Movies, just like any form of art, are always the subject of different interpretations. What may be funny, scary, or upsetting to some people, won’t be to others. Because of the very nature of movies, the story, plot and the style of the movie is always subjective. However, there are some movies, and in particular specific scenes, that are universal with their message and interpretation.
Certain movies are designed to scare us, horrify us, and make us uncomfortable. Whether it’s the subject matter of the story, the overuse of blood and gore, or the tone of the movie, some movies are more difficult to sit through than others. But even more than that are the individual scenes within those movies. These scenes stick with us forever and many people find themselves skipping certain scenes that they just find too uncomfortable to watch. Whether it was the gore or just subject matter that was extremely controversial, some viewers just couldn’t handle it. With this list we discuss those scenes as we look at 15 movie scenes that are just too uncomfortable to watch.
15. Bad Lieutenant – Pulled Over
We start our list with a movie, and movie character, that is as bad as they come. Bad Lieutenant is about a crooked and corrupt cop played by Harvey Keitel. Everything that is wrong with the world and with people, Keitel does. Drugs, sexual abuse, violence and of course, ignoring the law, which he works for.
The character is possibly one of the worst characters in the movie, and although Keitel’s character does try to change his ways, redemption is not an easy thing for such a terrible human being. The movie is littered with a load of scenes that depict the character’s worst offenses, however, when he pulls over a car with women in it, this scene goes even lower. Not only does Keitel force the girls out of the car and to strip for his pleasure, he also proceeds to “pleasure” himself in front of them. All because they didn’t have a license. Very uncomfortable and unnerving to watch.
14. Misery – Sledge Hammer
Next we come to one of the most famous movie moments in the history of the silver screen. Misery, the movie adaptation of the Stephen King novel, is full of creepy, disturbing and downright uncomfortable moments. From the very first moment that Kathy Bates appears on screen, everything she does is designed to creep us out.
However, the scene that sticks in everyone’s mind and won’t go away is the scene in which James Caan‘s character, after being kidnapped by Bates, tries to escape her clutches. Her solution to this? She ties him to the bed and takes a sledgehammer to his legs. The sound of the cracking still haunts us now.
13. Saving Private Ryan – Stabbing And Gunshot Wounds
It’s fair to say that Steven Spielberg‘s epic war movie Saving Private Ryan, has some of the most disturbing and harrowing scenes ever put on film. From the very first scene of the soldiers landing on the beach on D-Day, to the very end of the movie, Saving Private Ryan is full of terror as it tries to depict what being thrown into a real war would actually be like.
Most of the movie is unsettling, which is the point, but there are a few scenes which are just too much to handle. Starting out on D-Day, one of the soldiers gets a gunshot to the stomach and the medics try desperately to stop the bleeding, unsuccessfully. If that wasn’t enough to make anyone squeamish then later on in the movie comes the slow and agonizing stabbing. That scene alone has stayed with many of us for years.
12. 127 Hours – Arm Amputation
Our next movie actually became a lot more famous and grabbed many more headlines than it should have, and that’s because people actually passed out in the movie theatres. 127 Hours saw the real life story of Aron Ralston, who became stuck during one of his many outdoor exhibitions.
The story became famous after he published his book, so we knew a movie was inevitable. However, when it came to the movie, and one scene in particular, it proved too much for so many people. We all knew the story and we all knew that the movie was leading up to Aron cutting his arm off to free himself, but the scene is so real and the act of him cutting his own limbs off with a dull knife is still difficult to watch.
11. Nymphomaniac – Losing Her Virginity
We now come to a movie that became the subject of controversy and rumors before it was even released. Having a movie called Nymphomaniac was always going to grab some headlines, and Lars Von Trier’s movie did just that. Having a movie all about sex, it’s no surprise that some people may be offended by the subject matter, also given the fact that Von Trier put some of the most realistic “simulated” sex scenes on camera.
However, for most of us out there Nymphomaniac wasn’t as bad, hard hitting, or pornographic as we were lead to believe. Although many people debated the fine line between art and smut, for the most part this movie fell into the “art” column. Except, that is, for one of the very early scenes in which the main character lost her virginity. The realism of the scene and the fact that the main character was so young, made for some very uncomfortable viewing.
10. Blue Velvet – Frank Booth
David Lynch is a man that has become synonymous with dark, gritty, unnerving, and downright bizarre projects. Whether it’s Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet, a lot of Lynch’s works are hailed as masterpieces. Lynch has produced some truly disturbing and unsettling scenes over the years but none are more uncomfortable than the introduction of Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.
Over the course of the movie,. Dennis Hopper‘s portrayal of Booth would range from the scary to over the top and even camp, but his first scene is still haunting. Drinking bourbon and sucking on gas, Booth then abuses, physically, sexually, and verbally, Isabella Rossellini‘s character to such an extent that the scene becomes unwatchable. Many famous and iconic characters have been in movies over the years, but none still turn our stomachs more than the introduction of Frank Booth.
9. Trainspotting – Dead Baby
We now dip our feet into the world of drugs in Danny Boyle‘s classic 1990s movie Trainspotting. At times, Trainspotting may have been humorous and even downright funny, but then it quickly changed pace and it was nothing but darkness.
Telling the story of a group of people in Scotland who spend their lives taking drugs and getting into trouble, the movie takes a severely dark turn when Rento, played by Ewan McGregor, takes too much and decides to kick the habit. However, in one of his “cleansing” moments, his mind starts to delve into fantasy as he imagines himself crawling out of a toilet and worse still, he sees his friend’s dead baby crawling up the walls. What started out as a quirky and fanciful trip, quickly descended into nightmares.
