5 Old-Timey Movies That'd Be NC-17 Today
If we asked you to think of an old-timey black-and-white movie, odds are you'd think of something earnest and family friendly, like It's a Wonderful Life or, at worst, a Three Stooges routine. You know, back in the innocent old-timey era when the most shocking thing you could see on a screen was some "guy smacked with a shovel" slapstick. Back when people cared about family values, damn it.
Yeah, it's funny how we rewrite history to make the present look worse. Because in reality, there's shit from your great-grandfather's day that would instantly get nailed with an NC-17 rating today:
The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916) Contains More Cocaine Than All of Modern Hollywood
The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is a Sherlock Holmes spoof starring "scientific detective" Coke Ennyday, and it has one punchline and one punchline only: Ennyday does a metric shit-ton of cocaine. The opening shot of this 1916 film shows him wearing a bandolier of needles, and it only gets less subtle from there:
He's sitting next to a jar labeled "COCAINE." No, seriously.
Our hero casually shoots up three times before the two-and-a-half-minute mark, because 1916 was a magical time when Hollywood had no rules and you could still score a coke prescription if your doctor was cool.
The cocaineman can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world feel good.
And our Sherlock Holmes stand-in has his very own Watson, of course, who inexplicably dresses in bondage gear while he helps his boss get high with a gigantic needle.
See the jar? And we bet you didn't believe us.
But because this isn't an Adam Sandler film, there's more to it than watching our hero goof off -- the Secret Service needs his help stopping a smuggling ring! Ennyday accepts the job and psyches himself up by literally throwing a pile of cocaine in his face.
"Let it snow, bitches!"
Our hero learns that "Japs" (1916 was also the heyday of casual racism) are behind the ring. It's not clear why he'd want to stop opium smugglers when at one point in the film he downs a bottle of laudanum like Popeye pounding back spinach, but maybe these early movies were more morally complicated than we give them credit for.
He's using his hands to shovel opium into his mouth, because junkies don't have time for forks.
Eating smuggled opium gives Ennyday the energy he needs to chase the opium smugglers. Rather than fight them, Ennyday converts them to his side by shooting them up, leaving them too busy hopping around on that sweet, sweet cocaine high to bother stopping him.
Rick James would later do the same to get out of speeding tickets.
In the final confrontation, all the henchmen rush Ennyday together. Our hero calmly wields a vial of cocaine like it's goddamn holy water, spraying it at them and immediately incapacitating the lot.
And now we suppose it's only a matter of time before this gets a reboot starring Seth Rogen. You're welcome, Hollywood.
Haxan (1922) Is Full of Torture and Satanic Rim Jobs
We're going to cut to the chase here -- Haxan is a movie where a woman gives Satan a rim job.
"Keep the hat. We don't want to seem too immodest."
What, you want context? All right, fine. Haxan sounds like a video game title, but it's actually a Swedish silent film about witchcraft. Known in English as Witchcraft Through the Ages, the film is the 1922 equivalent of a docudrama. It uses classic documentarian tools like re-creations and gratuitous nudity.
"Baby, I swear I was only watching it to learn!"
The movie is a series of vignettes, including one where a young maiden uses a potion made from cat feces to seduce a pious monk. Said monk is later visited by Satan himself, who pops up like a demonic jack-in-the-box.
"Yo, did someone say 'feces'?"
Satan also shows his seductive side by tempting multiple women away from their husbands and into his strong, sensuous arms. In fact, through most of the movie, he acts less like the Prince of Lies and more like a frat bro looking to score some Swedish babes.
"Spring break, y'all."
The movie pulls no punches in treating us to a vivid montage of medieval torture techniques that includes spiked shackles ...
... hands getting crushed by hammers ...
... and whatever the heck this is.
We're not entirely sure, but man, it looks painful.
Also, Satan tosses a baby that's been drained of its blood into a cooking pot. Ah, good old baby stew. Keeps you warm on those cold winter nights.
"Add the baby to a salad and use the blood in a vinaigrette for a refreshing summer dish!"
That's after he goes to town on a nun with a bat. Nun batting works up a hunger.
"Credit goes to Ty Cobb for fixing my stance."
And did we mention the gratuitous nudity? Because boy is there ever some gratuitous nudity.
Haxan is widely considered to be a masterpiece, but in the uptight year of 1922, all it took was a maniacal Satan and lustful women to get it axed from playing in the United States.
Eyes Without a Face (1960) Has Gruesome, Close-Up Face Removals
Eyes Without a Face is about a surgeon, Dr. Genessier, obsessed with restoring his daughter Christiane's disfigured face. While he looks for a suitable replacement, he makes her wear a mask that doesn't exactly do her features any favors.
It doesn't do your sleep any favors either.
Where's he looking for a replacement? We're glad you asked. It's pretty simple -- he's luring innocent women into his home and then cutting their faces off.
John Travolta and Nicolas Cage ain't got shit on this.
The movie opens with the doctor's assistant dumping the body of a failed subject into a river, because apparently Genessier is kind of a shitty surgeon. The second attempt at defacement goes better, but Christiane's body rejects the new tissue. Because he can't face the thought of failure, Genessier soon gets his hands on a third victim.
But watching her father murder innocent people has taken its toll on Christiane, and she rescues the new girl by stabbing her dad's assistant in the neck.
Heroism takes all kinds of forms. Crazy, for example.
Then she unleashes the dogs her dad used for experiments, and they promptly display an appreciation for dramatic irony by ripping up his face.
