Banned films are movies that have been censored or prohibited from being shown or distributed by a government or other authority.
The reasons for a film being banned can vary widely and may include concerns about political content, religious blasphemy, sexual or violent content, and other factors.
Banned films are often seen as controversial or provocative, and may be viewed as a threat to the cultural or social norms of the society in which they are banned.
In some cases, the censorship or banning of a film may lead to public protests and debates over issues of free speech and artistic expression.
It’s worth noting that while a film may be banned or censored in one country, it may be perfectly legal and widely available in other countries.
Additionally, banned films may be later re-evaluated and eventually become accepted or celebrated as important cultural artifacts.
Best Banned Movies
Let’s jump right in with a notorious one!
1. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
“A Clockwork Orange” is a 1971 film directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess.
The film is a dystopian satire that follows the story of Alex DeLarge, a charismatic but violent young man who leads a gang of “droogs” through a bleak and oppressive future society.
The film is known for its striking visual style, dark humor, and themes of free will, morality, and the nature of evil.
It explores these themes through its portrayal of Alex’s journey from a violent criminal to a brainwashed and docile member of society after undergoing a controversial experimental treatment.
The film was initially controversial due to its graphic depictions of violence and sexual assault, and was banned in some countries for many years. However, it has since been widely acclaimed as a classic of cinema, and is regarded as one of Kubrick’s most influential and enduring works.
The film also features a memorable electronic score by Wendy Carlos, which incorporates adaptations of classical music by composers such as Beethoven and Purcell, and has become a defining aspect of the film’s style.
- Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates (Actors)
- Stanley Kubrick (Director) - Anthony Burgess (Writer)
- Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
2. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
“I Spit on Your Grave” is a controversial exploitation horror film directed by Meir Zarchi and released in 1978. The film is also known as “Day of the Woman”, its original title.
The movie’s plot follows Jennifer Hills, a young writer who rents a cabin in the woods to work on her novel.
However, she becomes the target of a group of local men who brutally rape and assault her. After surviving the attack, Jennifer seeks revenge by systematically hunting down and killing each of her attackers.
The film’s graphic and explicit depiction of sexual violence and revenge has been the subject of much controversy and criticism.
The movie was banned in several countries and has been accused of promoting a misogynistic and violent worldview. However, it has also been praised by some as a feminist revenge fantasy, with Jennifer’s character taking control of her own destiny and seeking justice against her attackers.
“I Spit on Your Grave” has inspired numerous sequels, remakes, and imitators, with the film’s title becoming synonymous with the exploitation and rape-revenge subgenres of horror cinema.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic horror movie released in 1974. Directed by Tobe Hooper, the movie is widely considered to be one of the most influential horror films ever made.
The film follows a group of friends who are on a road trip through rural Texas. They stop to pick up a hitchhiker, who ends up being unstable and cuts himself with a straight razor.
The friends kick him out of the van, but soon find themselves in even more trouble when they stumble upon a house full of cannibalistic killers, including the infamous Leatherface, who wears a mask made of human skin and wields a chainsaw.
The friends are gradually picked off one by one as they try to escape the horrors of the house and the killers who inhabit it.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is known for its gritty, raw style and disturbing imagery. The movie’s low-budget production and use of unknown actors contributed to its unsettling realism.
Despite its violent content, the movie was a commercial success and has become a cult classic, inspiring numerous sequels, remakes, and imitations in the years since its release.
- Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Gunnar Hansen (Actors)
- Tobe Hooper (Director)
- Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
4. Straw Dogs (1971)
“Straw Dogs” is a psychological thriller film directed by Sam Peckinpah and released in 1971. The movie is known for its controversial and graphic violence, as well as its exploration of themes related to masculinity, power, and the human psyche.
The film is set in a small village in Cornwall, England, where a young American mathematician named David Sumner (played by Dustin Hoffman) has moved with his wife Amy (played by Susan George).
