Even if you absolutely cannot stand horror movies, you have to admit, if ever there is a time to watch them, it’s right now. As summer nights have officially given way to fall nights in with a blanket, why not pick the movies that will allow that blanket to double as a shield!
It will definitely come in handy because trust us, there is absolutely no way you’re going to get through these movies without having to turn away at least once.
Below we cover movies from a variety of countries to help compile a list of the 16 best horror movies that only the biggest of badasses are going to be able to get through without squirming. Even for huge horror aficionados, there’s probably at least one movie that you haven’t burned into your brain quite yet (but what better time than tonight?).
Whether it’s brutal murders, menstruation, or eating feces, the gut-wrenching scenarios below are as gruesome as they are varied. Hell, we even give a look at what Elijah Wood got up to after saving Middle Earth from the ring!
Have you seen a lot of the movies on our list below? Feel free to share the list on social media or comment below with some of your favorites that may have missed the cut!
16. The Girl Next Door (2007)
You probably aren’t shocked to hear that we aren’t starting out with the version that stars Elisha Cuthbert! And if you’re a super big fan of making sure Coke bottles never get shoved into unexpected orifices, you probably want to avoid this version of The Girl Next Door. The most horrific thing about the movie is seen in the above photo. Not only is there a character that gets sexually assaulted and beaten throughout the movie, but the abuse is inflicted by children for most of the film.
It adds that extra disturbing layer to the movie that will surely make you want to turn away at least once. Want to know how shocking it really is? Listen to Stephen King’s description of the movie:
“The first authentically shocking American film I’ve seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer over 20 years ago. If you are easily disturbed, you should not watch this movie. If, on the other hand, you are prepared for a long look into hell, suburban style, The Girl Next Door will not disappoint. This is the dark-side-of-the-moon version of Stand by Me.”
15. Excision (2012)
We’ll be honest, there are a lot of things with Excision that you would think went really well. It starred the gorgeous AnnaLynne McCord and Ariel Winter for starters, and it even had horror legend Malcolm McDowell make an appearance. Yet the movie deals so heavily around period blood that it is enough to make any person squeamish. We won’t cover the details too explicitly, but if you ever wanted to combine menstruation with murder, then we’ve got the weirdest film out there for you.
One horror writer said it was “A supremely nasty piece of work in the best way possible.” The movie is sitting at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes with another film critic saying “This is one of the damnedest ‘adolescent misfit’ movies you’ll ever see—for those who can stomach the splatter, that is.”
14. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
While there are plenty of movies on here in which humans are the ones getting tortured, in Cannibal Holocaust you also get to see several animals get brutally slaughtered, including but not limited to a pig being shot with a shotgun at point-blank range.
Along with the extreme sexual violence, it is easy to see why the movie is considered to be one of the most controversial films of all time. It has been banned in over 50 countries.
The violence in the movie was so extreme that the movie was literally confiscated after 10 days with legal authorities looking into whether actors were genuinely killed during the making of it. This was made all the more possible by the fact that director Ruggero Deodato had all the main actors sign a release form saying they would not do any type of media, movies or commercials for one year following the movie. Thankfully the movie may be extreme, but it wasn’t that extreme!
13. Inside (2007)
If you’re a pregnant woman, there may not be a more terrifying idea than thinking someone will bust into your apartment wielding scissors and attempt to cut your baby out of you. We aren’t going to tell you how the plot breaks down, but that’s the general gist of a movie that is full of some graphic scenes that are enough to make any person, much less a mom squirm!
The movie came out in 2007 and was directed by the French team of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo. The movie was ranked as the #12 best horror movie of the last decade by Bloody Disgusting, with other critics also praising the gender choice in having the main character and main attacker both be women.
You’d be a damn fool to try and watch this with a woman that’s pregnant.
12. Audition (1999)
While you may not have seen the 1999 Japanese film Audition, it’s widely considered to be one of the best horror movies of all time and was a large influence on Eli Roth. Without giving away too much, there is a scene in which a character with no feet or tongue and only 3 fingers on one hand is tortured and starved to the point that he eagerly eats up the lead female character’s vomit from a doggy dish.