Not pictured: the dog using his leg for an experiment.
Christiane then strolls off into the night and your nightmares.
She brings a dove, because symbolism.
Keep in mind that throughout all of this Christiane is almost completely mute and wearing dresses that look like they were designed for dolls instead of humans. Say what you will about modern horror, but the face removal surgery scene is fucked up no matter how many Saw movies you've powered through. Hell, it supposedly made seven people faint during a film festival viewing, which the director responded to by calling them giant pussies. To be fair, that does seem like a bit much, it's just a mov-
Oh God get it away from us ohGodohGodoh-
Maniac (1934) Features a Rape Zombie and Eyeball-Eating Action
Maniac follows the exploits of the crazy Don Maxwell and the even crazier Dr. Meirshultz, who wants to bring the dead back to life. So he pulls out a gun and asks Maxwell to kill himself for science. Maxwell shoots his boss instead. Hey, we said he was crazy, not stupid.
Maxwell begins impersonating the deceased doctor. He injects his first patient with a bizarre cocktail of God-knows-what, and it's not surprising when the man goes completely bonkers in one of cinematic history's greatest scenes of hulking out.
The man escapes and kidnaps a woman, conveniently pausing to strip her half-naked for the benefit of the hornier audience members.
"When people are paying upwards of 5 cents a ticket, you owe them a show."
Maxwell doesn't seem terribly concerned by the fact that a rape zombie is on the loose. He has bigger tasks at hand, like going absolutely batshit crazy. When one of the neighbor's cats eats a heart the real doctor was keeping, Maxwell chases it down and squeezes out its goddamn eye.
No cats were harmed in the making of this film, but a lot of psyches were.
Maxwell comments that the eye is "not unlike an oyster, or a grape" before doing exactly what one would do with those things.
That naturally cuts to a bunch of women strutting about half-naked (see the horndog audience members mentioned above). One is Maxwell's wife, a character we had no idea existed until the director needed her to shake what her mother gave her.
This was your grandfather's Porky's.
For a few minutes it seems like everything up to this point was the needlessly elaborate setup for a porno.
Chekhov wouldn't have introduced the vibrating exercise belt machine without putting it to use. Just sayin'.
But no, both she and Rape Zombie's wife are trying to swindle Maxwell. So he concocts a solution where he traps the two women in his basement and makes them fight to the death while he laughs like a ... oh, we just got the title. Anyway, it's not exactly a slap fight -- at one point, one woman goes to town on the other with a goddamn bat.
"Terrible." -Ty Cobb
All this noise attracts the attention of the police, who bust in and arrest the fuck out of everyone. The final line of the film is "He's crazy!" for the benefit of the audience's slowest members. The question of what happened to the zombie rapist is left disturbingly unanswered.
Un Chien Andalou (1929) -- Eyes Get Sliced Open, Women Get Molested, and Armpit Hair Becomes a Mouth
Un Chien Andalou is a movie about ... uh, you know what? To be honest, we really don't know. It starts with an extreme close-up of a husband slicing his wife's eye open, so ... there's that.
They used a dead calf, because dead animals were 1929's CGI.
This isn't some quick, half-second shot -- you get to see the razor drag across the eye in vivid detail.
That's "vitreous humor," aka "the shit your eyeballs are made of."
What the hell kind of movie starts like this? Orson Welles' Hostel? Well, Un Chien Andalou was made by Salvador Dali, so that offers as much of an explanation as we can provide. It's basically a series of insane events with no real connection between them, although we're sure a film student could give you a half-hour lecture on the significance of the hole in a man's hand that produces ants ...
... a random woman poking a disembodied hand that's lying in the middle of the street for no apparent reason ...
... and the dude who gets so turned on from watching a woman get run over by a car that he immediately molests his companion.
"You don't want to know what I'd be doing if it had been an ice-cream truck."
Does this lead to gratuitous nudity? You bet it does!
All this sex offending briefly turns him into some sort of zombie.
Zombie rape was a serious issue during the '20s and '30s, is what we're saying.
But don't worry; he recovers in time to haul a couple of pianos with animal carcasses and live priests in them around the room. You know, as one does.
"It really brings the room, and my psychosis, together."
This is still in the middle of his rape attempt, by the way. But let's skip ahead a bit to the dude who gets shot (by books that transformed into pistols) and wakes up in a park with a naked lady.
Unfortunately for him, she abruptly vanishes. So it's back to one of the other dudes, who makes his own mouth vanish. This shocks his lady friend so much that she puts on lipstick. He proceeds to replace his mouth with her armpit hair, because nothing in life makes sense anymore.
It's a metaphor for not having a plot.
The film ends with a shot of one of the couples dead in the sand, which was presumably also filmed without special effects.
Keep in mind that they manage to cram all this crazy into a movie that's only 21 minutes long.
As you may have already guessed, Dali wanted the movie to be as weird and inaccessible as possible. But that didn't stop it from becoming a surprise hit, because apparently there was literally nothing else to do in 1929 but watch it. Like today, this meant he had to make a sequel, which featured a woman fellating a statue's foot and a crucifix covered in scalps.
Pictured: What your grandpa refers to as "The Good Old Days."
Related Reading: These aren't the only things from older generations that should terrify you. Take, for instance, Lucille Bogan, who sang about boning dead bodies in the '30s. And if that's not enough, then check out Lawson's vaginal washer.
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