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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Top 10 Gnarliest Movies Ever - Woody Edition

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I’ve mentioned my Definitive Technology rep, Woody, before. He is the one where we shared a Gay Chamsake at our local sushi bar, and then I think he *may* have proposed to me with a delicate selection of pastel colored sakes on another occasion…

Regardless, Woody comes to town a couple of times a year to show us new Def Tech product, go over any upcoming specials, and see if we need anything from him to support our business, blah-blah. Then we go out and grab some dinner. It’s a great opportunity to hang out and chat informally and get to know each other beyond the typical, “Hey, Woody! I need another Mythos SoloCinema XTR!” and “OK! I’ll ship it right out!”

Because we’re both in the tech business and intimately associated with Definitive Technology – a company that was basically founded on the principles of making home theaters more awesome-er – talk naturally gravitates to movies. And it turns out that Woody is into some gnarly-ass stuff when it comes to movies.

Now, I have a list of my 10 Worst Movies Ever, and I thought that some of the stuff I’d seen – specifically Leolo and Man Bites Dog – was pretty gnarly. Like, physical making me ill, asking myself why, dear God, didn’t I get up and leave the theater, gnarly.

But no. Oh, no, no, no, no… NO! Compared to the movies that Woody watches – nay, ENJOYS! – these movies are like a Disney/Pixar offering.

Now, before you begin, even though I have toned down a couple of bits, some of this is still NSF-anywhere. It will haunt you. It will scar you. It will leave you questioning your faith in humanity. It will leave you crying out, “WHY?!?!” So, you’ve been warned…

If you happen to make it to the bottom of the list and think you can one-up Woody – or even recommend a title for his next film fest – feel free to share in the comments. And know that I’ll never let you pick a movie for me to watch. Ever.

Normally I’d pull movie poster art for titles, but, honestly, I was just too scared what I might find if I Googled any of these movies. My comments to lighten the mood as needed in [italics]. Take it away, Woody...

During my college years, we often sought out the craziest, most over-the-top films we could find. Often these fell into the “Mondo” category of gruesome, faux documentaries which were quite a fad in the 1970s.  The most recent example that younger readers would be aware of is the Faces of Death series, which were admitted to be a faked series of vignettes designed to disturb and offend.  The movies that interested me more were the truly boundary-pushing films of Europe that made their way into our video stores.  One of these “Video Nasties” that went too far for my taste was Necromantik, a truly boring German film that has the occasional scene of nausea-inducing cadaver sex.  I have a strong stomach for this sort of thing, but I actually gagged!

Most of the movies we hung out and watched at small parties were genre films, and mostly horror.  This is where I discovered classics like Basket case, Evil Dead 2, ReAnimator, and Toxic Avenger.  These movies were gory, fun, and full of humor.  Gruesome horror is much more fun when you get as many laughs as screams.  But sometimes, we’d rent a film that wasn’t much fun at all.  Sometimes we would come across a movie that was well-made, but extremely disturbing.  These films are not for the weak-of-heart and are for people who have gotten bored with the kind of horror movies that show up in the local Cineplex.  If you want horror that will stay with you long after the closing credits, check out some of my suggestions below.

Irreversible chronicles as events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order.  [Kind of like a more horrible version of the brilliant Memento, I gather…] The beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass. Her boyfriend and ex-lover take matters into their own hands by hiring two criminals to help them find the rapist so that they can exact revenge. The infamous 10 minute rape scene will leave you feeling violated for watching it.  [Ten. Minute. Rape. Scene. And they say Meryl Streep passed…] The brutality only increases as details are revealed from earlier in time. Irreversible is truly a brilliant film that features major French stars and top notch story-telling.

Taxidermia is another foreign film that has top quality special effects, production values and acting.  It also features more vomiting than I’ve ever seen in a film. [And, seriously, isn’t “more vomiting” pretty much what *every* film is missing?!] This movie is truly bizarre and full of unforgettable images of gore, sex, and modern art.  I’m sure this film is defended as being a brilliant political allegory, but I took it in as simply a hallucinatory tale of three generations of men, including an obese speed eater [good…], an embalmer of gigantic cats [better…], and a man who shoots fire out of his penis [Winner!]. It grossed a whopping $342 its opening weekend when released in the US.

Imprint is a segment of the Showtime series “Masters of Horror”.  This episode was deemed too disturbing for Showtime to broadcast and was only released on home video.  Directed by Takashi Miike, a director who has made enough movies in the cinema extreme genre that I could write a Top 10 article on him alone, Imprint tackles the taboo subject of abortion.  The intensity includes scenes of aborted fetuses being tossed into the river like garbage by an abortionist, torture by binding, and whipping leading to urination, all before a climax involving mutations and disfigurement. [I got nothin’ here…] Miikie has made some truly out-there films like Visitir Q, Fudoh, and Ichi the Killer but also some well-regarded period films like 13 Assassins as well.

Last House on the Left has a pair of teenage girls headed to a rock concert for one's birthday. While trying to score marijuana in the city, the girls are kidnapped by a gang of psychotic criminals. [It's a cautionary tale as old as time...] This film features some truly depraved torture of the teenage girls before the convicts get their comeuppance at the hands of the girl’s parents. [So, it's an inspirational, feel good, root for the parents and family values film?] Directed by Wes Craven of Nightmare on Elm Street fame, this film is roughly shot and edited and has the appearance of a snuff film with a plot.  Released in 1972, this movie still has the ability to clear the room with its tone of misogyny and nastiness.

