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Rebuttal: 17 Disturbing Horror Movies You Will Never Watch Again

When I'm not watching movies, I'm reading about movies. I stumble across all kinds of articles, blog posts, book excerpts, etc. in my quest to absorb as much movie knowledge as possible.

Now, I'm snotty and loud-mouthed and opinionated but I'd never begrudge another human their opinion. Seriously. You're absolutely welcome to have any opinion about any thing you want. However, I must warn you, if I think your opinion is stupid, I'm absolutely going to say so.

I've recently stumbled on an article completely brimming with so many idiotic opinions that I'm actually compelled to craft a response.

Here's the gist of the original article: there are some horror movies out there that are so disturbing, you'll only ever want to watch them once. I've have taken her original list and refuted her claims without pulling her entire article over. You can read the original article here.

Let's start at the beginning, with her opening statement:
"Horror films are supposed to scare us, creep us out, and make us feel uncomfortable. But sometimes, there are films that go so far outside the norm (and our comfort zone), that after we see it we never want to see it again."
First, let me ask - how "outside the norm" can any of these movies be, if you've managed to collect a list of 17 of them?

I mean, even if I come at this from a less snarky position, let's be honest here: there are only so many taboos in the world to break. When you set out in your movie to break taboos, what you've really done is, "reset the norm".

I'd also like to ask, if a horror movie doesn't challenge us, our expectations, and our comfort, what the hell good is it?

The Exorcist

Before we talk opinion here, let's just talk about some facts:
The Exorcist won 10 Academy Awards and 4 Golden Globe Awards. It is one of the highest grossing films of all time.
Here's another fact: you cannot gross $441,071,011 with each of your audience members only seeing a movie once.

Yet another fact: you cannot sell over 50,000 copies on DVD and Blu-Ray alone if people are only watching it once. No one buys a movie to watch it once.

Historically speaking, The Exorcist marks the near death of the underground film market. Prior to its release, the extreme special effects and graphic violence that made it "disturbing" to a mainstream audience were hallmarks of the underground movie market. Once Hollywood made it okay to show a child masturbating with a crucifix, there was little left to draw audiences into underground films.

When you look back at the Exorcist, there are many amazing things about it, from ground-breaking special effects to a now iconic musical score. You may not care for the story, but there is so much to be learned about movie making and about film history that I can't imagine giving the Exorcist just one watch.

Saying you'll only want to watch it once is like saying you'll only want to read The Bible once. (She writes, dramatically, having only read The Bible once).

Saying you'll only want to watch it once is like saying you'll only want to go see Gwar once. (I know. I know. No longer an option...)

I think you get my point.

The Woman

I put off watching this movie for quite some time myself - not because of its "astoundingly disturbing subject matter" but because of its astoundingly derivative subject matter. The question here isn't, "why would you watch this movie more than once"? It's, "why would you watch it at all if you've already seen The Hills Have Eyes or Last House on The Left or Straw Dogs or Deadgirl or The Girl Next Door or I Spit on Your Grave - or ANY OTHER rape-revenge movie"?

If you still find rape, murder, and cannibalism shocking in a horror movie, either quit watching horror or go back and get an education in the genre.

And before I move on, I'd love to talk about the over-emphasis (and misspelling) of the term "misogynistic".
"Don't get me wrong, this film makes a serious statement about mysoginistic behavior and the people we deem "normal" in everyday society."
I actually think that The Woman makes a standard, accepted, expected, even cliched "statement" about misogynistic men lurking within suburbia, waiting to abuse and degrade women in the guise of "helping" them. The Girl Next Door presents a more surprising, more challenging picture of misogyny perpetrated by women and young children against a young girl.

Also. Spell check. Seriously. It adds an immense amount of credibility.

The Human Centipede

"The first time one of the victims has a BM you'll know there's really no reason to watch this film once let alone ever again." 
So what I'm reading here is that bodily functions are disturbing. More disturbing than crazed German doctors (you can read 'Nazi' here) kidnapping and torturing unsuspecting travelers with extensive, invasive medical experiments. Is that really the position you want to take?

