From the most disturbing slasher flicks to movies that will literally keep you up at night, we’ve compiled a list of extremely disturbing horror movies.
The best horror movies are carefully crafted cinematic experiences — skillfully tailored affairs designed to make viewers feel as uncomfortable as humanly possible. It’s no surprise that the genre has often been criticized by some mainstream outlets, who would simply not approve of some of the objectionable content on display in the more bizarre horror flicks.
Sure, a good horror film will give you nightmares, but a truly great one will cause you to dread even when you’re wide awake.
That’s why, on this list, we’ll be taking a look at 10 of the most extremely disturbing horror movies ever made.
10. The Exorcist (1973)
No horror movie could ever be complete without including the 1973 William Friedkin classic, The Exorcist. While the movie could be considered relatively tame by today’s violence standards, there’s no denying the outrage that it caused in the more “pristine” minds of 1970s moviegoers.
There were reports of people fainting after watching the film, with a woman even going as far as suing the producers of The Exorcist, blaming them for the miscarriage she went through after seeing the movie. For a movie about a case of demonic possession, it’s safe to say that the reaction it caused in the mainstream public was undeniably devilish, making it one of the earliest examples of an extremely disturbing horror movie.
9. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange may not be considered a typical “horror” movie — but classifying the madness on display in this movie is certainly a massive undertaking for any film critic. The unconventional narrative and colourful characters of the film defy most genre conventions — and seeing its status as one of the most prominent extremely disturbing horror movies ever made, let’s just call this one a sci-fi/horror dystopia film for the sake of classification.
The film follows Alex and his group of friends as they terrorize the population of dystopic London sometime in the near future. Extremely graphic depictions of violence and abuse are a dime a dozen in A Clockwork Orange, something that could lead even modern audiences to experience a sharp discomfort while they watch the film.
8. The Witch (2015)
Directed by Robert Eggers and released in 2015, The Witch is considered by some movie critics to be the movie that heralded a new age for horror filmmaking. Gone were the days of cheap jump scares and predictable plot twists, and in came a new generation of horror filmmakers that seemed intent on creating some of the most extremely disturbing horror movies we have ever seen.
A gritty folk tale that involves some unseen forces hellbent on destroying a puritan family, The Witch is a modern classic that’s never afraid to close some lines that previous horror films never even dared to approach.
7. The House That Jack Built (2018)
Speaking of modern horror classics, the criminally overlooked The House That Jack Built is a perverse horror show that will test the audience’s stomachs each time the titular character is on screen. Directed by Lars von Trier — who could honestly fill this entire list by himself — the movie follows a psychopathic serial killer, as he recounts some of the goriest feats of his career.
Shockingly painful to watch, The House That Jack Built should not be seen by those with a faint stomach. In a list that includes some of the most extremely disturbing horror movies ever conceived, this one might be one of the most mean-spirited ones yet.
6. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)
While the franchise went a little overboard with its shocking concept in the sequels, the original The Human Centipede will always be considered one of the most shocking films ever made. The idea of creating a conjoined monstrosity, let alone the mechanics involved in the process, is enough to make even the sturdiest horror movie fan cringe.
The Human Centipede was so nefarious, that director Tom Six had to lie to potential producers about the plot of the movie, fearing that it could never be done. If only he had been right.
5. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
When your movie is based on the writings of one of the most well-known sadists history has ever seen, then you know you’ll be creating one of the most extremely disturbing horror movies ever made. That’s more or less the story with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom.
As bizarre as it is sadistic, Salò is one of the naughtiest, raunchiest films ever conceived. Most of the content in the flick could be considered taboo in most countries, even today. This was Pasolini’s final film, being released three weeks after his mysterious assassination.
4. The Fly (1986)
David Cronenberg. That’s all you have to read to know that you’ll definitely be watching one of the most extremely disturbing horror movies you’ve ever seen. Cronenberg’s mastery of body horror is legendary among film buffs, and it’s in full display in his 1986 classic, The Fly.
While the movie is based on the 1958 movie of the same name, this version of The Fly is more revolting than anything the 50s could ever imagine. For your own, don’t eat while you watch this one. It’s also one of the most disgusting movies ever made.
3. Mother! (2017)
Most of the films in our list are extremely disturbing horror movies for their shocking depictions of violence and physical torture, but Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! Goes one step beyond, punishing the audience’s sanity as much as it tests their gag reflex.
Shocking all the way through, Mother! is a complex religious allegory that follows a bizarre, almost oneiric logic. Most of the film and its themes are up to the viewer’s interpretation, but some scenes of unabashed violence are just too much to handle.
2. A Serbian Film (2010)
When it comes to movies that showcase the darker, most deplorable aspects of humanity, none of them are as shockingly explicit as 2010’s A Serbian Film. Featuring some truly despicable scenes, this movie came very close to being crowned as the most extremely disturbing horror movie ever made. At the very least, its concept and plot might very well be the most depraved thing we’ve ever witnessed.
Its graphic depictions of violence earned A Serbian Film infamy upon its release. Not everyone can stomach the raw brutality of the flick’s plot, but at least every act depicted in the movie is false — which is something that can’t be said of our number one spot.
1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
The explicit violence and questionable themes of Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust landed the movie and its director in hot water as soon as the film was released. Some Italian courts even believed that the killings seen in the movie were real murders — and they were partially right.
While none of the actors were mortally wounded during the making of Cannibal Holocaust, the same can’t be said of some animal species unfortunate enough to appear in the film. Multiple animals were killed on-screen during the making of the film, including a giant sea turtle. These despicable acts of violence elevate Cannibal Holocaust to a whole other level when it comes to how low you can get when making a film, easily making it the most extremely disturbing horror movie ever made.