8. Lolita Vibrator Torture (1987, Directed by Hisayasu Sato)
I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t as porn-like as the perverted title and poster may initially seem at first glance. It’s still highly exploitative and clearly a pinku film but there’s genuinely a disturbing piece of extreme cinema buried within the overbearing sexual violence here. Stripped down to its core, this is a very challenging serial killer film.
There are a few sequences of torture that are not only horrific to endure but genuinely (and surprisingly for a film found within this genre of film!) well crafted, the set design that features the walls plastered with the killer’s photography of his previous victims is truly chilling and the almost drone-like soundscape is just very uncomfortable. Plain and simply, Lolita Vibrator Torture (god damn this title, I feel dirty just typing it!), is a film that’s meant to be difficult to watch and it succeeds. For fans of extreme cinema only!
7. 964 Pinocchio (1991, Directed by Shozin Fukui)
The plot is almost non-existent but this absolutely insane cyberpunk nightmare will haunt your nightmares and possibly give you a brain aneurysm. You’ll never experience a film with as much vomit, blood, and screaming as 964 Pinocchio.
This hellish experience rarely ever lets up by moving from scene to scene shot with a nauseating shaky hand-held cam and purposely provokes you to hit the pause button since, well, there’s only so many horrific visuals a human can take before throwing in the towel and calling it quits. Recommended for those who really want a true challenge.
6. Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1971, Directed by Shuji Terayama)
Terayama became infamous in the 1970’s due to his unique take on making challenging and creative film experiences. Emperor Tomato Ketchup is a perfect, horrific example of this. The film takes place in some sort of Japanese colony that’s been overthrown and ran by children, causing unadulterated chaos and sexual deviance to take place.
Some of the visuals will make you wonder how this was even made in the first place, it’s really quite shocking. It’s a strange, elliptical watch that often feels more like a disturbing fever dream rather than a traditional film.
5. Subconscious Cruelty (2000, Directed by Karim Hussain)
Some say this nightmarish anthology film is pretentious dribble, others claim it’s a metaphorical masterpiece, but one thing is for certain… it’s absolutely a challenge to endure.
While each one of the stories doesn’t have much that resembles a standard plot or storyline, the vile yet well-executed imagery is set to cause you many sleepless nights; especially the first chapter that might quite honestly feature one of the most disgusting on-screen deaths ever filmed.
4. Demons (1971, Directed by Toshio Matsumoto)
The Japanese New Wave movement is at the helm of many, many challenging pieces of cinema and Demons might just be the most shocking entry of all them all. Not only is this film a stark, brave piece of experimental film, but it still has the real power to truly shock and disgust viewers almost 50 years later. It often feels as if Demons is taken place in purgatory itself, with scenes constantly shifting from engaging melodrama to brutal visceral violence that’ll shake you to your core.
Not one character is safe and just when you think the film can’t push any-more cinematic boundaries in terms of on-screen violence for the time, it proves you completely wrong.
3. August Underground’s Mordum (2003, Directed by Fred Vogel)
The infamous August Underground trilogy is among the most disgusting trilogy of films to ever exist. If you don’t know the premise(s) of these films, you’re essential watching fake snuff tapes in which a bunch of serial killers record their misadventures while killing innocent people and joking about it like they’re playing some sort of game.
While the first and second entries are undeniably hard to watch, they are absolutely nothing when compared to Mordum. This is truly horrific, nasty and incomprehensibly cruel cinema and you’ll most likely feel like less of a human being for watching it; you WILL be disturbed, angered and ultimately affected in some way or another.
I don’t recommend this to anyone unless you really want a challenge. It’s the most extreme, nauseating underground experience that you will likely encounter. Love it or hate it, it executes its job perfectly.
2. Come and See (1985, Directed by Elem Klimov)
As mentioned earlier in the list when discussing Dead Man’s Letters, this may just be the scariest horror film ever conceived. Focusing on a 13-year-olds descent from an innocent, care-free child to a psychologically scarred soldier of war during the Nazi occupation of the Byelorussian SSR in rural Russia; Come and See combines surreal imagery with a non-stop barrage of human atrocities after human atrocities that shows the worst side that humanity has to offer.
It’s a sobering, devastatingly real look at war through the eyes of a child and although there is little to no death on screen, it’s all the more distressing for it.
1. Orozco the Embalmer (2001, Directed by Tsurisaki Kiyotaka)
Well, this is it, the most challenging film experience you can possibly endure. The worst of the worst. Orozco, the focus point of this haunting documentary, has embaled over 50,000 corpses within his lifetime. This is a man who has experienced and witnessed the worst life has to offer.
Day in, day out, he surgically treats human remains to forestall decomposition ready for funerals; this is a film that deliberately shies away from absolutely nothing by showing absolutely everything. Truly one of the most graphic and disturbing pieces of documentary film you will ever have the displeasure of watching, but also an alarming reminder of the fragility of human beings themselves.
The moment in which Orozco picks up a deceased baby like a ragdoll and complains about how he now has more work to complete is a scene that will forever be embedded within your memory. It’s obviously heartbreaking, but some films need to address the darker side of life so we can appreciate what we have since after all, we’re all going to end up on the embalmer’s table at one point or another.