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15 Great Movies You Should Never Watch With Your Parents

23 May 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Ross Carey

The term “masterpiece” holds a rather floating definition. True enough, one man’s masterpiece is another man’s garbage; women ditto. However, one term constantly associated with the term masterpiece seems to be “bold.” Critics seem to fall back on this terms time and time again.

In retrospect, it does quickly become clear that most cinematic gems hold one distinct common characteristic – a refusal to pull their punches. There is an audacity to films like “8 1/2” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”. They don’t take the easy road, they challenge us to look at both ourselves and those around us. It is this courage that fosters an admiration for films, one that lingers long after the viewing experience has ended.

Sadly for family relations, however, for many a masterpiece, “bold” means sex, murder, perversion, and lavish doses of nudity. The bond of family is complex, parenthood especially. As such, there are some films that, while brilliant, make the sacred bond between parents and children a more caustic one.

We have all been there – a film you are glad you did not watch in the presence of your cherished elders. You see, decapitations and masks made of human flesh can be wonderful, but only in specific company. These kind of scenes remain the stuff of parental conflict long after childhood.

Here are 15 films that, though brilliant in their own unique ways, are almost certain to be deemed “not safe for parents”. So please, do seek out these films, just not in the company your parents.


15. Hard Candy (2005)

Hard Candy

In many ways, Hard Candy is the quintessential cat and mouse tale. Perhaps the most prevalent reason that it may not spring to mind as being so is the sudden shift in roles between cat and mouse. Patrick Wilson plays Jeff, an online sexual predator who bites off far, far more than he can chew when he solicits underage Hayley (Ellen Page) into an intimate encounter.

We are just in the midst of preparing ourselves for a standard victim tale when, suddenly, things take a very profound turn. What follows is an entire feature film that feels like the notorious “Is it Safe?” sequence from Marathon Man. A Marathon Man for our age, if you will.

Indeed, what ensues is brutal. But somehow, throughout all of the carnage, the humanity remains. Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson both enjoyed major career evolution on the back of the film, and their portrayals in this case justify the media frenzy.

Ellen Page keeps the brutal Hayley human, and Patrick Wilson’s Jeff enjoys moments of being rather relatable himself, before then injecting just enough venom to remain very much the villain of the piece. There is not much to learn about humanity, even of we learn nothing about cyber predators as such.

But castrations are not for family get-togethers.


14. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Russ Meyer was a man of passions. Aside from large breasts, he loved black humour, adventure, and onscreen silliness of the first grade. Did we mention large breasts?

Here, we have a film which takes place, as all of Meyer’s work, very much in a universe devised by Meyer. It is a lurid, brash, and witty universe, if not a little vile. The plot revolves three vixens who escape their go go dancing trade to take to the dessert for mischief. Kidnap and murder quickly ensues.

The plot thickens when the opportunity to rob an old man’s stately home arises, the four girls (including one kidnapped) accompany the old man and his son, the “Vegetable” back to the house. The old man is willing due to his lecherous tendencies, the women are willing due to a desire for cash. Thus, one of cinema’s most unholy alliances briefly forms.

It is hard to assess which is more disturbing – the copious incidences of violence and sexual perversion, or the vile nature of simple dialogue scenes. A dinner scene is particularly stomach churning in its content, all horrors made real simply by dialogue. Yet, the craft is ever present. Meyer certainly knows how to frame a buxom lady, so as to make best use of her curvy assets.

The dessert car chases make particular use of Meyer’s cinematic sensibilities. The final sequence was stolen virtually frame by frame by Quentin Tarantino, and possibly bests Tarantino’s reimagining. Meyer may be the most unlikely action director in history.

This film is quite the experience, and may be the jewel of its director’s canon. Yet, viewer discretion is certainly advised.


13. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Cannibal Holocaust

Such an angelic score for such a barbaric film, the Riz Orlani soundtrack to Cannibal Holocaust is one of cinema’s great oxymorons. Indeed, the sweeping aerial shot of the Amazonian forest as Orlani’s gentle score swells is rather comforting. Of course, this is pure cinematic sadism.

Once this film begins, turtle massacres, rape, and impalement will soon become commonplace. What this film is capable of truly beggars belief. It is, in many ways, a fine example of the “fools gold” plot archetype. As a film crew travels further down river, in spite of their best interests, they head further and further into the hands of an indomitable evil.

There are two important aspects to note with regards to Cannibal Holocaust. Firstly, the film is one of the earliest examples of the found footage genre. The plot is bookended by a professor’s discovery of the ill-fated Amazonian film crew’s footage, unearthing the horrors that had befallen them.

More interesting still is the fact that, like another found footage path paver The Blair Witch Project, many people initially thought that the events depicted in the film really occurred. If this was the case, then the film’s central idea must have been particularly chilling – the cannibals are not necessarily the offending party, it is the Westerners who are intruding, the cannibals are simply happy to defend their turf.