The real stumbling block to watching The Human Centipede multiple times is the same stumbling block all monster movies face; there's no mystery or intrigue left once you've seen the monster.

I mean, I say this all the time but, it bears repeating: Monster movies are like porn flicks, once you've blown your load, there's no reason to keep watching. Said otherwise, once you've revealed the monster, there's not much left to make the movie interesting.

Hostel

"These empty headed too-old-to-be-frat-boys get caught up in a terrible game of human hunting and the events that follow will never leave you once you see it. The torture scenes are drawn out to prolong the gruesome scenes, but there is absolutely no pay off to any of them so there is really no reason to ever see this unnecessarily violent movie ever again."
This is hilarious to me on a few levels: the first being the idea that anything from this movie would stick with me for any length of time. Images from Videodrome stick with me. Images from Psycho stick with me. Hostel? I hardly remember watching it.

The next being this idea that Hostel is so excessively violent. For me, Hostel remains one of the most overrated movies of the past decade. I will never understand how diehard horror fans could enjoy such shlock. It's certainly not the extreme violence many claim this movie has that make it so unlovable, it's the poor attempt at embracing grand guignol that makes it offensive and annoying.

To the uninitiated, what I just said was that Hostel sucks because it's not violent enough. If you want your movie to be true "torture porn" (a term I find annoying, by the way) then you can't turn away, ever. You MUST show me every graphic, painful, gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing moment of every atrocity you've dreamed up. Any moment you allow me, the viewer, a reprieve from the horror is a moment you've lost your power and your hold on me.

Before I become too ranty (that's a word now because I said so) and get too far off topic here (too late, I suspect) let me circle back around to why I wouldn't watch Hostel a second time: it's just a bad movie.

Completely unrelated to anything else, that is the hottest movie poster I've seen in ages. Chainsaws make amazing phalluses. Wow.

The Last House on The Left (1972)

The 70's were chock full of exploitation films - each of which had the specific goal of confronting the audience with something so disturbing that they felt sick, guilty, and even repentant.

The horror movies of the time saw a movement away from the traditional Gothic monsters (like Dracula) towards a new kind of ‘creature,’ the serial killer. These monsters were humans that behaved in monstrous ways. Whereas these early film monsters were born of fears of technology, WWII and Vietnam taught American’s that people killed people – weapons and technology were not to blame. The 50’s us vs. them model now morphed into a fear of us becoming them. These killers kill for the fun of it – there’s no easy way to rationalize their behavior, and most frighteningly, they look just like the rest of us. Unlike the gigantic monsters of the 50’s, serial killers easily vanish into society – they could be living next door to you and you’d never know it. The comic character Pogo summed it up when he said, “we have seen the enemy and he is us.”

The televising of the Vietnam war made horror so commonplace that, as Annalee Newitz claims, “people are increasingly unable – and unwilling – to maintain a distinction between reality and what is fictional, or simulated, in mass-produced images and things.” Faced with this postmodern acceptance of real and fake as the same, filmmakers of the 70’s sought to repel audiences with something new.

The horror of the 1970’s saw a move towards the erotic and psychological elements of horror; the fear that ‘we’ were becoming ‘them’ - thus making ‘them’ indistinguishable - led to films attempting to explore what encouraged this transformation. People wanted to know why?

Why would someone do something so horrible? But what audiences didn’t ask, filmmakers did; why are audiences not surprised by violence? Filmmakers sought to imply audience in the horror of their films; they explored every feasible, deviant pleasure in horror hoping to hit audiences with an ‘are you feeling this too? If you are, you’re just as guilty of committing this horrible act,’ message. 70’s filmmakers tried to reconnect audiences with media.

Yes, central to the plot of Last House is rape, torture, revenge, and murder. But the author's contention, "It’s enough to make you say 'Once is enough'.” seems provably wrong, even if you only consider the fact that they remade this movie in 2009.

