Creative minds have been subjected to criticism many a time mainly for ‘going overboard’ in expressing their thoughts through their various endeavors. Over the years many writers and filmmakers have faced the heat from certain sections of the society for their work, of which movies have attracted a lot of flak. Many films in particular, have dealt with sensitive topics like religion or the lives of public figures, and have found themselves embroiled in controversies. Many of these flicks had been banned due to their content and whereas some were released for public viewing only years later. Nevertheless, there are quite a few of such films which in the due course of time have managed to earn a cult status amongst film buffs and garner the acclaim of critics for their realistic portrayal of the central subject. Here are 50 of the most controversial movies ever made in history, which might spark a sense of great curiosity in you. It’s high time you get yourself a copy of a few of these to check out what exactly could have irked the masses.
1. The Moon Is Blue
This 1953 classic, directed by Otto Preminger was criticized for its bold take on sexuality and even raised eyebrows for dialogues containing words such as ‘virgin’ and ‘mistress’. The censor board refused to certify the movie, yet ‘The Moon is Blue’ reached the audiences.
2. Clockwork Orange
A Stanley Kubrick classic of the 1970’s, the movie’s eccentricity was too hard for the audiences of its time to stomach. The movie was considered too violent due to its content and even earned a place in the list of ‘ridiculously violent movies’.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Although the original version was released almost four decades ago, it is still considered to be one of the most brutal movies produced till date. It was banned in more than 12 nations and the places where it was screened, many walked out of the hall, unable to digest its gory content.
4. The Last House On The Left
This controversial horror flick deals with the horrendous torture which two young women face after they end up in a jungle. The scenes depicting the sexual violence in the movie were considered to be too graphic and disturbing. The movie continues to be a subject of gossip amongst movie lovers even today.
5. Cannibal Holocaust
A movie glorifying cannibalism was quite a big deal in the year 1980, when this horror movie released. The plot is about a few members of a documentary film crew who go missing and their cameras are retrieved. The footage reveals their horrifying encounter with a group of cannibals. Do we need to say more?
6. Citizen Kane
Considered to be a textbook in filmmaking, Citizen Kane faced a lot of problems at the time of its release from an influential media personality named William Randolph Heirst. The movie apparently was loosely based on the latter’s life and even touched his love life and spoke about his mistress.
Lolita is another classic, a brainchild of maverick filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Based on a novel with the same name, this movie speaks about a man and his lustful obsession towards a teenage girl, who is way younger than her. During the 1960s, a movie which spills the beans on the sexual desires of humans was considered too ‘on the face’. The movie ever since has attained a cult status, especially amongst fans of Kubrick.
8. Pink Flamingos
This dark comedy flick is popular amongst people who are great fans of offbeat cinema. The movie sparked a controversy after one of the scenes showed a character eating feces and another depicted sex with a chicken. The flick is famous world over till date due to its bizarre approach towards storytelling.
9. The Passion Of Christ
The release of this biopic based on the life of the Jesus Christ met with worldwide protests. Many also felt that the scene depicting the crucifixion of the religious figure was quite disturbing.
10. The Exorcist
Hailed as the freakiest movie made ever, the original movie of the franchise was banned globally due to its disturbing content. The movie also made news for its making, during which the set on which a few scenes were canned, had to be blessed by a catholic priest, to avoid trouble. People across many nations viewed this movie, years after it was originally slated for release.
11. The Interview
This flick is a humorous take on the life of the renowned North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The trailer of the movie left many North Koreans fuming and it was even speculated that the United States and the Asian country had a spat over this flick.
12. Rosemary’s Baby
This 1968 psychological venture of filmmaker Roman Polanski was a huge success in the United States. The movie was based on the life of a woman named Rosemary who gets sexually abused in her dreams by a demonic figure and carries a child in her womb which supposedly belongs to Satan.
13. Triumph Of The Will
This movie was produced by the infamous dictator, Adolf Hitler and was more of a glorification of the Nazi party in Germany. The movie hailed the practices and policies of the Nazis and their approach towards administration, which couldn’t gain acceptance after the party perished.
