When it comes to movie genres that are not everyone’s cup of tea, there may not be a more polarizing one than horror. Everyone seems to have their own opinion of what is scary, and while this can create challenges for the filmmaker, it can also lead to some variety in the genre.
One of the styles of horror films that have become more popularized in recent times is referred to as “torture p*rn.” These are movies where not only are you going to see some gore, but you can be assured that the person is going to suffer tremendously before they eventually bite the bullet.
As you are going to learn by the end of this list, there is no shortage of ways to torture someone – from the traditional style of torture, to being flayed alive, to being forced to drink a concoction of human body parts. You can assure yourself that even if some of these characters don’t die, they’ll sure wish they did.
These are 10 of the most horrifying and, at times, graphic films to ever be released. I assure you, if you think the scenes I describe are bad, the films are chock-full of scenes that are sure to also keep your stomach churning.
Some of the entries on this list made it not only for what we see, but the iconic nature of the scene itself. Call me crazy but even though Reservoir Dogs may not have the most graphic scene, it is impossible not to think of it every time “Stuck in the Middle with You” comes on, and that earns it some merit.
Don’t blame me if you started this list while trying to decide on what you want for lunch. Just know that you’ve been warned that your appetite may not be present for very much longer.
10. Human Smoothie – Captivity (2007)
There are definitely a few scenes from the movie Captivity that would probably belong on this list. When it comes to torture scenes though, you really cannot discredit the value of originality.
In one scene, there is a female character, who has been captured and strapped down to a chair. The villain then has the brilliant idea of putting various body parts (eyes, ears, guts) into a blender, concocting a lovely human smoothie, which the character is then forced to drink. It is one thing to be tortured because of physical pain, but it’s another thing entirely when you are being forced to do something that is absolutely disgusting. I know people say you are what you eat, but I don’t think anyone out there is hoping to eat the insides of another human being.
9. Achilles’ Last Stand – Hostel (2005)
The Hostel franchise has been known for its gore, but I’m going to go back to the original to talk about one of the most gut-wrenching moments of the series.
Josh is having himself a bad day when he finds himself locked in a dungeon-esque room and tied to a chair. Things go from bad to worse when a man enters the room, and talks to Josh about how he wanted to be a surgeon, but failed. Josh then, unfortunately, gets a power drill stuck into his chest and legs. Josh, naturally, begs to be let free, which the man obliges, but not before first cutting his Achilles tendons. Josh, now reduced to a crawling mess, attempts to make it to the door, only to have his throat cut with a scalpel.
Truly a film for the entire family to enjoy. The fact that this is one of the most memorable deaths from the original, combined with the continued physical pain that Josh endures before he dies, makes it one of the most gut-wrenching deaths to experience.
8. Reverse Bear Trap – Saw (2004)
When it comes to incredible torture scenes, one element that makes this one stand out is the fact that the character, Amanda, survives the trap. Meaning that not only would she have to deal with the physical ramifications, but this also had a pretty significant impact on her psyche.
The reverse bear trap was a device latched onto her Amanda’s face. Simply put, the device would open up in 60 seconds and rip her face apart. In order to survive, Amanda had to cut into the body of another person in the room and find a key. This becomes extra fun when she discovers that the other person is still alive. The scene might not have somebody getting their face blown apart but, as you’ll see below, this list won’t be lacking in some gore.
The fact that this trap makes an appearance later on in the series as well (to much less successful victims) helps make it one of the most memorable and unique moments in the Saw franchise.
7. Basically All of The Human Centipede (2009)
I am going to preface that there is not a torture scene in this movie in particular that stands out. That’s simply because there are so many things wrong with The Human Centipede that it is really hard to know where to start.
How about the idea that you were caught, tortured and stapled to someone else (mouth to butt nonetheless)? How about the fact that it was all just done for someone’s sick amusement? One of the most horrible things is how the doctor tortures the people throughout the film, you know, because nobody is going to willingly agree to what he does to them.
What about when you have to poop? The woman on the receiving end may not be getting tortured in a traditional sense, but the look in her eyes says that she has experienced some shit in her day.
6. Stick Out Your Tongue And Say AAAAHHHHHH!!! -Mark Of The Devil (1970)
If there is one town that you probably don’t want to live in, it’s a small village in Austria during the 18th century. In this town, there is a man, Albino, who decides if you are a witch or not. If he decides you are, you get to get tortured. See where we are going with this?
There are several torture elements at play in this film, including several devices that are meant to help literally stretch people out. Water boarding, a technique not always seen in horror films, is also present in the film. As you can see from the above photo, clearly not even someone’s tongue was exempt from the torture. The only thing I can imagine being worse than that, may be your teeth, which leads me to…
5. Pearly Whites – Marathon Man (1976)
If there is one area that I hate to see get tortured, it’s the teeth. I mean they’re just so incredibly valuable to everything you do!
In the 1976 film, Marathon Man, one of the lead characters happens to upset the wrong man. Christian Szell was a dentist who tortured Jews in a concentration camp. The dentist tortures the man in a variety of ways, including jamming a needle into his gums. The dentist then offers the man a choice, relief (if he cooperates) or more pain, implying that he’ll rip his teeth out.
Even though the character truly does not know the information that Szell is after, he is tortured relentlessly until he is saved by another character.
4. Kiss Your Balls Goodbye – Hostel II (2007)
If you are going to make a sequel to one of the biggest horror movies of all time, you need to step your game up. Hostel II had many gut-churning moments, but perhaps nobody had it worse than Stuart, who had his genitals cut off with scissors and then tossed to guard dogs. This after Stuart attempted to rape Beth, who expressed her anger by jamming a needle into his ear. Hard to say that Stuart didn’t have it coming, but nobody wakes up that morning thinking that their penis is going to be cut off.
3. “Stuck in the Middle With You” – Reservoir Dogs (1992)
When it comes to iconic torture scenes, I don’t know if there is a better answer than the scene in Reservoir Dogs. It may not be the most graphic but it’s easily the most memorable, and for that, it deserves to be on this list.
The scene is perhaps best known for the usage of the song “Stuck in the Middle with You” as a gangster (Michael Madison) gleefully chops up a police officer’s face. The torture reaches its peak when the cop gets his ear cut off.
Madison then douses him in gasoline, intending to light him on fire but he is fortunately stopped. Unfortunately, the cop still ends up dead by the end of the film.
2. Beautiful Music – Clockwork Orange (1971)
There are two scenes in A Clockwork Orange that actually go hand-in-hand to make them two of the toughest scenes to watch in cinema. The first occurs relatively early into the film, when the main characters storm someone’s house, beat up the residents inside, hold down the woman’s husband and then rape her.
It is intense psychological trauma to have to watch your wife get raped. It is also why you cannot argue against the torture that Alex (the lead character) received later in the film, in an attempt to change his ways.
Alex finds himself strapped to a chair, with his eyeballs literally being stretched open. He is then forced to watch disturbing material, with the intention of leading Alex to feel nauseous every time he hears music, which is a passion of his.
The difference between the two types of torture ensures that no matter what, you’re going to have a hard time sitting through the entire film.
1. Flaying – Martyrs (2008)
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to things that I probably never want to have happen to my skin, having it be flayed is definitely one of them.
In Martyrs, we follow a group of women, who feel that the more torture is inflicted on a young woman, the higher the chance of that woman gaining insight on the next world beyond this one.
Anna is the lucky woman, who is able to survive all of the torture that she goes through. This includes being beaten and degraded for a significant period of time, before being told that her suffering is over. Instead, she is taken to a surgery where her skin is flayed off. To her credit, she somehow survives this, making the pain she suffered all the more significant.