcist (1973)

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Director: William Friedkin

When The Exorcist hit theaters in 1973, it redefined the horror genre and revolutionized the way these movies blended legitimate scares will stomach-churning special effects. The movie tells the story of Father Damien Karras' (Jason Miller) attempts to drive a demonic spirit out of the body of a young girl named Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair).

The makeup used to show Blair’s transformation from young girl to full-fledged demon were so disturbing for audiences at the time that some theaters actually handed out “Exorcist Barf Bags” in case anyone’s stomach couldn’t quite handle the horror.

But it wasn’t just in the physical distortion of a young girl that made this movie so disturbing; there is also a lot of religious desecration throughout the movie that struck a chord with some of the more devout members of the public. We’re pretty sure most churchgoing folk weren’t too happy about that crucifix masturbation scene, but it was parts like that which added to the disturbing tour de force that made The Exorcist a landmark in horror cinema.

43. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

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Director: Lynne Ramsay

We Need to Talk About Kevin isn’t technically horror, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a horror flick that’s as bleak, unsettling, and haunting as Lynne Ramsay’s emotional knockout. Based on author Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel, Ramsay’s overwhelming domestic nightmare centers on a remorseful outcast of a mother (the amazing Tilda Swinton) who’s struggling to understand why her troubled son, Kevin (the extremely creepy Ezra Miller), went on a murder spree at his high school.

Which is in no way a spoiler, since co-writer Ramsay’s script bounces around in time to present the Columbine-like massacre as the possible culmination of years’ worth of parental neglect and just plain old inherent malevolence. By the film’s distressing shocker of a climax, We Need to Talk About Kevin has already fastened a noose around the viewer’s throat; once the true horror occurs, the box is kicked out from under your feet. Though it’s not an easy watch, Ramsay’s meticulous examination of domestic terror is incredibly vital.

42. Se7en (1995)

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Director: David Fincher

Se7en transformed David Fincher from a simple music video director into a true visionary of cinema. The movie is about two detectives (played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) who try to solve the case of a serial killer who seems to be knocking off his victims to the tune of the seven deadly sins. It’s a gritty, realistic thriller that doesn’t just get to us because of the violence, but because of the psychological aspects as well.

Each murder scene is modeled after one of the sins from the Bible, with the most disturbing being “lust” and “sloth.” It’s an intense piece of filmmaking that is so raw and unnerving that it tends to stick with you well after it’s over, and with good reason. The final 10 minutes of the picture features one of the most shocking and, frankly, nauseating scenes of the past few decades of American film. We’ll guarantee that you’ll never open a box without this scene flashing through your mind ever again.

41. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

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Director: Meir Zarchi

I Spit on Your Grave’s writer-director Meir Zarchi would probably defend his infamous rape revenge shocker with some kind of “female empowerment” nonsense. And nothing says “You go, girl” like three rape scenes that are shown with no cuts or visual inventiveness.

Zarchi simply sits back, keeps the camera steady, and lets the sexual deviancy play out. Needless to say, I Spit on Your Grave is just about the worst movie you could ever watch on a Netflix date night.

The victim (played by Camille Keaton, one ballsy actress) eventually gets even with the four hillbillies who defiled her. She slices off one dude’s nuts with a knife, guts another with speedboat propellers, drives an axe into one’s back, and gives the fourth the old noose necklace treatment.

The acting in Marchi’s trashy pic is horrendous, the production values aren’t even of student film quality, and the whole thing generally reeks of sadistic indulgence. And you know what? We can’t help but love I Spit on Your Grave for its unabashed awfulness. We could, however, do without all of the ’70s nudity, which brings the decade’s shunning of self-grooming to gross light.

40. Man Bites Dog (1992)

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Director: Rémy Belvaux

Following the exploits of a charismatic yet horrifically violent serial killer, this mockumentary brings a little humor to the sociopathic world of Benoit as he pontificates about the twisted ideals and philosophies behind his killings. The fact that the killer is so flippant with the camera crew about his action is what is truly disturbing about this movie because it brings you into the deranged mind of someone who could commit these types of atrocities on the regular.

But despite the horrific subject matter, there is still something whimsical about watching Benoit scare an old lady to death, which “saves me a bullet,” according to him. Everything here is so deadpan and mundane that even the vicious killings are treated in a matter of fact manner. And for anyone with a smidgen or morality, that is indeed disturbing.

39. Gummo (1997)

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Director: Harmony Korine

Gummo might seem like a strange choice for this list because of its lack of pervasive violence and gore, but this little indie film got under our skin by treating us to a glimpse at the lives of the people in a small Midwestern town in a way that was both bizarre and supremely uncomfortable to watch. One of the running threads throughout the film is the way the children—most notably “Bunny Boy” —would hunt and kill random cats from the neighborhood just to pass the time.

