Admit it. You love it when you watch a film that sits with you for hours, even days after. Your stomach twists and turns, you cover your eyes but peek through your hands because you can’t miss a minute. You get that strange internal shudder that goes down your spine all the way to your toes. Your mouth tastes slightly off afterwards.
Yes, I love a good ol’ sick movie. Not necessarily scary as in jump-scares. More like scary as in could-this-really-happen-cos-if-it-did-I-would-never-sleep-again. The most disturbing horror movies have a range of characteristics; while some are stomach-churning with oozy visceral goodness, some are mentally disturbing that leave you questioning the sicko who actually came up with the film’s concept. I know when I find a movie disturbing because I get a headache from frowning so much and I get the walkabouts. Here are the ones that particularly resonated with me – for all the WRONG reasons.
‘Dread’ is an interesting, thought-provoking movie; it follows a group of college students making a documentary about the things people dread most. It’s a relatively slow film but quite enjoyable… that is, until the scourer scene pops up. In short, one of the girls in the film has a dark purple birth mark that covers one side of her body and after being humiliated, attempts to use a scourer and a bottle of bleach to ‘clean’ her body. That scene alone really messed with my head.
Hmmm… interesting is all I have to say for this one. Oh, ok, I’ll give you a summary. So this film is about a group of high school boys who discover a woman in an abandoned mental asylum who is literally unable to die. Bound to a hospital bed, the boys’ hormones get the better of them and they proceed to experiment (in a number of different disturbing ways) with the woman. It is quite disgusting and creates a lot of questions about morals and integrity. Worth a look but not for the weak stomached.
8. The Woman
Similarly to ‘Deadgirl’, ‘The Woman’ once again has a woman help captive for a multitude of disturbing reasons. However, Jack Ketchum’s film is centered around a seemingly family man who discovers the last remaining member of a wild clan of people. He attempts to ‘civilize’ her by chaining her up, however he is unaware of the effect this woman is having on his family. The film is violent and brutal, yet quite an interesting piece of social commentary. This fact doesn’t make it any less disgusting. I get quite squirmy when people are not ‘normal’; any deformities that are created for the purpose of sheer horror really make me feel quite ill. I have recently added Ketchum’s ‘The Girl Next Door’ to my Quickflix queue, so I’m interested to see where that would’ve ended up on this list.
7. Funny Games
Not to be confused with the Naomi Watts remake of the same name (which also stands solidly on its own), ‘Funny Games’ is an eerie German movie about a family who is tormented by a couple of sick neighbours while on holiday. This is one film you definitely feel the need to watch with one eye closed; not for the scare factor, but because it is quite horrific in a totally different way. The thing that makes this film so disturbing is not only that it could truly be a possibility, but the lack of remorse and the sheer pleasure the tormentors get out of their sick games will burn a hole into your mind.
6. House of 1000 Corpses
I like Rob Zombie’s music and his films are quite good. This one, being his first, still churns my stomach to this day. I first watched this movie as a teenager and while it wasn’t particularly scary, some of the moments were quite horrific in my book. I can still picture the half-man-half-fish (Dwight Schrute everybody!) and it gives me some serious wiggins. Let’s face it: anything with deranged carnies will make anybody feel sick.
I had only heard a little about this film before watching it. My partner’s friend said his girlfriend had banned it from their house and said “I bet your missus can’t sit through more than half an hour of it”. Challenge accepted! But did I expect such a brutal, violent, grizzly film? Not at all. There are a lot of online references to the nine-minute rape scene of Monica Belucci, however I felt absolutely disgusted at the head-bashing earlier on in the film. Not for the faint hearted but worth fulfilling that sense of curiosity we all have.
Probably considered more thriller than horror, ‘Se7en’ is by far one of my favourite movies. Of all the concepts highlighted in the film, I have to say there is one sin that really got to me: Gluttony. I won’t say any more.
3. The Hills Have Eyes
As I mentioned before, mutations and deformations make me absolutely sick to the stomach. As in those made for sheer horrific entertainment. The remake of ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ is one of the most disturbing films I have ever watched and is relentless even after multiple viewings. I will count all of the mutants as equally disturbing in this one. However, it is what they do to the family motor-homing across the state that really freak me out. The baby, the rape, the scene where they go into the mutants’ house… ugh. My stomach is gurgling as I type.
2. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
Rape and torture, when paired up, are always going to be incredibly disturbing. I’m not usually affected by these things, even as a woman, however this film sat with me in quite an unsavoury fashion. While I didn’t enjoy the rape scene, I oddly enough enjoyed the revenge inflicted on Jennifer’s tormentors, no matter how sick to my stomach they made me. When there is no supernatural element to a film, no demon possession, no comical masked serial killer, just sheer human brutality… that marks a deeply disturbing film which only leads to one thought: This could happen to me.
1. Pet Semetary
I know I’ll probably cop some flack for putting this at the top of my list, but there are just so many elements of this film that give me some serious heeby jeebies. The flashback scenes with Aunt Zelda freaked the you-know-what out of me – and I only watched this movie for the first time a couple of years ago! There are a lot of actual scary moments in this film (a lot of them include post-mortem Gage), however this was one movie that truly made my stomach turn, primarily due to Aunt Zelda. Definitely worth a watch (and a highly recommended book by my dad), this is one that really disturbed me out for days to come.