Top 10 Banned Horror Movies You Can Watch This Spooky Season (if you dare)
written by: Brayden Fast
10. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Cannibal Holocaust was banned just ten days after its release in Milan. Because of the movie’s “found film” style, it was charged with “obscenity” and this order came from the local magistrate. They brought in jurors to the court to watch scenes from the movie to determine if what was documented was real or fake.
Cannibal Holocaust follows an American Rescue group from New York University who are trying to locate a missing documentary film crew in the Amazon Rainforest. You can rent or buy it on Amazon Prime starting at $3.99.
9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
This classic was one of the movies that helped pioneer the modern horror genre. It had one of the lowest budgets at the time, coming in around $140,000. Not to mention, all the actors had to be in 100-degree+ heat during their August filming in Texas.
However, due to the violent content (and being marketed as being based on true events), Tobe Hooper had a very difficult time trying to find a distributor for the film. It was finally picked up by Louis Perano and released in theaters on October 1, 1974. Sometime after its release, it was banned in several countries and pulled from numerous theaters because of the response (and complaints) to the violent natures of the film.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals and must try to survive.
You can find it on these streaming services.
8. The Last House on the Left (1972)
This film was based on the Swedish film The Virgin Spring (1960) and was Wes Craven’s directorial debut. The original title Craven created was under Night of Vengeance and after getting a small funding from Hallmark they were able to make the film. But after this, things went downhill.
Craven wanted the horror movie to depict violence in a realistic matter. This sparked major controversy between the viewers and ultimately damaged the start of Craven’s career. The film was banned in several countries (especially the UK) in the 1980s and into the 1990s. While this film may not have been a massive box office smash, the film grossed $3.1 million and was remade in 2009.
The Last House on the Left is an exploitation horror film where two hippie teenagers (Sandra Peabody and Lucy Grantham) are heading to a rock concert for one’s birthday. While trying to acquire drugs, the two girls are kidnapped and brutalized by a group of psychopathic convicts.
You can watch the original film here.
7. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
There is a lot to unpack with this chilling and disturbing film. Originally titled Day of the Woman, this controversial film was met with much disdain. When it met its worldwide release, the film was almost instantly branded as “video nasty” in the United Kingdom and was targeted by film commissioners to get it censored. It was also called “a vile bag of garbage” by film critic Roger Ebert. To this day, the film is considered one of the worst films ever made. This is largely due to the extremely graphic violence and lengthy sexual assault scene.
I Spit on Your Grave is a story about Jennifer Hills, a fictional author who gets revenge on each of her tormentors after four men gang rape her and leave her for dead.
The film is available on Tubi.
6. Saw VI (2009)
Saw VI is not the only Saw movie to be banned in other countries. A total of four Saw franchise movies were pulled in various countries because of its depiction of violence, gore, and death. Saw VI saw its first ban in Spain unless they were to cut out the more “violent” scenes. Following Spain, Thailand outright banned this movie, but for the vague reason of its release “posing a threat to public safety”.
Although the previous five movies were not banned, the last four became banned in Spain, Thailand, Germany, and other countries as well.
The Saw franchise follows a fictional serial killer, John Kramer, or “Jigsaw”, who kidnaps and tortures his victims with “games” and traps. These victims must figure out how to beat the traps before meeting their untimely and gruesome deaths.
5. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011)
Following its predecessor, The Human Centipede (First Sequence), this sequel was met with much more backlash. If you are not familiar with The Human Centipede, it’s a Dutch horror movie about a deranged German doctor that kidnaps three tourists and joins them surgically from mouth to anus, thus forming a “human centipede”.
As you can tell, this film series is very grotesque. When the second film came around in 2011, it was subjected to heavy censorship throughout the world because of its graphic depictions (and controversy) of violence, sexual violence, and body horror. After heavy, heavy editing and cuts, the UK eventually allowed it to be screened.
The second film follows an impaired English man that becomes obsessed with the first attempt of the human centipede and decides he wants to make his own but consists of twelve people instead of three.
You can watch this majorly disturbing film here.
4. Maniac (2012)
The original Maniac film made its debut in 1980. Despite its small budget and polarized reviews, it gained a substantial cult following and is considered an iconic 80s horror film to some. The remake, however, did not receive the same treatment.
When it made its worldwide debut, it was allowed for release in the UK, yet New Zealand ended up banning the entire movie and removed it from mainstream cinema and DVD release in the entire country.
Maniac (2012), starring Elijah Wood, follows the violent exploits of a brutal serial killer. You can rent or buy it on Amazon Prime.
3. Hostel (2005)
Hostel premiered in 2005 under the direction of Eli Roth. This movie is filled with over-the-top torture. In terms of the ratings, it got rave reviews in the United States. Some say it could be a commentary of a world where you can get anything you want as long as you have the money for it.
Sadly, with its worldwide release, it was banned in Slovakia and the Czech Republic because of how the film portrays the locations and people there. These countries were fearful that it would ruin their tourism. Because of this, they invited Roth on an all-expenses-paid trip to tour the country in exchange for changes to be made to the film. Roth refused and therefore this film was banned.
Hostel follows the story of a mysterious organization that kidnaps, tortures, and kills tourists. You can find this film streaming on Peacock.
2. Faces of Death
Faces of Death was a mainstream horror movie in the late 1970s early 1980s. It gained a huge cult following after its release, which was met with many other sequels under similar titles. This mockumentary is definitely not for the faint of heart.
In 1979, sometime after its release, it was banned by numerous countries, included the United Kingdom. The UK deemed this film violated their Obscene Publications Act and was banned up until 2003 when they allowed it to be released on DVD (only after 3 minutes cut). It was also banned in Australia until 2007 when bootleg VHS copies were released. New Zealand’s ban has not been lifted.
Faces of Death is a documentary-style horror movie that centers on a pathologist, Francis B. Gröss. The narrator (Gröss) presents the viewer with a variety of footage showing different gruesome ways of death, from a variety of sources. (Some scenes were faked for the film, while others are preexisting video footage.)
You can find it here.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is probably the most iconic horror movie in today’s day and age. This is one of my personal favorites, yet there was much controversy around the film after its debut in 1973.
When it first arrived in theatres, it was given an R-rating. Many believed that this was based on favoritism towards William Friedkin (the director) and that the film actually deserved an X-rating. However, this never happened. While more controversy and disdain swirled around the film, these complaints actually reached the United States Supreme Court (this would later go on to significantly change our obscenity laws).
While there was nothing that the Supreme Court did or could do, it was finally banned in multiple areas of the United Kingdom and other countries as well.
The Exorcist is a supernatural horror film that follows the demonic possession of twelve-year-old Regan and her mother's attempt to rescue her through an exorcism conducted by two Catholic priests.
You can watch it on SlingTV.