32 Films That Made Me Question Humanity

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 by

I love a good exploitation film. If it's disturbing, disgusting, full of gore and psychological trauma, I'm going to be into it. A few weeks ago, I was talking with a coworker who is new to the genre about some of my favorite fucked up films, and decided to make her a list. I spent many hours in my late teens and early twenties searching for a list just like this, so I was inspired to publish my own. I will preface this list by telling you that this is not an eloquent analysis of disturbing films, nor is this full of obscure gems. In fact, some of these don't even fall within the horror spectrum. This list is merely a collection of films an exploitation/horror/sci fi fan should get their hands on. These are in order from "I can't believe what I just watched," to "I seriously need to take a shower." Enjoy!

Editor's note: This is a beginner's list to the world of disturbing film. I am working on PART TWO of this list, to include gems like ICHI THE KILLER, SOCIETY, and MEGAN IS MISSING. Please let me know in the comments of this post if there are films worth adding!

ANTIVIRAL - This 2012 sci-fi film was directed by Brandon Cronenberg (yes, legendary David Cronenberg's son.) In an age obsessed with celebrities and media, a company specializes in injecting the illnesses of the rich and famous to the public. A worthwhile watch and excellent execution.

ENTER THE VOID - A young American drug dealer living in Japan dies, and the film shows his experience on DMT (both from taking the drug, and post-death release.) This blew my mind. Visually, Enter the Void is absolutely gorgeous, although not for the soft of stomach. Gaspar Noe has an excellent way of sucking you in, while making you want to vomit at the same time.

OLDBOY (2003) - Oldboy is going to get tons of hype, as the remake of this Korean thriller will be released later this year. A man is imprisoned for 15 years without reason, and when he is released, learns he has just days to find the person who kidnapped him. Be prepared for your heart to hurt.

VIDEODROME - A Cronenberg classic about the future of media. This film is still relevant and an important piece of sci-fi film history.

WOULD YOU RATHER- A woman is struggling to pay her younger brother's medical bills and is given an opportunity to have them taken care of, at a price. This American exploitation film actually surprised me. I never thought something this good could come out of current American horror. Keep an eye out for an acting credit from porn star Sasha Grey.

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM - Requiem For a Dream follows four people and their downward spiral with addictions. Director Darren Aronofsky is a seriously fucked up guy. Watch all of his films (specifically Pi) and don't ask questions.

THE WAVE - This modern German film shows a (seriously babely, punk rock) high school teacher's social experiment to show his students what it would be like to live under a dictatorship. I have never seen this on anyone's disturbing movie list, but it seriously deserves some attention. 

ERASERHEAD - A new father's anxiety over his mutant child. We all know David Lynch is a genius. I had to watch this one a few times to really appreciate it, though. 

NEKROMANTIK - It is what it sounds like. A German man brings home a corpse for he and his ladyfriend to love on, and falls apart when she prefers the corpse to him.

KIDS - A 19 year old Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers, yeah, actually) wrote the script for this 1995 film about a group of sexually active teenagers in New York. Look out for a baby Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny. You'll be cringing the entire time.

EXCISION - Another modern American horror movie that seriously delivered. A disturbed high school student has delusional ideas about becoming a surgeon. Her mother is played by Traci Lords and John Waters makes an appearance as well.

HARD CANDY - If you've ever stumbled upon the deep web, the title of this film is cringe-worthy enough. A young Ellen Page plays Hayley, a 14 year old girl who meets a pedophile in a chatroom, and returns to his home in an attempt to expose him.

PINK FLAMINGOS - Holy John Waters and Divine genius. No explanation needed.

IRREVERSIBLE - Another Gaspar Noe film. A young woman in France is beaten and raped and her boyfriend tries to find the person who harmed her. The story is told in reverse order, and you'll probably want to watch the opening scene again after the film ends. More notable, nausea-inducing Noe camerawork and one of the longest rape scenes I've ever seen.

