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10 Old Movies Too Disturbing For Mainstream Audiences | blameitonjorge

For as long as Hollywood has been around,
filmmakers have endeavored to make dreams come to life. As far back as a century ago, in film’s
infancy, attempts at grand spectacle were already being made, and Hollywood has never
stopped trying to improve its capacity to blow our minds. But it was also discovered early on that going
straight for the fear center was just as effective, and often cheaper, than giving the audience
visions of the fantastic. So today, we’re going over 10 early films that are every bit
as unsettling today as they were decades ago- some that were even deemed too disturbing
for mainstream audiences. Freaks (1932)
Tod Browning was already a veteran film director by the time he scored an enormous success
with 1931’s Dracula, the Bela Lugosi-starring classic that helped to define the horror genre. Due to that film’s groundbreaking success,
Browning was given pretty much free rein to create a unique vision for his next project. He did not fail in that respect; his 1932
film Freaks has been described as inhabiting a genre all its own, one that no other filmmaker
has dared to touch. It’s the story of circus sideshow performers,
a trapeze artist and strongman, who conspire to kill one of their fellow performers for
his inheritance. But the cast was populated with actual freaks-
circus performers recruited by the producers, including conjoined twins, a limbless man
known as “The Human Torso”, and others with the types of deformations that audiences
had simply never seen. Test audiences were treated to a horrifying
ending in which the scheming pair are attacked by the freaks during a rainstorm, with the
strongman castrated and the trapeze artist mutilated beyond recognition. Most of this ending has been lost, as these
test audiences were appalled and one woman even threatened a lawsuit against production
company MGM, claiming that the film caused her to have a miscarriage. Despite being given a new ending and undergoing
other extensive cuts, the film was still considered extremely controversial upon its release. It effectively ended Tod Browning’s career
and was completely banned in the UK for 30 years The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1959)
Shot in 1959, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die didn’t see a theatrical release for three
years, as distributors were leery of its content. American International pictures, never a studio
to shy away from schlock, released the film to drive-in theaters in the summer of 1962
to shocked audiences, who got a look at what might be considered the first gore film. A mad transplant scientist accidentally decapitates
his fiancee, but manages to keep her head alive in his lab with mad transplant science. While he searches for a new body for her,
she develops a telepathic connection with a hulking monster that lurks behind a locked
door in the lab. The monster gets free- but
the chaos that ensued was not exactly what 1960’s audiences were used to seeing. Its first victim has his arm ripped right
the hell off, the stump leaving a bloody smear on the wall as he collapses. The second, the mad scientist himself, has
a giant chunk bitten out of his neck and spat onto the floor as the lab burns down, killing
everyone in it. This type of shocking violence, coming near
the end of what had been a reasonably conventional sci-fi movie, disturbed audiences and contributed
to the film’s reputation as being “a head” of its time- no pun intended. Ah! La Barbe! (1906) Segundo de Chamon has been called the Spanish George Melies and the most significant Spanish
filmmaker of the silent era. Like Melies, he was a pioneer in camera tricks
and editing techniques, and employed both early and often- to sometimes disturbing effect. In one of his most famous short films, Ah! La Barbe!, also known as The Funny Shave,
a man is jovially preparing to shave when he decides to take a taste of his shaving
cream. This apparently leads to some odd hallucinations,
as he sees a series of grotesque caricatures before him in the mirror, each one freakier
than the last. While the film’s subject doesn’t appear
to be particularly alarmed, it’s safe to say this is not anything we’d ever want
to see in our bathroom mirror in the morning. It takes our hero nearly two full minutes
to snap out of his shaving cream induced stupor and react in the appropriate manner. The Man Who Laughs (1928)
The 1928 film The Man Who Laughs was an American production with a German director famous for
working in that country’s typical Expressionist style It is a romance, and a melodrama, and not
at all a horror film. But its main character, Gwynplaine- although
he’s supposed to be sympathetic- is simply impossible to look at without hearing a small
creaking sound in that part of your brain where nightmares come from. The character is disfigured as a child with
a horrifying, permanent grin, making him sympathetic in the way that the Hunchback of Notre Dame
or the Phantom of the Opera is supposed to be. He works as a circus freak, of course, and
pines for the love of a blind girl before receiving a big inheritance and happily sailing
away to England. Really, that’s it. No terrifying turns of plot, no real horror
elements to the story at all, but, just look at Gwynplaine. Look at him. Obviously, it’s an extremely unsettling
character. It should come as no surprise that the hero
of this little-remembered 1920s melodrama is the obvious inspiration for one of the
most towering villains in all of pop culture. L’Inferno (1911)
The long and storied history of Italian cinema begins with the 1911 film L’Inferno, the
very first Italian feature film ever made. The film raked it in at home and overseas,
grossing $2 million in 1911 money in the United States alone, despite- or maybe because of-
the fact that it’s really freaking disturbing. Even today, the film’s old-timey qualities
tend to enhance the creepy factor rather than diminishing it. It’s based on Dante’s Inferno, and its
depictions of hell- with suicides hanging from trees and demons torturing hopeless souls-
were freaky enough to be reused several times in films as late as 1954. In fact, censors required that the 33 year-old