14. Monty Python’s Life Of Brian
This vintage satire dealt with the crucifixion and many other elements of Christianity in a comical way, which was hard for ardent followers of the religion to accept for obvious reasons.
15. The Birth Of A Nation
This political drama was based on America after the end of the great civil war. The movie angered people belonging to the African American community for portraying them in poor light. A few of the scenes showed the blacks becoming sexually desperate on encountering white women.
Starring the ravishing Monica Belluci, the movie was much talked about for a horrific rape scene featuring the actress. The movie was also praised for its style of narration.
17. Fahrenheit 9/11
This famous documentary is one of the first cinematic works based on the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. The critically acclaimed work had a few sequences which indirectly slammed the Bush administration during the latter’s tenure as the president.
18. The Human Centipede
This is a dark thriller which revolves around a psychopath who is obsessed with centipedes and sews his victims to form a human version of the insect. It was considered to be one of the most absurd concepts to be adapted for the silver screen.
19. A Serbian Film
The script of this eerie flick surrounds a porn star’s final attempt in making a sleazy flick, so that he can support his family’s financial stability. Many across the world raised a hue and cry about this movie due to its scenes which showed children exhibiting sexual behavior.
This bizarre psychological film is the tale of a woman who starts leading a secluded life in the forests along with her husband, following the death of her son. However, she soon turns into a maniac. The movie is filled with instances of eccentricity and sleaze.
The graphic content in this psycho thriller might really leave one disturbed for days. One of its characters is a blood thirsty woman who hangs her victims upside down and naked. She then makes incisions on their bodies and quenches her thirst with the blood that spills. Watch this at your own risk!
This 1932 movie revolving around circus performers left its audiences shocked because of its content. The director reportedly held auditions of deformed individuals and one of them even suffered a miscarriage as a result of showing up for the film. A major chunk of it was cut and a 64-minute shrunk version of the film was released.
23. The Da Vinci Code
Based on eminent writer Dan Brown’s bestseller by the same name, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ was banned in many nations at the time of its release due to certain elements which touch taboo subjects such as Christianity and Jesus Christ.
24. Pretty Baby
The movie unfolds the tale of a young girl named Violet, who is a twelve-year-old prostitute and her time at an American brothel. This 1978 flick featured famous actress Brook Shields and its content left the American society of the time pretty irked.
25. Peeping Tom
‘Peeping Tom’ was quite a weird experience for its viewers who had to sit through a movie which showed a photographer who had a camera equipped with a knife. The man would kill his models in a bid to capture them on celluloid.
26. Natural Born Killers
Penned by the famous filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and directed by Oliver Stone, the movie is about two psychopath killers who butcher people to climb the ladder of fame. The movie was considered to be extremely gory by the audiences.
27. The Magdalene Sisters
Four women, who face trying times in their lives, end up in an asylum which belongs to Christian missionaries. These women become victims of sexual abuse and other kinds of inhuman treatment at this institution. Many accused the film of depicting the followers of Christianity in bad light.
28. Salo (120 Days of Soldom)
The movie is a take on Italy, when it was ruled by the Fascist leaders. The movie shows brutal torture of young children and even shows scenes where they are subjected to sexual crimes. Pier Paolo Pasolini, the maker of the flick was murdered before its release, due to the same reason.
29. United 93
This 2006 flick spoke about the ill-fated flight which crashed into the ‘World Trade Center’ on September 9th 2001. The movie also was an attempt to answer many mysteries of the tragedy. The movie garnered a lot of critical acclaim and was in the news for dealing with a sensitive situation.
This movie themed on the subject of exploitation reportedly contained a real life murder, which was an attempt to make one of its scenes seem realistic.
31. Reservoir Dogs
This 1992 flick revolutionized the world of independent cinema and marked the arrival of the maverick Quentin Tarantino. Apart from its great screenplay, the movie also became a talk of the town for its dialogues, which contained swear words and excessive violence.
The movie was penned by a nineteen –year-old and the movie dealt with drugs and sexual escapades of teens in New York City. Even the dialogues in the movie were far more abusive than those in Quentin Tarentino flicks. However, the movie garnered around $20 Million worldwide and was even a hit in the film festival circuit.
33. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
This 1986 dark film is a biopic based on the life of a serial killer named Henry Lee Lucas, who was a notorious figure in the United States. The movie disappointed the Censor Board of the United Kingdom, who suggested that a few scenes need to be re-edited and felt that only then the movie would be suitable for viewing.
34. Bonnie and Clyde
This celluloid adaptation of the great real-life thugs Bonnie and Clyde was slammed by many for its depiction of crime. A few opined that the flick portrayed murder as a rather ‘cool’ act.
35. The Day The Clown Cried
The story of this controversial flick unfolds through the eyes of a clown, who is held captive at a Nazi concentration camp. The work of visual art was highly criticized for taking a negative stand on the German dictator Adolf Hitler.
36. The Devils
The Devils is yet another offbeat creation of the 1970’s, which deviated from the cinema norms of that time by a mile. The movie served religion, sex, sleaze and violence on a single platter, for which it was ripped apart by the American society of that time.
37. Cruising (1980)
The story of this flick left the members of the homosexual community offended, since it dealt with a man who goes on a killing spree, murdering gays alone. The movie is considered to be one of the notable works of the iconic actor Al Pacino.
38. I Spit on Your Grave
The movie is a revenge thriller filled with quite a few instances of rape, which was too bold for its time or any period for that matter. A scene depicting seduction in a bathtub was the one which left many orthodox audiences miffed.
39. In The Realm Of The Senses
This 1976 flick dealt was based on the real life sexual escape story involving a hotel maid and her employer. The movie led to a wide outrage in Japan and reached the American shores only in 1990, thanks to its explicit content.
This bizarre movie showed its lead characters making love with decayed corpses. A few of its scenes still sends shivers down the spine of many even today.
41. The Possession of Joel Deaney
This dark horror flick is one of the most remembered works of its genre, mainly due to its elements of controversy. David Elliott, who was a child artist in this flick, was completely nude in one of the scenes which enraged many members of the audience.
Crash is a 1996 thriller which dealt with people who are sexually aroused by car mishaps, a form of Paraphilia. One film critic even assaulted the movie’s director for making such a movie. Many industry professionals panned the flick for its sexually violent content.
Each work of master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock is considered a masterpiece by patrons of cinema, be it for their technical brilliance or their narratives, but this one was known for a different reason altogether. The movie consisted of scenes which were considered to be sexually explicit during their time. Hitchcock also launched a trailer of this flick which was considered to be quite bold.
44. The Deer Hunter
Starring the legendary Robert Di Niro, this 1978 political drama revolved around the infamous Vietnam War. Just when the Americans were trying to forget this shady chapter of their history, this controversial flick dug the skeleton out of its grave.
45. The Warriors (1979)
The movie had also featured in the list of ’25 Most Controversial Movies of All Time’. Many felt that the movie glorified violence and opined that it could encourage the culture of gang wars across the United States.
46. Do The Right Thing
Filmmaker Spike Lee’s 1989 outing was scarred with many controversies. Certain sections of the society slammed the movie for its bad portrayal of blacks which could hurt the sentiments of the community and even trigger serious consequences.
47. Hail Mary
The movie in a way was a modern day take on the religious figure Virgin Mary. The plot of the film revolves around a young girl Mary who gets impregnated despite being a virgin. The script of ‘Hail Mary’ sparked off heated debates across several parts of the world.
This cinematic version of the life and assassination of former American President John F Kennedy raised a lot of eyebrows across the United States. Many had accused director Oliver stone for his inaccurate portrayal of certain events involving the political leader.
49. Last Tango in Paris
Starring the legendary Marlon Brando, this movie was a topic of debate amongst many for a lengthy scene of anal sex. The moral police brigade protested against people who visited theatres to watch this flick.
50. The Tin Drum
The story revolved around the lustful relationship of two kids. Doesn’t that speak volumes about why this movie invited controversy? Two minors indulging in love making is something which is hard to digest by many even today, leave alone 1979, the year it was slated for release.