12. Kids (1995)

Kids (1995)

Bold does not begin to describe the singularity of purpose presented by this harrowing 1995 film. Perhaps Kids’ relentless audacity can be attributed to its teenage scriptwriter Harmonie Korine. The opening scene alone provides a masterclass in creeping your audience out.

Told through a single shot, two teens luy intertwined. The boy, feigning a detestable false sensitivity, busies himself attempting to convince the girl to give him her virginity. There is no sex on screen, yet the opening scene is as explicit as any vivid sex scene. The manipulative words of the male serve to make our skin crawl from the get go.

Dialogue is the principle weapon wielded by Korine’s script. The film sticks fearlessly to its concept of teen discussion as being a profanity infused verbal pandemonium. Use of 1990s slang terms such as “hella” are wielded repeatedly in a rather effective social satire. The scenarios are the stuff of every parent’s nightmare. Teens openly indulging in sex, drugs, alcohol, and violent crime. They are seemingly intent on their own destruction, and we watch almost as victims of the film’s often successful intensity.

The frankness is what chills the blood here. These characters are far from evil, and only a few seem irredeemable, but they are free in ways we would never wish for juveniles to be.


11. Deep Red (1975)


The chiller set on the dark streets, Dario Argento’s slasher masterpiece is a film in which the characters are as pointed as the blades. Deep Red is as masterful as the slasher genre can get, with Argento almost striving to promote the genre to high art. Though, as slasher film will go, camper elements are as present as ever. As evidenced by a dramatic opening sequence in which a children’s lullaby is promptly followed by a brutal murder.

The film brings together a motley clue of individuals during a series of murders in an old Italian town (the film was shot in Turin). A musician who witnesses a murder, a disturbed alcoholic, a psychic medium who can foresee each tragedy. The pieces are aligned in the fashion of a classic murder mystery.

A mysterious nursery rhyme, a shadowy figure, everybody in town is a suspect. Soon, the disturbed drunkard Marco becomes the principal suspect, a wealth of evidence builds against him. But have the authorities spoken too soon.

The film is a stylistic masterpiece, a treasure trove of chiaroscuro lighting and masterful editing. The film’s principal sequences take place at night and are aptly composed indeed. It is almost a pity that one would hesitate to share this one’s parents.

Yet, despite its cinematic value, the film is odd, obtuse, and deeply disturbing. The ending may be a tad ridiculous, but then so is the slasher genre. This film is brimming with merit, urging the viewer’s attention and respect. Still, choose your viewing company wisely.


10. Dressed to Kill (1980)

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Hitchcockian rip-off of the highest caliber, here is a film in which the opening shot is sufficient to have your parents reaching for the remote. A frustrated housewife washes herself in a steamy shower, Brian De Palma certainly knows how to start with a bang. From behind the woman, a hand envelopes her, caressing her. Soon, the man becomes not a lover but an attacker, and the woman screams in vain for life.

And, then we cut to a sex scene.

There are extended sequences entirely without dialogue. These range from romantic to violent. Many scenes are ludicrous. All in all, this is a Hitchcock homage that find itself very much in the “who dunnit” vein. De Palma, as ever, relishes in his pulp. The violence and sexual tension is at fever pitch, albeit paced well amidst subdued moments of calm.

The ending may be a frustratingly hack affair in terms of scripting, but the film closes well with some strong sequences to compensate for the second rate narrative conclusion. But then, by this point your parents may well have turned the film off anyways.


9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

texas chainsaw massacre

The family that eats together and stays together – perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of Tobe Hooper’s horror classic depiction of a murderous family, is that they seem happy. As for the rest of the film, it is hard to even articulate why this simple tale of a group of young friends murdered one by one in a middle American town manages to work on so many levels.

The collective subconscious? Our fears of the unfamiliar? Or does it simply tap into our distrust of each other? Few films have ever celebrated the depraved to such a degree and been embraced so readily.

The obsession with the flesh leaves the film rife for psychological interpretation. Human skin masks, the sound of a meat hook ripping through a girl’s back. The sequences are staged in order to maximise realism, chases take place in real time and at realistic paces. The film’s first major moment of brutality is framed in a medium wide shot, almost documentary-like. The film leaves you with the feeling that this cast and crew really had conviction, though to what may remain a mystery.

Yet, the thrill of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remain as real as ever. it certainly earns its place on this list with disturbing ease.



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  • Octavio Nuñez

    I saw Eyes Wide Shut with my mom, I dont see the problem with that movie.

    • Brian Lussier

      I did too. She hated it and still doesn’t get how I could love such a film. My half-sister also went to see it in theaters with her own mom, and it was the same.

      • Wolfstarking

        Because they are with all due respect just average movie viewers.

