You’re Not Mentally Prepared For These 10 Controversial Horror Movies
The Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of the word controversial is, “causing disagreement or discussion.” The films below are definitely an example of that. Whether they sparked outrage among conservatives, left audiences in a state of nausea, or just pissed people off, the following films have definitely caused a buzz. They generated reactions that permeated the mainstream and caused uneasiness within the hive.
A Serbian Film (2010)
This movie is banned in 46 countries. Four minutes had to be cut for UK viewers and the U.S. asked that over one minute be cut just to get an NC-17 rating. The themes and depictions portrayed in this film are unnerving. If there were such a thing as thought police, they would have certainly interfered with director Srdjan Spasojevic’s impetus which on the surface is unthinkably horrific, but equally provoking when it comes to what humans will do when faced with dire circumstances and lack of money. It also says something about how those in power will take advantage of the downtrodden for the sake of profit.
Are you religious? Do you believe in the afterlife? What really happens after you die? If these questions are intriguing to you (don’t) watch Martyrs (the 2008 original, not the 2015 remake). Exploring the intricacies of the human spirit in both its corporeal form and transcendence, Martyrs plays out like a visual roadmap through depression. Nihilistic by design, this movie is filled with torture, the literal decimation of the human spirit, and an incredibly heavy unresolved denouement. The crisis hotline number should be superimposed over every frame. In this film, it definitely does not “get better.”
Faces of Death (1978)
It’s been long debated whether or not the content in Faces of Death is real. iHorror answered that question back in 2014. But in 1978 the answer wasn’t so clear. Even today where everything is viewable on the internet, Faces of Death remains an uncomfortable watch even for the most desensitized critic.
Mother! may be the most divisive on the list. It has big-name stars, a big-name studio, and a big-name director. Still, it sits nearly in the middle of people who like it and people who hate it. For example, it concurrently received both boos and a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival. There are so many theories on what this film is actually about. The director Darren Aronofsky has stated that it is a metaphor for the current state of the world. Given that prompt and what you can imagine the visuals to be, you’re halfway there to understanding it.
Last House on the Left (1972)
Wes Craven had his forefinger on the pulse of what scares people. But he also had a penchant for redemption, meaning his protagonists always got their revenge. Although Last House on the Left skews that formula bit, it still holds up as one of the best forceful sexual abuse revenge movies ever made. Raw and unflinching, Craven’s masterwork just goes for it, so much so that the MPAA board made him remove some footage for an X-rating. He did, but even that wasn’t enough and they asked him to edit it again. For sensitive 1970s theatergoers at the time, the intense brutality contained in the movie was too much. One person is reported to have had a heart attack during one viewing.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
The mother of all found footage movies. This movie, other than A Serbian Film, might be the most visually disturbing than any other on this list. All of the kills are extremely realistic, it was enough to cause Italian authorities to insist director Ruggero Deodato prove his cast was still. If he didn’t, he would face murder charges. Deodato probably should have had the forethought to not have his cast sign contracts that stated they had to disappear for three years after the movie’s release to give the illusion that he killed them on film. Of course, they showed up alive and the charges were dropped, but that only goes to show you how cruelly deceptive this movie really is. Unfortunately, the cast of animals brutalized in the movie were really killed on-screen.
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist hype was real: people passing out in the theater, instant panic attacks, vomiting and nausea in the lobby, and triggering faith-based existentialism, The Exorcist had people understandably traumatized back in 1973. Still, curious moviegoers wanted to experience it for themselves, lining up for blocks to get in to see it, if by chance they were able to get a ticket.
Halloween Ends (2022)
This movie isn’t as disturbing as some of the others on this list. What makes it controversial is the dissatisfaction of the fanbase. The Halloween franchise is beloved by many, and Michael Myers is a certified horror icon. But the last film in the David Gordon Green trilogy threw people for a loop because it strayed so far off of the well-traveled path. One point of criticism was the lack of kills, something that is synonymous with a slasher. The other was that Michael Myers isn’t predominantly featured in the movie until about the last 15 minutes, even though the poster and all promotional materials show him front and center.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Back in the 80’s America was having an identity crisis. It was the age of the “concerned parent.” For every cultural step forward, there was a court of judgey moms who acted as gatekeepers to Hollywood’s key masters. So when filmmakers created a film about an ax-wielding Santa Claus, besmirching Christianity’s holiest of days, there was a problem. A big problem. The film itself is tame even by 80s slasher standards, even though that was the crux of the conservative argument. Mostly parents were unsettled by the one sheet which depicted Santa carrying an ax down a chimney.