The nihilistic way these characters go about their lives is what will stick with you well after the movie is over. In no other scene is this more evident than when a man is shown trying to pimp out his mentally retarded sister for some extra cash. This isn’t filled with the type of violence like other examples on this list, but we can’t think of any other way to describe Gummo than disturbing.

38. Murder-Set-Pieces (2004)

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Director: Nick Palumbo

No one can accuse the makers of Murder-Set-Pieces of false advertising. The film's entire plot is right there in its title. Featuring over 30 killings, Nick Palumbo's homicidal narrative has little else on its agenda outside of giving its antagonist, simply named The Photographer (and played by Sven Garrett), an uninterrupted stage to hack and slash his way through every hooker in sight.

His day job is to take sexy photos of models, but Palumbo is hardly concerned with developing the character beyond "guy who murders for pleasure." Murder-Set-Pieces is the closest you'll ever get to a snuff film without actually watching one. If that entices you, may we suggest a therapy session or two?

37. The Bunny Game (2012)

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Director: Adam Rehmeier

It's taken The Bunny Game four years to receive a proper American release, and we can see why. As the British Board of Film Classification's decision to ban it from UK cinemas makes clear, director Adam Rehmeier's black-and-white, near-snuff film isn't for the faint of heart; frankly, we don't know who in the hell it's for exactly.

The Human Centipede II, another recent piece of B&W exploitation, at least has the self-awareness and grasp on gallows humor to make us laugh at its insanity; The Bunny Game, with its repulsive presentation of a prostitute named Bunny (Rodleen Getsic) being endlessly and sickeningly savaged by a mad trucker, is torture porn without a funny bone in its celluloid body. Play this game at your own risk.

36. Funny Games (1997)

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Director: Michael Haneke

You can rarely beat an original, and Funny Games is a prime example. Michael Haneke’s 2008 U.S. remake is undoubtedly a tough watch, but it’s far less scarring than this 1997 original, which presents the exact same series of events yet pierces the senses much more sharply.

For one, there are no recognizable Hollywood stars (i.e., Naomi Watts or Tim Roth) that allow us to acknowledge that Funny Games is only a movie. More importantly, though, the general concept was unique back in ’97; take the film’s unexpected use of internal rewinding, for example, through which one of the bad guys erases his partner's death, pretty much shitting all over the viewers’ hopes for a happy ending.

Like most of his films, Funny Games comes from a truly dark place within Haneke’s mind, a section of the brain where his most cynical thoughts lie, and, basically, we’re all seen as scum. Folks who’ll gladly pay to see people brutally murdered on screen, as long as there’s fresh popcorn and overpriced soda on hand.

By the time the fittingly bleak ending of Funny Games reaffirms the notion that Haneke is one sick (and clever) fuck, you’ll feel quite bad about yourself. Or you’ll want to slap Big Mike in the face for subjecting your eyes to such unwavering nihilism. Either way, it will leave a mark.

35. Night and Fog (1955)

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Director: Alain Resnais

Released 10 years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, Night and Fog is one of the most affecting documentaries ever put to film. Clocking in at a lean 32 minutes, this is an uncompromising look at the tragedy of the Holocaust that pulls no punches and crafts images that are as brutal as they are unforgettable.

To see and hear the utter disregard for human life is disturbing in a way that no other film can achieve. When a horror film or psychological thriller is over, we have the luxury of knowing that it’s all make believe and for our entertainment. That’s not something we have here in Night and Fog, but it’s still required viewing in order to truly understand the absolute worst of humanity. If you can stomach it, we urge you to watch this; not as a disturbing film, but as a deeply-moving educational piece.

34. The Snowtown Murders (2012)

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Director: Justin Kurzel

Looking for a downer of the most visceral kind? Let us suggest Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel's phenomenally bleak The Snowtown Murders, the “based on a true story” serial killer knockout about Aussie’s most notorious homicidal maniac, John Bunting (a masterful Daniel Henshall). From 1992 through 1999, using his disarming charm and manipulative personality, Bunting infiltrated a practically destitute community and amassed a growing legion of followers to help him slay those he deemed as wrongdoers.

Cleverly, Kurzel and screenwriter Shaun Grant enter the hellish events through the eyes of a sympathetic teenager, Jamie (Lucas Pittaway); fatherless and lonely, Jamie yearns for a paternal connection, which, unfortunately, he finds in Bunting. How Jamie’s life devolves into misery and bloodshed is what gives the unflinching Snowtown Murders the ability to have such a vice-like hold on your nerves, right down to the film’s intensely grim final shot.

33. Sweet Movie (1974)

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Director: Dusan Makavejev

Clearly, that's an ironic movie title. Anything but a "sweet movie," Yugoslavian director Dusan Makavejev's harrowing flick tells the story of two women: a Canadian beauty pageant winner and boat captain commanding a ship loaded with candy.

