Top 10 Torture Porn Films
If horror is that creepy uncle who lives alone in a cabin deep in the woods, Torture porn is his prisoner, wearing a ball gag, chained deep in the cellar. But, that’s not something to leave to your imagination. Torture porn is the type of horror you must watch – up close and personal. Here is a Top 10 list of the best and most original Torture porn movies, even if the directors would probably deny it.
10. Pier Pasolini’s Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pasolini, 1975)
Salo is one of those movies people mention in passing, but most have never seen. The hype that surrounds this movie often gets bigger and more glorious with each telling. The movie is set in Italy during World War II where 4 rich fascists obsessed with the Marque de Salle take 9 teenage boys and girls and torture them in every which way you can think of and some you wouldn't even consider.
I’m not entirely sure it is worth that much hype, but one thing is for sure…it really is vivid. It isn’t gory in a bloody way, but instead makes you wonder, “How much poop can they focus on really?” Apparently, a lot. Let’s just say they have a section called The Ring of Blood. It should have been called The Ring of Poop, because that’s what it ends up as. There is a section called The Ring of Shit, but it really comes across as a sequel. This movie is horror, but think of it as horror poopified.
9. Turistas (Stockwell, 2006)
This is one of the movies riding the Torture porn wave of the 2000’s. By the time it hit the big screen, the market was already over-saturated with similar films with stronger casts that it was pretty universally panned. Though not as original as its predecessors, Turistas takes a movie which should be in the slasher film subgenre and kicks it up a level.
American tourists go to Brazil where they find themselves robbed and stranded in the forest. They go for help, only to find that their internal organs are more valuable than their lives. The movie plays into stereotype a bit much, but like many horror movies before and after, it’s just better to suspend disbelief and go with the flow. If you do that, this movie becomes a whole lot more enjoyable.
8. The Devil’s Rejects (Zombie, 2005)
This movie is the sequel to Zombie’s House of 1,000 corpses, but honestly, you don’t need to watch it to get who the Firefly’s are and why their family is a nasty bunch. The beauty of this film is that as the viewer, you don’t follow a bunch of helpless victims to their doom; you follow a family of serial killers, the Firefly’s (Baby, Otis and Captain Spaulding) as they run from the Sherriff. It’s a nice twist that turns your viewing perspective around on itself and has you rooting for the evil, murdering protagonists instead of the man who is trying to put them in jail.
Personally, I prefer House of 1,000 corpses, but this movie takes it’s homage to the great slasher films of the 70’s and adds that burst of visceral inclinations from the 2000’s to create a look which feels old, but blood, guts and torture that feels oh so new.
7. Borderland (Berman, 2007)
This is one of the few movies that claim to be based on a true story and isn’t lying about it. The movie doesn’t go into as much salacious detail as it could, because after some research, I found the real story to include incest, homosexuality and larger body count that spans several countries. So, although the movie’s director held back on us, it doesn’t discount the fact that American students go into Mexico to find a good time and instead find themselves at odds with a murderous, drug dealing cult.
It has all the makings to fit this list: torture (check), human sacrifice (check), cannibalism (check), death by sharp object seen up close and personal (check). Sprinkle a little Samwise Gamgee, also known as Sean Astin, as an American serial killer and Rider Strong, also known that the guy with the good hair from Boy Meets World as one of the students and you’ve got a mix that make your viewing a little emotionally confusing. The best part is that this film has good writing, good directing and some really good acting.
6. Antichrist (von Trier, 2009)
The premise of the movie is simple. What happens when the grieving process is taken to the extreme? The movie is broken up into different chapters where a woman works through the guilt and pain caused by the death of her son. Her husband, played by the wonderful Willem Defoe, is a therapist who tries to help her through the grief. To thank him for his effort, she crushes his balls with a block of wood, drills a hole in his leg, buries him alive and I’m sure there’s more, but my brain was working overtime on this one. If you’ve ever watched a bunch of Takashi Miike films, it has that same sensibility to it.
There is a lot of blood, violence and sexual depravity. It almost seems as if it is done for shock purposes only, but if you go back and watch it again, its depravity holds a greater meaning from the name of the cabin, Eden, to the in depth examination of misogyny itself. The movie is named Antichrist after all.