You probably don’t even want to read that sentence again, much less see it play out on film! The movie is praised for its pacing, with one critic saying it “Lulls the audience into a state of complacency with a studied, slow-moving, lightly comic first half before delivering a gruesome final section that makes Stephen King’s Misery look wholesome.”
The movie is sitting at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
11. Maniac (2012)
Maniac was released in 2012 and stars Elijah Wood. While you may hear Wood and instantly jump to the Shire, be prepared for a whole new side of him as he plays a disturbed individual who has no problems getting his murder on.
The most disturbing part? The entire film is shot from Wood’s point of view. There isn’t another movie out there that will give you the feeling of being the killer like Maniac, in which you literally look like you’re the killer. This becomes all the more disturbing when you find out that Wood has a tendency to scalp all of his victims. The movie features several cool shots catching Wood’s face in reflections to help add to the immersion.
“It became about hearing him and feeling him rather than seeing him. And you only see him in flashes, so they become very intense character-revealing moments. I’ve never played someone so dark before. It was interesting to go there,” said Wood after he was asked about how the point of view impacted him.
10. Funny Games (1997 and Remake)
Whether it’s the original 1997 version from Austria or the Americanized 2007 version, one thing is for sure: Funny Games is a terrifying concept. The movie centers around two men who kidnap a family and then torture them using sadistic means. Call me crazy but those games don’t sound so funny to me! So you can understand why the potential was there to create something truly shocking.
While there is something scary about ghosts or things like that, the belief that someone could walk into your home one day and torture and murder your family is so closely based in reality that many people will struggle to get through it. At the very least, the 2007 version features the talented acting of Tim Roth and Naomi Watts.
The movie was largely ignored by audiences and only earned $7.9 million at the box office. Perhaps because it was released in March in America! C’mon guys, something like this is clearly meant for an October viewing.
9. The Human Centipede (2009)
Let’s be honest, did you seriously get through the entire movie without turning away at least once? We’re sure you understand the general concept of The Human Centipede, but anytime you think about having to taste someone else’s excrement or you know, get tortured brutally by a crazy doctor, it’s probably enough to make you at least lose a little bit of your lunch.
The movie allegedly started as a joke that Tom Six made toward his friends on how he would torture a child molester by stitching his ass to a fat truck driver. Sadly though, many people out there feel the movie just relies too much on the gross-out factor, with one critic saying “Grotesque, visceral and hard to (ahem) swallow, this surgical horror doesn’t quite earn its stripes because the gross-outs overwhelm and devalue everything else.”
The movie is currently sitting at 49% on Rotten Tomatoes. A sequel was also made by Tom Six and features a doctor who attempts to create a centipede of 12 people, which we assure you, is every bit as disturbing as the first one.
8. The Last House On The Left (1972)
If you have seen the 1972 version of The Last House On The Left, then you probably know exactly what graphic scene stuck with viewers the longest. If not, good luck trying to sit through one of the most graphic on-screen sexual assaults that let’s just say definitely does not have a happy ending for anyone involved.
The movie was the directorial debut for Wes Craven and despite having a budget of under $100,000, went on to earn $3 million. The movie, while already incredibly graphic, also featured some incomplete scenes including an alleged longer scene in which the two female characters were forced to perform sexual acts on one another, as well as an additional sexual assault scene that was removed from most DVD versions.
The movie was remade in 2009 and also was a success at the box office, earning $45.2 million on a budget of $15 million, but was not well received with critics earning a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
7. A Serbian Film (2010)
As you can probably guess from the title, this is far from an American film. Which is probably a good thing because there is no way this could fly in North America. The movie features several moments that are enough to make your stomach turn and reach for the remote.
The movie is banned in several countries around the world, including: Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Spain.
Even if you may appreciate the film as critic Scott Weinberg did, you may agree with his assessment of the movie. Weinberg said, “I think the film is tragic, sickening, disturbing, twisted, absurd, infuriated, and actually quite intelligent. There are those who will be unable (or unwilling) to decipher even the most basic of ‘messages’ buried within A Serbian Film, but I believe it’s one of the most legitimately fascinating films I’ve ever seen. I admire and detest it at the same time. And I will never watch it again. Ever.”