For the beauty queen, Makavejev has plenty of horrors in store, from stuffing her into a car's trunk to having her vagina practically choke a dude's willy. Her darkest hour comes when she joins an artsy-fartsy community with some rather deranged ideals; for example, they have a rebirthing ritual that involves a "newborn" person pissing and shitting all over themselves while their fellow loons clean the grime off their bodies. And, yes, Makavejev shows it all.

As for the captain, she doesn't fare much better, although she's the one doing the awful things. One such act finds her stabbing a guy to death in the middle of sex; at other times, she's luring kids onto her boat with the promise of endless sweets. And, yes, the little ones soon die.

32. Deadgirl (2008)

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Director: Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel

Deadgirl could have justifiably been called Not Another Teen Movie, because, well, it's anything but your typical coming-of-age high school story. The two main characters (played by Shiloh Fernandez and Noah Segan) are, yes, teenagers, and many of the film's scenes take place in a high school. But name another teen flick that spends most of its duration inside a decrepit old institution and shows its protagonists raping and exploiting a naked, undead female.

And how's this for a statement about premarital relations: One character's intestines burst out of his ass after the titular "dead girl" bites his penis off during oral sex. Rumor has it that was actually in the first draft of Superbad's script. Go figure.

31. Antichrist (2009)

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Director: Lars von Trier

Antichrist is not the type of movie you want to watch right before you go to sleep; or before you eat; or before you do anything, really. It’s not just that there is a little gore here and there; it’s that the movie is so overwhelmingly disturbing in every aspect of life that you will have no safe haven to turn to once it is over.

Focusing on a married couple looking to come to terms with the death of their son by retreating into the wilderness for some much-needed therapy, Antichrist is a cornucopia of gruesome scenes that make you realize that every dollar of profit from this movie probably went towards paying off director Lars von Trier’s therapy bills.

Put it this way: One of the tamer scenes involves Willem Dafoe stumbling upon a deer with a half-birthed fetus hanging out of its womb. But von Trier doesn’t stop there; he then bludgeons us with so much genital mutilation that it’s almost impossible not to feel some sympathy pains along the way.

30. Happiness (1998)

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Director: Todd Solondz

There's no better film out there that paints us a portrait of suburbia gone wrong than Todd Solondz’s twisted drama Happiness. In it, Dylan Baker plays a pedophile psychiatrist named Bill Maplewood who rapes two of his son’s classmates during the movie’s first act. But instead of filming this movie like a horror flick or a thriller, Solondz presents it all in a way that is reminiscent of a ‘50s sitcom with its sweeping music, tucked-in shirts, and heart-to-heart conversations between a father and son about penis size. Hell, daddy dearest even offers to measure his son’s for him.

The conversation ends with Bill tussling his son’s hair as he goes back to happily reading his magazine. The repressed psyches of all of these characters is what is really disturbing as the picture-perfect middle-class suburban life falls under the microscope of a director who seems hell-bent on showing off society’s seedy underbelly.

29. Kill List (2012)

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Director: Ben Wheatley

This year’s most disturbing genre movie is also one of the most lingering mind-fucks to come around in years. With the scarring Kill List, English filmmaker Ben Wheatley establishes himself as a fearless storyteller, keeping the mood pitch-black while concealing several jarring twists and maintaining a firm ambiguity that, by the film’s end, will leave you bewildered.

Most importantly, though, Kill List will burrow into your nightmares, which is fitting, since the movie’s shocking imagery and brutal ideas come directly from Wheatley’s own scary dreams. At its core, Kill List is about an out-of-work, married military vet and former hit man (Neil Maskell) who reconnects with an old partner-in-crime (Michael Smiley) to off a few unlucky folks for a mysterious new client. And that’s all we can say here.

Though Wheatley himself has been open to discuss the film’s crazier elements in the press, like he did with us, we’re suggesting that you wait and see Kill List for yourselves before probing its deep, dark enigmas. But just know that you’re not likely to see a more psychologically damaging horror flick any time soon.

28. Un Chien Andalou (1929)

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Director: Luis Buñuel

Sixteen minutes was all that Spanish provocateur Luis Buñuel needed to freak audiences out. In his notorious short film Un Chien Andalou, Buñuel disregards such things as logic and plot to simply rattle viewers' senses with a barrage of unrelated but uniformly scarring imagery.

The opening scene, for instance, shows a guy (played by the director himself) slicing 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. Later, pianos are seen containing the rotting corpses of donkeys and tablets with the Ten Commandments etched onto them. What does it all mean? Fuck if we know. But we dare you to stop thinking about Un Chien Andalou after giving it a look.

27. Oldboy (2003)

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Director: Chan-wook Park

After 15 years of seemingly random imprisonment in a hotel room, Oh Dae-su escapes and proceeds to take revenge on his captors in gloriously heinous fashion. In this supremely violent and shocking foreign language thriller, Oldboy manages to perfectly weave brutal action with an engaging story. Whereas most action movie stars nowadays rely on impersonal weaponry, Oh Dae-su wields his trusty hammer to dole out heaping helpings of crimson-splattered justice up close and personally.

