The Disturbo 13

by Brian Ross | created - 01 Jul 2011 | updated - 01 Jul 2011 | Public

The Disturbo 13 purports to be a list of the thirteen most disturbing films ever made. It was compiled by Stanley Wiater in the early 90's. A purposely eclectic mix of films that is aimed at helping people explore extreme cinema. Once you check it out, see how I would re-imagine it 20 years later on this list.

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1. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Not Rated | 117 min | Drama, Horror, War

6.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

In World War II Italy, four fascist libertines round up nine adolescent boys and girls and subject them to one hundred and twenty days of physical, mental and sexual torture.

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini | Stars: Paolo Bonacelli, Laura Betti, Giorgio Cataldi, Umberto Paolo Quintavalle

Votes: 44,009

Truly, deeply disturbed. A controversial retelling of the Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom set in fascist Italy. Watching this film can be tough for anyone due to its graphic sexual torture. It is frequently banned despite being considered a masterpiece of cinema.

2. Hei tai yang 731 (1988)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, History, Horror

6.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Japanese troops round up Chinese and Russian prisoners of war and take them to a place called Squadron 731, where they are grotesquely tortured and experimented on to test new biological weapons.

Director: Tun Fei Mou | Stars: Jianxin Chen, Hsu Gou, Linjie Hao, Haizhe Jin

Votes: 4,924

The film depicts graphic war crimes by the Japanese during World War II. Despite being from Hong Kong it has a lot in common with Japanese Guinea Pig films. One of the most notorious scenes claims to be the actual autopsy footage of a young boy.

3. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

R | 101 min | Horror, Thriller

5.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
19 Metascore

An aspiring writer is repeatedly gang-raped, humiliated, and left for dead by four men whom she systematically hunts down to seek revenge.

Director: Meir Zarchi | Stars: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols

Votes: 22,142

A hallmark of the grindhouse treatment of rape-revenge films. I Spit on Your Grave remains a cult classic, but it doesn't have much cinematic value. Despite this many have have used this film to debate misogyny and feminism coming to vastly different conclusions about the film's stance. Worth a watch, can skip the remake.

4. Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)

X | 84 min | Comedy, Horror

4.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

Sardu, master of the Theatre of the Macabre, and his assistant Ralphus run a show in which, under the guise of 'magic', they torture and murder people in front of their audience. But what the punters see as a trick is actually real.

Director: Joel M. Reed | Stars: Seamus O'Brien, Viju Krem, Niles McMaster, Dan Fauci

Votes: 4,426

A remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis' The Wizard of Gore (1970) attempted to ramp up the gore, violence, and sexuality to even more ludicrous levels. Bloodsucking Freaks hasn't aged very well despite being controversial at the time. For fans of the splatter-gore genre.

5. The Last House on the Left (1972)

R | 84 min | Horror, Thriller

6.0
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Two teenage girls head to a rock concert for one's birthday. While trying to score marijuana in the city, they are kidnapped and brutalized by a gang of psychotic convicts.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David Hess, Fred J. Lincoln

Votes: 27,682 | Gross: $3.10M

Wes Craven's first film was a violent warning to girls about the dangers of going out and having a little harmless fun. The look of the actors has become dated, but the film's shockingly straight forward approach to a wee-bit of ultra-violence remains intact. Banned numerous times, there are cuts of this film that are tame and others that manage to raise the depravity level.

6. Maniac (1980)

R | 87 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

6.5
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A psychopath, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in New York City, kills young women and takes their scalps as his trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in a photographer, and end his killing spree?

Director: William Lustig | Stars: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper

Votes: 11,360

A fairly straight-forward slasher film that pushes the boundaries of violence. Famous actor-stuntman Tom Savini delivers one of the most astoundingly effective horror deaths of all time with the notorious "Discoboy Headshot." Critics are divided on this particular film, but most praise Savini's effects as some of his finest ever.

7. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Unrated | 95 min | Adventure, Horror

6.0
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During a rescue mission into the Amazon rainforest, a professor stumbles across lost film shot by a missing documentary crew.

Director: Ruggero Deodato | Stars: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, Luca Barbareschi

Votes: 43,206

Cannibal Holocaust employs a cinéma vérité direction to make it seem like its actually lost footage from a documentary crew. Audiences tend to remember it for its controversial violence. The initial controversy erupted in Italy when officials believed the director had actually killed people instead of using effects. This was later proved to be false, however seven animals including monkeys were filmed being killed.

8. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Unrated | 83 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

7.0
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80 Metascore

Henry, a drifter, commits a series of brutal murders, supposedly operating with impunity.

Director: John McNaughton | Stars: Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold, Tom Towles, Mary Demas

Votes: 26,099 | Gross: $0.61M

Some films made the list for their depiction of violence, Henry made it for how it presented the killer. A truly disturbed film that approaches violence so nonchalantly its more unsettling than actually watching someone disemboweled. Michael Rooker delivered the performance of his career as one of the most realistic depictions of a serial killer ever.

9. Tras el cristal (1986)

Unrated | 110 min | Drama, Horror

6.9
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In Spain, the former Nazi doctor Klaus tries to commit suicide jumping off the roof of his manor. However, he survives with the entire body paralyzed and dependable of an iron lung with ... See full summary »

Director: Agustí Villaronga | Stars: Günter Meisner, David Sust, Marisa Paredes, Gisèle Echevarría

Votes: 3,382

A disturbing art-house look at the cycle of sexual abuse through the relationship between a Nazi and his child victim. Truly creepy stuff that probes the mind.

10. Nekromantik (1987)

Not Rated | 75 min | Horror

5.1
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A street sweeper who cleans up after grisly accidents brings home a full corpse for him and his wife to enjoy sexually, but is dismayed to see that his wife prefers the corpse over him.

Director: Jörg Buttgereit | Stars: Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt, Colloseo Schulzendorf

Votes: 6,914

Part of the German Underground Horror movement, Nekromantik is a pure trash level film that makes the list solely on its subject matter alone: necrophilia. The sequel surpassed its depravity in every way, but neither are films I'd recommend anyone to watch beyond sheer morbid curiosity.

11. Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975)

R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

5.2
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Ilsa is an evil Nazi warden at a death camp that conducts "medical experiments". Ilsa's goal is to prove that women can withstand more pain and suffering than men and therefore should be allowed to fight on the front lines.

Director: Don Edmonds | Stars: Dyanne Thorne, Gregory Knoph, Tony Mumolo, Maria Marx

Votes: 6,230

Um... Nazi exploitation does anything else really need to be said?

12. Combat Shock (1984)

R | 91 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

6.4
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A dangerously disturbed Vietnam veteran struggles with life 15 years after his return home, and slowly falls into insanity from his gritty urban lifestyle.

Director: Buddy Giovinazzo | Stars: Rick Giovinazzo, Veronica Stork, Mitch Maglio, Asaph Livni

Votes: 2,134

Part of the Troma Masterpiece Collection, Combat Shock is an awkward mish-mash that never really finds its footing. The ending sequence though is fairly shocking and leaves a mark on the viewer.

13. Eraserhead (1977)

Not Rated | 89 min | Horror

7.4
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Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates

Votes: 81,952 | Gross: $7.00M

The surrealist film that put David Lynch on the map, makes this list for very different reasons. Highly disturbing stuff that focuses on unsettling the audience visually. Lynch put it best himself "a dream of dark and troubling things."