When you make a list of this variety, a lot of things go at stake. Your credibility, your appearance as a knowledgable consultant to the reading public and most of all: your honor as a true blue film geek. I however, care little for these things, so I am going to go ahead with my massive list. I’m going to start things off and tell you the reader that NO, I am not the end all be all of information on gore films. Truly, I would label myself and this list here as an intermediate guide to the subgenre. There are still quite a few films out there that I have not seen so cannot judge. Films like Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, Black Past, Muzan-E and many other underground Japanese gore films that are just now beginning to surface. I would just like for that one kid who hasn’t read every single page on the net about every other horror film ever released to stumble across this page on the interweb or my own website and walk away with a little knowledge. It’ll help you in a geek related combat situation! Trust me!
So, since I have a lot of work to do here, I’m going to just go on and get this thing started. No use in stalling when I’m sure I’ll make my 1,000 word minimum in descriptions alone. So, without further adue, here is your horror related list of horrible terrors from beyond the horror grave… horror!
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20. – My Sweet Satan
Jim Van Bebber has been a staple of the horror movie community for a long time now. The guy is often found making videos for metal bands and for some fairly big names in the community too. Not to mention he was the creator of the cult "hit" Deadbeat At Dawn (a favorite of mine). His short film My Sweet Satan however, may be his most brutal film – and it’s just shy of twenty minutes long. Covering the true story of a satan worshipping group of stoner kids who push their own sanity to the edge and one night actually murder one of their own – My Sweet Satan includes one of the most brutal scenes of cranium damage ever filmed. Although certainly not simply a gore film or even a massive work of exploitation; MSS deserves mention for being one of the few flicks out there to almost make me sick from a scene of raw gory violence.
19. – Beyond the Darkness
Beyond the Darkness is a VERY, VERY graphic film – and although it may not have the absolute most clinical of scenes showing every single moment of disection; but Beyond the Darkness is Joe D’Amato at his most perverse and disturbing. Telling the tale of a young man who loses his wife due to illness – and soon thereafter loses his mind in an attempt to fill the blankness within himself. He and his psychotic servant go about their own private little rampage by picking up random girls and torturing then killing them. Fingernails are plucked out, intestines are pulled out and bodies are hacked up and thrown in tubs of acid. Not a kid friendly feature to be sure; but a memorable and blood-soaked horror film for the ages!
18. – The Beyond
Sir Lucio Fulci makes his first entrance into my list in what is probably his greatest film; and yet it makes it at the 18 mark – who would have thought it. Regardless of the fact that The Beyond isn’t Fulci’s goriest film; it certainly packs the grue and is also a clever and beautifully staged bit of dream logic meets nightmarish blood soaked reality. Tarantulas chew apart faces, eyes are gouged from their skulls and plenty of nasty zombie horrors are at foot in this Italian classic. The plot is Southern Gothic, as it revolves around a young woman being gifted a home in New Orleans after a rich relative passes away – unknownst to her she has moved into one of the seven gateways to hell. Soon enough a nosey plumber sticks his nose somewhere the spirits don’t want it to be and the gate is open – and all hell litterally breaks loose! Without a doubt one of Fulci’s greatest works and my personal favorite of his. A brilliant and bloody piece of horror.
17. – Aftermath
This one is a no-brainer, as a film generally reviled by some and loved by others, Aftermath is probably the most graphic film detailing necrophilia ever created. The act of man having intercourse is bad enough as it is; but Nacho Cerda wanted to create a film that truly showed the most heinous aspects of our death. A body is tore apart before our eyes, blood and gore exposed and that same blood and gore is later used for sexual deviancy. As I said, Aftermath was a no-brainer to add to the list and is well deserving of it’s title of one of the nastiest, gore films of all time. Hey, and it is also beautifully directed and is genuinely intelligent on top of all that.
16. – Naked Blood
Naked Blood, before the Asian cinema explosion of the past few years, was a pretty notorious little flick. I remember reading the summary of the film in the Blackest Heart Media catalog back in the old days and thinking "what a repulsive sounding little flick". This of course was before my foray into the cannibal subgenre of Italian cinema – which will make a man out of even the most weak of horror film fans – but that same feeling lasted with me for quite a while; so of course I had to seek the film out and find it. Naked Blood is a slow-burn that takes a while to get going in terms of nastiness, but once the old ball gets to rolling – it is certainly worth seeing. In the story of three women being injected with an experimental drug that tricks their mind into feeling pleasure in place of pain. Dealing with father and son issues along with the brutality displayed from these women eating, cutting and mutilating their bodies – Naked Blood has earned it’s reputation, and on top of all that it’s also pretty well made. Kudos!