David is working on a research project, while Amy is adjusting to life in a new place and feeling increasingly isolated and frustrated.
As tensions rise in the village, a group of local men begins to harass and intimidate the couple. When Amy is sexually assaulted, David is pushed to his limits and decides to take violent revenge. The movie climaxes in a brutal showdown between David and the townspeople.
“Straw Dogs” has been praised for its performances, direction, and thematic depth, but also criticized for its depiction of sexual violence and its glorification of vigilante justice. It has become a cult classic and is considered one of Peckinpah’s most controversial and influential films.
5. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
“Cannibal Holocaust” is a controversial horror film directed by Ruggero Deodato and released in 1980. The film is notorious for its graphic violence, including scenes of real animal slaughter, and has been banned in several countries.
The plot follows a documentary film crew who travel to the Amazon rainforest to film and study indigenous tribes.
When the crew fails to return, a rescue team is sent to search for them. As they venture deeper into the jungle, they discover evidence of the crew’s brutal fate and the atrocities they committed in the pursuit of their documentary.
The film’s graphic content and depiction of indigenous people have been criticized for being exploitative and racist. However, it has also been praised for its use of found footage and innovative filmmaking techniques, which have influenced subsequent horror films.
Due to its controversial nature, “Cannibal Holocaust” remains a significant film in the horror genre and continues to generate discussion and debate among film critics and enthusiasts.
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6. Nightmares In a Damaged Brain (1981)
“Nightmares In a Damaged Brain” is a horror film directed by Romano Scavolini and released in 1981. The film tells the story of George Tatum, a man who has been released from a mental institution and is struggling with a violent past.
The film is notorious for its graphic violence and gore, and was banned in several countries upon release. It was marketed as being based on a true story, which has been disputed over the years.
The plot follows George Tatum as he tries to readjust to society after being released from a mental institution.
He experiences recurring nightmares that become increasingly violent and disturbing, and he begins to fear that he may be slipping back into his violent past.
Meanwhile, a young boy named Tommy has been having similar nightmares, and his mother seeks the help of a psychiatrist to understand what is happening to him.
As the film progresses, the two storylines converge and the true nature of George’s nightmares is revealed. The film features several gruesome and violent scenes, including a particularly graphic murder sequence that is often cited as one of the most disturbing moments in horror movie history.
While “Nightmares In a Damaged Brain” has gained a cult following over the years, it remains controversial for its extreme violence and graphic content. It is considered by some to be a classic of the slasher genre, while others view it as a disturbing and exploitative film.
7. Blood Feast’ (1963)
“Blood Feast” is a horror movie directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis and released in 1963. The movie is notable for being one of the earliest examples of the “splatter” or “gore” subgenre of horror movies.
The plot of “Blood Feast” revolves around an Egyptian caterer named Fuad Ramses, who is secretly a worshipper of the ancient goddess Ishtar.
Ramses plans to resurrect Ishtar by performing a sacrificial ritual that requires the body parts of young women. He begins to murder and dismember his victims, all while keeping up his facade as a friendly and successful caterer.
The movie’s graphic violence and gore were considered shocking at the time of its release, and it has since become a cult classic in the horror genre. Despite its low budget and amateurish acting, “Blood Feast” has been praised for its innovative use of special effects and its influence on later horror movies.
In 2016, a remake of “Blood Feast” was released, directed by Marcel Walz.
- 1984 VHS Release COMET Video Big Box
- Uncut Version 75mins
- aka Egyptian Blood Feast aka Feast of Flesh
- 1963 Horror Gore Cult Classic
- Collectible Release NTSC US VHS
8. Axe (1974)
“Axe” is a 1974 low-budget horror movie directed by Frederick R. Friedel. The film follows a psychopathic killer who preys on a group of young women living in a boarding house. The killer is armed with an axe, and he stalks and kills his victims one by one.