footage be removed from the 1944 film Go Down, Death because- among other reasons- of a scene
in which a woman’s naked breast is briefly seen, which must also be a cinematic first. L’Inferno showed very early on that people
would pay good money to have the shit scared out of them, and filmmakers around the world
took note. Maniac (1934)
Maniac was directed by Dwain Esper, who was not so much a film director as he was a smart
businessman who knew how to exploit the public’s taste for the strange. Esper worked outside the traditional Hollywood
system, taking his pictures on the road and advertising them with lurid flyers promising
all manner of craziness that was forbidden by the Hays Code in Hollywood films. He bought the rights to the aforementioned
Freaks, and was also responsible for a lot of exploitation dreck with titles like Marihuana:
Weed With Roots In Hell. Produced in 1934, It tells the story of a Vaudeville actor and
sex pervert who murders his doctor and assumes his identity, but the whole film plays as
if it were put together by an actual lunatic. True to its subject matter, it features startling
amounts of partial and actual nudity for a film its age, and features one notoriously
gruesome scene where a live cat has its eyeball popped out, which is thought to be either
a very good special effect or the clever use of a cat with a false eye. The film serves up plenty of psychoanalyzing
and purports to be some kind of cautionary tale, as if it weren’t giving its audience
exactly what they came to see. Haxan (1922)
The 1922 Danish film Haxan, subtitled Witchcraft Through the Ages, is a visual masterwork for
its time. Presented as a documentary, it puts forth
the idea that the Salem witches were suffering from mental illness, but this is neither here
nor there; when the film segues away from its informational portions and into its vignettes,
that’s when the unadulterated horror takes over. Director Benjamin Christensen portrays a truly
terrifying Satan who lures women from their beds in the middle of the night; there are
also depictions of torture, grave robbing and full-on nudity, though more of the artistic
than gratuitous type. It was all enough to earn the film a ban in
the United States, although it was highly acclaimed in Denmark and Sweden, and was the
most expensive Scandinavian production of that time. Some of its more disturbing footage would
be recycled for later low budget exploitation productions, such as the aforementioned Maniac. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
While she is not exactly a household name, the experimental films of Maya Deren influenced
a legion of Hollywood filmmakers. She boldly embraced any and all techniques
that would serve her vision, and her films are notable for pioneering techniques like
jump cuts, superimposition, multiple exposures and slow motion. Perhaps her best known short film, 1943’s
Meshes of the Afternoon is a masterpiece of ominous mood and circular narrative whose
influence on film in general is plain. Our heroine, Deren herself, is having a very
weird day. Events seem to keep repeating themselves,
things in her home keep moving around, and then there’s the matter of the black-cloaked
man with a mirror for a face. The short’s unprecedented use of bizarre
camera angles and its droning, percussive and unnerving soundtrack add to the entire
hallucinatory experience. Deren’s intent was to create a visual representation
of devastating psychological issues, and it’s safe to say she succeeded. While few are familiar with this piece, film
scholars acknowledge its impact; in 2015, the BBC cited it as the 40th greatest American
film- of any kind- ever made. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Among horror fans, the 1960 French-Italian film Eyes Without a Face is legendary. Released the same year as Alfred Hitchcock’s
Psycho, Eyes Without a Face barely passed European censors due to its subject matter
and received an edited release in the US. It’s the story of a mad doctor who is obsessed
with finding his disfigured daughter a new face, even if the donors are less than willing. This 1960 film literally shows, with unflinching
detail, the surgical removal of a young woman’s face– and that’s not even the creepiest
part. The daughter is forced to wear a mask to hide
her disfigurement, and its proto-Michael Myers blankness is absolutely transfixing, and not
in a good or comfortable way. Of course, when we actually do get a look
at her under the mask, it is not any better at all. Despite a lukewarm reception upon release,
the film has come to be considered a masterpiece and its influence on other filmmakers has
been substantial. John Carpenter has acknowledged that Michael
Myers’ look was inspired by the film, John Woo largely copied the face transplant sequence
for his film Face/Off, and yes- Billy Idol also cited it as the inspiration for his hit
song of the same name. Un Chien Andalou (1929)
Un Chien Andalou was produced by the Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel and famed artist Salvador
Dali. As one might expect from any work in which
Dali is involved, it does not make a hell of a lot of sense. There is no actual plot; title cards jump
from “eight years later” to “around three in the morning” to “sixteen years
ago” with nothing seeming to change very much. The film is punctuated throughout with odd
and disturbing imagery, such as a shot of a woman prodding at a severed hand with a
cane, but it is the film’s opening sequence that earns it its place among the most disturbing
things one could ever hope to see. A man idly fiddles with a razor, contemplating
the moon. Suddenly, there’s a woman sitting in a chair. She stares ahead dispassionately, not even
flinching as the man slices open her eyeball, and the camera lingers as its insides spill
out. There were many theories as to how this effect
was achieved, but Bunuel eventually disclosed that used a dead calf, shaving its skin down
to make it appear as human as possible. Notes between the director and Dali revealed
that the film contains “No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation
of any kind”, and that “nothing in the film symbolizes anything”.