This is a low-down, dirty thriller set in a seedy world filled with crime and incest. Despite being based off of the Japanese manga, this flick bears little resemblance to the graphic novel and comic adaptations that we get in the States. This one pulls no punches and brings us a level of visceral storytelling that could only come from the Far East.

26. High Tension (2003)

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Director: Alexandre Aja

Alexandre Aja’s High Tension is a bloodbath, plain and simple. With a metric ton of gore and some gruesome kills, this is the type of horror movie that tends to linger around in the back of your mind even when it’s finished. The highlight of the movie comes near the beginning when a deranged serial killer breaks into a family’s home and systematically picks most of the members off as the main characters, Marie and Alex, attempt to escape. If you ever wanted to see a man be decapitated by a bookcase, here is your chance.

It’s not just the gore that should get to you—even though there is more than enough to go around—but it’s the tale of obsession with its twist ending that should have you retracing the steps of this bloody, horror gem once all is revealed.

25. Eyes Without a Face (1960)

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Director: Georges Franju

French director Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face isn’t just cinema’s most shocking mad doctor flick of all time—it’s also one of cinema’s most overlooked horror gems. In it, Doctor Genessier (Pierre Brasseur) lures innocent young women to his mansion in an effort to cut off the current victim’s face and fasten it onto that of his daughter, who suffered face-ruining burns in a car accident.

Without a new, scar-free face, the doc’s girl, Christiane (Edith Scob), wears an all-white, featureless mask that makes her look like a bloodless walking corpse, a lasting image that gives Eyes Without a Face a haunting quality that’s tough to shake. And one scene in particular, a grisly and methodical face-removal sequence uncommon for its time, is one of horror’s great try-not-to-look-away moments.

24. I Stand Alone (1998)

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Director: Gaspar Noé

Gaspar Noé's blackout-dark character study I Stand Alone looks and feels like the version of Taxi Driver Martin Scorsese might have made if he were a total sadist back in the '70s. Like Travis Bickle, I Stand Alone's nameless protagonist, known as "the butcher" (a powerhouse performance by Philippe Nahon), hates everything about those around him; he's a racist, cold, cruel human being who harbors an intense sexual attraction to his young daughter and literally beats his mistress's unborn baby to death by ferociously punching her in the stomach.

And just when you think the butcher can't get any worse, he goes and does the unthinkable, in a scene that Noé cleverly prefaces with a "Warning" sign and a 30-second countdown meant to give the viewer time to turn the movie off before it really goes off the rails. How it derails is something we're not about to spoil here, but, trust us, it's an image that'll stain itself into your brains for a long time after.

23. Begotten (1990)

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Director: E. Elias Merhige

Unsurprisingly, Begotten hasn't been shown to any Catholic school's religion classes since its 1990 debut, at least none that we're aware of. Maybe that's because filmmaker E. Eliash Merhige's 74-minute art film opens with a person referred to as God disemboweling himself.

Or perhaps it's due to the following scene, in which Mother Earth rises from God's body and impregnates herself with his semen, before she's later raped by a bunch of wanderers who've already attacked her offspring, the Son of Earth, with what looks like an umbilical cord. You're telling us that some crafty theology professor can't efficiently compare Mother Earth's self-baby-making to the Holy Spirit planting Jesus inside Mary's belly? No wonder folks love to criticize our school systems.

22. Man Behind the Sun (1988)

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Director: Mou Tun-fei

Man Behind the Sun made history back in 1988, when it became the first movie to ever receive China's equivalent to an NC-17 rating (rating: III). Mou Tun-fei's intention was to make an anti-war film that would educate people to the heinous crimes committed by Japan's Unit 731 on its prisoners during World War II, but the censors deemed Man Behind the Sun more of an heartless exploitation flick than an informative tool.

Prisoners, of both Chinese and Soviet descent, are hung up on crosses, run over by trucks, and shot in cold blood, and Tun-fei never pulls his camera way from any of the gruesome atrocities. Battlefield veterans might not appreciate its graphic nature, but we're sure as hell convinced that WWII was hell on Earth.

21. Ichi the Killer (2001)

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Director: Takashi Miike

Filled with the type of beatings and torture that the makers of the Saw franchise could only hope to achieve, Ichi the Killer is an ultra-violent saga set in the seedy underworld of Japan. This is a non-stop gorefest as the mysterious Ichi and a supporting cast of killers unleash disturbing scenes of torture upon us that assault the senses and spit in the face of good taste.

And like Old Boy, this is a movie based off of a Japanese manga, but the film version far exceeds any sort of disturbing violence that could be put on paper. The character of Ichi is a programmed killer hell-bent on causing as much pain to his victims as possible, and with Takashi Miike at the helm, this combination makes Ichi the Killer a bloodbath of biblical proportions.