The film is notable for its extreme violence and brutality, which was controversial and caused some theaters to ban it. It is also known for its minimal dialogue, relying instead on atmospheric music and the killer’s heavy breathing to build tension.
Despite its notoriety, “Axe” received mixed reviews upon its release and did not achieve significant commercial success. However, it has since gained a cult following among horror fans, and is considered a classic of the “slasher” subgenre of horror films.
9. The Beyond (1981)
“The Beyond” is a horror film directed by Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci and released in 1981. The movie is part of Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” trilogy, which also includes “City of the Living Dead” and “The House by the Cemetery.”
The plot of the movie revolves around a young woman named Liza (played by Catriona MacColl), who inherits a run-down hotel in Louisiana that was built over one of the seven gateways to Hell.
As Liza and a local contractor work to renovate the hotel, they discover that the gateway has been opened, unleashing a series of supernatural and gruesome events that threaten their lives and sanity.
“The Beyond” is known for its graphic violence, surreal imagery, and eerie atmosphere. The movie features a number of gory and disturbing scenes, including a woman being attacked by a swarm of tarantulas and a man being eaten alive by a horde of undead creatures.
The film also includes themes related to the nature of evil, the fragility of sanity, and the power of the unknown.
Although “The Beyond” received mixed reviews upon its initial release, it has since become a cult classic and is considered one of Fulci’s most iconic works. The movie’s visual style and atmospheric soundtrack have influenced numerous horror films in the years since its release.
- Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale (Actors)
- Lucio Fulci (Director)
- English (Subtitle)
- English (Publication Language)
- Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Characteristics of Banned Movies
Movies are banned for a variety of reasons, including political, religious, social, or cultural sensitivities, graphic or explicit content, and obscenity or vulgarity.
Some characteristics that may lead to a movie being banned in certain countries or regions include:
Graphic Violence: Movies that feature excessive or explicit violence, torture, and gore can be banned in some countries, especially if the violence is depicted in a realistic or graphic way.
Sexual Content: Movies that contain explicit sex scenes or sexual themes that are considered taboo or offensive to certain cultures or religions can be banned.
Nudity: Films that show full frontal nudity or contain scenes of partial nudity that are deemed obscene or inappropriate can be banned.
Religious or Political Themes: Movies that criticize or challenge the political or religious establishment in a country may be banned for fear of causing unrest or rebellion.
These are just a few of the characteristics that can lead to a movie being banned in certain countries or regions. However, the criteria for banning a movie can vary widely depending on the cultural, religious, and political values of the country or region in question.
A History of Banned Films
Throughout the history of cinema, many films have been banned or censored due to their controversial content or messages. Here are some notable examples:
“The Birth of a Nation” (1915) – This silent film by D.W. Griffith depicts the Civil War and Reconstruction era, and has been criticized for its racist portrayal of African Americans. It was banned in several cities and countries, and remains controversial to this day.
“Nosferatu” (1922) – This silent German expressionist horror film was banned in Sweden for 23 years due to copyright infringement (it was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”).
“All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930) – This anti-war film was banned in Nazi Germany for its portrayal of German soldiers as disillusioned and demoralized.
“Brokeback Mountain” (2005) – This romantic drama about a same-sex relationship between two cowboys was banned in several countries, including China and Kuwait, due to its LGBT themes.
These are just a few examples of films that have been banned or censored throughout cinema history. While some of these films have since been reconsidered and are now celebrated as classics, their censorship serves as a reminder of the power of film to challenge societal norms and provoke controversy.
Films Famously Banned In the USA
The United States has a history of banning films for a variety of reasons, such as obscenity, violence, and political content. Here are some examples of films that were famously banned in the USA:
“The Birth of a Nation” (1915) – This film, directed by D.W. Griffith, depicted the Civil War and Reconstruction era, and was controversial for its racist portrayal of African Americans. It was banned in several cities, and protests against the film led to riots in some places.
