If there’s one thing the Internet loves, it’s lists – and if there’s one thing we here at Movies.com love, it’s lists about movies. So, with that in mind, we bring you this new top 10 ranking from our friends at Listverse: The Top 10 Banned Movies of All Time.
The banning of films is nothing new – it’s gone on since the dawn of the medium – but as Americans we often take it for granted that we can see almost anything in this country without Government intervention. Folks in Europe (particularly England, where the British Board of Film Classification has ruled with an iron fist for decades) aren’t quite so lucky – and they’ve missed out on a lot of cool films over the years.
For all the negative connotations involved with being “banned,” many films have taken the potential bad publicity and turned it into a positive. Exploitation and horror films have done this for years – which is why something like Umberto Lenzi’s 1981 Italian gut-muncher Cannibal Ferox proudly proclaims it’s been “Banned in 31 countries!” right on the cover. They say being infamous is just as good as famous – and many of the films on the list support that thesis.
What is interesting – and at least somewhat disheartening – is how many of the films featured on Listverse’s chart are horror films. In our rush to “protect the masses,” it seems the guardians of morality often opt for the easiest targets.
As someone who’s seen eight out of the ten films on this list (the exceptions being Tom Six’s Human Centipede 2 – which hasn’t been released yet – and Alan Clarke’s Scum), I can tell you the majority of them are disturbing (I’d not call Mikey particularly disturbing, and was surprised to find it made the cut) – but none of them are worthy of being banned. Some of them are good films (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Exorcist are great. Natural Born Killers has its moments), some are terrible (Grotesque is a chore to sit through, proving that gore and violence without any sort of narrative context isn’t particularly interesting), and a few coast by on their reputation alone (I’m looking at you, A Serbian Film…). Some are genuinely upsetting on moral grounds (Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust – a film I love – features scenes where real jungle critters are killed on camera. Animal lovers abhor the film because of that – and it’s understandable), but is that reason enough to try to keep people from seeing them? Not from where I’m standing.
We will admit to being surprised that some titles didn’t make the list – Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave has been banned in a lot of places, for example – but this piece still provides a solid guide to navigating the waters of controversial cinema.
Head on over to Listverse and check out all ten films for yourself (complete with some Not Safe for Work clips). How many of these films have you seen? Were they ban-worthy because they scarred you for life or is the censoring of these movies much ado about nothing?