There are bad movies. There are horrifying movies. And then there are those films that are so amazingly disturbing that showing them to human beings qualifies as as violation of the Geneva Convention.
Now, when we say "emotionally scarring" movies, we're not talking Bambi here, folks, or Old Yeller. Those movies are GOOD movies that are SUPPOSED to be sad enough to leave a deep emotional impact. If no one hinted that things weren't going to turn up roses before they showed it to you as a kid, your emotional scars have a lot more to do with your parents being amoral sadists.
Before the rewrites, this is how Disney originally planned to teach millions of children about death.
Nor are we talking about just plain bad movies. To make this list, it doesn't just have to be bad. Howard the Duck, The Postman, It's Pat, Battlefield Earth, Son of the Mask, Pluto Nash, Gigli, and Santa Claus vs. the Martians all sucked the devil's balls and trampled upon the nobility of the human spirit, but the only scars they left were when the people threw rocks at the producers. And while there are plenty of awful films that are full of disturbing images that will leave a cancer upon your soul (such as Jonah Hill's ass in Get Him To the Greek or every single part of Borat) that did make the radar, well, sure they're bad, but everyone saw them, so the horror can be shared and dilluted. Due to space limits, we're sticking to godawful movies that kept under radar.
And again, as clarification, there are many underrated, mostly unknown bad movies, like Black Sheep, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, or Evil Dead, that have a cult following for being so bad they're good. You may not have seen them but they're actually fun to watch, and so also don't count.
But many movies that look like they will be of the "so-bad-it's-good" genre actually wind up being "so-bad-it-hurts." They suck so hard that it induces a small black hole that rips them into immediate obscurity except for the few poor shmucks who saw them. This isn't just a list of films that include gore porn, peculiar fetishes, and deep insight into otherwise disturbing subjects, but the ones that do it in such a way that it haunts soul. The sorts of films that leave you asking "What sort of a god would allow this?" not because of what happens in it but because His infinite mercy did not extend to preventing you from witnessing such violations against decency in the first place as your body involuntary tries to vomit your skull out of your mouth in self-defense so your brain can escape the ignominy.
As occurred to the entire sample group who saw the original, uncut Spider-Man 3.
That winnows the list by a fair amount, but there plenty of cinematic clusterfucks out there. When you have unlimited rentals at your local video store or Netflix, you wind up running across ALL of them.
Most people never saw these movies, because if they did there would be more people visiting psychiatrists. So this list is limited to, but hardly inclusive of, movies no one saw because they will break your soul.
You can usually rely on Robin Williams as your go-to man for warm-hearted comedy/drama, family-friendly funniness, or an animated voice actor who will perform sixteen different voices, often simultaneously. But the man doesn't always play funny (in fact, it's arguable he never does). Whether you consider the ADHD-riddled logorrhoea that spews from Williams' mouth as humorous or not, the man sometimes does serious. Occasionally he wants to flex his acting pecs and do something dramatic, and you know it, because he's usually sporting a beard.
Williams shown here in one of his youngest dramatic roles.
But not always. The three obvious exceptions are Dead Poets Society, What Dreams May Come, and One Hour Photo. But a much less obvious one is World's Greatest Dad, a straight-to-DVD 2009 film promised as a comedy, in which Williams plays an ineffectual teacher, struggling (and failing) writer, and single father to a disaffected teenage son. His son is a horrible human being, not even glorying in the emotional manipulation through which he puts his father. The kid also has a thing for auto-erotic asphyxiation, which of course can only end well. When the young man dies - yes, DIES - doing so, Williams masks his son's embarrassing demise as a planned suicide, penning a false suicide note that gets published in the school newspaper and retroactively transforms his son from ignored outcast to local icon, because nothing impresses teenagers more than the last words of someone they didn't give a shit about yesterday. In between all these wacky hijinx, Williams also smokes pot with his neighbor in a sideplot that has no purpose and goes nowhere, and perpetuates an unhealthy affair with the art instructor, all the while trading off his son's new fame to publish his own overlooked work. Oh, and connects with his son's only friend, because if Dead Poet's Society taught us anything, it's that only good things come from Robin Williams emotionally connecting with high school boys.
