Top 10 Scariest Banned Horror Movies

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Top 10 Scariest Banned Horror Movies

VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
Based on their content, it's no surprise these horror flicks drew the ire of the censors. For this list, we'll be looking at horror films/thrillers that have been banned for various reasons, particularly for high levels of gore and other disturbing content. Our countdown includes “Cannibal Holocaust”, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, "The Exorcist", and more!
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Top 10 Scariest Banned Horror Movies


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Scariest Banned Horror Movies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at horror films/thrillers that have been banned for various reasons, particularly for high levels of gore and other disturbing content. The movies don’t need to have stayed banned to qualify for this list.

What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? Let us know in the comments!

#10: “Antichrist” (2009)

France
Danish director Lars von Trier makes movies that feel designed to sadden, sicken, and shock you all at once. And “Antichrist” might be his crowning achievement in terms of overall disturbing quality. The film details the harrowing journey taken by a couple after the accidental death of their son. We don’t blame you if you have to look away or even turn it off. In 2016, seven years after its release, “Antichrist” was banned in France due to a court deeming its 16+ rating too low. Promouvoir, a Catholic traditionalist group, had pressured the court in hopes of having the film reclassified with a more restrictive rating. As of yet, there’s no indication of “Antichrist” being re-rated and unbanned in the country.


#9: “The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)” (2011)

The UK, Australia, & New Zealand
If you’re wondering what a “human centipede” is, we’re not going to explain it here. The second installment in this gross-out trilogy is about a disturbed man who’s inspired by the first film to try some unnecessary surgery of his own. Unsurprisingly, the film's graphic content got it banned in multiple countries, with the British Board of Film Classification initially disallowing its release before accepting a cut version. A similar situation happened with the Australian Classification Review Board, which also later accepted a recut version. And, in New Zealand, the film wasn't shown in theaters, due to the controversy in Australia. Sometimes, a few minutes of cuts can make all the difference.

#8: “I Spit on Your Grave” (1978)

Multiple Countries
This film, about a woman who’s attacked and then gets revenge on her assailants, bears the dubious honor of being called “the worst movie of all time” by the late, great critic Roger Ebert. While there’s debate over the artistic and moral value of “I Spit on Your Grave,” it’s undeniably a difficult watch. The film's graphic content got it banned in many countries, such as Iceland, Ireland, Norway, China, Singapore, Thailand, and West Germany. It was also banned in Canada until the ‘90s, as well as for seven years in Australia. The original title was “Day of the Woman,” which doesn’t quite indicate how shocking it truly is.

#7: “Cannibal Holocaust” (1980)

Multiple Countries
With a title like this, you know not to choose it for family movie night. An early example of found-footage horror, “Cannibal Holocaust” details the search for an American documentary crew that goes missing in the Amazon rainforest. The film sparked intense controversy for its actual depictions of animal deaths and graphic violence. It was so convincing, that the director, Ruggero Deodato, was charged with murder, which he was later cleared of. But the film still received bans around the world, including in Italy, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Some of these bans have been lifted, but "Cannibal Holocaust" remains one of the hardest movies to endure.


#6: “The Last House on the Left” (1972)

The UK
Director Wes Craven was responsible for two of the most famous horror series of all time. But his career started with a movie so unsettling, it makes those other films look like kid stuff. “The Last House on the Left,” a horror take on Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring,” tells the harrowing story of parents seeking revenge on their daughter’s killers. The results are brutal, and the film sparked plenty of controversy. In the UK, the British Board of Film Censors declined to give it a certification, resulting in its ban. In 2002, a modified version of the film earned an “18” certificate, while the uncensored version was released in 2008. We’ll stick with “Scream,” thanks.

#5: “Hostel: Part II” (2007)

Multiple Countries
Some horror movies almost seem like they’re trying to convince you to avoid travel at all costs. The first “Hostel” is a gruesome depiction of American tourists being tortured overseas, and the second film went even further in terms of depravity. As a result, many countries have been hostile toward “Hostel: Part II.” Eli Roth’s sequel has been banned/censored in multiple countries, including New Zealand, Germany, and Malaysia, and it’s pretty incredible to think it even played in American multiplexes. Four years later, “Hostel: Part III” was released straight to video, and attracted far less negative attention.


#4: “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom” (1975)

Multiple Countries
“Salò” is based on a book by the Marquis de Sade, who’s responsible for the term “sadism.” And that’s certainly what happens in director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film about teenagers being tortured in fascist Italy. Just hearing about the acts depicted on screen is enough to turn your stomach. This explains why the film has been banned in so many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. These bans have been lifted, but not until decades later. While many have praised “Salò” as a work of legit cinema, others find it more obscene than artistic.


#3: “A Serbian Film” (2010)

Multiple Countries
If there was ever a horror movie that should come with mandatory therapy for viewers, it’s this one. This film, a Serbian production about the making of a shockingly brutal film, is itself shockingly brutal. And so, it’s been banned in multiple countries for its sickening content. At different points, the film has been banned in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Spain. Overall, it’s reportedly been banned in forty-six countries. We’re all for watching films from different cultures. But if you’re looking for a good, clean Serbian film to watch, we recommend choosing something besides “A Serbian Film.”

#2: “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974)

Multiple Countries
Compared to horror films that came after it, the original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” can seem somewhat quaint. But it’s still an incredibly effective thriller and caused quite a stir when it was first released. Contemporary audiences weren’t used to seeing violence depicted in such a brutal way, and many countries subsequently banned it. These included Australia, Brazil, France, Ireland, Sweden, and Norway. Not all of these bans have been permanent, and the film is now recognized as a horror classic. It might not be the goriest movie on this list, but it’s definitely one of the scariest.

#1: “The Exorcist” (1973)

Malaysia
Director William Friedkin’s film about a young girl’s demonic possession was nominated for ten Oscars and won two, including Best Adapted Screenplay. It also arguably changed horror and movies in general, forever. The film's graphic content reportedly caused numerous viewers to throw up and pass out. There were even reports of heart attacks. Various cities in the U.S. and U.K. ended up banning the film, but it still became a box office bonanza. The film was even banned in Malaysia. While undoubtedly a great piece of filmmaking, it’s certainly not one you want to watch with dinner.
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