The Girl Next Door

"If seeing a girl being sexually assaulted with a coke bottle and watching children torture another another child isn’t enough to stop you from watching a film twice, nothing will."
 Yes, I wrote a few movies ago that The Girl Next Door makes a stronger statement because it features women and children torturing a young girl but, on the other hand, if you find children being horrible to one another surprising, you have clearly blocked your childhood out of your memory.

I was writing a bit about this recently but, it is always worth repeating: children are assholes. You'd never watch this movie again because child on child abuse is too disturbing? Perhaps you missed that year in school when you had to read Lord of the Flies. (Voted one of the best novels in multiple polls over many years). Maybe you've skipped Kids or never watched South Park.

This movie actually featured in a rape movie marathon that a friend and I conducted. When compared to the more mainstream dramatic movie, Boys Don't Cry, The Girl Next Door is literally tame.

Maniac (2012)

First - does she not know that this is a remake? Because, if you asked me which is more disturbing and has more cause never to be watched again, I'd say it the original, hands down.

Joe Spinell is significantly creepier than Elijah Wood and delivers the kind of skin-crawling performance that makes you want to bathe afterwards.
“You only see his face in mirrors or shiny surfaces. Witnessing the gruesome murders (most of which contain scalping afterwards) in 1st person view will make this film impossible not to stop watching. But, that dirty feeling you will have when you turn the movie off, will make you want to never watch it again.”
Yes, Maniac indicts the viewer as an accessory to murder (both in the original and the remake). Never watching the movie again is to live in denial; movie audiences are voyeurs who could use the occasional reminder that they really do love these terrible things they take part in by watching them.

And, finally, same point as I made about Last House - the simple fact that someone remade this movie seems to indicate that people want to watch it more than once.

Look for a future blog all about the Maniac remake (that I actually didn't hate)!

Insidious

Thus far, I've managed to write relatively reasonable retorts to each of her movie choices but, I am about to lose that reason in the face of her quote: “You’ll think twice about scaring yourself so bad again by watching this film twice.. If you ever do.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Your English is terrible, your writing is terrible, and I cannot believe you found this movie to be anything but boring and predictable. I'm led to believe you've seen other horror movies in your life but I'm doubting that fact in reading this.

Watch it more than once? No thank you. I hardly made it through one viewing it was so generic, predictable, and poorly acted. And I find that disappointing because (and she got ONE right here) they really did have a great looking demon.

The Orphanage

“The ending is so crazy emotional you’ll feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest. You’ll never want to feel that way twice, trust me!”
So essentially you're telling me that The Orphanage is just a chick flick? I'd like to pause here a moment to talk about Steel Magnolias: the most quintessential chick flick of ALL TIME, a movie that grossed $135,904,091. If you recall our conversation about the Exorcist, you don't make that kind of money with people only watching your movie once. Some people like a good cry brought on by an emotionally difficult movie.

Aside from that take on things, I have to say I haven't watched this movie more than once because I've seen so many movies in the, "ghost child claims living woman to care for it" genre that I'm entirely bored with these stories.

Excision

I actually have no rebuttal on this movie as I haven't seen it. Not even once. But in reading about it, I can't figure out WHY I haven't seen it: the cast is amazing! (Traci Lords, Malcolm McDowell, Ray Wise, and John Waters to name a few).

Cannibal Holocaust

This is one of my favorites on her list and before any of you go jumping on my back here about this, let me explain what I mean:

Some things are just too easy and make you look like a cheap, cheating bastard for even going after them. This movie landing on this list fits that mold exactly. Let me guess, she went after Cannibal Holocaust because it was the first movie she came up with when Googling, "banned horror" or "most extreme horror movies of all time".

Cannibal Holocaust is of a completely different genre and caliber than any of the other movies on her list. If you want to lampoon this movie, you need to do it along side any of Herschell Gordon Lewis' movies, Slave of the Cannibal God, and even Faces of Death.

I'm not rushing out any time soon to try and earn this movie an Oscar or anything, but it has been influential and therefore has earned the moniker, "classic".

Teeth

"This dark comedy is a real pleasure for any woman to watch one time. This movie is based on the classic legend about the woman with teeth in her vagina. It’s something a woman has fantasized about at least once and a nightmare every man hopes to never ever come across."
Where do I even start with this one?

