4. THE EVIL DEAD
Released in 1981, The Evil Dead narrates the horrifying story of five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a wooded area. Their vacation becomes gruesome when they find an audiotape that releases evil spirits. The low-budget slasher movie was very well-received by critics and successful at the box office, and a cult following has emerged in recent years.
Because of its graphic violence and terror, The Evil Dead is banned in several countries, including Finland, Germany, Iceland and Ireland. Perhaps the most disturbing scene is when a young woman is raped by a tree possessed by an evil spirit. This scene in particular has been heavily criticized for being perverse and misogynistic, despite the film’s overall critical success. Graphic scenes of dismemberment are also shown, as well as various torture scenes.
3. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST
Cannibal Holocaust is an Italian horror film that is banned to this day in over fifty countries. Upon it’s release, director Ruggero Deodata was arrested and charged with murder, after rumors suggested Cannibal Holocaust was a snuff film, though he was later cleared of all charges. The movie was filmed in the Amazon rainforest and features real members of indigenous tribes.
The plot consists of the search for a documentary film crew who had gone to film indigenous tribes and been missing for two months. A second team sent on a rescue mission recovers their lost cans of film and learns their fate. Seven animals were killed in the making of the film. An example includes a scene where a squirrel monkey was decapitated, and tribe members proceed to devour its brain. Cannibal Holocaust also involved scenes of graphic murder, including impalement of several characters. It is regarded as one of the most sickening and graphic films in existence.
2. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
Upon its 1974 release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was banned outright in many countries, and numerous cinemas stopped showing the film after receiving complaints about the nature of extreme violence. The film was marketed as a true story to attract a wider audience, though the plot is entirely fictional. In reality the film was inspired by the crimes of notorious serial killer, Ed Gein, who famously collected tokens from his victims, such as nipples, skin masks and heads, and kept them in his house.
The film revolves around five friends visiting their Grandpa’s old house, who are systematically chased down and murdered by a masked chainsaw-wielding killer and his family of cannibals. Despite the film’s initial poor critical reception at the time of its release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre became the highest grossing independent film of all time, for a short time. It is widely considered as one of the most influential horror movies in cinema history, and a pioneer in the “slasher” genre. The movie established power tools as a popular murder weapon in horror flicks, and also a killer depicted as large, burly, and faceless.
1. THE EXORCIST
The Exorcist was released theatrically in 1973. The film has since had an overwhelming effect on popular culture and has been described by some as the scariest horror movie of all time. It is also one of the highest grossing movies of all time, earning $441million worldwide. The Exorcist was banned in many individual towns and countries for being horrifyingly scary, and in some cases for religious reasons. The film affected many audiences so strongly that, at many theaters, paramedics were called to treat people who fainted and others who went into hysterics. In the UK, The Exorcist wasn’t available until 1990, when it passed the British Board of Film Censorship (BBFC) with an 18 rating.
The Exorcist tells the story of a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon. The events surrounding the girl’s behavior and subsequent exorcism make up the main plot line. Unlike other items on this list, excessive violence is not a contributing factor to its banned status. The Exorcist is a psychological thriller and uses a clever plot and even subliminal messaging to terrify audiences.