10 Most Controversial Horror Films of All Time

Oct 25, 2023, 08:43 PM IST

10 Most Controversial Horror Films of All Time

Kshitij Rawat

As Halloween is just around the corner, it may be a perfect time to explore some of the most controversial horror movies of all time. These films have shocked, terrified, and provoked audiences for various reasons, making them the perfect choices for the spookiest season of the year.

The Exorcist (1973)

Regarded as one of the scariest films ever made, The Exorcist is controversial due to its explicit and disturbing portrayal of demonic possession and the exorcism of a young girl. Audiences were shocked by the graphic and blasphemous content, and it faced protests and calls for censorship upon its release. 

A Clockwork Orange (1971) 

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel is not a traditional horror film but is unsettling due to its portrayal of violence and antisocial behaviour. It was controversial for its explicit content, including disturbing scenes of ‘ultraviolence’ and sexual assault. 

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 

This film’s gritty, documentary-style approach to horror shocked viewers with its intense violence and the relentless pursuit of victims by a chainsaw-wielding killer. It was banned in several countries and faced accusations of glorifying violence. 

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) 

Notorious for its graphic violence and animal cruelty, Cannibal Holocaust is a found footage film about a documentary crew’s horrifying experiences with a cannibalistic tribe. It faced legal troubles and accusations of being a snuff film upon release. 

The Last House on the Left (1972) 

Wes Craven’s directorial debut explores themes of revenge and brutality when a group of criminals kidnaps and tortures two young girls. The film’s explicit content and disturbing subject matter led to its ban in several countries. 

Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) 

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s controversial film is based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade and depicts a group of sadistic fascists who subject their victims to extreme torture and humiliation. The film was banned in many countries due to its explicit content. 

The Human Centipede (2009) 

This film’s premise involves a mad doctor who surgically joins people together, mouth to anus, to create a human centipede. The shock value and grotesque concept led to widespread controversy and debates about the limits of horror. 

The Devils (1971) 

Directed by Ken Russell, The Devils is a historical horror film based on the real-life events of the Loudun possessions in 17th-century France. It features explicit scenes of sexual and religious transgression, leading to censorship and controversy upon its release. The film remains banned in some countries to this day. 

I Spit on Your Grave (1978) 

Also known as Day of the Woman, this revenge-themed horror film depicts a woman who seeks vengeance on her rapists. The movie is infamous for its prolonged and explicit rape scenes, which led to accusations of glorifying sexual violence and controversy. 

Saw (2004) 

The Saw franchise has become synonymous with gruesome and sadistic traps that force characters into horrifying choices. The first film, in particular, was controversial for its extreme violence and torture scenarios. It sparked discussions about the line between horror and torture porn in cinema.