        • Brian Lussier

          I agree. My mom’s type of film is Die Hard, which is fine, but certainly not too sophisticated. As for my half-sister and her mom, it kind of stops at Harry Potter and Pirates Of The Caribbean. Don’t ask any of them to watch Kubrick. It’s like putting a silk hat on a pig, like that guy says I’m GoodFellas (actually, my mom does love that film). As for foreign films, I can get my mom to watch some Jacques Audiard films or something because she speaks French, but don’t ask any of them to watch Bergman or Fellini or Antonioni or Eisenstein and Tarkovsky, or whatever else isn’t made in Hollywood in most cases. As for silent films? At least they love Chaplin. But don’t expect them to watch Murnau either…

          • Immaculate Conception

            Owing to the NATO bombing of Serbia and the ensuing dissolution of conventional economic relations, a TV station in the capital pirated many films that just came out in 1999, including Eyes Wide Shut. I was 10 at the time and I remember being insistent on watching it with them. I probably felt their anxiety as they were making various excuses to get me to go to bed earlier than usual.

          • Brian Lussier

            How’d that turn out?

          • Immaculate Conception

            Not too great for them, they missed the entire first half persuading me to go to sleep. It was the first time I was encountered with the concept of a film that kids are strictly not allowed to watch: my folks were generally more tolerant + the TV program was usually pretty tame regarding sex and violence at that time.

  • Enrique García Ugalde

    Pink Flamingos

  • Salo…. oh, I doubt my parents would watch 10 minutes of it. They would like at me as if I’m absolutely fucked up.

  • Brian Lussier

    Not many of these could actually be called masterpieces, but it’s not a bad list outside that detail. I would have put Basic Instinct here. Saw it with my mom, it was pretty uncomfortable when the infamous interrogation scene appeared at the same time as this mysterious bulge in my pants…

  • Stephus

    Ken park, the rocky horror picture show, mulholland dr. I spit on your grave, among some other bunch that could fit this list

  • Abdeldjalil E.

    Brian De Palma’s Carrie ?

  • Rui

    Park chan Wook’s Oldboy

  • Dennis Romero

    in the realm of the senses

  • Christoph

    You should try watching The Graduate with your mother in law…

  • A Clockwork Orange and Antichrist really fitted on this list too

  • James Hall

    I’m one of those who wouldn’t watch Kubrick’s “masterpiece” Eyes Wide Shut with ANYONE, let alone my parents. I had to rent and re-watch this snooze fest just to see if it sucked as badly as it did when I saw it in the theater.
    But then, who am I to say? I’m just a guy who’s seen a lot of movies.

  • missannthrope

    I saw “The Crying Game” in the theater with my mother. I’m not sure why that’s on this list.

  • missannthrope

    I’ve seen most of the movies on this list and I’m old enough to have adult children. I doubt I would have a problem watching any with kids, other than “Salo.” Movies not to watch with your kids? Try “A Serbian Film” or “The Human Centipede.”

    • Ted Wolf

      I actually watched centipede, salo, and cannibal holocaust with my oldest daughter.

    • Jack Napier

      The criteria was that the films had to be great, I would then suggest Antichrist and Irreversible instead.

  • Better Title: Movies That Aren’t Family-Friendly

  • Joel Shelton

    Blue Velvet. I felt awkward every time Booth was on screen, while watching it with my parents.

    • Alex Reyes

      I watched it with my mother and she gets angry and told me my brains are fucked up.

      • Johnny Medina

        I saw lost highway with my mom. weird.

    • That scene where Dorothy makes Jeffrey take his pants down must have been awful to sit through

  • Ted Wolf

    We had three generations in one room watching brokeback mountain. Not a good idea.

  • Harsha Raman

    I can totally watch The Wolf of Wall Street with my family. It’s pretty much a family drama itself. 😛

  • Katey Kate

    Watched hard candy with my then 15 yo. Part of me did it to show her about people you meet online. She really liked it. Sadly the message was a bit lost on her!

  • jamesmerendino

    Most of these movies were shown to me by my parents. 😉

  • Denny

    Yeah, I saw Blue is the Warmest Color next to my parents in theaters with a homeless looking guy breathing very heavily a few seats to my left at particular times during the film. We went into the film blind after seeing it on a bunch of lists, and just said why not. Definitely a bit awkward at times.

  • corvus coraX

    29 Palms (Bruno Dumont)

  • Klaus Dannick

    I think it depends upon the parents. I watched Blue Velvet with my parents back in 1987 when it was released on video. Mom hated it; Dad fell asleep. I saw The Crying Game on its theatrical run with my mom (her idea). We both enjoyed it.

  • Jack Napier

    Great list, you could include films such as Antichrist, Irreversible/Enter The Void and a Clockwork Orange but these are well-known anyway.

  • André Schuck

    Boogie Nights. Oh! What a mistake that was…

  • Carl Edgar Consiglio

    I think you can handle straw dogs with your folks…depends on what kinda folks you got.

    • Joe

      depends on the example they’ve set you in your life, I guess

  • Baiba Ozoliņa

    Tried watching A Clockwork orange with mom when was 16, worst idea ever, she went away from tv when singing in the rain/raping scene. Truly awkward.