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The 50 most controversial movies of all time

Straw Dogs (1971)

The Movie: Sam Peckinpah brought his nihilistic vision of humanity to the UK, as American academic Dustin Hoffman is angered into violent action after Cornish locals rape his wife (Susan George).

Most Controversial Moment: The central double-rape, in which George appears to enjoy the attentions of ex-lover Del Henney. Ironically, the uncut version of the film is far less ambiguous than the edited version the distributor tried and failed to get passed by the BBFC until 2002.

The Exorcist (1973)

The Movie: The cause celebre of 1973 got the world talking about demonic possession and subliminal imagery. It was so infamous that, after the video nasty panic, Warner Brothers took it for granted the BBFC would refuse a home video certificate and didn't even bother submitting it until 1999.

Most Controversial Moment: Regan (Linda Blair) starts masturbating with a crucifix. If that wasn't scandalous enough, there are people present in the room.

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

The Movie: The MPAA wouldn't back down until an anal rape sequence was removed from this notorious rape/revenge thriller. Even then, it made the UK video nasty list and remains censored in this country. (The 2010 remake proved just as unpalatable to the BBFC, with several cuts made before release.)

Most Controversial Moment: The scene in which Jennifer (Camille Keaton) castrates one of her attackers is the most talked-about but, be honest, it is the film's first half that is unbearably horrific.

Salo, or The 120 Days Of Sodom (1975)

The Movie: Pier Paolo Pasolini updated the Marquis De Sade's story to Fascist Italy, where a litany of tortures was too much for censors in many countries, including Britain where the film was heavily cut (and its showings carefully regulated) until 2000.

Most Controversial Moment: The Circle of Shit sequence, in which prisoners of the Fascists are forced to eat a dinner of poo.

Irreversible (2002)

The Movie: Gaspar Noe raised the bar for challenging audiences to watch the unwatchable by shooting his toughest scenes in unbroken long takes. The UK censors had no choice but to release uncut, although as they pointed out, Noe was hardly glamorising violence.

Most Controversial Moment: The extended rape of Monica Belluci. That is, if you've made it past the scene where a man's skull is caved in with a fire extinguisher.

A Serbian Film (2010)

The Movie: A huge outcry heralded the arrival of Sran Spasojevi's extreme horror, with a Spanish festival director charged with child pornography for showing it, and it's UK debut at Frightfest pulled after the BBFC ordered four minutes of cuts.

Most Controversial Moment: Miloš (Sran Todorovi) is introduced to the latest trend in hardcore - newborn porn.

Human Centipede 2 (2011)

The Movie: The first film was outrageous enough, but Tom Six's sequel - the so-called Full Sequence - piled on the agony with DIY surgery and violent sexual fetishes. The BBFC banned it, temporarily, before agreeing to release it once two-and-a-half minutes of cuts were made.

Most Controversial Moment: The barbed wire rape.

Triumph Of The Will (1935)

The Movie: The Will , in this case, being Adolf Hitler's. Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda documentary of the Nuremberg Rally is a masterpiece of filmmaking that just happens to glorify Nazism. Its screenings in Germany today are limited to strictly educational purposes.

Most Controversial Moment: The climactic procession march, in which Hitler rallies his troops. Later borrowed by George Lucas for the ending to Star Wars .

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The Movie: Stanley Kubrick's bitter view of ultra-violence (and the even more dehumanising response of the authorities) provoked public anger and private death threats, causing Kubrick to pull his film from UK release until he died in 1999.

Most Controversial Moment: The exaggerated, cartoonish rape scene - later blamed for a copycat attack - in which Alex (Malcolm McDowell) beats a woman to the strains of Singin' In The Rain .

The Birth Of a Nation (1915)

The Movie: D.W. Griffith's Civil War epic is lauded by cinema historians for more or less 'inventing' feature-length movie narrative as it is still used today.

Making it awkward that the film is also an unrepentant recruitment ad for the Ku Klux Klan, which initiated an upsurge in race-related violence in the years following its release and still causes fierce arguments about whether it should be shown nearly 100 years later.

Most Controversial Moment: The ending, in which North and South soldiers put aside their differences to join forces against the black slaves (all played by white actors in blackface), allegedly the 'real' enemy of American progress.