7. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
Quentin Tarantino’s blood soaked homage to the Shaw Brothers, Kung Fu, and Japanese samurai cinema. It is the first part in the revenge actioner, which sees a woman known as the bride seek revenge on her former lover and assassin squad members.
Even though the blood splattered violence, decapitations, and kills run throughout the whole movie, one only needs to reference the epic finale between the bride and the Japanese yakuza army known as the Crazy 88. Body parts fly and the blood flows in this incredible sword fight sequence.
The final battle is so laden with blood that they were forced to make parts of it black and white in order to achieve an R rating from the MPAA, which actually created a nostalgic homage to some of the old films they were paying tribute to.
6. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
“Don’t turn away! Look at it! These are men, men like you!”. This Italian motion picture directed by Ruggero Deodato is still one of the most controversial films of all time and ushered in the whole cannibal subgenre of exploitation, as well as the concept of found footage cinema that would be later popularized by the likes of The Blair Witch Project.
A professor goes into the Amazon jungle area referred to as Green Inferno in search of four missing documentary filmmakers, who where in search of two cannibal tribes. He recovers their camera footage and we witness what ultimately happened to them, and the terrible acts that they committed themselves.
It touches on some social commentary that asks questions about how much is staged while making a documentary, as well as the fact that modern society is sometimes no better than the cannibals that are portrayed on the camera. There has been debate if there was ever any intention by the director to comment on social issues as opposed to simply making a shocking movie about cannibals.
It is filmed rather well and has a beautiful score from Riz Ortolani, who also was the composer on Mondo Cane, Africa Addio, and almost 200 other pictures. While there is gore, several rape scenes, full nudity, cannibalism, castration, and an infamous scene where a woman is scene hanging from a spike, the main controversy stems from the number of animals killed on screen. This includes a large turtle decapitated, a coati, a tarantula, a boa constrictor, a squirrel monkey, and a pig.
At first, Italian authorities believed that it was a real snuff film and arrested Deodato and confiscated all of the film materials. A court trial was held and several of the actors had to show up in order to prove that they were still very much alive and that it was on screen acting. It was initially banned in several countries and made the video nasties list in the United Kingdom.
There are various versions of the movie that have been released with different pieces of footage removed or added in, including an animal cruelty free version that eliminates the animal death scenes.
5. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
This Italian-French co-production is probably the most controversial film ever made. Based upon the book The 120 Days of Sodom, by the Marquis de Sade and it is broken into four segments, the Anteinferno, the Circle of Manias, the Circle of Shit, and the Circle of Blood. It replaces the setting of 18th century France for the final days of Benito Mussolini’s reign during World War II.
It involves four wealthy and prominent fascists along with four female prostitutes, who kidnap nine young male and female prospects with the help of some guards and soldiers. They spend their time sexually humiliating them for their own personal pleasure and eventually take turns executing them while the others watch.
To say that this motion picture is controversial doesn’t even touch the surface. It has received X ratings and remains banned in some countries because of its graphic depictions of rape, torture, murder, various disturbing sexual acts, and questions regarding the young actor’s ages.
It features unbridled nudity and sexual situations that include eating shit, drinking piss, homosexual acts, walking naked on leashes like dogs, and rape. The final violence and deaths include torturous acts of burning a penis and breast, slicing off a tongue, being hung, an eye cut out, scalping, and branding.
It’s a tough movie to watch and the question is whether this is pure exploitation for shock value or is there more to it. The horrors of this represent true horrors that have happened to people for real, and could really have taken place during this time period. It is truly disturbing and the director wanted to do the film cinema verite style, to show something as though it was really happening. So this is one that you will have to watch and make your own judgment.
Many directors and actors have stood up for it as an important piece of work, including Martin Scorsese and John Waters. Waters called it “a beautiful film…it uses obscenity in an intelligent way…and it’s about the pornography of power”. The DVD version I have is very grainy and dark, there is a newly released version that vastly changes the overall look and colors and creating a much more beautiful looking piece of cinema to juxtapose with the horrific imagery.
