Over the years, horror movies have become more and more extreme. In the 70s, films like Dawn of the Dead and Cannibal Holocaust caused controversy and were banned in some countries. However, as technology and cinema has evolved, the level of gore and violence has increased, with movies like Saw and Hostel pushing boundaries and desensitizing audiences.
Despite this, there are still some countries that will ban movies that depict extreme violence, such as A Serbian Film, which was banned in several countries for its graphic and disturbing content. It can be argued that the evolution of horror movies reflects society’s changing attitudes towards violence and the constant quest for a new level of fear. So, here’s 6 horror movies that were banned upon release.
The 2012 movie, Maniac, marked a significant career shift for actor Elijah Wood as he tackled his darkest role to date. The plot of the movie, which revolves around a serial killer who hunts young women, closely mirrors the original 1980 film that was banned upon release. Despite receiving a worldwide release, the 2012 film was subjected to both a theatrical and DVD ban in New Zealand due to its use of a first-person perspective. This style of filmmaking caused some viewers to faint and vomit, which director Franck Khalfoun actually saw as a compliment. Overall, Maniac is a gripping and intense horror movie that demonstrates Wood’s range as an actor.
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Wes Craven‘s directorial debut, The Last House on the Left, is a brutal and unflinching portrayal of the consequences of revenge. The film follows two teenage girls who are abducted and brutally murdered by a gang of escaped convicts. When the girls’ parents discover the truth, they embark on a twisted and vengeful path of retribution.
The Last House on the Left stirred up immense controversy upon release, as its graphic violence and sexual themes were seen as outrageously obscene. The movie was subsequently banned in the UK until 2002, cementing its reputation as a truly shocking and boundary-pushing work of cinema. The controversy surrounding the film only added to the allure of Craven, who would go on to become one of the most influential and celebrated horror directors of his generation.
I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
I Spit on Your Grave is a 1978 horror film that is notoriously known for its intense and graphic violence. The movie follows the story of Jennifer Hills, a young writer, who is brutally raped and left for dead by four men in a small town. Seeking revenge and justice, Jennifer takes matters into her own hands and murders each of her attackers. The film is highly controversial and was banned in several countries upon releases due to its disturbing content, particularly the thirty-minute long rape scene. Despite its controversy, the movie has become a cult classic in the horror genre and is often cited as an example of extreme exploitation cinema. In 2001, the movie was finally permitted release in the UK. It was given an 18 certificate after removing 7 minutes from the assault scene. However, the movie was still considered a “video nasty”.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic horror film from 1974. The film’s plot follows a group of friends who run out of gas in rural Texas and are stalked by a family of crazed, cannibalistic butchers. The film was notorious for its graphic violence and brutal imagery, and at the time of release, it was considered to be one of the most brutal movies ever made. With that, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was banned in multiple countries and generated controversy for its gory and disturbing content. Nowadays, the violence depicted in the film may seem rather tame by modern standards, but it still maintains its status as one of the most terrifying films ever made. Furthermore, the movie spawned a number of sequels and reboots. However, none are as critically praised or as loved by horror fanatics as the original cult hit.
The Evil Dead (1981)
The Evil Dead, a 1981 horror movie directed by Sam Raimi, was an underground sensation that went on to become a smash hit. Made on a shoestring budget of just $375,000, the movie became known for its extreme gore and graphic violence. The film was initially banned in multiple countries, only adding to its hype. Despite its controversial content, The Evil Dead was a critical and commercial success, and it launched Raimi’s career as a filmmaker, going on to direct blockbusters like Spider-Man, and Drag Me To Hell.
Furthermore, the glaring success of The Evil Dead spawned a number of sequels and reboots. These entries were lighter in tone and leaned more into comedy, appealing to a wider audience. With that said, none could match the intensity and brutality of the original film, which remains a cult horror classic to this day.
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin and released in 1973, is widely considered to be one of the scariest horror films ever made. The horror classic follows a young girl named Regan who becomes possessed by a demon. When Regan begins displaying bizarre and violent behavior, her mother seeks out medical and psychiatric help, but nothing seems to work. Desperate for an answer, she turns to two priests who attempt to perform an exorcism to rid Regan of the demon. The terrifying and grueling battle between good and evil that follows affects everyone involved, and the story asks deeper questions about the nature of good and evil, faith, and the power of belief.
The Exorcist is renowned for its terrifying haunting of demonic possession and intense scenes of terror. In fact, several countries banned the film after reports began to surface about audience members passing out during screenings. Cinemas even had ambulances parked outside ready for those who fell ill from the film’s disturbing content. Despite its controversial nature, The Exorcist has become a classic in the horror genre and continues to terrify audiences to this day.
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