Men Behind The Sun (1988)
The violence: Secret experiments? They’re not to secret here, as we watch the Japanese do horrible things to their Chinese and Soviet prisoners in Unit 731. It's very, very bloody.
The reaction: Censors across the globe have railed against Men Behind the Sun's gory depictions. Director Mou Tun-fei received death threats, mostly resulting from allegations of his using real autopsy footage.
Green Room (2015)
The violence: Something about cinematic depictions of blood and guts is made incredibly scarier when its Neo-Nazis committing the violence against hapless young victims. Especially when that violence includes stabbings, dissection, and shotgun shrapnel to the face.
The reaction: Critical acclaim, though audiences were far from shrugging off Green Room's penchant for terrifying displays of gore. Anyone who's seen the film, for instance, will know exactly what I'm talking about when I refer to that scene.
Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
The violence: Both physical and psychological violence is inflicted throughout Salo. People are urinated on, teenagers are forced to engage in lewd acts, faecal matter is practically smeared across the camera lens, and a young boy has his tongue sliced off. Worst by far, though, is the scene in which faeces is served on plates, which dinner guests happily shovel into their gobs.
The reaction: An almost universal ban greeted Salo in the beginning. The film finally got an uncut UK release in 2000, and in Australia in 2012. The film has its defenders though. Both Martin Scorsese and Alec Baldwin argue it possesses artistic merit.
The violence: Scissors slicing into navels, the accidental murder of family members, an aerosol canister used as a flame-thrower, stabbings… Inside doesn’t pull any punches, right up to its vicious, club-wielding final stretch.
The reaction: Widespread acclaim, as it happens. A cliche-bending home invasion horror, Inside is rightly cited as a smart film despite its brutal and unrelenting depictions of violence.
Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
The violence: There's shock moments peppered throughout Tarantino's unique take on the revenge western, but it's the famous 'crazy 88' fight scene that takes the cake for amplified violence on a grand scale.
The reaction: The scene was considered so bloody, that Tarantino was forced by the MPAA to render it in black and white for the theatrical release, but a full colour version is available to view both online and via select versions of the home release.
Hostel: Part 2 (2007)
The violence: Cranked out during the height of torture porn's cinematic reign, Hostel 2 pushed the limits of on-screen gristle and gore. Ramping up the viscera like a caffeine-rushing abattoir worker, it gives us heads in boxes (cheers, Fincher), murdered children, circular-saw action, death by dog, needles in ears...
The reaction: Even liberal ol' Germany sliced and diced Eli Roth's film before granting it a cinema release. Lorna's torture and death scene is still missing from the German Extended Edition, as well as the New Zealand release. In the UK, the Government branded it as "an hour and a half of brutality". Cinema-goers didn’t seem fans either, Hostel 2 had only managing to scrape together a measly $17m. That explains the decision to release the third film direct-to-DVD...
Saw VI (2009)
The violence: “This movie is a lot more violent than the previous five”, proclaimed producer Mark Burg. No kidding. The Saw films revolve almost entirely around the various traps masterminded by Jigsaw and his accomplices, and while this one’s no different, it does rather scale up the spectacle. One involves the victim cutting off their own arm, another a sinister breathing apparatus. There’s also a horrible place called The Hanging Room, and don’t even get us started on the Carousel.
The reaction: Spain awarded Saw 6 the series’ first Pelcula X, a rating that the country usually reserves for pornographic films.
Guinea Pig: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)
The violence: That would be where the woman getting taken apart comes in...
The reaction: Director Hideshi Hino had to prove that his film wasn't, in fact, a grisly documentary. Which, in a weird twist, is all Charlie Sheen's fault. He caught a portion of the film and, convinced it was real, got in touch with the MPAA. They in turn alerted the FBI, which resulted in Hino having to go to court to prove that the special effects weren't the real deal.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
The violence: As spake Roger Ebert in his (positive) review:
"The movie is 126 minutes long, and I would guess that at least 100 of those minutes, maybe more, are concerned specifically and graphically with the details of the torture and death of Jesus. This is the most violent film I have ever seen"
Yeah, The Passion of the Christ is so brutal it’s otherwise been critically referred to as a legal recreation of snuff. It’s a film so relentlessly savage you should see it as a biblical Hostel, basically.
The reaction: Mixed. Many praised the standard of film-making, singling out performances, audio-visual production, and overall direction as being of very high quality, but there was as much feeling that the violence detracted from the point as there was that the violence was the point.
Philosophy Of A Knife (2008)
The violence: Some truly grisly reenactments of the experiments that took place in Unit 731 take centre stage here. You may want to avert your eyes (we know we did).
The reaction: It was released on DVD in 2008 and didn't seem to cause much of a stir anywhere, to be honest. Guess it's doomed to live forever in the shadow of Men Behind The Sun.