Warning: Title intended ironically
If this summary doesn't seem terribly funny, that's because it's not. It's not even a very good drama, but what makes the whole movie so horrifying is that they tried to pass it off as a comedy. From the movie poster to the DVD cover to the plot blurb on IMDB, everything is trying to prepare you for a joke that just never comes. It's as if someone took several things that sound funny as concepts - autoerotic asphyxiation, pot, familial dysfunction, sex in the classroom, and Robin Williams - and went out to prove that none of them are.
Long before Peter Jackson send Frodo to Mt. Doom, before he decided King Kong should not appear until forty minutes into the film, even before he send Michael J. Fox ghostbusting, he directed this little gem. A movie that is basically Avenue Q fifteen years early, Meet the Feebles asks the vital question: what if the muppets were sons of bitches off-screen? You'd get this:
The Feebles are the stars of a variety hour, but as with every other movie about variety shows, this is merely a framing device for the antics that occur behind the scenes. Heidi, the hippo starlette of the show, finds out that her walrus lover Bletch is cheating on her with Samantha the cat. So, in the first fifteen minutes, we get cat and walrus sex.
I'll repeat that, because it bears repeating. A cat. And a walrus. Fuck.
Take a minute to digest that.
As if that isn't enough, Trevor the rat is making a porno in the basement of the building, staring the Masked Masochist and Madam Bovine.
I'll repeat that, because it bears repeating. A rat. Has a cow. Make a porno. Presumably in this world, a cat fucking a walrus isn't anywhere close to kinky enough.
Off to the sides, the rest of the puppet cast and crew deal with extortion, robbery, drug addiction, drug dealing, disease, date rape, scatology, snuff films, and murder. Not to mention beastiality, inter-species sex, and ending with a killing spree. Fun for the whole family, like if Greg the Bunny had been written by Gary Busey.
Also, there is this.
The movie makes no pretention about being anything other than terrible. Up to this point, Peter Jackson's only claim to fame was a movie that was literally named Bad Taste, about aliens who abduct humans to make hamburgers. But while that is in the so-bad-its-good zone, and our previous entry was not-a-comedy-masquerading-as-such, Meet the Feebles takes bad taste to a whole new realm.
And includes a cat fucking a walrus.
It seems like the best horror movies in the last ten years have come out of Asia. Even when they're remade with white, blonde actresses in the lead, they're usually amazing (Shutter being the reason for the qualifier). And if you never saw Audition, start punching yourself in the back of the head and don't stop until Netflix delivers it.
But then you get something like 3 Extremes, a 2004 horror trilogy by three big names in Asian cinema which takes horror to a whole new level of fucking your fear lobe in the asshole and laughing all the while.
This is what Satan watches on Halloween to give hisself the willies.
If Tales from the Crypt did a half-hour episode about eating aborted baby fetuses, it might be more horrifying than...
Wait, no it couldn't because that IS what the first story is about. Director Fruit Chan (seriously) brings us Dumplings, a lovely little bedtime story about a woman who fears she is losing her looks to old age, and so starts consuming dim sum stuffed with aborted fetuses. The actress never really seems to get any younger (though we are told she is looking so), but soon has to start stealing her own fetuses. We're not giving away a twist, either; after learning what she is eating, the lead character continues to chow down for another ten damn minutes and then starts cooking 'em at home!
"And then some fetus dumplings." "And then?" "No and then!" "And then" "No and then!" "And theeeeeeen?"
In the second installment, Cut by Korean director Park Chan-wook, a movie director is kidnapped by a sadistic extra and forced to watch as his wife's fingers are cut off via piano wire, one digit every five minutes. To save his wife all he has to do is kill a child. Instead he goes crazy and kills his wife, a move of mad logic that would leave even the Joker with his head cocked to one side lookin' perplexed. The film itself is a visual masterpiece that is only slightly marred by being precisely as creepy as fuck.
Pictured above: less than or equal to within one standard devitation of "fuck."
