Most Disturbing Movies of All Time
If a movie can make you squirm, scream, or threaten to throw up your lunch, then it’s done its job. The movies on this list prove that a movie can still be considered artsy or significant, even if it’s on the extreme end of the violent spectrum. If you’re looking to find out what exactly we mean by the most disturbing horror movies, browse this list, choose wisely, and have some comedies queued up to cleanse your palate afterward. You don’t have to enter the Deep Web for these shocking movies; some of the most disturbing movies can be found on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. It’s that easy, so make sure you’re really ready before you press “play.”
Don’t let that title fool you—there’s absolutely nothing “romantic” about this German freak show. Well, unless you consider a married couple’s decision to spice up their sex life by swinging with a rotting corpse to be the stuff of Danielle Steele novels.
Obsessed with necrophilia, Nekromantik’s main character, Rob, brings home an anonymous dead body found in a lake and uses it as a sex toy of sorts with his equally disturbed wife, Betty. You can’t have a threesome when only one of the men is thrusting, of course, so she wraps a condom around a steel pipe and straddles it during their naughty time with the corpse. Eventually, Betty takes off with the body, which she’s grown close to after reading to it and cuddling alongside it. Rob, having sunk into a depression, takes his anger out on a neighborhood feline (washing with its blood and guts in a tub) and a hooker (killing her and having sex with the remains).
So, yeah, Nekromantik isn’t ideal viewing for your stay-at-home date night. Shit, it’s not even recommended for lazy Fridays alone in the crib. As a parting gift, director Jörg Buttgereit ends Rob’s misery by having him jerk off and stab himself as he climaxes; if you can think of an appropriate time to subject your eyes to that, pat yourself on the back. And, please, stay away from us.
Pink Flamingos (1972)
John Waters is one proudly depraved human being, and he came into the public consciousness with his colorful and twisted comedy, Pink Flamingos. Starring drag queen icon Divine, the movie tells the story of “the filthiest person alive” and we follow one disturbing exploit after another. During the course of the picture, Waters assaults our basic human decency with any number of perverse sexual acts and moments of the grotesque.
This movie doesn’t land on this list because of scenes of violence or torture; instead, this is here because of its depiction of incest, cringe-worthy nudity, and the ever-so-famous moment at the end where Divine proceeds to eat a pile of dog feces. But despite this, Pink Flamingos has managed to become an underground cult sensation over the years. We just don’t suggest watching it within 24 hours of eating.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Being perhaps the most grounded, and therefore horrifying, depiction of drug addiction to ever be put on film, Requiem for a Dream is a stylized psychological thriller that shows the desperation of people chasing the dragon. Putting its focus on the lives of four addicts, Darren Aronofsky digs deep into the dark and twisted world these people inhabit and the self-made prisons of their own lives.
What Aronofsky does to make this a disturbing classic is that he is completely unflinching in the physical and psychological depictions of all of these characters. Their paranoid, depraved actions get under your skin right from the start as we witness these once-well-adjusted people spiral out of control.
Between Jared Leto’s gangrenous arm and Jennifer Connelly’s infamous sex show scene, there are images throughout this film that will stick with you well after the closing credits. Add the appropriately pounding score by Clint Mansell and you have one of the vilest, yet engrossing, movies to ever tackle the subject.
Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
Some unbearably scathing flicks, including several on this here countdown, parcel their shocks throughout the course of their running time; Salò, however, never steps out for air. From top to bottom, notorious Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s relentless “statement” film subjects the viewer to uncompromising cruelty, nastiness, and escalating grotesqueries. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Salò’s only moments of calm are its opening and closing credits, though the latter’s more apt to serve as the background noise for one’s inability to pick his or her jaw off the floor.
Based on the Marquis de Sade’s 1785 book The 120 Days Of Sodom, Salò’s plot is skeletal: Four powerful Italian men kidnap nine teenage boys and nine teenage girls, trap them in a huge mansion, and wreak unholy havoc on them for four months. Salò depicts every disgusting act perpetrated by the elders, including, in no particular order: heads are scalped, tongues are cut off, eyeballs are snipped out, one girl is forced to eat feces, and several poor bastards are raped in front of large crowds.
Pasolini, intending to make vicious points about fascism, shows everything, avoiding tricky edits in favor of steady-cam, front-and-center shots of each and every sick visual. One watch is all it takes for Salò to burn itself into your memory for years hence. Just writing about it makes us want to take a shower.