One would be surprised at how many movies there are that perhaps will never see daylight again and won't be streamed on your favorite TV channel. You'd be amazed by, let alone, the number of movies banned in the US; over 50 films are currently or have previously been banned in the States. Why so? There are many reasons. Starting as early as when the first films were made, certain movies were banned or censored for political or moral reasons or for their controversial topics and content. Think extreme violence, graphic sex scenes, nudity, foul language, racist content, or homosexual themes.

However, we live in a very different age, and some of the movies on the list may appear mild and tame by today's standards. However, others continue to ooze a sense of danger. In contrast to today, filmmakers don't shy away from including a controversial topic in the plot. And actually, there have been plenty of rather controversial movies released in the past few years. Think of Cuties (2020), Mulan (2020), or Unplanned (2020). Even blockbusters such as Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) and Me Before You (2016) were deemed controversial. However, these films were never banned. If Fritz the Cat (1972) was never banned (in fact, it was banned and then un-banned in New Zealand and Spain), we could argue that films are allowed much more stretch and flexibility these days.

Nevertheless, what were considered disturbing movies back in the day could potentially be classified as simply thought provoking movies for the current audience. Today, there are fewer topics deemed taboo. People don't shy away from discussing uncomfortable and sometimes disturbing issues. However, certain things remain unchanged and still prevail as modern society's problems, more or less. And although open-mindedness is very much celebrated, a healthy discussion of controversial opinions is welcome and encouraged.

Below, we have assembled a list of the most controversial movies. Expect to see both old and more recent film releases. The movies below have raised an array of contentious opinions and discussions. And if there is one thing we can all compromise on, it is to agree to disagree. Have you seen any of these controversial, some even deemed the most disturbing movies? Let us know!


The Last Temptation Of Christ

The Last Temptation Of Christ

1988 | 2 hours 44 minutes | Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey
Directed by one of the greatest filmmakers, Martin Scorsese, The Last Temptation of Christ is based on a book (banned by the Catholic Church) by Nikos Kazantzakis of the same name. Even though the film opens with the statement, "This film is not based on the Gospels, but upon the fictional exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict," Christians still thought it was blasphemous and amoral to depict Jesus Christ as he was in the film. In the movie, Jesus Christ is shown as a quotidian man and what could have happened if he didn't die on the cross. He's portrayed as going through several types of temptation, such as lust, fear, uncertainty, and depression. Other than that, Scorsese's Jesus is portrayed as a traitor who crafts crucifixion crosses for the Romans. To add fuel to the flame, it's Judas (a figure from the Bible who betrayed Jesus) who chastises him for this. The film was banned or censored for several years in Greece, South Africa, Turkey, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Report

Huddo's sister
Community Member
7 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I've never seen this movie but, as a Christian, I would say if your faith is not strong enough for you to watch a film of fiction, maybe you have some more searching to do.


Salò, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom

Salò, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom

1975 | 1 hour 57 minutes | Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Starring Paolo Bonacelli, Giorgio Cataldi, Uberto Paolo Quintavalle
Loosely based on a 1785 book first published in 1904, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, is sometimes titled the most disturbing movie ever made and remains banned in several countries. The film takes place during World War II in Nazi-occupied Italy. In the movie, a group of rich fascists kidnaps 18 youngsters, allowing only "physically ideal" individuals to remain. They then torture them for the following 120 days, including mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Sodomy, humiliation, and other forms of sexual abuse are used as starting points for the torture before it gradually degrades into physical and mental abuse. As soon as you believe what you see cannot possibly become worse, it does. Salò is an angry and depressing movie that begs you to despise people, to despise what humans are capable of. It's undoubtedly among the most intensely felt moments of revulsion one may have while seeing a movie. If you think you have the guts for it, it's a must-see. Despite its disgusting nature, it's a sick, disturbing, sadistic, hard-to-watch, brilliant, and smashingly powerful tour de force of cinema. Report

House Of Forget
Community Member
7 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Televised at the most damage ...shalom


Triumph Of The Will

Triumph Of The Will

1935 | 1 hour 50 minutes | Directed by Leni Riefenstahl
Starring Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Max Amann
Many regard the controversial Leni Riefenstahl film of the Sixth Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg (1934) as the greatest "masterpiece" propaganda documentary ever made. This documentary-style film glorified Hitler and the Nazi Party, and like American filmmaker D. W. Griffith's The Birth of A Nation, the movie has been attacked for using spectacular filmmaking to advance a seriously unethical and amoral system. Others seem to agree that the film is a masterclass in propaganda; however, they also deem it the triumph of cinema and a filmmaking gem as it utilized many striking and powerful German Expressionist cinema techniques. The movie was also praised for its fantastic camera work and score. Report


Freaks (1932)

Freaks (1932)

1932 | 1 hour 4 minutes | Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova
The Monster Story, Forbidden Love, and Nature's Mistakes were re-released versions of the 1932 American pre-Code horror movie Freaks, created and directed by Tod Browning. However, classifying Freaks as a horror film isn't necessarily accurate. The way abnormalities were handled in the early 20th century is rather depressing and empathetic rather than exploitative. It also bears striking similarities to the fixation on physical perfection that today's eating disorders are caused by. The movie was deemed "brutal and grotesque" in Canada and was prohibited for nearly 30 years in the United Kingdom due to its contentious nature. And although Freaks received significant backlash and was a financial failure when it was first released, in the 1960s, it was given a second chance as a forgotten Hollywood classic. In Freaks, Tod Browning challenges us to consider who constitutes the greater freaks: those with malformed bodies or distorted souls? All in all, Freaks is a brilliant classic that should be viewed by everybody with even the slightest interest in cinema. Report