Thankfully, the movie wasn’t at the mercy of free-thinking video store owners (except Blockbuster) and tape rentals were through the roof, sparking the cult movie rental craze and inspiring independent filmmakers who, rather than face the disdain of the pulpit, opted to make movies straight-to-video. Enter the UK and their own hit list called the “video nasty.”
Terrifier 2 (2022)
Arguably, the first Terrifier film wasn’t a great success, still, it did have its fanbase. However, it couldn’t hold a clown horn to the sequel which came out this year. Terrifier 2 also has the distinction of being one of the most successful MPAA unrated (nee NC-17) films of all time (we didn’t adjust for inflation). For the most part, it follows the standard slasher formula, but what makes it controversial is the gore. The practical effects are extreme and seemingly unedited (138 mins. movie runtime). Like so many of the movies listed above, theatergoers got sick. Those who watched the film’s antagonist, Art the Clown, hack and slash his victims was too much to bear. Vomiting and fainting were reported as well as calls to the paramedics.
Panic Fest 2023 Review: ‘Bury The Bride’
Bachelorette parties can be such a disaster.
June Hamilton (Scout Taylor-Compton, Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN) has invited a group of friends and her sister Sadie (Krsy Fox, Allegoria) to her new humble abode to party and to meet her new hubby to be. Having to drive out far into the treacherous desert to a shotgun shack with no one else around, ‘cabin in the woods’ or rather ‘cabin in the desert’ jokes ensue as the red flags rise up one after another. Warning signs that are inevitably buried under a wave of alcohol, games, and unburied drama between the bride, family, and friends. But when June’s fiancee shows up with some gritty, redneck buddies of his own the party really gets started…
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Bury The Bride going in, but was pleasantly surprised by some of the twists and turns it took! Taking tried and true genres like ‘backwoods horror’, ‘redneck horror’, and the always entertaining ‘marital horror’ to craft something that caught me rather off guard. Directed and co-written by Spider One and co-written by co-star Krsy Fox, Bury The Bride is a truly fun and stylized horror hybrid with plenty of gore and thrills to keep this bachelorette party interesting. For the sake of leaving things to the viewers, I’ll keep details and spoilers to a minimum.
Being such a tight-knit plot, the cast and cast of characters are key to making the plot work. Both sides of the marital line, from June’s urban friends and sister to redneck husband to be David’s (Dylan Rourke) macho buds, play well off of one another as the tensions rise. This creates a distinct dynamic that comes into play as the desert hijinks escalate. Prominently, there’s Chaz Bono as David’s mute sidekick of sorts, Puppy. His expressions and reactions to the ladies and his browbeating friends were a highlight to be sure.
Though a bit of a minimalist plot and cast, Bury The Bride makes the most of its characters and setting to make a truly fun and entertaining bridal horror movie that takes you for a loop. Go in blind, and bring a good gift! Available now on Tubi.
Panic Fest 2023 Review: Final Summer
August 16th, 1991. Final Day of summer camp at Camp Silverlake, Illinois. Tragedy has struck. A young camper has died while hiking under the care of camp counselor Lexi (Jenna Kohn). The grandson of alleged campfire story monster Warren Copper (Robert Gerard Anderson), it only adds to the tension s its announced that this tragedy among other factors has led to the dissolution and sale of Camp Silverlake for good. Now left behind to clean up the mess as the campsite gets ready for the chopping block, a killer with a skull mask and an axe has taken to killing every camp counselor they can find. But is it an actual ghost story come to life, the real Warren Copper, or someone or something else entirely?
Final Summer is a pretty entertaining summer camp slasher homage, particularly to the more grounded and brutal seasonal horrors of the late 70’s and early 80’s like Friday the 13th, The Burning, and Madman. Complete with bloody stabbings, beheadings, and bludgeonings that are not played for laughs or winks or nods. It’s a pretty simple premise. Bunch of camp counselors marooned at an isolated and shutting down camp getting picked off one by one. But, the cast and through-line still make it an entertaining ride and it sticks the aesthetic of the time period and style of slasher to make it enthralling if you’re a particularly big fan of Sumer Camp Slashers. Though set in 1991, and with some fashion and then present, it doesn’t quite utilize the time period to its fullest. Extra kudos for featuring some veteran actors of the genre like Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives’ own Tommy Jarvis, Thom Matthews as the local sheriff.
And of course, every great slasher needs a great villain and The Skull Mask is an interesting one that stands out. Wearing a simple outdoors get-up and the creepy, featureless formfitting skull mask, he rasps, walks, and slices his way throughout the campsite. Once scene that pops to mind was a brutal beating involving a sports trophy. Once the counselors realize there’s a killer in their midst in the dark of night on Camp Silverlake, it leads to a high energy stalk and chase that keeps its momentum to the end.