Guinea Pig-Devil’s Experiment is the first in a 6-part series of notorious experimental films from Japan.  Part One revolves around a group of men who kidnap and graphically torture a young woman in as many ways as possible, as part of an experiment on the human body's threshold of pain. The different forms of pain consist of hitting, kicking, clawing, unconsciousness, sound, skin, burn, worms, guts, and a needle. [And the fun part is, there are still FIVE more parts to go! Make sure you have that popcorn bowl filled! It's better to absorb the vomiting.] There is not much of a plot and the follow-up film, Flowers of Blood, is similar in style and features a samurai slowly dismembering a young woman in excruciating detail.  Both of these films have been mistaken for true snuff films and the creators were repeatedly interviewed by the Japanese police and eventually summoned to court to prove that the special effects were indeed not real.  This is the closest thing I’ve seen to a true snuff film.  Why anyone would watch this film is beyond me.  I’d suggest watching the making of Guinea Pig to add some distance to the proceedings if you want to see the gory bits. [Because if there is anything better than watching a gruesome, shock-film, it's watching the making of doc of said film!]

AntiChrist  tells the story of a couple who, after the death of their child, retreat to a cabin in the woods where the man experiences strange visions and the woman manifests increasingly violent sexual behavior.  Scenes include a penis smashed by a wooden log and then [manually pleasured] until it [has a happy ending with] blood.  You also get an extreme close-up on a rusty pair of scissors cutting off a [lady’s special bits]. This all follows the opening sequence which could be one of the most jarring uses of slow motion in any film. [I’m guessing this is nothing like Bullet-Time from The Matrix...] The scene of a dying fox that cannibalizes himself has become an internet meme. [Like Grumpy Cat...?] Not a good first date film.

Cannibal Holocaust is a classic Italian horror film that jump-started the “city folk devoured by jungle cannibals” genre to brief popularity.  [Seriously, though, with a title like Cannibal Holocaust, you should know what to expect going in. Just sayin’...] This film is as offensive for its brutality as for its convoluted morality. The plot involves a New York University professor that returns from a rescue mission to the Amazon rainforest with the footage shot by a lost team of documentarians who were making a film about the area's local cannibal tribes. While shooting, the documentarians had spiced-up their film by burning the natives alive and raping and mutilating a young girl before the natives exacted their revenge. [Because just regular cannibalism is never spicy enough!] This film was banned and censored due to the real animal killings and the belief that the actors were actually killed during filming.  This film has been very influential and is the precursor to the modern “found footage” films so popular today.

Human Centipede 2 is the movie people thought the first one would be.  The concept behind the original Human Centipede was enough to have people horrified before ever watching it.  The original was an average film about a mad doctor surgically connecting three people ass-to-mouth to create a human centipede.  Surprisingly, it is not particularly gory or disturbing, and it actually feels kind of predictable and formulaic.  The second film has the shocks and gruesomeness the first did not.  Shot in grainy black and white, with a lead actor who is disturbing in just his appearance, Human Centipede 2 leaves nothing to the imagination.  [The phrase “ass-to-mouth” and “nothing to the imagination” are chilling in their possibilities.] The balding, overweight protagonist appears to be a non-actor whose very appearance makes every scene uncomfortable.  He is a copy cat, obsessed with the first Human Centipede film and attempts to recreate the human centipede from the first film without medical knowledge or equipment.  This film feels dirty and slimy from the first frame and concludes with an actual centipede inserted in the protagonist’s anus.  [Huzzah!] This film is the one you dare your friends to watch and is readily available on Netflix streaming.

A Serbian Film features a plot based around a truly reprehensible subject: murder as filmed entertainment.  An aging porn star agrees to participate in an "art film" in order to make a clean break from the business, only to discover that he has been drafted into making a pedophilia- and necrophilia- themed snuff film. This is a horror film in the truest sense.  Horrifying images and concepts too gruesome to even describe are shown in gruesome detail.  Far from being a low-budget exploitation film for gorehounds only, A Serbian Film is very well acted, shot, and scored.  Sometimes a low-budget look can increase the creepy factor, but here the production actually lends some credibility to the proceedings.  The end of the film will leave you brutalized, but if the average horror film leaves you cold, this is one you won’t forget. [That is if you aren’t already feeling brutalized and cold.] This film was actually banned in many countries and is hard to find in its full, unedited version.  An R-rated version could be just as horrifying, but the unedited version is as depraved a film as I have seen.  This one streams on YouTube if you sign in as over 18.

Salo-120 Days of Sodom is an Italian Film where four fascist libertines round up nine teenage boys and girls and subject them to 120 days of physical, mental, and sexual torture.  [119 Days of Sodom was deemed not enough Sodom, and surprisingly, 121 Days just felt  like one day too many.] Teenaged actors are forced to perform depraved acts that include segments called the “Circle of Blood” and the “Circle of Sh--”.  Salo is surprisingly well-acted and directed with high production values, but I found this film too punishing to watch.  I stopped it a few times in trying to even finish it.  Therefore it holds my number one spot.  I’m not sure what happens in the “Circle of Sh--” as I never got that far.  Netflix will rent you a lovely Criterion Edition DVD if you are so inclined. [According to Criterion: “The notorious final film from Pier Paolo Pasolini, Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom has been called nauseating, shocking, depraved, pornographic . . . It’s also a masterpiece.” And if you’re going to watch, you’re surely going to want to catch it all in a stunning high-definition digital restored version!]

Categories: May 2013, Top 10 List, Guest Blog