The Birth Of A Nation (1915)

The Birth Of A Nation (1915)

1915 | 3 hours 15 minutes | Directed by D.W. Griffith
Starring Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall
The Birth of a Nation is a historical drama about the American Civil War and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Despite its technical brilliance, the film has received massive criticism for its prejudiced portrayal of African Americans. The movie portrays black people, many of whom are played by white actors who performed in blackface, as being stupid and violent to white women. It was also regarded as one of the most offensive films ever made. Nevertheless, technically speaking, the movie is outstanding and set some significant artistic and technological milestones in cinema. The reconstruction of the war's conflicts is exceptionally realistic. The historical reconstruction was done with tremendous accuracy and rigor in the clothing and the sets, and the cinematography and shooting were excellent. Despite being perhaps one of the most politically incorrect films in history, it's nothing short of revolutionary and far ahead of its time. It's mature content. So, if you are mature enough, give it a go. Report


A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

1971 | 2 hours 16 minutes | Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
Based on Anthony Burgess' 1962 novel of the same name, Stanley Kubrick adapted, produced, and directed the dystopian crime drama A Clockwork Orange. It uses unpleasant, violent imagery to make statements about adolescent gangs, juvenile delinquency, and other social, political, and economic issues. The film's message of paying for one's misdeeds throughout all eternity is unavoidable. It is mainly demonstrated by the satirical tone of the story. Despite being set in the future, it doesn't feel like it because the movie's message is so potent and universally applicable. When the film was released, critics gave it mixed reviews, generating controversy since it showed extreme violence. The movie was eventually removed from British theaters at Kubrick's request after it was claimed that it had sparked imitative acts of violence. The first time you see this fantastic and distinctly British movie, it's both thrilling and unsettling. Report

Amy Taylor
Community Member
7 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Wonderful movie but very difficult to watch.

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Bonnie And Clyde

Bonnie And Clyde

1967 | 1 hour 51 minutes | Directed by Arthur Penn
Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard
Who hasn't heard the story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow? A bored waitress fell in love with an ex-con, and then the two went on a violent crime rampage across the nation, robbing banks and stealing cars. With its sequences of extreme brutality that had never before been seen in an American film, Bonnie and Clyde established a new benchmark for crime movies, as it was perhaps the first film that let loose violence in a motion picture. One of the most brutal death scenes in movie history occurs in the climactic moment when Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed by machine gun fire. That final shootout broke cinematic taboos and set the stage for how we watch movies now. The film was also accused by critics of glorifying murderers. However, the classic, directed by Arthur Penn, is unquestionably one of the top 10 movies of the 1960s and one of the best movies of all time. Even if it might not be flawless, if you haven't watched it, you should do so because you're witnessing history being made. Report


Last Tango In Paris

Last Tango In Paris

1972 | 2 hours 9 minutes | Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Starring Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Maria Michi
Bernardo Bertolucci's erotic drama film, Last Tango in Paris, widely criticized as vulgar at its premiere and unjustly made famous for a graphic sexual assault scene, is a vicious tale of lust and sexual depravity. It depicts a newly bereaved American who has a secret relationship with a young Parisian woman. The film is a requiem for unrequited love and a testament to how easily humans can mistake passion for love when caught in a vortex of despair, sorrow, and guilt. Bertolucci uses carnality to confirm the reality of a dark, ugly, and beastly aspect of mankind. His goal is neither to exalt carnality as a virtue nor to despise it as a sin. This movie is a must-see for cinephiles because it is a profoundly upsetting case study of human emotions. Still, it can only be enjoyed by sidestepping intolerance, prejudice, and conservatism. Report




1961 | 1 hour 30 minutes | Directed by Luis Buñuel
Starring Silvia Pinal, Francisco Rabal, Fernando Rey
The renowned director saw the film medium as a chance to confront and shock people and, more importantly, to criticize the hypocrisies of the powerful, the wealthy, and the church. The narrative centers on the turbulent life of a young novice named Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), who is about to make her final vows as a nun. Viridiana is devoted to her religion and tries to uphold her moral and ethical principles. Sadly, the world has changed, and despite her best efforts to support those around her, everything eventually comes back to bite her. Viridiana is a unique masterpiece that captures the mindset of the society that individuals had established and the Old Catholic Church's teachings. The poor nun is among the last true believers who uphold Church doctrine. Even the poor masses, on whom she depends, let her down. Its harsh criticism of the Roman Catholic Church led to its ban in Spain and the Vatican's condemnation. It may not be as startling to our skeptical, secular eyes as it was in its day when it was accused of blasphemy. Still, it nevertheless packs a punch and is highly recommended. Report


Straw Dogs (1971)

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1991 | 1 hour 25 minutes | Directed by Todd Haynes
Starring Edith Meeks, Larry Maxwell, Susan Norman
Poison, Todd Haynes' debut feature film, is a grotesque, cynical, and incredibly unsettling picture that simultaneously celebrates suffering and brutality and reflects human sensitivity and sexual liberation. Three drastically different stories are woven into one cohesive plot in the movie, each wholly distinct from the others in theme, material, style, musical preference, genre, and tone. The film was notorious when it was initially released in the early 1990s and was met with fury from some conservatives and Christians because it was hotly disputed and highly contentious. Other than being controversial for addressing sexual themes and having a gay man in prison in its plot, it also obtained financing from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which was under fire from conservative organizations for funding sexually graphic works. However, it is currently regarded as a foundational piece of the new queer cinema. Report


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Debra Z
Community Member
7 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Great movie. I still think about parts of it today. So many lessons packed into one movie. Best Spike Lee movie imo.


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The leech
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7 months ago

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