120 Days of Sodom (1975)
Also known as Salò, this film is based on the book by Marquis de Sade which he wrote while imprisoned in the Bastille in 1785. Sade was incarcerated in prison and in an insane asylum for nearly half his life.
In Pasolini's film, four men of power in Italy: the Duke, the Bishop, the Magistrate and the President, collect a group of teenagers, and subject them to 120 days of torture. Graphically violent, the film was, and is still, banned in several countries for its depiction of sexual torture - particularly to children, as they are raped, mutilated and forced to eat faeces. Despite all of this - the film still excludes some of the horrors of the book - it's no wonder why the word Sadism was derived from Marquis de Sade's name.
Opening with a boy killing his parents, the film follows Mikey, a disturbed little boy who murders his family, and moves onto his adoptive parents. Mikey had, in fact, been passed '18' uncut by the BBFC in November 1992. This fi
I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
Also known as Day of the Woman, this is the story of a woman who retreats out of New York to write her first novel, and is captured by a group of local men, in order for one of them to lose their virginity. The four men gang-rape her, destroy her novel and leave one to murder her - but he cannot go through with it. After her recovery, she then plots to take her revenge each of them, violently murdering each them all.
The controversy is linked to the lengthy and graphic gang-rape scene which has been described as glorifying violence against women. The writer and director, Meir Zarchi, responded to such criticisms by explaining how he was inspired to make the film after he helped a young woman after finding her bloodied and naked in New York after she had been raped - denying that the film was too exploitative.
Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933)
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse follows Berlin police inspector Lohmann investigating a case in which all clues lead to a man, Dr Mabuse, who has been in an insane asylum for years.
With the rise of Hitler, Goebbels became head of the Ministry of Propaganda and banned the film in Germany, suggesting that the film would undercut the audience's confidence in its political leaders. Goebbels called the film a menace to public health and safety and stated that he would not accept the film as it 'showed that an extremely dedicated group of people are perfectly capable of overthrowing any state with violence'.
Despite Goebbels saying he was 'struck by the dullness of its portrayal, the coarseness of its construction, and the inadequacy of its acting' he still organised private viewings for his friends, and the director, Fritz Lang, later claimed that Goebbels asked him to work for him in order to create films for the Nazis (although there is no evidence to support this).
This short horror film is directed by Nacho Cerdà and doesn't actually feature any dialogue. The audience sees a mortician after hours in the morgue, as he mutilates the corpse of a young woman who died in a car crash. Shortly after, he has sex with the dead body, taking pictures in the process. He then brings her heart home to feed his dog.
Unsurprisingly, the necrophilia is the controversial topic in the film which shocked audiences, but it has also been praised for its attention to detail and cinematography.
The Devils (1971)
Based on The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley, the film is a dramatised historical account of the rise and fall of Urbain Grandier, a 17th century French priest executed for witchcraft following the supposed possessions of Loudun.
Father Grandier's sexual appeal makes the clergy jealous and the nuns outraged, accusing him of sorcery and evil spells, not content until he is burned at the stake.
Ken Russell's film was banned from Italy and its stars Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed were threatened with three years' jail time if they set foot in the country.
Straw Dogs (1971)
Dustin Hoffman stars as a Mathematician who experiences some harassment from local men, who go on to rape his wife Amy, leading him to respond with a violent attack.
The initial rape scene was criticised, as Amy begins to find it pleasurable due to a sexual history with the rapist. Feminist cinema critics accused director Peckinpah of glamorizing rape and the BBFC asked for cuts to the scene, but the film was finally passed fully uncut for DVD in September 2002.
Released in the same year as A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection, and Dirty Harry, the film sparked heated controversy over the increase of violence in cinema.