FUNNY GAMES (1997) - A couple of guys take a family hostage. Their intentions are unknown, but the family is in for a seriously disturbing game. This Austrian film had an American remake a few years ago, but I can assure you the original is worth your time.

MURDER-SET-PIECES - YES! I love this movie so much. A photographer kills models for a good time. The effects and art direction are done by the amazing folks over at Toe Tag Pictures, something I seriously nerd out over. It's great. You'll hate it.

GUMMO - Another Harmony Korine film narrating a couple of bored, cat killing, glue sniffing kids in a tornado-stricken Ohio town. A handful of metal bands have sampled quotes from this one.

MARTYRS - This French film follows Lucie on a search to find the people who tortured her as a child, and her childhood friend, Anna. Soon, Anna is left alone and finds out exactly what has been tormenting Lucie. Martyrs made me extremely uncomfortable and I considered giving up on this list after watching it. 

BATTLE ROYALE - The Japanese Hunger Games, kind of. This film is BRUTAL. 

AUDITION - Takashi Miike loves exploitation. A widower's producer friend sets up a faux film casting audition, really meant to find a new lover for the widower. The poor guy falls in love with a girl who is in no way who she seems.

ANTICHRIST- Lars von Trier's dark art film took me at least four times to get through. I'm glad I stayed until the end but would probably never watch this again. Visually, Antichrist is so beautiful. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play unnamed characters whose son dies tragically, then reality becomes seriously warped while they mourn. Pay close attention to the symbolism.

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1977) - So, a woman is hanging out at a cabin and is attacked several times. Then, she's over it. I love disturbing movies, but this one was actually hard to get through. Fun horror fact: That's Demi Moore's butt on the cover. She's not in the film, just her butt on the cover. Thanks, Fangoria.

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST - The found footage film to inspire all found footage films. The director of this film, Ruggero Deodato, was arrested ten days after its release because they thought it was an actual snuff movie. The cast signed an agreement to not appear in media for a year to keep an air of authenticity, so no one believed they were alive. Poor Deodato, he even had to prove that the famous impalement scene wasn't real. AWESOME.

SALO (120 Days of Sodom) - This one is pretty gross. Pier Paolo Pasolini directed this film based on the book by Marquis de Sade. Four rich, fascist Italians kidnap a group of teenage boys and girls, and put them through four months of extreme physical and mental torture.  There is a chapter in the film titled "Circle of Shit." I will let you figure that one out for yourself. 

The entire AUGUST UNDERGROUND trilogy - I LOVE THESE. These movies are found footage gold. They're low budget, and the effects are amazing. This looks like straight up snuff. Not for the squeamish (although, if you're squeamish, you couldn't have made it this far.) Toe Tag Pictures are amazing and Crusty Whiles (the female actress) is an excellent special effects artist, and even ACTUALLY slits her wrists in one of the movies. COOL. (FRED VOGEL FOREVER.)

A SERBIAN FILM - I'm sorry in advance. I know there has been a lot of hype over this, but I really couldn't not include it. This 2010 film has been banned in a handful of countries, and seriously censored in others. If you're not familiar with this one, I don't want you to read anything about it, just watch it. If you puke, I totally don't blame you.

HAPPINESS - Okay, this one fucked me up on a whole different level. It's a comedy, I guess? and unlike every other film on this list. The cast is huge and famous and I just don't really get how this happened. Even Sundance refused to accept the film. "Would you ever fuck me?" "No, I jerk off instead." Bye, throwing up.

Honorable mentions: You should probably see both parts of THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE if you're reading this list, just to cross it off. I know it's bad. I'm sorry. SLAUGHTERED VOMIT DOLLS, you have to do this at least once. This is your run of the mill shock film. Once again, I'm sorry. S&MAN, a documentary-ish about snuff and exploitation. Give this one a chance. I loved it. 


  1. Every film on this list is awesome... Except I am a huge fan of A Serbian Film and would like to add The Gateway Meat

  2. The Gateway Meat sounds awesome. I'll check it out!

  3. Great survey, I'm sure you're getting a great response. hdfilme.cc