Five Disturbing Films That Were Banned
There are some things you can't unsee. I've been trying for around a year to unsee the almost (but not quite) laughable horror that was the Human Centipede trailer. Somehow, it followed me around and would present itself right at the moment I thought it was erased from my memory forever: At poster expos, during the Colbert Report, and now, with the coming of this year's Human Centipede, A Serbian Film.
Here's a spoiler-free synopsis: An aging porn star (are you sold yet?) agrees to do what he is led to believe is an "arty" porno--only to discover that he's been cast in a series of pedophilia- and necrophilia-themed snuff films. So what are you doing this weekend?
As you can imagine, the film's caused quite a stir: It's been banned in Spain and has the distinction of being the most-censored film in the UK since 1995. Meanwhile, citizen reviewers have been engaging in online fisticuffs, some decrying it as disgusting, some arguing "it's just a movie," while others find director Srdjan Spasojevic's claims that it's a social commentary little detestable. Still others, mostly horror film nerds, claim the plot's not so great, but the art with which it's filmed is excellent.
Because I feel like exacting my revenge on everyone who still brings up the Human Centipede in my presence, here are five disturbing films that were banned. Oh yeah, and these scenes are probably not for viewing by younger or more sensitive audiences.
A Clockwork Orange
Kubrick's adaptaion of Anthony Burgess' novel about a gang of violent young men who murder and rape was banned in Ireland until 2000. It was also withdrawn in the UK by Kubrick himself on the advice of police after Kubrick and his family received serious threats.
Malcolm McDowell, what are you doing here again? This movie, written by Gore Vidal and produced by Bob Guccione of Penthouse Magazine fame, has it all in terms of the disturbing factor: Orgies, hardcore sex, graphic violence, rape, incest, implied bestiality, and nudity, nudity, nudity. All in a day's work for the Romans. According to IMDB , Caligula was banned in Russia until 1993 and is still banned in Belarus. The movie also has a weirdly great cast, including Peter O'Toole, Helen Mirren and John Gielgud. Really!
Faces of Death
This 1983 mash-up interspersed real footage of people dying with faked deaths and includes scenes of executions, an alligator feeding frenzy and old newsreel footage. The official website boasts the movie has been banned in more than 40 countries.
Life of Brian
Not really a disturbing film (except for that one scene where we see Graham Chapman in his full-frontal glory), but we just thought some comic relief would be appropriate about now. The story about the guy who's born in the stable next to Jesus' has been hailed as the Pythons' greatest film. It was banned in Scandinavia and censored in the UK for its irreverent handling of the life of Jesus Christ, and, according to The Independent , its ban in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth was only lifted two years ago.
Last Tango in Paris
The famous "butter scene" was enough to get the 1973 movie banned in Italy for 14 years. Director Bernardo Bertolucci lost his right to vote for five years, according to IMDB . In 2007, Schneider told the New York Post the memory of filming that scene still disturbed her, and that she never cooks with butter anymore.
If you can't get enough disturbing films, check out this old list from September, when we first caught wind of A Serbian Film.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events