15. – Cannibal Holocaust
I can hear you right now, "whoa, whoa, whoa! If Cannibal Holocaust is number 15 on your list – how much more brutal can these flicks get!?". The truth is, not very much. However, the majority of what makes Cannibal Holocaust so outright disturbing isn’t neccesarily the gore shed by humans; but by the animals who are brutalized. There are actually few kills in the film and the ones that happen are mainly at the conclusion of the film; and unfortunately the brutality of said deaths are not the most gruesome or violent you are likely to see. Do not take this as an ommission that Cannibal Holocaust is not one of the most disturbing films of all time – because most assuredly it is; but I just feel that if I am to judge all gore films on terms of real as well as non-real violence – then films like Traces of Death and Banned From Television might dominate my list. Personally, I’m just not into those flicks. So, with that said, what is shown in CH is without a doubt highly brutal stuff and there is plenty of brutality on display and I won’t try and persuade you otherwise. Just check it out, and be horrified!
14. – Ichi the Killer
Although Ichi is more than a gore film and would probably be more apt to fit in with arthouse lists or exploitation; there is certainly a ton of gory violence to be held up on display. Faces being severed from heads, nipples sliced off, tongues sawed through, guts stacked three feet high and needles, needles, needles! Ichi the Killer is the ultimate S&M obsessed Yakuza tale of violence, the love of violence and ultimate human failure. If you’re one of the few to have not run across it at this point – I certainly reccomend you get off your tail and go out there and check it out! Takashi Miike has blown up, time to hop on the bandwagon even if you’re as late as all get out.
13. – Cannibal Ferox
For those of you still not over fuming after my listing Cannibal Holocaust in 15th place – you’re probably going to hate this even more. Cannibal Ferox is a lesser film than Cannibal Holocaust without a doubt in my mind – but in terms of human carnage displayed; Cannibal Ferox has a bit of a heads up in that department mainly due to a very graphic castration scene as well as some brutal eye disfiguring. Ferox is a nasty, sleazy little film that may not be a "gem", but it’s certainly worthy of it’s reputation of being banned in a bazillion countries. Dealing with much the same as Cannibal Holocaust; with young foreigners parading around the jungle in areas they should be nowhere even remotely close to – it covers very little new ground in the genre but does feature the line "They ate his… genitals!" which you can’t help but love!
12. – Zombi Holocaust
Zombi Holocaust may be absolutely, mind blowingly, mind numbingly, horrendously heinous – but I have to admit; it does pack quite a few buckets of blood and gore. Heads are cliced apart by a propellor blade, disections are made, organs are removed, etc. all in a mix of genres so absurd that you can’t help but somewhat enjoy it all… in a deep down little place you might not want to tell your friends about. Working as a mix of Cannibal Holocaust and Fulci’s "Zombi 2"; Zombi Holocaust (apt title ain’t it?) tells the tale of a mad scientist who has made it his life goal to bring the dead back to life – and in a movie titled Zombi anything you can automatically assume things won’t work out that great. When mainlanders come to the island where the doctor is unleashing his army of the dead; in search of information on a culprit found to be stealing body parts out of the local hospital – things go from bizarre to downright deadly. A massive slaughter ensues, bodies are torn apart, zombies are fed, locals are stabbed with spike boobytraps – lots of fun is had. Don’t believe me? Check it out yourself… but don’t tell anybody how much I like it.
11. – The Evil Dead
Now this here is a pretty debatable entry – not that the original The Evil Dead is a tame little flick – it truly is not but in comparison to films like Cannibal Holocaust, Ferox, Zombi Holocaust, etc. it certainly isn’t one of the goriest films of all time. However, reputation and accomplishments go a long way. Evil Dead isn’t the goriest film on this list, nor gorier than many of the films previously mentioned – but the splatter work on display is grotesque, fun, plentiful and most of all: innovative. The Evil Dead is responsible for many young filmmakers going out there and trying to plenish the world with gory horror flicks that make their audience both squirm, laugh and have a darn good time. Even though there are other films worth of mentioning – Re-Animator is as equally entertaining in my opinion and hey, even Evil Dead Trap the Japanese horror that is essentially a titular ripoff/homage to the film is a little more on the gorier side of things (and perhaps should have made this list) – but both films owe a certain debt to Evil Dead in one way or another. So if you’re going to pick one film, might as go with the godfather and with, in my opinion mind you, the better film.