4. I Saw the Devil (2010)
“Revenge is for movies”. This is an amazing and complex revenge thriller that has way more that can be said about it than just a couple of paragraphs. A secret agent named Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) has his wife brutally murdered by a psychopathic serial killer (Min-sik Choi). Kim then goes on a series of catch and releases in order to punish her killer and get his revenge.
This is not a grindhouse cult film, this is a large production created and acted by experienced professional filmmakers who have put out some really great work in the past. It could be considered a cult film because it’s foreign, and a lot of people don’t watch foreign films.
The directing is meticulous; it feels like the director (Kim Jee-woon) carefully framed every shot in this. There are so many expertly framed and memorable scenes. Some of his other well known movies are The Foul King, A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, and The Good, the Bad, and the Weird.
The two main characters are incredible in their portrayals of these characters. Min-sik Choi plays what is probably the most evil character on this list of films. He is most notable as the main character in Oldboy, but has also appeared in other large Korean films such as Tae Guk Gi, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Crying Fist and The Admiral. Byung-hun Lee’s portrayal of a man taking his revenge to an obsessive level won multiple awards at various film festivals . He also had memorable performances in Bittersweet Life, and The Good, the Bad, and the Weird.
Out of all of the revenge film subgenre, this is probably the most vengeful. The character Kim Soo-hyeon tells his wife’s killer that “I will kill you when you are in the most pain. When you’re in the most pain, shivering out of fear, then I will kill you. That’s a real revenge. A real complete revenge.” If you have not watched any Korean films than you should check some out. They have really taken over as the leader of Asian cinema in the past ten to twelve years.
3. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)
“The Greatest Hong Kong Martial Arts Action Revenge Gore-Soaked Prison Breakout Love Story Cult Film of 1991 Ever Put on DVD!!!”. A new prisoner arrives at a futuristic prison and takes on the gang members and corrupt officials that are running it.
It’s a Hong Kong production that is based upon a Japanese manga from Masahiko Takajo and Saruwatari Tetsuyaa. The blood soaked gorefest has been a cult film favorite ever since word of it started to spread around. The excessive scenes of violence and gore are so over the top that some would say that it is total camp because of it.
There are veins being tied together, eyes popped out, someone being thrown into a meat grinder, and a wild head crushing scene which had been used in the opening credits of The Daily Show. It tends to draw comparisons to the blood soaked Evil Dead franchise and Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive.
2. Ichi the Killer (2001)
This is a Japanese film directed by the now legendary director Takashi Miike and is based upon a manga written by Hideo Yamamoto. It is a crime story about the sadistic Yakuza member Ichi and a rival yakuza gang that is trying to track him down for murdering one of their members.
The whole movie is a brutal, over-the-top, gorefest that is filled with dark humor, which are the primary reasons that it has become a favorite amongst cult cinema fans. With a high kill count, loads of blood, and body parts all over the place this is an often referenced film when discussing excessively violent movies.
1. A Serbian Film (2010)
“Not all films have a happy ending”. This is a Serbian produced motion picture that has been banned in over 46 countries and received a record 19 minutes of cuts in the United States in order obtain an NC-17 rating.
It is about an aging porn star who signs on to perform in what he is led to believe is an artistic pornography film, but ends up being a part of very sadistic plan for a snuff film that involves torture, murder, necrophilia, and pedophilia.
It is highly graphic in its depictions of nudity, sexual sequences, gore, violence, and some dark themes. Despite all of this, it is produced and filmed rather well. The score is good and the lead actor gives a superb performance.
It comes off as a highly disturbing artistic gore movie with a Shakespearean style tragic ending. There is as much of a statement or message about the nation of Serbia layered within this, as opposed to simply being a platform to shock the audience.
Author Bio: Raul J. Vantassle is a jazz musician whose key strokes move about the page creating an explosion of formlessness to form, or just total bullshit. His heroes include John Waters, Robert Crumb, Charles Bukowski, and the Cobra Commander. His Knowledge of film goes across the board but he specializes in Asian and cult cinema. He may be the filthiest person alive. You can visit his blog here.