20. Martyrs (2008)

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Director: Pascal Laugier

French writer-director Pascal Laugier's Martyrs is essentially two movies in one, and neither one is recommended for the squeamish. Before the hard-R-rated shocker takes a sharp left turn at its midway point, Martyrs rests gruesomely in home invasion territory, with Clive Barker-like supernatural elements mixed in for good measure. But then Laugier's script veers into existential, slow-burning dread, and once it's all over, Martyrs asks heavy questions about the afterlife and almost provides some answers. With skinning, of course.

19. Eraserhead (1977)

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Director: David Lynch

Trying to describe David Lynch’s Eraserhead in words is like asking someone to play “Clair de Lune” on the piano while wearing a pair of mittens—it just won’t do it justice. But what we can tell you about the film is that it is a surreal nightmare filled with the type of haunted imagery that most sober minds can’t fathom.

Starring actor Jack Nance, Eraserhead is about a printer who has a horribly deformed baby with a woman who soon leaves him to raise it on his own. That might not sound too disturbing on the surface, but it’s director David Lynch’s approach to the material that gets it on this list.

Misshapen and bizarre characters populate this dreamlike world as the movie moves from scene to scene with very little linear direction to its credit. But it’s the appearances and voices of the cast that will settle in your brain and fester there as you try to sleep in the days after watching it. There is an offbeat madness here that is very troubling, much like the denizens of a circus sideshow. It’s not particularly violent or gruesome, but nearly every shot pokes at our psyche like a raw, open wound.

18. Blood Feast (1963)

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Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Nearly 50 years after its splashy debut, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ breakthrough exploitation flick, Blood Feast, doesn’t exactly hold up in the effects department. The blood, which pours in abundance, now looks like shiny red paint, and the Z-grade direction and storytelling, then masked by the film’s initial shock value, is glaringly problematic. But there’s one thing no one can ever take away from Lewis: Blood Feast, widely considered to be the first-ever “splatter” movie, is the reason why a countdown of this nature can even exist.

Groundbreaking in so many evil ways, Blood Feast is the simple tale of an insane Miami resident who kills women in putrid manners, in hopes of resurrecting an Egyptian goddess. Yes, it’s a load of narrative malarkey, yet Lewis’ one-note flick is charmingly despicable. It took some major balls to make a gross-out of this kind back in '63, and Blood Feast doesn’t shy away from its vileness; the film’s most memorable (for all the wrong reasons) image is that of the antagonist pulling a hot blonde’s tongue right out of her throat. It’s a moment akin to the moon landing for gore-hounds.

17. Inside (2007)

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Director: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury

Arguably the best horror film of the last decade, this French shocker has it all: unbelievable gore for the bloodhounds, spot-on performances and stylistic direction for cinematic purists, and a quick, 80-minute length for those with the attention span of a sock.

It’s also one of the only films in recent memory to make us cover our eyes more than once, proving that even the most experienced and numbest of horror lovers can still be pushed beyond his or her limits. In other words, we shriek like female dogs every time we watch the damn thing.

Inside, written and directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, starts off simply enough. A depressed pregnant woman decides to stay home alone on Christmas Eve to mourn her lover’s recent death via car accident, when a mysterious woman (who’s kind of hot, in a psychotic way) invades the premise and says that she wants our protagonist’s unborn baby—that’s right, this Woman in Black wants to cut the fetus out, no anesthesia. What transpires is a downward spiral of butchered family members, blown-off cop faces, and a C-section with scissors, amongst other extreme brutality.

If you’ve never seen Inside, and what we’ve just said has enticed your inner sicko, here’s some advice: Just buy the “unrated” DVD and avoid any rental discs, since pussy-footed censors refused to allow the movie’s uncut rawness to be Blockbuster accessible. We’ll never call French people “soft” again.

16. Visitor Q (2001)

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Director: Takashi Miike

Takashi Miike's Visitor Q is, hands down, the funniest movie on this countdown. And by funny, we mean the kind of humor one receives from those old Warner Bros. cartoons, except, here, animated animals are replaced by deranged Japanese folks.

It's your typical Norman Rockwell family: Daddy pays to have sex with his daughter, who's a prostitute; mommy is addicted to heroin and, like her little girl, sells her body to support the drug habit; and their son, a high school kid, enjoys whipping his mom and beating her up with his bare hands. As if their lifestyle isn't wild enough, a stranger muscles his way into their home, repeatedly bashes a rock over dad's head and teaches the family how to behave like a (somewhat) rational unit.

Through all of Visitor Q's exceedingly bizarre imagery, Miike is trying to make statements about people with closed-off feelings, but doing so in a hilariously twisted dark comedy dilutes his message considerably. Which is all for the better, since it's impossible to feel an emotional catharsis from seeing a woman lactate all over a kitchen floor.

