Skip To Content

    13 Horror Movies So Disturbing, They Were Literally Banned From Being Shown Upon Release

    Not for the faint of heart or soft of tummy.

    1. The Evil Dead (1981)

    New Line Cinema

    While it's pretty hilarious to think that this camp-tastic series was ever viewed as anything serious, the first Evil Dead movie certainly ruffled some feathers. Upon release, the movie was banned for a period in Iceland, Germany, Finland, and Ireland. It was also one of the very first films to ever be added to the UK's "video nasties" list, which banned certain films from being released on home video.

    2. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

    The Jerry Gross Organization

    A brutal story following a woman's sexual assault and her subsequent violent revenge, this film is infamous for the ire it ignited in reviewer Roger Ebert, who literally referred to it as "a vile bag of garbage." Due to it's graphic depictions, the film was banned for a time in Norway, Iceland, Australia, and West Germany, was HEAVILY censored in the UK, and is still β€” to this day β€” completely banned in Ireland.

    3. The Exorcist (1973)

    Warner Bros. Pictures

    It should honestly be no surprise that this film made the list in some capacity, having absolutely SHOOK the world upon its initial release. The film was banned from home video release in the UK...but that's not the surprising part. Not only was the full film banned, the literal TRAILER for the film was banned from ever being shown ANYWHERE, as it was deemed "too disturbing" by Warner Brothers.

    4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

    Bryanston Distributing Company

    While universally celebrated as a staple of the genre with approximately 20 million sequels and remakes now, the world was not always so welcoming to Leatherface and his family. Upon release, the film was banned for it's violence in Brazil, France, Germany, and Australia β€” just to name a FEW β€” was a part of the UK's video nasties list until August of 1999, 25 years after its release.

    5. The Last House On The Left (1972)

    Hallmark Releasing

    The directorial debut of horror legend Wes Craven started his career off with a real bang. Following the torture and murder of a teenage girl, the film was banned in Australia until 2004 and the UK until 2008 β€” a year before the release of the film's remake β€” where it was also a member of the video nasties list.

    6. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

    United Artists Europa

    Found footage style horror movies are pretty par for the course now, but this one literally put a man ON TRIAL FOR MURDER. No, really. Director Ruggero Deodorato was forced to bring the actors of the film to court to prove that they were still alive, as many believed this film to be a full-on snuff film. Early on, the film was banned in 40 countries including Italy, Australia, and β€” up until 2001 β€” the UK.

    7. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

    Warner Bros.

    While it's often been debated if this film can be considered a "horror film, it earns a spot on this list for its wild history of being treated as one. In a first for the genre, a sequence of copy-cat crimes following the films release caused director Stanley Kubrick HIMSELF to pull the film from theaters and banned it from being shown in the UK.

    8. Saw VI (2009)


    It's kind of wild to think that it took SIX WHOLE FILMS for someone to be like, "Um, no? Why are you like this?" when it came to the Saw franchise...but here we are. The sixth film in the gore-tastic franchise was slapped with a "X" rating in Spain β€” a rating traditionally reserved for pornography β€” after it had been temporarily banned all together in the country.

    9. Antichrist (2009)

    Nordisk Film Distribution

    The film stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a grieving couple whose young son tragically dies. The film nearly impossible to sit through, even for those with iron stomaches. During the initial screening of the film, four people fainted and the film was banned in France following complaints from a Catholic group.

    10. Hostel (2005)


    After being unable to pass the ratings board for public release in Germany, Japan, the Ukraine, and Singapore, director Eli gave an impassioned plea by comparing the violence in his film to the violence in other non-horror films. "Look at Passion of the Christ β€” there’s a lengthy torture scene,” Roth said. β€œ[The ratings board] recognized that and they defended that. They said, β€˜You know what? Eli didn’t just randomly approach these scenes; he really thought about it. Let’s give him a break.’”

    11. The Human Centipede 2: The Full Sequence (2011)

    IFC Midnight

    Look, I know what you're thinking: Not dissimilar to Saw IV, it took until a sequel for people to be like, "Um, no thanks?" But that was exactly the case with this one when it was refused a rating and banned in β€” you guessed it β€” the UK. "Apparently, I made an horrific horror film, but shouldn't a good horror film be horrific?" director Tom Six said. "My dear's a fucking movie." The movie was eventually passed in the UK (after heavy edits), but remains banned in New Zealand.

    12. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

    TriStar Pictures

    This ban isn't quite as dramatic as the fact, it's kind of hilarious. Basically, people just didn't LOVE the idea of Santa Claus straight-up murdering people. After a poorly-timed ad for the film was aired in the middle of a popular football game, all heck broke loose. The film was pulled from theaters and banned from being released for a short period in North America a week after its release. As depicted above, fact was proudly displayed in their marketing and helped elevate the film to a cult status upon its home release.

    13. And finally, Freaks (1932)


    Hot off the wild popularity of 1931's iconic Dracula, director Tod Browning wanted his next horror film to be even MORE extreme. This film gained infamy for the filmmaker's decision to opt-out of using actors with prosthetics, instead casting REAL carnival performers. After one test screening, a woman threatened to sue MGM over the film, claiming the trauma she experienced while watching caused her to miscarry. Due to these types of news stories, the film was banned in the UK for over 30 years and β€” when the ban was finally lifted in 1963, it was slapped with an X rating.

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form