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5. Audition (Miike, 1999)
It is almost impossible to have a list like this and not have Takashi Miike in here somewhere. This tale is about a widower who uses an audition to find a wife. Leave it up to Miike to take a comedy, maneuver it into a love story, wrap it in a melodrama and finish it off in horror. If you’re looking for that constant scare, Audition will seem tame. If you have patience, this movie will have you wondering if what you saw was true and follow that with, what the hell are you watching?
I love this movie and the more I dissect it, the more undertones and subtle moments I seem to catch. If you want to know about this movie in depth, check out my review discussing its violent nature in regards to sex and body parts. Yes, I’m pimping my own stuff, but if Audition is your thing, then we are on the same wavelength. Scary, I know…
4. The Human Centipede (Six, 2009)
I remember when this movie came out and was told it was the most deranged movie ever made. How could that be? I’ve seen Salo, Cannibal Holocaust and many others that turned me cross-eyed. This couldn’t be the most deranged movie, could it? That’s debatable, but it’s got to be up there. Tom Six (who wrote and directed) has to have a mind made up of vomit and dead kittens to think up a doctor who wants a pet made of humans whose mouths are sewn into another person’s rectum. Are you serious? I discussed the movie with a friend and he said it was awful and quite seriously he told me the movie and others like it were in bad taste. Well, crap.
3. Hellraiser (Berker, 1987)
A man unwittingly uses a puzzle box to open up a hell dimension where sadism and pain are the only things of importance. He is taken into this dimension ruled by Pinhead and other demonic flesh abusing creatures. Later, the man’s brother and sister-in-law (also former lover) move into his house where a drop of blood triggers the man’s escape from the sadistic dimension. Sadly, he’s all bone and sinew, so he has his sister-in-law bring him victims to restore his own lost flesh. He also must escape Pinhead, who searches for latest, lost victim of pain.
If you haven’t seen this movie, seriously…what’s wrong with ya? It is part of the 80’s horror fad that went sequel crazy, but its premise and execution separate it from the likes of Freddy, Chucky and others of that era that tended to stick within the clear cut protagonist, antagonist lines. Pinhead isn’t just some villain, he’s a force and his world is one to be scared of.
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2. Hostel (Roth, 2005)
New York Magazine critic David Edelstein coined the term Torture porn to describe this movie. That’s right, that’s the guy who used the phrase directors and their adoring fans hate so much. But really, it is a perfect description if one must break down the horror genre into subgenres. Hostel is truly the perfect example.
This is the movie that triggered the ‘a bunch of tourists go to a foreign place to be tortured and killed’ trend that hit the mid 2000’s by storm, a few of which made this list. In this case, 3 tourists go to Amsterdam for drugs and a whole lot of sex. They follow the direction of a man, then of some girls who lead them to a place where they find themselves the victims in a murder for profit scheme. If you have a fantasy to kill someone and have the money , they have the tourists just for you. This movie really does have it all: blow torches, drills, chainsaws, knives, guns as well as, dismemberment, suffocation by ball-gag, eyeballs popping out. This movie really doesn’t hold back at all.
1. Saw (Wan, 2004)
Even though Hostel triggered the term, Saw is the movie that really set the subgenre ball rolling. It is an intellectual mind screw that forces the viewer to reconsider their own moral structure and how they would or wouldn’t abandon their own sense of moral standards to live. This isn’t the standard horror movie by any stretch of the imagination.
Saw takes two men, chains them on separates ends of a dingy bathroom with a dead man between them. They are told by tape recorder that one must kill the other or a family member of theirs will die. So, who will kill who to save their loved one? The real mind screw happens when the viewer eventually poses the question to themselves, ‘what would I do?’ In theory, the answer is easy. Saw allows you to see your answer in practice and it is never pretty. Through a series of flashbacks, we see others in similar situations and the results are bloody and painful. We find that a man called Jigsaw is the mastermind of these torturous mental and physical violations, but he is really isn’t as scary as the situations themselves or of the decisions the victims eventually must make.
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