10. – Cat in the Brain
Cat in the Brain may not be Lucio Fulci’s strongest film, it may not even be in his top five and likely barely ranks in his top ten according to who you talk with – but Cat in the Brain is easily his goriest film. Focusing close to real life, Fulci plays a director named… well, Fulci who is also a… well, a horror filmmaker. Fulci’s films are possibly catching up to him however as he stumbles through his life he approaches scene after scene of horrible slaughter as people are brutally murdered in front of his very eyes. He assumes this is some kind of psychosis coming on from having seen so many attrocities brought about because of his FX workers – but something truly evil be at large? Well… DUH! Fulci comes out strong in this slightly unintentionally funny piece of masterwork where Fulci has fun and makes jabs at his own work and delivers some of his most brutal and sensational splatter. Definitely a reccomended work from his filmography, although it may not be on level with The Beyond in terms of a well structured plot and atmosphere – it makes up for it in the amount of gore that is on display and how much fun the viewer will have with the over the top celebration of all things disgusting.
9. Bad Taste
Peter Jackson makes his first entry into my list, and I’ll bet if you’re a true horror afficianado you’ll already know what that second entry will likely be – and no I’m not talking Meet the Feebles; even though that one can be a bit on the bloodier side as well. Regardless, we’re talking about Bad Taste right here and now – and if you haven’t seen this wacky gore laden alien flick, you’ve missed out on a lot. Peter Jackson took the ball that Sam Raimi packed up and took home when he left the set of Evil Dead II, and he ran with it. Mixing the horror and comedy genres so well together, Jackson developed a horror comedy that wasn’t just a "dark comedy". This was slapstick with gore, and it worked EXTREMELY well. Bad Taste is gruesome and adorable at the same time, if that makes any sense. Heads are split in half, brains are scooped up, bowls of vomit are digested – Bad Taste is simply… well, to quote the great Bender, fun on the bun!
8. – Day of the Dead
Ahh, Goerge Romero, the godfather of the horror genre. The dead series broke the mold each and every release in terms of what we the audience were used to seeing in cinema, and Day of the Dead was probably his last great gorey song to sing. With the release of Dead Reckoning, it seems Goerge may not be looking to push the limits quite as much as he once did – but that doesn’t stop him from being a great storyteller and hopefully Diary of the Dead may see him back to his days of abusing his audience in the ways of gory horror. Day of the Dead created the claustrophobia of the previous series by placing the remaining survivors in an underground bunker on a military base and set the pace at a rather relaxed momentum. This only pronounces the unearthly violence dealt out later in the film. The last twenty minutes or so of Day of the Dead still stands out as some of the most horrific gory violence in any zombie horror I’ve probably ever seen. Necks split apart revealing the vocal chords, intestines ripped out, etc. It’s not just the gore, but the amazingly detailed and realistic special effects as well. An overall classic of gore cinema.
7. – Organ
Organ in my opinion is one of the most underrated schlockers out there. It’s gory, violent, disgusting and features some horrifyingly disturbing imagery via the human body in decay in an organic wasteland of human suffering. How do you like that for descriptive writing? I’ll take a few minutes to pat myself on the back. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that great. Regardless, Organ certainly deserves its place in my top ten. In a very Eco-friendly tale of criminals, teachers, detectives in a world of shrubbery coming to life – the plot takes a backseat to the disgusting visuals of the human body taking on a more "organic" shape. Humans morph into plants, ooze blood and pus in a film from the cinematographer of Tetsuo: The Iron Man so you can assume much cyperpunk fashion and desolate setpieces along the way. Highly reccomended, Organ is the one film on this list I think many people might be shocked to see.
6. – Guinea Pig: Mermaid in a Manhole
A film that might not shock some folks to see on here in this little diddy, part of the absolutely legendary Guinea Pig series from Japan – Mermaid in a Manhole is one of the few entries in the series that truly push the limits of all levels of good taste. Mermaid focuses its plot elements on a painter who searches and searches for inspiration in the sewers of Tokyo – and soon finds it, when he comes across a beautiful Mermaid amongst the filth and trash. He takes her home,
but it soon becomes apparent that she was not meant for our world and boils begin to crop up on her skin. Before long, she is all but a festering ball of puss and sickening traces of flesh. So yeah, she loses a bit in the looks department. Mermaid shows the audience sickness of the eterior in graphic and memorable detail. Boils spurt puss, blood and goo of all sorts. Looking all too realistic for comfort the entire time, Mermaid in a Manhole will give you a case of the yuckies if you can’t stand sickening medical pics and that sort of thing.
5. – TWO WAY TIE: Bone Sickness & Violent Sh-t 3: Infantry of Doom
A TIE!? I know, I know, it’s a total cop-out but to fit the films I felt were neccesary to list – these two just seemed so equal in terms of content that I just had to pair the two together. Andreas Schnaas, director of the Violent Sh*t series, has put out a few not so fabulous flicks in his time as a feature filmmaker but VS3 is actually one of his better achievements and it’s also incredibly gory. Heads roll, spines are ripped from anal cavities and all sorts of other atrocities are commited in this low budget Kung Fu meets gory zombie horror movie free-for-all. Bone Sickness is the new kid on the block really and probably the most recent flick on this whole list – but in my opinion it has earned its place here in my top five. Blood, guts, decapitations and worms galore; Bone Sickness is a modern gore splashed zombie flick for the kids to clamor for. I always like to hype it up, as I think it’s one of the flicks out there that deserves as much reputation as any film on this list – and hopefully its time to shine will be along in short time.