15. A Serbian Film (2011)

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Director: Srđan Spasojević

Before The Human Centipede II dethroned it, the heavily maligned A Serbian Film had made sick movie haters forget all about the first Centipede flick this past May. Months before its limited stateside debut, director Srđan Spasojević’s visceral, modern-day exploitation picture was the talk of genre festivals worldwide, earning a violent reputation as a film that’s nearly unbearable in its sadism. The loudest cry: “Beware of the ‘baby rape’ scene!”

In a rare case of fulfilled expectations, those who were brave enough to catch A Serbian Film after its pre-release hype learned firsthand that Spasojević’s ruthless debut is every bit as eye-gouging as its been made out to be. It’s the story of a washed-up porn star, Milos, desperate to provide for his wife and young son, and when an opportunity arises to pull in serious cash, he jumps at it.

The only problem is, his new employer’s only demand is that Milos do everything he says, which includes having sex with a bruised woman after she bites his penis and riding another woman doggy-style before hacking her up with a machete. How does Milos get his revenge? He kills one of the bad guys by thrusting his schlong into the guy’s eye socket.

And do we really need to once again recount the aforementioned “baby rape”? As if pairing those two words together doesn’t tell the whole story.

14. August Underground (2001)

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Director: Fred Vogel

Truth be told, our only assurance that August Underground is a legitimate movie is that it exists on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes; otherwise, we’d have thought that this super-low-budget nightmare was an actual snuff film. There’s not a recognizable actor face to be seen in “director” Fred Vogel’s vile movie, nor is there anything that resembles cinematography, sound design, or post-production manipulation. August Underground progresses with the casualness of a home video, except that if it were a home video, the Feds would have tossed Vogel’s ass in the clink back in 2001.

The sick exhibition begins with Vogel beckoning the unseen cameraman to check something out in his basement. Once down there, we see a beaten-up woman tied to a chair, with one of her nipples missing. In the corner of the room is her dead boyfriend, whose castrated corpse is slumped over in a bathtub. One of his toes is later jammed into the woman’s mouth, which is then taped shut. That’s before she has piss dumped on her, poop smeared across her face, and her head smashed into a wall.

And that’s just August Underground’s beginning. In between Vogel’s murders, he visits a comic book shop and does other mundane things, giving the film a sadistically natural vibe. Basically, he’s a lot like every random, nondescript dude who walks by you inside the local GameStop. Except, you know, for his secret hobby.

13. The Last House on the Left (1972)

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Director: Wes Craven

Based loosely on Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, The Last House on the Left is an exploitation horror film that is notorious for the rape/torture scenes that fill out the film’s second act. In fact, the movie was found to be so sadistic and unseemly that it was banned in Great Britain for a while because of the unrestrained violence and sexual humiliation that run rampant throughout.

There's one scene in particular that should have men everywhere reaching for the Pepto Bismol, when, in a twisted act of revenge, the mother of the rape victim proceeds to orally remove the manhood of the perpetrator that killed her daughter. This revenge-fantasy was Wes Craven’s first feature-length directing gig, and it went on to redefine the horror genre. Don’t bother with the recent remake; if you want to be truly disturbed, go for the raw, deplorable original.

12. Titicut Follies (1967)

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Director: Frederick Wiseman

One of the most infamously banned films in movie history, Frederick Wiseman's unsettling black-and-white documentary Titicut Follies shows mankind's cruelest capabilities with such realism and unwavering gutsiness that it's impossible to shake off. Wiseman ventured into the Bridgwater State Hospital, in Massachusetts, to document the everyday lives of its criminally insane inmates. What he captured, and subsequently named after a talent show put on by the residents, is, to say the least, distressing.

The patients, usually without any clothes on, are viciously screamed at by the guards, dragged around by their arms and legs, and even killed due to inhumane practices. One scene shows one worker force-feeding an inmate by jamming a tube into his nose, followed by quick cuts of said inmate's burial. The complete disregard for others' well-beings seen throughout Titicut Follies is truly heartbreaking stuff.

11. Flowers of Flesh and Blood (1975)

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Director: Hideshi Hino

We’re a bit conflicted here. On one hand, the point of this list is to highlight cinema’s most brain-tainting works, films with hardcore imagery that refuses to leave your head once the final credits roll. But there’s a flip side to that: By doing so, we’re inadvertently recommending movies like Flowers of Flesh and Blood. If you’re twisted enough to click through this list, you’re obviously the type of person who’ll seek this out on DVD at some point—it’s like a highway commuter who has to look at the flipped over car on the side of the road. Or the pervert who’d watch a Rosie O’Donnell sex tape just to say that he did.

Unlike a faux Rosie video, though, Flowers of Flesh and Blood doesn’t have a shred of R-rated humor, whether intentional or not. The second part of Japan’s six-edition Guinea Pig series of mutilation cinema, Flowers tracks a poor girl who’s put to sleep by an assailant armed with chloroform; when she wakes up, she’s bound to a bed, on which she’s then dismembered for viewers to see, and that’s it. Fade to black. You’ll be left wishing for a glimpse of Rosie in lingerie.