  1. Ian Stukenborg Author

    I've seen "Freaks" before…on TV…(I think)..I loved the fact that it gave the "freaks" a chance to be famous in a good way..and made the "normal" people out to be the REAL FREAKS! (Which they are)

  2. Ian Stukenborg Author

    Seen Haxan…got through it, but boring…wouldn't watch it again, unless a "witch" wants me to watch it with her…and "witches" weren't mentally ill…the roman  catholic "church" was, and still is! BTW, "witchcraft" was invented by the RCC! This is ALL LIES!

  3. Ian Stukenborg Author

    I tried watching Eyes Without a Face, since Billy Idol wrote the song about it, but….it was BORING! But I haven't seen this original yet, it was a remake that I tried out.

  4. Raziel Lentz Author

    Too disturbing for weak snowfakes. If humanity had started out with you, it would have not survived until you fucked it up you fucking fagets

  5. Michelle Lekas Author

    HAXAN is a masterpiece. MESHES is wonderful but not really disturbing. It is about a cool afternoon nap…and MANY have seen it…and EYES WITHOUT A FACE is French not Italian even though it stars Alida Valli…from THE THIRD MAN!

  6. Tyler Keller Author

    God I wish I had been raised during the era of drive in theaters. So badly. Everything is internet streaming services now and a flood of movies. By flood, I mean filmmakers are simply churning out as much garbage as possible because Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and others will simply throw money at productions in an attempt to compete with and crush Hollywood. Regardless of quality.

    I hate it

  7. Karen Walker Author

    I've never seen a top 10 that made me want to watch every fucking movie.
    Amazingly done! Do more like this one with old horror movies , old horror movies have something that is outstanding and compelling

  8. Russell Briggs Author

    Plenty of mentions for Billy Idol but none for the fantastic "Debaser" by Pixies, which was written about Un Chien Andalou.
    "Slicing up eyeballs, I want you to know".

  9. Gulf Relay Author

    Having grown up in the Carnival biz, I can highly recommend not knly Freaks, but a late 60s remake: She Freak. It's a setpeice of a truck show with knockdown canvas concessions and ground mounted rides. Means more to me, since it was Back In The Day for us. Then there is Carny, which screams for a sequel; Carny 2, new generation? Funhouse was O.K.,but they lost me with a ride that had a basement and would've taken a week to set up, or 25 extra help!


    and here I thought modern horror movies were totally Fkd Up!
    btw, reminds me never to eat my shaving cream b4 bed. . .
    I remember as a kid seeing "the brain that Wouldn't die." it was a rerun
    on a TV monster movie Marathon or something back in the 60's/70's

  11. Stephanie Burdick Author

    If you have good-quality headphones with enhanced bass, the low synthesized note you hear in between entries on this list sounds pretty disturbing in its own right.

  12. James Ricker Author

    The creators of the Joker would have been teenagers when they saw The Man Who Laughs. DC even paid homage to that movie with the Batman who laughs

  13. Joseph Panzarella Author

    The narration clearly has trouble pronouncing some words. And when you use profanity in a documentary you're begging not to be taken seriously.

  14. Half Vader Author

    Hooboy what is with some of the narration – the contrived/lowered 'dramatic' voice! It's like Nic Cage doing a skit!! And doze pronunciations bro! The topper was the misuse of literally! Or wait, the hypocrisy of "doesn't make a lot of sense" from someone who obviously hasn't got a clue what Surrealism and by extension Dali is about. Smh!!

  15. SETH other Author

    5:44 He says “it should come as no surprise that this character becomes the inspiration for one of the most towering villains of in all of pop culture” Then he doesn’t say who. I guess we’re just supposed know who he’s talking about?

  16. DINO EMO KING Author

    We had to watch meshes Of the afternoon in my college film class. Maya was an incredible filmmaker, thanks for bringing her stuff back into the light!!


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