From Controversy To Blacklisting: 15 Banned Movies That Sparked Outrage And Debate

We like the gore. We like the shock factor. And we like to see the unexpected but most of the following banned movies went to great lengths to create something that is sure to impress the viewer that they got themselves in quite a lot of trouble.

1. “A Clockwork Orange” (1971) – Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Clockwork Orange posterThis controversial film about youth violence and behavioral conditioning was banned in several countries, including the UK, for its graphic content and influence on real-life crimes, all at Kubrick’s request. He stated: “To try and fasten any responsibility on art as the cause of life seems to me to put the case the wrong way around.”

2. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) – Directed by Tobe Hooper

The Texas ChainSaw Massacre
A poster for Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror film ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ starring Gunnar Hansen. (Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)

Due to its graphic violence and disturbing content, this horror classic faced numerous bans, the reason for this being ‘excessive violence’. However, despite all this, the first “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has no truly graphic scenes.

3. “Cannibal Holocaust” (1980) – Directed by Ruggero Deodato

Cannibal Holocaust

This Italian film was banned in multiple countries, Italy included, due to its graphic scenes of violence and animal cruelty, leading to legal troubles for Deodato. After several days of screening, local police arrested him on charges of obscenity and later on, murder. Apparently everyone thought this was a snuff film since the effects were so good and people thought the actors that died in the movie were dead for good. Deodato was finally cleared of all charges but the ban remained in place for many years to come.

4. “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) – Directed by Martin Scorsese

last temptation of Christ movie poster

Controversial for its portrayal of Jesus Christ’s life, this film faced bans and protests from religious groups and governments. The main culprit: an intimate scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The book the movie was based on has its own struggles; several religious entities tried and managed to ban the book because it brought filth onto the image of Jesus Christ.

5. “The Interview” (2014) – Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

the interview

A comedy that features the fictional assassination attempt on North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. This one led to cyberattacks on Sony Pictures and bans in several countries. Sony postponed its release for several months, editing some of the stuff so North Korea would be ok with it.

6. “The Human Centipede” (2009) – Directed by Tom Six

human centipede

This gruesome horror film about a mad scientist sewing people together was banned in some countries for its shocking and disturbing content. Other countries and theaters resorted to drastically editing the movie to reduce the shock factor. This is a tough one to watch, guys.

7. “The Devils” (1971) – Directed by Ken Russell

the devilsA historical drama that faced extensive censorship and bans for its explicit content, including scenes of sexual and religious controversy. The film is based on the play “The Devils of Loudun” by John Whiting, which itself is based on Aldous Huxley’s book “The Devils of Loudun” and documents the real-life events surrounding the 17th-century Loudun possessions and the trial of Urbain Grandier, a priest accused of witchcraft and demonic possession.

8. “Borat” (2006) – Directed by Larry Charles

BoratSacha Baron Cohen‘s mockumentary comedy faced bans and legal challenges in several countries for its provocative and satirical approach. It featured the classic stereotypes, misogynistic and inappropriate behavior toward women, and a ton of culturally insensitive and offensive scenes. In the end it was banned in all Arab countries and he government of Kazakhstan even paid for a four-page ad in the New York Times where they detailed all the grievances they had with the movie.

9. “Pink Flamingos” (1972) – Directed by John Waters

pink flamingos movie poster

This underground cult film was initially banned in several places due to its shock value, explicit scenes, and obvious undermining of social norms.

10. “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom” (1975) – Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Salò movie poster

This Italian film is notorious for its extreme and disturbing content, including scenes of violence, torture, and degradation. It faced numerous bans and censorship challenges.

11. “The Exorcist” (1973) – Directed by William Friedkin

the exorcist

This horror classic about demonic possession faced bans and controversy for its shocking scenes, including projectile vomiting and explicit content. The plot says it all: two families compete against one another to win the prize for the filthiest people alive. And yes, it’s just as outrageous as you might think.

12. “The Battle of Algiers” (1966) – Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo

The Battle of Algiers movie poster

Here we have the portrayal the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962) against French colonial rule. At the time of its release, the war was a highly sensitive and unresolved issue, local authorities fearing it would incite civil unrest and sympathies for the Algerian rebels.

13. “Lolita” (1962) – Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Lolita movie poster

Adapted from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel which itself was banned in France, Argentina, New Zealand, England and South Africa, this film was initially banned in several countries. It portrayed a relationship between an adult man and an underage girl, a professor and his step-daughter.

14. “Natural Born Killers” (1994) – Directed by Oliver Stone

natural born killers movie poster

A movie that stirred up quite a storm for several reasons: graphic violence, sensationalism, and controversial characters. It faced controversy and calls for censorship due to its depiction of mass murderers as media celebrities and at first it was banned from theatrical screening.

Recommended reading next: The 10 Weirdest Horror Movies Will Keep You Awake In Complete Fear

15. “The Birth of a Nation” (1915) – Directed by D.W. Griffith

the birth of a nation movie poster

A groundbreaking but deeply racist film, it faced protests and got chucked into the banned movies bin for its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan and negative portrayal of African Americans.

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