Finally, Takashi Miike (the director of Audition, incidentally) brings us Box, a film about a sister who hates her twin enough to burn her alive, only to wind up in the flaming box herself before waking up to discover she is the horribly-deformed cojoined twin of the pair. (And dibs on "Flaming Box" as a band name!) Amazingly, this is the LEAST disturbing installment in the trilogy.
Seriously. The other two stories are WAY creepy than THIS.
And as if the constant barrage of child-hating horror isn't enough, you have to keep watching: it's subtitled so you can't even hide your eyes. After watching this movie in the theater, the whole audience was silent on the walk out and for the whole bus ride home, as traumatized as if we'd all just been witness to a rape. And speaking of which...
Look at the cover. Go on, look at it. Looks light a delightful sex-romp, yes?
At best a modern Porky's, at worst another 18-Year-Old Virgin, right?
Very. Much. No.
Like #5 on this list, everything about this film promises laughs except the film itself. The big names in this are Sarah Silverman's sister Laura, and Adam Busch, a man otherwise famous for getting his skin ripped off by evil-Willow in a filler season of Buffy the Big-Tittied Slayer. The premise: three couples who are so dysfunctional they should be fleeing a slasher in a horror flick come together to have an orgy .
What it actually delivers: after several failed start-ups with all the eroticism and humor you'd expect from a flop at the Sundance Festival, everyone takes some ecstacy and one of the women winds up raped.
Let's get one thing clear: rape is never, ever, ever funny.
If you laughed at this, you're going to hell.
It's even less funny when it happens right there on-screen instead of cutting away. There is no real violence to the act, at least not in the hitting or bleeding manner, but it is very evident that she does not want to be there by her screaming "No! No! Stop! No! I don't want to do this!" It makes the outright and reoccuring racism throughout the movie LESS offensive, the same way Dr. House's way of life makes vicodin addiction seem like a delightful personality quirk.
So, yeah. Rape.
Go back and look at that cover again. Bastards.
Some of these movies are horrific because they misrepresent themselves. They wouldn't be here if they were honest in their intention, because seeing an ax murderer in a prison is not as disturbing as seeing him in a daycare. Some of these movies actually set out to be horrific but only nominally warn you of it. Then there's this:
Human Centipede, in which a German scientist kidnaps two American tourists and a Japanese trucker and turns them into a titular human centipede by sewing them ass-to mouth.
Which as we all know, you should never go.
Now, this SHOULD be the campy movie of all time. Instead, it's the proverbial donkey show: you feel bad for yourself, for the girl, and for the donkey (we know what you're going to say, that there's nothing about a donkey show in Proverbs. Yes there is. Go look it up. We'll wait). The whole thing is played absolute straight, not a bit of tongue-in-cheek, with all the screaming and torture of Hostel but taking multation to an inconceivable new level.
If you're reading Cracked, there's a good chance you know OF this movie. But in the same way people know OF the Holocaust. There is a relatively small chance you will meet anyone who ever went through the whole horrible ordeal, and if you do you can tell - the haunted look etched on their face and the soundrack of their soul crying out in eternal sorrow is dead giveaway.
Give the movie this: it delivers exactly what it promises. The German scientist, obsesssed with this idea from frame one of the film, sets out to smash three people into one long organism. In the end, the reason it's so horrifying is because it's so basic. Rather than sci-fi it up, the movie is horrifying just because of how simply this surgery is performed: Dr. Phukkinnutz cuts open the girl's mouth and sews it to the rectum of the person in front. Twice. In fact, the movie brags on the cover that everything in this movie is within the realm of modern medical science (hell, I've bragged about less). And if there's any confusion on what is about to happen, he goes through a clinical explanation with his victims for several minutes prior to the surgery. Then he tries to get his new creation to perform tricks on the front lawn and dodge a couple cops who realize that when people go missing a local crazy German scientist is probably a lead worth following up.
Inhumane medical experiments performed by a German?! I'll believe that when I see it!
The only thing more psychologically damaging than watching the protagonist is being her, the one stuck in the arguable most unfortunate position in the middle.