10. Irréversible (2002)

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Director: Gaspar Noé

Told in a backwards order, experimental French auteur Gaspar Noé's Irréversible depicts the aftereffects of one of cinema's all-time most shocking rape scenes. Clocking in at nearly 11 minutes long, the unbearably savage sequence is the film's centerpiece, boosted into highly challenging performance art by Monica Bellucci's superb performance. That the rape doesn't totally overshadow everything else in Irréversible is a testament to its overall power.

In addition to the sight of a guy's head getting smashed in with a fire extinguisher, shot in an extreme close-up, Noé's visceral mind-basher of a film operates with an intense sense of dread; credit the unshakeable sensation to the director's decision to open with a dizzying and nightmarish trip through a seedy gay nightclub that culminates in the aforementioned skull-crushing. Once that scene ends, one gets the feeling that they're in the hands of a dangerous filmmaker, giving the remainder of Irréversible a haunting command on the nerves.

9. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Being perhaps the most grounded, and therefore horrifying, depiction of drug addition to ever be put on film, Requiem for a Dream is a stylized psychological thriller that shows the desperation of people chasing the dragon. Putting its focus on the lives of four addicts, Darren Aronofsky digs deep into the dark and twisted world these people inhabit and the self-made prisons of their own lives.

What Aronofsky does to make this a disturbing classic is that he is completely unflinching in the physical and psychological depictions of all of these characters. Their paranoid, depraved actions get under your skin right from the start as we witness these once-well-adjusted people spiral out of control.

Between Jared Leto’s gangrenous arm and Jennifer Connelly’s infamous sex show scene, there are images throughout this film that will stick with you well after the closing credits. Add the appropriately pounding score by Clint Mansell and you have one of the most vile, yet engrossing, movies to ever tackle the subject.

8. Aftermath (1994)

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Director: Nacho Cerdà

Orchestrated by Spanish filmmaker Nacho Cerdà, Aftermath is a dialogue-free showcase of pointless immorality, albeit of the well-shot and hypnotically contemptible kind. In a darkly lit morgue, a nameless mortician stays after hours to further defile a female corpse after performing an extremely gory autopsy on the body. He probes her privates with his instruments, mutilates the body, and then adds necrophilia to his portfolio, snapping photos as he penetrates the stiff. Once he’s finished, the world’s worst mortician removes the woman’s heart and heads home to feed it to his dog. The end.

With no words spoken, Aftermath relies on its images to drive Cerdà’s vision of casual horror—mission uncomfortably accomplished. The short film’s visuals will sear into your brain, but what Aftermath reminds us about is actually far worse. After we die, what happens next is out of our hands; any sicko can take cues from Cerdà’s work here and desecrate our remains, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. Or at least we think that’s the point of Aftermath. Admittedly, we were too busy gagging to analyze it for any rich subtext.

7. In a Glass Cage (1987)

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Director: Agustí Villaronga

Of all the disgusting films on this list, Spanish director Agustí Villaronga’s artsy downer In a Glass Cage is certainly one of the most elegant. Viewed as a work of cinematic expertise, it’s actually quite commendable, powered by exemplary acting and a striking visual palette. It’s just not all that easy to subject one’s self to In a Glass Cage long enough to fully appreciate the movie’s technical prowess.

Unflinchingly mean-spirited, Villaronga’s historical button-pusher operates on a firm “humanity is awful” conceit. Klaus, an ex-Nazi psycho, who used to brutally torture young boys both physically and sexually, is left paralyzed in an iron lung after attempting suicide via a roof dive. His new nurse is a teenage stranger who reads through his charge’s journals, becomes obsessed with the stories of sadism, and proceeds to kidnap innocent kids and perform Klaus’ old tactics on them as Klaus is forced to helplessly watch.

When In a Glass Cage presents its devastating murders, Villaronga zooms in on the needles piercing hearts and blades slitting throats open, challenging the viewer to turn away. Not to mention, hate themselves for admiring such impressively executed malevolence.

6. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

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Director: John McNaughton

Loosely based on the life of Henry Lee Lucas, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a crime thriller that follows the exploits of a crazed killer, played by Michael Rooker. During the film, Henry befriends a fellow prisoner named Otis, and the two go about a savage rampage of random killings with little remorse for any of their crimes.

What this movie does to separate itself from other serial killer dramas is that it never really focuses on cops or an investigation; instead, we’re stuck in the killer’s head the whole time, and after a while it becomes clear that it’s a very dangerous place to be. In the end, even the people Henry calls “friends” and “lovers” don’t stand a chance against his sick mind.

