ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

Have you ever walked out of a movie theater for any reason? I'm not talking that time you remembered you left the oven on — maybe the movie pissed you off, or you got super bored, or you were just disgusted beyond belief at what was happening before your eyes. No?

Check out seven incredibly controversial movies that caused mass audience walk-outs and ask yourself: Would you have stayed in your seat?

1. Baskin

Reason for Walk-Out: GORE!

Year of Release: 2015

Young gun Can Evrenol's loving homage to '80s horror mixes boundary-breaking violence with a nuanced arthouse sensibility, creating a finely-tuned atmosphere of tension and unease. Although, I guess these subtleties were lost on several audience members who couldn't stomach the geysers of gore. Evrenol said:

"We had our premiere in Turkey. Several celebrities walked out... the last few minutes were a bit much for them."

See Also:

2. Pink Flamingos

Reason for Walk-Out: FILTH!

Year of Release: 1972

One of the world's truly subversive filmmakers, John Waters's Pink Flamingos pissed people off as soon as it left the loving environs of its rowdy cult cinematic devotees. This early Variety review of the movie sums up both the critical disgust and gleeful verve of this marvelous cornerstone of weirdo cinema:

Divine, also known as Babs Johnson, is a 300 lb drag queen of grotesque proportions who holds the title ‘the filthiest person in the world.’ Vying for the title are Connie and Raymond Marble, who kidnap girls, impregnate them, and sell the children to lesbian couples in order to finance ‘an inner city heroin ring’ catering to high school students.

Around the above premise spins the nitwit plot of the poorly lensed 16mm picture 'Pink Flamingos' – one of the most vile, stupid and repulsive films ever made. Divine... performs coprophagy on the fresh product of a miniature poodle while ‘How Much Is That Doggie in the Window’ toodles on the soundtrack.

3. The Blair Witch Project

Reason for Walk-Out: CAMERAWORK!

Year of Release: 1999

A bunch of teenagers go looking for The Blair Witch and are unlucky enough to find what they're searching for... or are they? Still, despite the scary events of the movie, what really distressed audiences was the handycam technique, which caused motion sickness in some viewers. A theater manager in Amarillo reports:

"The first weekend someone threw up in the women's restroom, the men's restroom and in the hallway. It's not pleasant to clean up.One guy — he was really cool — he threw up in the restroom and he just came out and asked us for a mop."

The Blair Witch barf effect was repeated over a decade later as cinema-goers blew chunks during Cloverfield (2008).

4. Swiss Army Man

Reason for Walk-Out: FARTS!

Year of Release: 2016

Daniel Radcliffe stars as a corpse with a boner that continuously farts and enjoys a bit of necrophiliac fun postmortem. The heady mix of putrefaction and flatulence was a bit much for some viewers, as Variety reports:

One of the most anticipated movies at this year’s Sundance Film Festival also turned out to be among the most divisive. On Friday afternoon, the Eccles Theater had to turn away hundreds of movie fans, and even a few industry VIPs, at the packed premiere of 'Swiss Army Man,' starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano.

But the bizarre fable about a lost man (Dano) who befriends a farting corpse (Radcliffe) could win the festival’s award for the most walk-outs, as a continuous stream of audience members kept standing up and bolting for the door throughout the film.

Witness the sickness:

5. Raw

Reason for Walk-Out: Medical emergency

Year Released: 2016

Julia Ducournau's artsy, blood-drenched cannibal horror was violent enough to induce fainting in several viewers. An eyewitness account from film critic Alicia Malone confirms that the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival was a pretty wild place to be:

Witness the sickness:

6. Caligula

Reason for Walk-Out: Sexual Depravity

Year of Release: 1979

The depraved antics of Ancient Rome's maddest Emperor included rape, bestiality and torture, so naturally the movie about him contains much of the same. This proved too much for film critic Roger Ebert, who penned the following review guaranteed to make 90 percent of movie fans want to see the movie:

'Caligula' is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash... Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length... Some of those people were walking out of the Davis before I did Saturday night; others were sitting, depressed, in the lobby.''

Witness the sickness:

7. Irréversible

Reason for Walk-Out: EVERYTHING!

Year of Release: 2002

What was it that caused people to walk out of Gaspar Noe's Irréversible? Was it the interminably long anal rape scene? Or the part where a guy's head is beaten in with a fire extinguisher until it resembles reheated meatloaf? The answer is: all of the above and more! Noe purposely used unsettling infrasound to increase tension in the movie, a frequency of sound imperceptible to the human ear that creates stress in our subconscious. As The Telegraph notes:

Two-hundred-and-fifty people walked out of the Cannes premiere of 'Irréversible' in 2002, with many of them leaving even before its notoriously disturbing rape scene.

Witness the sickness:


Have you ever walked out of a film screening at a movie theater?

Source: The Telegraph, Variety, Amarillo


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