4. – Ricky-Oh: The Story of Ricky
And now the only film on this list to make it on The Daily Show! Yay! Ricky-Oh has all but sinked into our culture here in the states now thanks to The Daily Show, youtube and clips from badmovies.org. It’s certainly grown into one of the more popular cult gore flicks I can think of – and it is all for good reason. Ricky is a darned entertaining flick and it’s also one of the strongest and goriest films I have had the pleasure to view. Ricky is a kid sentenced to a prison term, but this ain’t no ordinary kid, he can punch through brick walls, smash through faces, destroy bodily features, melt hands and chins that dare to get in the way of his blazing fists… yep, Ricky is what I like to think of as a pretty bad dude. Ricky does his best to protect the innocent within the system and along the way does more physical damage than skin cancer. Stomachs are punched through, nails are jammed in faces, blades are hacked through cheeks and that’s only a start for the insanity that Ricky delivers. On top of all this, it’s also incredibly tongue-in-cheek funny. Ricky has everything a growing boy could possibly need!
3. – Premutos Der Gefallene Engel
Premutos unfortunately tends to get a bad rap in thanks to the horrible English dubbing on it’s North American release – and although I’m sure the original German performances are far from the best ever; they were tolerable on my old VHS copy – despite not being able to understand a darn word of German and having no subtitles. Regardless, some things trancend the language barrier… like 45 minute gore sequences including weapons such as shotguns, swords, chainsaws and even tanks! Premutos is silly at times and may indeed have a few bad performances but my oh my is it gory! Bodies are ripped apart at every angle during those last minutes to the point where one barely even flinches at the most extreme moments any more. Premutos will some day get the respect it deserves; and I personally can’t wait for that day.
2. – Dead Alive
Easily the film that tops the majority of most film fans list – Dead Alive/Braindead is Peter Jacksons ultimate gift to us genre fans the world over. Mixing his horror/comedy in a perfect blend Jackson used this style to perfect and delivered a gore masterpiece that concludes in a scene of mass slaughter that has to be seen to believed. Lawnmowers will never be seen in the same light after Jackson’s epic transformation of the zombie subgenre. I can try and recount all the physical damage suffered in Dead Alive but it’s almost impossible to the point of hopelessness. Bodies are pulled apart and so many limbs are severed in the final climatic battle of Dead Alive that I frankly can only encourage you the reader to go out there and rent a copy of the Unrated DVD. Even if you’ve already seen it a dozen times like myself, break out the DVD anyway and give it a spin just to enjoy Mr. Jacksons last hurrah in our favoritest of genres.
1. – Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh and Blood
Flowers of Flesh and Blood most of you may be familiar with, but for those of you late to the game, I’ll run over the shady past of the film one more time. Flowers of Flesh and Blood was created as part of the Guinea Pig series which started as a series meant to push the boundaries of the genre market and deliver the most shocking experiences possible. Flowers of Flesh and Blood just so happened to deliver just that. A faux snuff-film that details the kidnapping of a young girl by a samurai dressed psychopath who slowly and in ultimate graphic detail begins to slowly dismember her piece by piece. Hacking through her arms, using hammers to hack through her bones and saws as well as other instruments to slowly remove her arms, legs and ultimately her head. The film was so realistic in its depiction of these acts that Charlie Sheen thought a bootleg copy he was given was real and passed it along to the FBI who performed an investigation only to find the girl still alive. After this a making of compilation was released in order to show that indeed these events were not real. Flowers of Flesh and Blood is the ultimate "gore film", in fact, it is gore. From start to finish, Flowers of Flesh and Blood is an unnerving, raw and horrifying experience that only the most curious of genre film fans tend to seek out. It’s definitely not for the weak of heart. I however must reccomend it for those who can take it, if for no other reason than for bragging rights… if you’re a weirdo like myself who brags about this sort of thing!
So with all of that, I draw this massive list to a close. Hard to believe it would ever be over – but here we are. Twenty of the goriest films of all time and I realist that my picks will not represent even the majority of readers but hopefully they will have either introduced you to something new or will stand as something that you can pass along to other genre fans who may just need a list of this variety. Gore cinema will never quit as long as one guy just continues to up the ante in terms of what can be done with a few packets of fake blood and latex can do. So a list like this may stand for something at this moment in time, but a list like this will be forever changing and the next big massacre on celluloid is just around the corner.