Everyone can agree to disagree when it comes to judging a movie, but there are some films which can't help but attract mutual distaste. Recent examples include the controversial indie flick A Serbian Film, or the highly graphic and disturbing trilogy, The Human Centipede. These films, while not banned, caused a significant outcry for their violent scenes and inappropriate themes yet were still given a theatrical release.
Cast your mind back less than thirty years ago, however, and there are many examples of films that were banned by rating agencies and even governments.
Admittedly, this list is by no means definitive and there have been countless banned films over the years but here are 8 notable films which proved so controversial many countries had them banned.
1. The Evil Dead (1981)
This bloodfest of a movie is heralded as one of the greatest zombie movies ever made and has become a staple part of every horror enthusiasts' DVD collection.
The story is pretty much a zombie film on acid, with every possible nightmare you can think of being depicted in the movie. In no uncertain terms, the movie has everything, from a cliched cabin in the woods, to five friends desperately searching for answers that aren't as forthcoming as they'd like. The worst parts, however, can be assigned to the many torture scenes, while a rape scene involving a tree was another part of the movie that had people wondering what on earth they were watching.
Unsurprisingly, the film was banned in several countries, including Ireland, and Germany.
2. A Clockwork Orange (1972)
A Clockwork Orange was a hard sell to many rating agencies, and even after the British Board of Film Classification reviewed the film and decided it should be released, director Stanley Kubrick was faced with a strong backlash from those objecting to its lurid depictions of violence in the wake of similar crimes in the country.
The same obstacle was encountered in America before the film was downgraded from an X to an R after Kubrick cut parts of the movie. One scene, depicting the rape of a woman, received many complaints, and even to this day, many find the scene too unsettling to watch.
Adapted from the Anthony Burgess novella, the 1971 film follows deranged psychopath Alex DeLarge and his posse he calls "droogs" as they embark on a murderous rampage through the dim-lited streets and alleyways of London. Eventually arrested for the murders, Alex, the main culprit, is sent away to prison and undergoes aversion therapy in the hopes that criminals like himself will one day be cured of all ill-thought.
3. Ilsa: She Wolf Of The S.S. (1975)
IIsa: She Wolf of The S.S. is one such film that takes the word 'disturbing' to another level. Ilsa, played by a high-octane Dyanne Thorne is a sexualized Nazi warden at a concentration camp assigned with the task of proving women can take just as much pain as men to prove women are capable of fighting on the front line.
As such, IIsa sees human testing on female prisoners as a surefire way to prove her point and puts them through a multitude of eye-scarring experiments. She also experiments on men, with one scene depicting her raping a male prisoner before having him castrated and put to death for ejaculating.
The film, which was one of many Nazisploitation films released at the time was banned in Britain, Norway and Australia for its disturbing content and came under heavy criticism for its sexualizing of women.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1975)
Americans seem to be experts in scaring the living hell out of us, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of the first of its kind and paved the way for a whole line of slasher genre movies.
Based loosely on the killings of Ed Gein, who kept certain parts of his victims remains dotted around his house, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre built its plot around five lost youngsters falling privy to the barbaric practices of a cannibalistic psychopath who roams the desolate Texas desert in the hopes of finding unsuspecting passers-by. For years, the film was banned around the globe, and it has only been in recent years, thanks in part to the film's cult status, that it has been recognised as a good piece of filmmaking.
5. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
Any film that touches on religion, let alone one that pokes fun at it, is bound to attract criticism, and Monty Python's Life of Brian was one that outraged large sections of the Christian church.
Chronicling the life of Brian of Nazareth, who shares the same birthday as Jesus of Nazareth and who is often mistaken for him, lives a life far removed from the wholly one of his more famous lookalike yet ends up with the same fate. Because of the film's satirising elements, people around the world declared the film blasphemous and blamed it for fuelling an anti-religious agenda and one which was contributing to an increase in secularisation.
In many parts of the UK, the film was banned, while countries including Ireland and Norway banned it outright, with some of those bans lasting for decades.
6. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
I Spit on Your Grave isn't for the fainthearted, and that's saying something, especially when you consider the whole point of this article is about pretty messed up movies. Just take the film's tagline:“This woman has just cut, chopped, broken, and burned five men beyond recognition…but no jury in America would ever convict her."
Admittedly, the film's premise is no doubt intriguing, but those who let curiosity get the better of them will soon find themselves witnessing one of cinema's most brutal gang-rape scenes. Many other scenes of a similar nature take up around 30 minutes of the feature.
Criticised by leading critics for its excessive use of nudity and violence, the late and legendary film critic Roger Ebert declared it 'the worst film ever made' and famously gave it no stars.
The film has been banned in Germany, Iceland, Ireland and Norway ever since its release while in the UK, the film was part of the Director of Public Prosecution’s list of prosecutable films until 2001.
7. The Last House on the Left (1972)
While British horror isn't short of controversy, neither, it seems, is American lost in the woods style horror. The Last House on The Left, for instance, caused outrage and disbelief upon its initial airing to rating agencies. The plot, which centres around two teenage girls looking to purchase weed before a rock concert before then being kidnapped by a group of thugs attracted its fair share of outrage, particularly in one infamous scene, which saw one of the girls bite the private parts off of one of the gang members.
Such sadistic scenes led to a widescale banning until appropriate cuts had been made.
8. The Exorcist (1973)
Long heralded as the greatest horror movie of all time, William Friedkin's nightmarish thriller about a little girl called Regan who finds herself possessed by the devil attracted all kinds of publicity. Mainly, this was due to the unsettling characteristics and curse language displayed by the actress, which at the time of its release, was profoundly shocking. In fact, there are even known stories of paramedics being called to cinemas to aid horrified movie-goers who had either fainted or gone into a state of delirious fear, which for a horror movie, was arguably the greatest accolade a director could ask for.
Because of said events, the film was banned from being released as a video in the UK, perhaps in the knowledge that emergency services couldn't handle another bout of 'Exorcist- related' incidents.