So, if you’re in the mood for a summer camp slasher movie that reflects the genre boom at its heyday, Final Summer may be the kind of film you’d like to watch near the campfire, enjoying s’mores, and hoping there’s not a masked madman nearby…
Panic Fest 2023 Review: ‘The Once And Future Smash/End Zone 2’
Freddy Krueger. Jason Voorhees. Michael Myers. These are just a few examples of many slasher killers who have ingrained themselves into pop culture and have attained immortality. Both in that no matter how many times they die, they keep coming back and how their franchises just won’t stay dead so long as they have a fandom to revitalize them. Like Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell, they live on so long as the fan believe they will. It’s in this way that even the most obscure horror icon can have a shot at a comeback. And the actors that portrayed them.
This is the set-up to The Once And Future Smash and End Zone 2 created by Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein. In the sixties, the first true sports themed slasher was created with the film End Zone and it’s more popular follow up End Zone 2 in 1970. The film followed the football themed cannibal Smashmouth and was portrayed by both the egotistical diva Mikey Smash (Michael St. Michaels, The Greasy Strangler) and the “Touchdown!” catchphrase slinging William Mouth (Bill Weeden, Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.) with both men laying claim to the character and creating a rivalry that would last decades. Now, 50 years later, a studio is lining up an End Zone requel and both olden actors are determined to return as Smashmouth while attending a horror convention. Leading to a battle for the ages for fandom and gory glory!
The Once And Future Smash and its companion End Zone 2 stand on their own both as loving satires of horror, slashers, fandom, remake trends, and horror conventions and as their own fictional horror franchise complete with lore and history. The Once And Future Smash is a funny mockumentary with bite as it delves deep into the horrifying and competitive world of the convention circuit and the lives of guests and fans. Largely following Mikey and William as they both desperately try and regain their former perceived glory and leading to all manner of awkward and hilarious inconveniences such as being booked to the same table- despite absolutely hating each other! The cast complimented by A.J. Cutler as the put upon A.J. Working as Mikey Smash’s assistant due to a vow by his father who worked on the original movies as Smashmouth’s partner in crime, A.J. works well as the straight man to the antics of the former horror stars in their demands and as tensions heat up. Having to go all manner of demeaning treatment and leading to A.J. wanting to escape the madness from behind the scenes.
And being a mockumentary, it only makes sense that there would be a wide roster of experts, filmmakers, and talking heads to interview on the subject of the End Zone franchise and history. Featuring a wide variety of icons and memorable appearances such as Lloyd Kaufman, Richard Elfman, Laurene Landon, Jared Rivet, Jim Branscome, and many more. Giving an air of legitimacy to End Zone being such a fondly looked upon slasher, or smasher, film series and Smashmouth being deserving of his infamy. Each interview providing further context to the weird details and backstory surrounding the End Zone series and grounding the idea further to make it like a palpably real series of films. From stating their favorite scenes from the movies, to adding bits about behind the scene drama, to how it influenced even their own works in the genre. Many points being very clever parodies of other horror franchise drama and trivia such as Friday The 13th and Halloween among many others, further adding fun parallels
At the end of the day however, The Once And Future Smash is a love letter to the horror genre and the fandoms that have arisen around them. Despite the conflicts and issues that can arise from nostalgia and trying to revive those stories for modern day cinema, they left a positive impact on their audiences and something for fans to rally together for. This mockumentary does for horror fandom and franchises what Christopher Guest’s movies did for dog shows and folk music.
Conversely, End Zone 2 makes for a fun as hell slasher throwback (or smasher, considering that Smashmouth pulps and drinks his victims with a blender due to his grotesquely broken jaw.) Allegedly restored from lost 16mm elements, the hour long 1970 slasher takes place 15 years later from the original End Zone and the Donner High Massacre perpetrated by Angela Smazmoth as Nancy and her friends try to move on from the horror by having a reunion at a cabin in the woods. Only to fall victim to Angela’s son, Smashmouth and his partner in crime, A.J.! Who will survive and who will be pureed?
End Zone 2 both stands on its own and compliments The Once And Future Smash both as a companion piece and a genuinely entertaining throwback horror film on its own. Homaging other slasher franchises and trends of yesteryear while forming its own identity with Smashmouth. A bit Friday The 13th, a little Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and a dash A Nightmare On Elm Street in a fun football theme. While both movies can be viewed individually, you get the best out of the two as a double feature as lore about End Zone 2 and the stories of its production history from The Once And Future Smash come into play.
Overall, The Once And Future Smash and End Zone 2 are two highly inventive films that deconstruct, reconstruct, and lovingly goof on everything from slasher franchises, horror conventions, and the true terror of behind the scenes drama. And here’s hoping we’ll one day truly see more Smashmouth in the future!