The only movie on the list starring someone you may actually recognize, Antichrist is a recent effort of infamous shock-director Lars Von Trier. Pardon the sacrilege, but God damn will this one mess you up. As if opening with an unsimulated sex scene between its stars, Charlotte Gainsbourg (not bad) and Willam Dafoe (dear Lord) wasn’t bad enough, Von Trier decides to have the couple’s infant son Nick fall out a window to his death as the lovemaking is occuring. From there, Antichrist doles out animal pseudo-abortions, genital mutilation, and serious psychological warfare like candy at the Macy’s Day Parade. By the end of it, you’ll be wishing you were little Nick, if only because it would spare you from sitting through this disheartening, albeit beautifully shot film.
Who would’ve thought that those peaceful, wine loving French folks would become known for crafting some of the most brutal, blood-soaked films of all time in the age of Hostel? Yes, the same country that spawned such gorefests as Inside, Frontiers, and High Tension really went over the top when they brought us Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs back in 2008. Telling the story of a woman hell bent on enacting revenge against those who tortured her as a child, Martyrs quickly spirals into a nightmare of torture that comes across as little more than a well shot snuff film. And just when we’re about to write it off, the film turns disgust into disbelief, apprehension into epiphany, ending on an uplifting cadence that is nothing short of beautiful. Not a film for the weak willed, but definitely worth it for fans of foreign and extreme cinema.
If you’ve ever forayed into such hand-held fright fests as The Blair Witch Project, The Last Exorcism, or the fantastic Spanish PA series [REC], then you have undoubtedly heard of the 1980 exploitation flick that started them all. Coming under fire for both its graphic (not to mention unsimulated) acts of violence toward animals and incredibly realistic special effects, Cannibal Holocaust’s premiere caused such a frenzy that director Ruggero Deodato was arrested shortly thereafter under suspicions that he had murdered the actors involved. To make matters worse, in an effort to make the “found footage” aspect of the film appear more genuine, Deodato had forced the cast to sign contracts forbidding them from appearing in the media for a year following the film. This contract was eventually broken to keep Deodato out of prison, but the film remains banned in several countries to this day.