Horror movies have been a popular genre since the beginning of the film industry. Old monster movies like Dracula, Frankenstein and The Creature From the Black Lagoon terrified audiences and created lifelong horror fans. Still, the process of banning movies has been a longstanding tradition for countries all over the world, and horror movies are no exception. Whether it’s graphic depictions of violence, rape or real death scenes, some countries just can’t handle the content.
In most cases, movies are only banned temporarily. A horror movie made in the 1970s may seem gory at the time, warranting a ban. But, later, these countries will change their mind and lift the band.
Read on for our list of 8 banned horror movies that will definitely give you nightmares. Although most of these are decades-old, their creepy content and unsettling themes still frighten watchers to this day.
8. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Banned in West Germany, Iceland, France, UK and Others
While some of the movies on this list are really only good for the shock value, some actually have some redeemable qualities. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a film about a van of hippies that find themselves ravaged by a family of creeps out in the middle of nowhere, is definitely a fright-fest, yet is a beloved movie in the eyes of horror fans. In fact, Roger Ebert gave a fairly positive review of the acting, while also saying “as violent and gruesome and blood-soaked as the title promises.” Still, the extreme violence garnered some bans for the movie in countries such as the UK, West Germany, Iceland and France, although most of these bans have since been lifted.
7. Saw 3D (2010) Banned in Germany
Also known as Saw: The Final Chapter, Saw 3D was the seventh movie in the Saw horror movie franchise. This film is seen as the final installment of the series and features just as much blood and gore as the movies that came before it. Because of the gore in the movie, it was banned in Germany. It specifically violated act §131 StGB against the glorification of violence. Still, the movie is only banned from public viewings in Germany. Citizens can still own private copies that they can watch in the comfort of their homes, regardless of whether or not it will give them nightmares.
6. The Evil Dead (1981) Banned in Malaysia, Sweden, UK and Others
The Evil Dead is another example of a movie on this list that has become beloved by most horror fans. Created by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell, it chronicles a group of college-aged friends as they spend the night in a creepy cabin. Soon people start becoming possessed by demons. According to The Independent, it was initially banned in countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Malaysia, Iceland and Ireland. Still, it remains a popular film to this day. Critic J.C. Maçek III says, “The film went through name changes and bannings only to survive as not only ‘the ultimate experience in grueling horror’ but as an oft-imitated and cashed-in-on classic, with 30 years of positive reviews to prove it.”
5. The Last House on the Left (1972) Banned in United Kingdom
The Last House on the Left was the very first movie of horror maven Wes Craven, who is now more famous for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream horror movie series. In it, a young woman and a friend are brutally raped and murdered by a group of escaped convicts. The parents of one of the girls take out their revenge by killing the murderers. The legendary film review duo Siskel & Ebert had mixed opinions on the film–Ebert gave it a favorable review and Siskel did not. Still, it has a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the decent reviews, the film was banned in the United Kingdom upon its theatrical release due to sadism and violence. While it was briefly available for purchase in the UK when the film was released on video, it was banned again in 1984. The ban was eventually lifted in 2002.
4. I Spit On Your Grave (1978) Banned in Ireland, Norway, Australia and Others
Originally titled Day of the Woman, I Spit On Your Grave is a rape and revenge horror movie from 1978. In it, a woman named Jennifer is brutally assaulted by a group of men over the course of several scenes. After the attack, Jennifer decides to take out her revenge on the men by murdering each one in graphic and creative ways. Roger Ebert said of the movie, “Attending it was one of the most depressing experiences of my life.” The long and graphic scenes of rape and murder made this horror movie an easy one to ban. It was initially banned in Norway, Ireland, Australia, Canada and other countries. A remake was released in 2010. While it was received better than the original, the remake was still banned in New Zealand.
3. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) Banned in Italy, Iceland, Australia, UK and Others
Cannibal Holocaust is an Italian found-footage horror movie where a group of documentations go to the Amazon Rainforest to film cannibal tribes. The brutality against both humans and animals in the film (the screenshots alone are nightmare-inducing) was so realistic that the director of the film, Ruggero Deodato, was actually arrested shortly after the film’s release for obscenity and murder. Viewers truly thought the actors were murdered on film. While that turned out not to be the true and the charges were dropped, the animal deaths on screen were real. Because of the intense graphic violence and animal cruelty, the film has been banned in its home country of Italy along with Australia, Ireland, the UK, Iceland, Norway and other countries.
2. Faces of Death (1978) Banned in Australia, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, and UK
Children of the ’80s and ’90s, especially those that had curiosity in horror movies, have heard of Faces of Death. It was a famous horror exploitation movie that had many sequels. The film is all about showing various deaths. Unlike most horror movies, some of the onscreen deaths are real. According to special effects artist Allan A. Apone, only about 40% of the onscreen deaths were fake. Spliced amidst the fake deaths were real footage of deaths grabbed from stock footage and newsreels. Because of these very graphic and real shots, the first Faces of Death was initially banned in Australia, Norway, the UK and a few other countries. This is significantly less than the 40+ countries in which the movie boasted that it was banned.
1. The Exorcist (1973) Banned in United Kingdom
Unlike the other entries on this list, this banned horror movie was so critically acclaimed that it was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won two of them. The Exorcist is regularly named one of the scariest and best horror movies of all time. Yet this 1970s film still spent 11 years banned in the United Kingdom. While British movie-goers were free to watch the movie when it was first released in theaters and on video, the British Board of Film Classifications reevaluated the content of the movie back in 1988. Because the main character is 11 years old and going through some tough scenes–including sexual scenes that involve a crucifix–they thought it wasn’t appropriate for British audiences. It was then taken off the ban in 1999.