When it comes to cinema, most directors aim to to pack movie theaters to capacity, while seeking that all-important good review. Others, meanwhile, choose push the boundaries of what's acceptable on film by combining art and controversy to create something a little more stomach-churning. These 10 films have all made moviegoers rush to the nearest bathroom for one reason or another — so those with a weak constitution, look away now!
1. Raw (2016)
Reason for Sickness: Unidentified "gross" and "grizzly" scene
A few weeks ago, one movie at the Toronto International Film Festival had critics buzzing. Raw, a French-Belgium coming-of-age horror from director Julia Ducournau, saw paramedics called after one scene resulted in people allegedly fainting and vomiting!
2. 127 Hours (2010)
Reason for Sickness: James Franco hacking his arm off.
127 Hours tells the true story of Aron Ralston, a man who gets stuck in the Utah desert for three days without water after his arm becomes trapped between two boulders. To escape, Ralston used a rusty knife to remove the arm which held him captive. The scene itself is drenched in realism, with some clever sound work to make the whole thing even more grizzly to watch.
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Reason for Sickness: Jerky camera movements.
When The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999, the hype around the found-footage genre was at its peak — and thanks to a highly successful marketing campaign, many people thought the events surrounding the movie were real. The jerky handheld camera movements contributed to the movie's box office... but made many moviegoers feel somewhat seasick throughout.
4. Antichrist (2009)
Reason for Sickness: Wood block and scissors.
Lars von Trier's work is iconically controversial, but no movie had patrons reaching for the puke bag quite like Antichrist. In one scene which caused the most upset, Charlotte Gainsbourg's character smashes William Dafoe's penis with a wooden block, the proceeds to jerk him off until he ejaculates blood. Oh, and then there's the scene where she cuts her own clitoris off with a pair of rusty scissors. Grim.
5. Irréversible (2002)
Reason for Sickness: 28Hz.
Gaspar Noé's Irréversible is not an easy watch by any stretch of the imagination, but there may be an actual scientific reason as to why. Yes, there's copious sexual violence, sodomy, blood and tension which all contributes — but the mad genius Noé decided to place a sound with a frequency of 28Hz beneath the first 30 minutes of the movie. This hum, undetectable to the human ear, causes one to feel off-balance and even physically unwell.
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6. Cloverfield (2008)
Reason for Sickness: Jerky camera movements.
Much like the Blair Witch, Cloverfield's found-footage format had patrons feeling horribly motion sick. With its fast cuts, jagged shots and handheld camerawork, several EMT's were called to movie theaters around the US in the weeks following the movie's release.
7. The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Reason for Sickness: Visceral torture and crucifixion
Mel Gibson's highly violent depiction of the last days of Jesus Christ left many critics and patrons feeling very uncomfortable. The movie was meant to bring to life the visceral pain of the Messiah's final hours with unflinching realism. The second hour of the movie is a punishing bloodbath which sees Jesus whipped with metal spikes and mercilessly crucified. One critic described the movie as "the most violent film I have ever seen."
8. Salò (128 Days of Sodom) (1975)
Reason for Sickness: Everything.
Salò, in my opinion, is a whole lotta nope. Based on the highly graphic and controversial book by the Marquis de Sade, Salò is a violent allegory for the capitalist treatment of the working man — it's all about power. The movie is as political as it is disturbing, with plenty of coprophilia, torture, violent sexual imagery and murder throughout. A TV Guide review summed it up nicely:
"Despite moments of undeniably brilliant insight, is nearly unwatchable, extremely disturbing, and often literally nauseous."
9. Snowtown (2011)
Reason for Sickness: Dog death & bodies in a barrel.
One person fainted and many others walked out of theaters in distress after Snowtown was released in 2011. The Aussie movie depicts the events of the Snowtown Murders and the violent events leading up the the discovery of eight bodies in barrels. Described as an "endurance test," Snowtown was obviously a little too much for some, as most who walked out did so after a dog was shot to death early in the film.
10. The Exorcist (1973)
Reason for Sickness: Crucifix masturbation.
Although it's still viewed as a classic of the genre, the goriness of The Exorcist is pretty mild by today's standards. However, when it first saw light in 1973, people were so appalled by the sight of a young girl masturbating with a crucifix and projectile vomiting, that the movie made some moviegoers do just that (vomit, that is.) Following the controversy in the US, paramedics in the UK were called to to provide medical support outside cinemas, just in case!
Whether you see these movies as pointlessly vile or arthouse classics, you can't deny that a little bit of controversy has helped a lot of these films earn a spot on many bucket lists. Whether you're a horror hard-nut who doesn't have a problem with genital-slicing antics, or just a weary movie fan who gets a little seasick, we want to know...
Did any of these movies make you feel physically sick? Let us know in the comments!
Image courtesy of Wild Bunch.