She's compiled a list of movies that are too disturbing to watch more than once and then goes on to write that a movie in which multiple men are mauled by the teeth inside a young girl's vagina is, "a real pleasure to watch." Astounding. Rape and torture are horrifying when the attackers are men and the victims women, but when a woman "fights back" and gores her assailant well, that's a pleasure to watch.

And I'm offended, as a woman and a human, that she'd even consider assuming that I've ever fantasized about using my vagina teeth to bite off a dude's dick.

You know, if I had vagina teeth.

Funny Games (2007)

Now this, this is actually one of my favorite movies. Well, the original version is, anyway. I have seen it multiple times and have even used it in a film class I taught back in college.

Funny Games is ground-breaking, shocking (regardless of how many times you watch it), and brutally raw. The balance between deadpan dialogue delivery, moments of peaceful silence, and the eruptions of violence are nothing short of perfect.

Funny Games is a meditation on violence.

But it's also an accusation, one even stronger than Maniac. There are no tricky camera angles that simply "imply" that you, the viewer, are part of the mayhem - the killers literally break the fourth wall and speak directly into the camera, asking for your opinion on who dies and how.

Funny Games gets under your skin and I dare you to try and not watch it a second time. It's utterly compelling and demands that you watch as many times as you need to really understand how you're involved.

Hostel 2

This is the only other movie on the list that I must admit I've never seen. Reason: I hated the first one. I think it's funny that we're talking about a sequel to a movie on the, "you'll only watch it once" list - why would you watch this one once if you wouldn't watch the first one twice?

I also have to mention here, again, that her writing is completely terrible. I could hardly read this overview.
“The ending will have you cheering and the mysogenstic attitude of many horror films is flipped on its head in this one, but I doubt you’ll ever take this movie for a spin again.”
And I see here that female on male violence is applauded while male on female violence is too horrible to stomach. Keep going with this pattern and I'll be forced to make assumptions about her personal life that wouldn't be especially 'professional' for me to harp on.

The Mist

Ah. One of my least favorite movies of all time. Aside from the fact that I don't particularly like Stephen King, the sheer number of morons who call the ending of this movie, "surprising" or "shocking" or some other synonym for, "I didn't see that coming" leaves me speechless. It's as though none of them have ever seen another movie before.

But right now, the thing that's more interesting to me is that fact that she's included this movie on her list and then written, "It’s so explosive that many watchers of this film have told me they never want to see the movie again. Although I’ve been watching it a 100 times more.”

So, it's such a disturbing movie that you won't want to watch it more than once but, she's watching it 100 more times... okay.

8MM

Having talked to a few people about this movie recently, I'm fairly certain most people would tell you they wouldn't watch it more than once because its just a bad movie.

I've always had a soft spot for this movie, to be honest. I feel like it's one of Joel Schumacher's best movies (next to The Lost Boys and Falling Down, of course).

If people don't want to watch 8MM more than once, you better call NBC and tell them to cancel the 15th season of Law and Order: SVU due to lack of interest.

A Serbian Film

And finally we come to another truly, over-hyped and overrated movie. If you want my full opinion of it, you can read it here.

A Serbian Film proved, yet again, that banning a movie and making it nearly impossible to get access to creates an immense demand for said film. My copy is a bootleg someone nabbed off the internet shortly after the film's release and subsequent controversy. I desperately wanted this movie to make me sick to my stomach. I wished for it to leave me stunned and speechless and utterly horrified. But it didn't.

She's right: to really, really grasp at every graphic straw imaginable, A Serbian Film manages to include a scene of infant rape. Too bad for all of us it's so completely absurd and poorly executed that it leaves little to be shocked by.

A Serbian Film is little more than a modern day exploitation film. The reason you'd only watch it once is because you're not a fan of that genre, not because the movie is too shocking to be stomached.


So you tell me - have you watched any of these movies twice? Got any movies on your list that disturbed you so deeply you'd never watch them twice?

...here's hoping someone responds with, "It's a Wonderful Life".

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