8. Marathon Man – Dentist
Many people out there have a big fear of going to the dentist. Most of us aren’t exactly thrilled about a trip to the dentist, but some have a real phobia of it. So serious that just thinking about making a dentist appointment is enough to give them an anxiety attack. For those of you out there that do, we strongly recommend that you never watch Marathon Man.
For those of you unfamiliar with this movie, Dustin Hoffman‘s character, Thomas “Babe” Levy, is caught up in chasing down Nazi war criminals, until he gets caught by the evil Dr. Szell. The scene in question sees Szell, who wants answers out of “Babe,” so he straps him to a dentist’s chair and proceeds to torture him. With every dentist tool used, including the dreaded drill, Babe gets the full treatment and this scene alone will put anyone off from booking a dentist trip forever.
7. Happiness – The Talk
We come next to a movie that’s as dark as they come. For a movie called Happiness, this story is anything but that. On this list we talk about movies that tackle the more taboo and disturbing subjects in life; from rape to racism to murder and kidnapping. However, Happiness possibly has one of the most disturbing scenes about one of the most disturbing subjects there is.
The movie itself tells the tale of several flawed characters as they go through life. However, the story of Bill Maplewood is by far the most disturbing and uncomfortable to watch. In particular the scene in which he talks to his son about him being a pedophile. Although nothing is seen on screen, the conversation he has with his son is extremely harrowing and disturbing. His eleven year old son asks him if the rumors and charges are true and his dad, not only replies that they are but that he enjoyed it and would do it again and again.
6. Deliverance – Squeal Like A Pig
On this list are many movies that tackle the subject of rape and often show the disgusting and disturbing scenes in order for the audience to understand just how bad it is. With our next entry, a rape scene takes a different route. Deliverance starts out as an almost light-hearted movie as four city dwellers decide to take time out from their busy lives and take a canoeing trip in the countryside.
However, the locals are not pleased to see them and the movie takes a dark and dramatic turn as the four city friends are hounded, abused, and raped. The scene in question sees one of the friends, played by Ned Beatty, as he is pursued through the woods, attacked and stripped naked as the locals abuse him, all while they laugh at him. The harrowing line “Squeal like a pig!” is too much for most of the audience to take.
5. Requiem For A Dream – Rock Bottom
Turning back to the world of drug abuse with our next entry, Requiem For A Dream is a dark, realistic, and disturbing look at what drugs, and drug addiction, can do to people and their lives. Told through the eyes of several people, Requiem For A Dream starts out as a hard-hitting drama but quickly descends into a nightmare.
Over the course of the movie, addiction hits everyone’s life as the wheels come off and everyone’s life turns out for the worse. However, nothing in this movie is as disturbing or uncomfortable to watch as what happens to the main character’s girlfriend, played by Jennifer Connelly. After being introduced to drugs by her boyfriend, Connelly quickly becomes hooked and will do anything for her next hit. This results in her performing disturbing sexual acts for rich businessmen in order to get drugs. The scene is virtually unwatchable as Connelly gives such a realistic performance of someone whose spirit and soul has been completely crushed.
4. American History X – Curb Stomp
Next we come to a subject that is often difficult to depict on film and American History X tackles racism in the harshest and most disturbing way. American History X shows how racism and hate can turn people into evil monsters and how they can destroy everything in their path.
The film follows Derek Vinyard, a troubled youth that struggles to deal with the death of his father. Instead of grieving like most people, Vinyard takes his anger and grief and becomes a Neo-Nazi and goes after minority groups. The movie has become one of the most controversial and uncomfortable movies to watch, but one scene in particular is just unwatchable. After Vinyard is awakened in the night, he goes outside to find some African-Americans trying to steal his car. Then comes Vinyard’s brand of justice as he gets one of the youths to lay down on the ground with his mouth on the curb, Vinyard then steps down hard on his head, smashing his skull. This scene is possibly one of the most gruesome depictions of violence in modern cinema.
3. Irreversible – Assault Scene
It’s always difficult for rape to be included in a movie and whenever it is, that scene will always be the one that sticks in the mind of viewers. However, no other rape scene has been as shocking than in the movie Irreversible. Not only is the scene graphic and disturbing but the scene lasts for over ten minutes. Every minute of this scene is shown in its full and gruesome entirety as it goes on and on.
Many critics out there were divided by the movie, and this scene in particular, as some thought it was a true and bold look at what rape really is while others conceived it as too much and pretty much unwatchable. Whatever your opinion, the scene has now become infamous and almost celebrated as a true depiction of what it’s like to be raped, even if most of us can’t watch it.
2. Martyrs – Skinned Alive
We now come to a movie that has proudly been given the title of one of the most unwatchable and most uncomfortable movies in the last decade or so. Martyrs tells the story of two women who get caught up with a society of scientists and philosophers who want to find out about the afterlife.
In order to do so they create Martyrs, which are people that are tortured to such an extreme that the society believe that the pain will make the “Martyrs” transcend to a different plain. The movie is full of brutal and disturbing scenes in which the women are beaten and tortured. However, the scene that gets everyone to stand up and walk out of the room is the scene in which one of the women is skinned alive. The scene is graphic, realistic, and almost impossible for anyone to watch.
1. Cannibal Holocaust – Animal Killings
The number one entry on our list of the most uncomfortable movie scenes ever has to be one of the most unbearable movies ever created. Cannibal Holocaust is a truly horrifying movie from start to finish. There’s everything, from rape to torture, to murder, and everything that your nightmares can come up with, this movie has it all.
However, what really makes this movie a step above anything you will ever see is the realism. We all know that sex, rape, and death is all fake in the movies, no matter how realistic it may appear. But in Cannibal Holocaust, animals were really killed on screen, so much so that people were taken to court in order to prove that this was a movie and not a snuff film. The whole thing is just brutal and unwatchable.
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