6. Bug (2006)
We’re going to start off with some good news, the bugs in Bug are invisible to the audience, so you won’t at least get skeeved out there. The movie stars Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd, with Shannon taking on the role of a paranoid man who believes several conspiracy theories (some of which are centered around bugs and the government).
This movie would arguably not even earn a spot on this list, except for one incredibly graphic scene in which Shannon is 100% convinced that there are bugs imbedded in his teeth. I’m not going to spell out where this scene goes, but I bet you’re able to understand where the scene ends. You’ll probably finish the movie feeling a lot better about your teeth.
The film led Stephen Schaeffer, who is a writer for the Boston Herald, to call it “One of the most disturbing horror movies imaginable.”
Do you want to see 4 wealthy men capture and torture 18 teenagers over the course of 4 months? Probably not, but if you did, you wouldn’t find a better example than Salo (or 120 Days Of Sodom). The movie came out in 1975 and has been banned in several countries for its usage of sexual deviance, murder, and sadism among other things. While definitely not the most graphic of all the scenes you’ll see if you track the movie down, there is a scene in which all the teenagers are forced to eat scoops of fresh poop…so I mean…it has that going for it. The unrelenting brutality and variety that goes into the torture including branding and scalping will guarantee that most people won’t be able to get through this in one sitting, much less loading it up for a 2nd time.
4. May (2002)
May was released in 2002 and centers around a lonely girl (May) who was traumatized by her childhood and her attempts to try and connect with people around her. But as you can guess by its spot on this list, May’s quest for friendship does not go nearly as well as her quest to try and murder the people around her. We won’t give it all away, but May’s fixation on certain parts of people definitely leads to her being one of the most unique killers on our list. The movie stars Angela Bettis who you may best recognize for her role as Carrie in the 2002 adaption of the Stephen King novel.
The website Bloody Disgusting ranked May as the 17th best horror movie of the decade, saying “Criminally under-seen at the time of its release… The plotting itself manages to sidestep the usual slasher tropes as it slowly and inexorably unravels, all leading up to a quietly haunting conclusion that is as heart-wrenching as it is unnerving.”
3. Antichrist (2009)
You might decide to turn on Antichrist because it stars Willem Dafoe and I mean who doesn’t love watching Dafoe get down? You’re probably going to turn it off because of the graphic sexual scenes and violence that goes on throughout the movie. You may also leave the movie with a lot more appreciation for your genitals, so I mean, that’s always a positive, right?
Eva Green was allegedly initially approached for the role that eventually went to Charlotte Gainsbourg. When director Lars von Trier was asked why he decided to do a horror movie, Trier responded “The genre [is such] that you can put a lot of very, very strange images in a horror film,” and given the nature of the above photo, you can imagine he succeeded at that!
2. REC (2007)
Above you read about Maniac that was shot in the first person, but you also get a whole lot of P.O.V camerawork in the terrifying movie REC which came out in 2007. The movie follows a variety of people as they try and survive a zombie outbreak but are stuck inside of a building.
The movie is also praised for its ability to use shaky-cam effectively and it went on to spawn 3 sequels. The movie garnered a rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the most critically acclaimed films on our list. The general consensus of the movie is nothing but praise, saying the movie succeeds at “Plunging viewers into the nightmarish hellscape of an apartment complex under siege, [Rec] proves that found footage can still be used as an effective delivery mechanism for sparse, economic horror.”
You get extra bonus points if you also live in an apartment complex and you still decide to check this one out!
1. SAW SERIES
You aren’t going to be able to end a list about horror movies that are hard to sit through without at least touching on the Saw series. When you’ve made as many films as they have, earned as much as they have, and produced as many gut-wrenching scenes as the series has, it’s also probably no shock that it landed at our number 1 spot.
What’s the worst scene for you from Saw? I can’t be alone in thinking that there is at least one scene in every movie that makes you just a tad bit squeamish. One thing is for sure, the movies have definitely never appealed to critics.
The top rated movie is the original Saw and it sits at 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. The worst reviewed movie in the franchise was the last installment Saw 3D which only earned a 9% approval rate out of 74 reviews.