5. Audition (1999)

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Director: Takashi Miike

When a middle-aged widower named Aoyama attempts to find love again, his movie producer friend sets up a fake casting audition to find him his next great love. Unbeknownst to them, he falls immediately for a deranged killer named Asami. After going on a few dates, Asami drugs and tortures Aoyama in one of the most uncomfortable and cringe-worthy scenes to ever be put on film.

After brutally poking and prodding him with elongated needles for what feels like an eternity, she then proceeds to stick a few right into his eyes. Then, as a sickening smirk begins to creep across her face, she cuts off his feet with a wire saw. It’s this scene alone that has made Audition a cult favorite for fans of horror/torture flicks everywhere. But we don’t suggest checking out this movie if watching dismemberments and eye torture doesn’t bring sadistic glee to your life.

4. Pink Flamingos (1972)

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Director: John Waters

John Waters is one proudly depraved human being, and he came into the public consciousness with his colorful and twisted comedy, Pink Flamingos. Starring drag queen icon Divine, the movie tells the story of “the filthiest person alive” and we follow one disturbing exploit after another. During the course of the picture, Waters assaults our basic human decency with any number of perverse sexual acts and moments of the grotesque.

This movie doesn’t land on this list because of scenes of violence or torture; instead, this is here because of its depiction of incest, cringe-worthy nudity, and the ever-so-famous moment at the end where Divine proceeds to eat a pile of dog feces. But despite this, Pink Flamingos has managed to become an underground cult sensation over the years. We just don’t suggest watching it within 24 hours of eating.

3. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

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Director: Ruggero Deodato

You’ve got to give it to director Ruggero Deodato—he’s not a dishonest filmmaker. Just look at what he titled this one: Cannibal Holocaust. That right there implies all kinds of revolting imagery and depraved thoughts, which Deodato’s infamous exploitation flick delivers in bulk. It’s not like he called it Fun in the Jungle.

The only people having a good time in Cannibal Holocaust are the indigenous tribe members who tear through the fictional documentary crew at the movie’s center. Posited as a found-footage exercise, Deodato’s controversial picture supposedly shows footage from a missing team’s last days within an Amazonian jungle. What starts out as an all-access project meant to cover the cannibalistic tribe’s everyday practices quickly descends into the systematic killing of the documentarians.

Though, they had it coming: The men of the group rape one of the young female tribe members, which deletes her purity and causes her elders to impale her on a totem pole. As revenge, the Yanomamo natives chow down on one guy like his innards are a buffet and rape the crew’s sole lady before lopping off her head. Vegetarian Delight it’s not.

2. Nekromantik (1987)

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Director: Jörg Buttgereit

Don’t let that title fool you—there’s absolutely nothing “romantic” about this German freak show. Well, unless you consider a married couple’s decision to spice up their sex life by swinging with a rotting corpse to be the stuff of Danielle Steele novels.

Obsessed with necrophilia, Nekromantik’s main character, Rob, brings home an anonymous dead body found in a lake and uses it as a sex toy of sorts with his equally disturbed wife, Betty. You can’t have a threesome when only one of the men is thrusting, of course, so she wraps a condom around a steel pipe and straddles it during their naughty time with the corpse. Eventually, Betty takes off with the body, which she’s grown close to after reading to it and cuddling alongside of it. Rob, having sunk into a depression, takes his anger out on a neighborhood feline (washing himself with its blood and guts in a tub) and a hooker (killing her and having sex with the remains).

So, yeah, Nekromantik isn’t ideal viewing for your stay-at-home date night. Shit, it’s not even recommended for lazy Fridays alone in the crib. As a parting gift, director Jörg Buttgereit ends Rob’s misery by having him jerk off and stab himself as he climaxes; if you can think of an appropriate time to subject your eyes to that, pat yourself on the back. And, please, stay away from us.

1. Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

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Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Some unbearably scathing flicks, including several on this here countdown, parcel their shocks throughout the course of their running time; Salò, however, never steps out for air. From top to bottom, notorious Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s relentless “statement” film subjects the viewer to uncompromising cruelty, nastiness, and escalating grotesqueries. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Salò’s only moments of calm are its opening and closing credits, though the latter’s more apt to serve as the background noise for one’s inability to pick his or her jaw off the floor.

Based on the Marquis de Sade’s 1785 book The 120 Days Of Sodom, Salò’s plot is skeletal: Four powerful Italian men kidnap nine teenage boys and nine teenager girls, trap them in a huge mansion, and wreak unholy havoc on them for four months. Salò depicts every disgusting act perpetrated by the elders, including, in no particular order: heads are scalped, tongues are cut off, eyeballs are snipped out, one girl is forced to eat feces, and several poor bastards are raped in front of large crowds.

Pasolini, intending to make vicious points about fascism, shows everything, avoiding tricky edits in favor of steady-cam, front-and-center shots of each and every sick visual. One watch is all it takes for Salò to burn itself into your memory for years hence. Just writing about it makes us want to take a shower.

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