Keith Brown (Giallo Fever)
I really can’t remember.
When I was a kid there were a lot of things that would freak me out, so I’m actually kind of glad that my parents would never let me watch any of the video nasties – the boxes for many of them were enough for me at that time.
In more recent years, since I got a DVD player and started buying, swapping and more recently downloading various genre movies I never dreamt of seeing when I first read about them, I would say I’ve become ever harder to shock.
I’d say that there are two things here.
First, in terms of images that shock me, which I find conceptually distasteful or which provoke me into wondering exactly why I’m watching them.
Second, images that make me actually close my eyes or switch a film off.
I wouldn’t say I have had any experience of the latter sort for a long time with genre movies – I would probably have to go for something like Brakhage’s Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes or an instructional video on basic autopsy procedure for that.
As far as the former is concerned, then I find that any Cannibal Holocaust, The Last House on Dead End Street, Farewell Uncle Tom, Forced Entry, The Defiance of Good, In a Glass Cage and Aftermath still have the capacity to shock on a repeat viewing, though as I said this is often more about the ideas and facts behind them.
One other thing I find here is how this affects my watching films with other people. While I’ve shown the more fantastical likes of Zombie and The Beyond to friends in my wider circle, I’ve tended to be wary of showing anything with a more realist slant or whose attitudes and approach are less PC. I’d be interested to hear of other people’s experiences in this regard.
Days of Night!
Matthew Bradford (Double O Section)
Just this weekend I had to shield my eyes during a scene in Crank: High Voltage in which a henchman has to slice off his own nipples to appease his sadistic gang boss. I was laughing and cringing at the same time. It's a gross scene, and nipple violence in general creeps me out. But the movie is a Grand Guignol comedy of inappropriateness, and all of the ultra-violence is skilfully played for laughs. It's either a work of inexplicable genius or the end of society as we know it. In either case, it's exactly what grind houses were made for, so it's sort of a shame we have to pay twelve bucks to see it in a cushy mall theatre. Doesn't quite feel right.
Michael McKenzie (Land of Whimsy)
Well, Pierce Brosnan singing in MAMMA MIA! recently made me cover my EARS, but unfortunately it doesn't count as a genre movie or an instance of me covering my eyes, so it looks like I'll have to go back a bit further. It's a toughie, but I'm going to have to go with Simon Callow whipping out a large prosthetic cock and showering the attendees of a lecture at the University of Cambridge with urine in CHEMICAL WEDDING, a rather badly made but strangely entertaining low budget British horror movie from 2008.
Douglas Waltz (Divine Exploitation)
I was watching Doris Wishman's LET ME DIE A WOMAN and they have some actual sex scene surgery in there. Yeesh! I had to cover my eyes or there was going to be some hurling. As it was I felt a little light headed afterward.
Holger Haase (Hammer and Beyond)
Must admit I am pretty thick skinned when it comes to being shocked by films. There are very few movies out there that as a whole shock the beejaysus out of me. To be shocked and shattered by an entire movie I’d have to go a few years back when I watched IRREVERSIBLE theatrically.
There are, however, always certain moments in films that can haunt me.
And for a shocking moment I just need to go back to last week when I watched Hammer’s STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING. I gotta admit that I found the killing of the dog, though not visually graphic as such, pretty unsettling.
Louis Fowler (Damaged 2.0)
Recently, it was Grindhouse Releasing's reissue of Lucio Fulci's THE BEYOND. I forgot just how hopeless and spiritually brutal that movie really is. Its questions about the realities of a literal Hell really bothered me for days. I actually wrote a review based on these ideas for the website Bloody Good Horror -- HERE
Kim Lindbergs (Cinebeats)
Even though I watched it on cable TV (pay per view) I have to mention the great Belgium horror film Left Bank (aka Linkeroever; 2008). It's rare that I get surprised by a horror film and Linkeroever had some really startling scenes that brought to mind Polanski's The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby as well as the original Wicker Man. Linkeroever is a terrific film and I can't recommend it enough, but the ending will undoubtedly leave a lot of people scratching their heads. It's not availalable on DVD yet, but hopefully it will be soon. I do want to add that it's easily one of the best films of 2008 and I'm surprised it was ignored by critics since I personally think it's as good as Let the Right One In.
The last film that I found truly unsettling or shocking would have to be Inside from directors Alexandre Bustillos and Julien Maury. I have a feeling that this film will be replaced later this month when Martyrs finally hits DVD in the States, but for now I'll stick with this one as the most shocking thing I’ve seen in recent years.
Inside makes great use of music, the unsettling drone of discordant noise had my teeth on edge without me even realizing it, and the visuals of everything you never want to see happen to a pregnant woman actually happening really unnerved me.
I can watch any old eyeball popping, intestine vomiting, bat full of nails to the head thing, but recently the Australian movie Thirst made me feel somewhat woozy because it featured so many scenes of human "cows" having their blood harvested and put in cartons for vampires to drink.
I also feel sick when I watch reaction videos to Girls Cup and the person watching is visibly trying not to puke.
Joshua Lew (Cinema Cafe Podcast)
For the horror genre I can't remember. The only one that comes to mind is Let The Right One In, but I saw that at the theatre, so it doesn't fit for the question. Maybe Visitor Q. I would say Salo, but I was just horrified rather than enjoy myself. Crank 2 is a genre bending film that I can see a lot of people hating but I loved it. But for dvd/blu-ray, I will have to go with the martial arts genre of films and choose the Thai film Chocolate. It basically has a young girl kicking all kinds of ass in with different forms of martial arts techniques. Weak plot but great action. Love that film.