As a film critic and aficionado, horror enthusiasts often ask me to recommend the most disturbing genre films ever made. I’m happy to oblige, but as with all subjective references, what I consider “most disturbing” might be considered less so by another. Truth is, when I recommend disturbing films, they’re among movies that I’ve both seen and enjoyed. Furthermore, I rarely go out and seek products deemed “most depraved” as there are boundaries even I fear to cross.
Many films that get branded “most disturbing” are ones I’ve never seen, yet their reputations alone are enough to nauseate. It’s also important to keep in mind that a film need not be classified as horror for it to achieve maximum grotesquery. For these and other reasons, explorations of the most disturbing films in all of cinema are best left to those more intrepid than I.
Matthew Santoro is a popular YouTuber and film critic who’s delved into the topic of most disturbing movies ever made—so that I don’t have to. Though each of these suggestions is infamous, I’ve only personally seen 2 of them. Keep that in mind if anything here stokes your curiosity—and don’t blame me if you uncover something you wish you haven’t. Have a watch and let us know what you think in the Comments section. What do you consider the most disturbing movies ever made?
If you can’t stream, the 10 disturbing films, along with trailers and synopses, are listed below the video. Enjoy!
Cannibal Holocaust (1985, Directed by Ruggero Deodato)
Official Synopsis: A professor (Francesca Ciardi) finds the remains of a film crew in the Amazon and brings the camera footage back to America.
Pink Flamingos (1972, Directed by John Waters)
Official Synopsis: A bizarre fat woman (Divine) and her misfit family compete with a Baltimore couple (David Lochary, Mink Stole) to be named the filthiest people alive.
Visitor Q (2002, Directed by Takashi Miike)
Official Synopsis: A stranger (Kazushi Watanabe) befriends a family comprising a sexually deviant father (Kenichi Endo), an abused mother (Shungiku Uchida), a bullied son and a daughter who prostitutes herself.
I Spit on Your Grave (1978, Directed by Meir Zarchi)
Official Synopsis: After a young writer (Camille Keaton) is brutally raped and left for dead by four men, she systematically hunts them down one by one to exact a terrible vengeance.
Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh and Blood (1985, Directed by Hideshi Hino)
Official Synopsis: A woman walking home late at night is attacked by an unknown assailant who knocks her out with chloroform. When she regains consciousness, she finds herself tied to a bed in a blood-spattered dungeon, at the mercy of a white-faced man in a samurai helmet who wants to turn her into a “flower of blood and flesh.” He then proceeds to slowly dismember and disembowel her as the camera records it all.
Caligula (1980, Directed by Tinto Brass, Bob Guccione, and Giancarlo Lui)
Official Synopsis: Caligula is a 1979 Italian-American erotic historical drama film focusing on the rise and fall of the Roman Emperor Caligula. It stars Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole, John Steiner and John Gielgud.
Martyrs (2008, Directed by Pascal Laugier)
Official Synopsis: A young woman’s quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity.
Nekromantik (1987, Directed by Jörg Buttgereit)
Official Synopsis: An alienated man (Daktari Lorenz) brings home a decomposing corpse for his girlfriend.
Salo (1977, Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini)
Official Synopsis: Four fascists kidnap young men and women and subject them to torture and perversion.
The Human Centipede (2010, Directed by Tom Six)
Official Synopsis: A deranged surgeon (Dieter Laser) plans to make his morbid fantasy come true by suturing three people together through their gastric systems.