8. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
This movie has been banned in Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Chile, the Philippines, Singapore and Argentina. It portrays Jesus Christ as a man with sexual desires and doubts about his own holiness, which caused it to be considered blasphemous by Christian groups. Based on a book by Nikos Kazantzakis the movie implies that Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene, who was a prostitute.
Cinemas showing the movie often had protestors outside and a theatre in France was set fire to during a screening. The film caused so much controversy that when it was released on video in the US, many large chains, including Blockbuster Video refused to stock the movie.
7. Natural Born Killers (1994)
Based on a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, Natural Born Killers tells the story of two lovers on a killing spree who are glorified by the media and given cult status.
The movie was completely banned in Ireland upon its release due to its graphic violence. The UK delayed the release of the movie while it was being investigated over reports that it had caused copycat killings in America and France.
Because it is said to glorify violent killing sprees, the movie was blamed for inspiring the Heath High School shooting and the Columbine High School massacre both in America. The UK finally showed the movie in cinemas in 1995 but the video release was pushed back five years after the Dunblane school massacre in Scotland. Ireland has since removed the ban on the movie.
The movie’s director, Oliver Stone believes people have misunderstood the satirical point of the film.
6. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
This movie was banned in Norway and Ireland and most of the UK when 39 of its town councils refused to show the film. It tells the story of Brian who was born on the same day as Jesus Christ in the stable next door then gets mistaken for him and is eventually crucified.
The creators of the movie say that it was intended as a comedy pastiche of biblical films and not to mock Christianity or Jesus but the religious satire in the film led to accusations of blasphemy from Christian groups. They felt that the scene in which Brian and the others sing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life while being crucified was mocking Jesus’s suffering and led to protests outside cinemas that did decide to show the movie.
Norway lifted the ban after one year, Ireland allowed it to be shown in 1987 but most of the UK bans were only lifted within the last ten years. Bournemouth lifted the ban in 2015.
5. A Serbian Film (2010)
This movie has been refused classification in Australia twice, in both an uncut and a cut version, courts have blocked screenings in Spain and attempts to show the movie uncut in the UK have also been unsuccessful. Netflix has rejected A Serbian Film and refuses to show it. The movie is banned in Norway and Brazil and is one of the most controversial films of recent time, maybe even of all time.
A Serbian Film is about an aging porn star that agrees to make one last film, which will secure his family’s financial future so he can finally exit the business. Unbeknown to him, the movie he has been drafted into making is actually a pedophilia themed snuff film, and he is drugged and forced into making it.
The film contains graphic scenes of child rape, incest, extreme sexual violence and murder.
4. Pink Flamingos (1972)
This most famous scene in this movie is when Divine eats dog poo and yes, it was real dog poo she ate during the filming. The movie was banned in Australia under the grounds of ‘indecency’ in 1976 but was later given an R rating after cuts were made.
It was then re-banned in 1981, and banned another three times in 1983. The reasons for these bans are that the sex and violence were deemed ‘gratuitous’. There is also a real sex scene, which is not simulated and sexual violence.
In 1984 it was given an X18+ certificate but shortly after, attitudes towards sexual violence became stricter in the X18+ category and it was rejected from that category. Pink Flamingos was again banned in 1997, this version being the “25th Anniversary Edition” which added extra scenes.
The movie had around two minutes worth of cuts made to be finally given an R rating. In 2014 the movie got its Australian TV premiere and was shown as part of the ‘Movies that Shocked the World’ series. The cut version of the movie was shown.
3. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Cannibal Holocaust was one of the first movies to use the “found footage” technique and the director, Ruggero Deodato, went to great lengths to hide the production of the movie to make people think that the events were real. He even managed to convince the actors to remain out of sight for a year after the movie’s release.
The film follows four Americans who travel to South America and are then killed and eaten by cannibal tribes. Because the footage seemed so believable, many people thought Cannibal Holocaust was a snuff film and the movie was banned in 50 countries.
The director was arrested for obscenity charges and had to prove that nobody died during the production. Even after it was disproved to be a snuff film, it remained banned in the UK, Australia, Finland and some other countries, because of its graphic violence and scenes in which real animals are hurt and killed.
Despite finally being officially released in 2001, the film received 5 minutes and 44 seconds worth of cuts. In 2011, the film was re-released and all but 15 seconds of cuts have been restored.
2. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist caused a lot of controversy when it was released due to its religious content and the fact that it was an incredibly terrifying movie for the time. About a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon, when first shown, the film had supposedly caused audience members to faint, vomit and even have heart attacks with reports of paramedics being called to the cinemas.
Despite this, The Exorcist wasn’t actually banned in the UK until 1988 after it had already been available for seven years. After the Video Recording Act 1984 made it necessary for the film to have an appropriate certificate, it was decided that children would be able to access the movie too easily and it was refused classification and pulled from the shelves.
In 1990 it was given an 18 rating and allowed back in circulation.
1. Salò or 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
One of the most controversial movies of all time, Salò is about a group of fascists who kidnap eighteen teenagers and subject them to violence, sadism and sexual torture before killing them off one-by-one. The film got banned in many countries because of its graphic depictions of young people being mentally tortured, raped, mutilated and brutally murdered.
While the film is noted for exploring the themes of political corruption, abuse of power, sadism and fascism, it remains one of the most disturbing movies ever made. It contains horrifying scenes of scalping, branding, burning and the forced eating of feces.
The film was released uncut in Australia, New Zealand in the UK in the 90s and 00s but remains banned in several other countries today.
Author Bio: Elizabeth Goss is a self-confessed horror movie nerd based in Sydney. Her goal is to watch every 80s horror ever made, there are a lot.