“Freaks” (1932) – This horror film, directed by Tod Browning, featured real-life circus performers and was considered extremely controversial for its depiction of people with physical disabilities. It was banned in several countries, including the United States, for decades.
“The Exorcist” (1973) – This horror film, directed by William Friedkin, was based on a novel about a girl possessed by a demon, and was considered shocking for its graphic depictions of violence and sexual content. Some theaters refused to show the film, and it was banned in several countries.
“A Clockwork Orange” (1971) – This film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, was based on a novel about a violent gang leader and was considered controversial for its depiction of sex and violence. It was banned in the UK and was not shown in the United States for several years after its release.
“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974) – This horror film, directed by Tobe Hooper, was banned in several countries for its graphic violence and depictions of cannibalism. Some theaters refused to show the film, and it was controversial for its use of real animal carcasses in some scenes.
“Cannibal Holocaust” (1980) – This horror film, directed by Ruggero Deodato, depicted a group of filmmakers who are killed and eaten by a tribe of indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest. It was banned in several countries, including the United States, for its graphic violence and depictions of animal cruelty.
“The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) – This film, directed by Martin Scorsese, was based on a novel that imagined what Jesus’ life would have been like if he had given in to temptation. It was controversial for its depiction of Jesus as a flawed human being and was banned in several countries.
These are just a few examples of films that were banned in the United States for various reasons. While some of these films have since been reevaluated and are now considered classics, others remain controversial and continue to be banned or censored in some parts of the world.
Films Famously Banned In The UK
There have been several films that have been famously banned in the UK at some point in their history. Some of the most well-known examples include:
“A Clockwork Orange” (1971) – Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this film was banned by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in 1973 after it was linked to several violent crimes. The ban was lifted in 1999.
“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974) – Directed by Tobe Hooper, this film was banned in the UK for over 20 years due to its graphic violence. It was finally released uncut in 1999.
“The Exorcist” (1973) – Directed by William Friedkin, this film was banned in several UK cities when it was first released due to its explicit content. It was eventually released uncut in 1999.
“Cannibal Holocaust” (1980) – Directed by Ruggero Deodato, this film was banned in the UK for over 10 years due to its graphic violence and scenes of real animal cruelty. It was finally released in a heavily edited form in 2001.
“The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)” (2011) – Directed by Tom Six, this film was banned by the BBFC due to its extreme violence and sexual violence. The ban was later lifted after the film was heavily edited.
These are just a few examples of films that have been banned in the UK over the years. Other notable examples include “Last House on the Left,” “Faces of Death,” and “I Spit on Your Grave.”
Best Exploitation Films – Wrapping Up
Exploitation films are a diverse and often controversial category of cinema that includes a wide range of subgenres, such as blaxploitation, sexploitation, cannibal films, and many others. While opinions on the best exploitation films are highly subjective, here are some notable examples that have achieved significant critical and/or commercial success:
“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974) – a seminal horror film that has influenced countless other movies and filmmakers in the years since its release.
“Shaft” (1971) – a classic blaxploitation film that helped popularize the genre and gave rise to a new wave of African American cinema.
“I Spit on Your Grave” (1978) – a controversial and highly divisive rape-revenge film that remains a lightning rod for debates about violence and misogyny in cinema.
“Cannibal Holocaust” (1980) – a notorious and extremely graphic film that sparked intense controversy and was even banned in several countries.
“Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (1965) – a landmark film in the sexploitation genre that features a trio of tough, leather-clad female protagonists who engage in all manner of violent and criminal activities.
“Deep Throat” (1972) – a landmark film in the adult film industry that helped bring pornography into the mainstream and became a cultural touchstone of the 1970s.
“Death Wish” (1974) – a classic revenge film that became a major box office hit and spawned several sequels.
These films are just a small sample of the vast and diverse world of exploitation cinema, and their inclusion here should not be taken as an endorsement of their content or themes. Ultimately, the best exploitation films are those that push boundaries, challenge conventions, and offer a unique and often subversive perspective on the world around us.
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