The paradox to being a critic is that, because you end up seeing/experiencing a lot more of whatever it is you're critiquing than the average consumer does, you wind up a bit detached from their perspective. I can't tell you what the average filmgoer would think of this or that movie because I am not the average filmgoer. And while I've said in the past (and continue to hold) that I consider this detachment to be an asset rather than a liability, I do sometimes have to step back and take note that I find myself unable to easily relate to questions asked of me vis-à-vis films, most specifically in the realm of content.

See, when people ask me "Is it scary?" "How violent is it?" "How much sex/nudity?" etc., I find myself unable to offer much real help. When it comes to those things, just about any given film that gets released wide to theaters (i.e. 90% of what will wind up as episodes of Escape to the Movies,) is going to pale in comparison to some of the more obscure and extreme cinematic images I've spent a life/career seeking out and absorbing. To use an almost offensively extreme metaphor, when people tell me they're genuinely, physically horrified by the Saw movies, or Hostel, or The Hills Have Eyes, I feel like a P.O.W. listening to someone tell me how trapped they feel in their dull office job.

Violent/depraved endurance test movies are a tradition among movie geeks and horror movie geeks in particular. Just for fun, here's a quick list of some of the most notorious films that have made film nerds like yours truly numb to pretty much any horror that mainstream film can throw at them. Seek them out, if you dare.

Note I: This is a sampling. If people like this piece I may do more at some point. It's in no way meant to be definitive, as I'm choosing to limit it to films that are not difficult to find but less recent than current entries in the subgenre like A Serbian Film and Human Centipede 2, which by now everyone has heard about. I've also limited it to films I've seen all the way through myself, which is why some of the most infamous possibilities like Philosophy of a Knife or Men Behind The Sun (both pseudo-documentaries about WWII Japan's Unit 731, incidentally) didn't make the cut yet.

Note II: I am not joking around here, a lot of this stuff is really, really, really depraved, well beyond the bad taste fun scale and straight into the "Why would someone even think to make this?" realm. Don't blame me if you seek them out and end up seeing something you wish you'd never, ever seen. Just to be safe, links to actual clips/images to these films will not be provided (though rest assured you can hunt most of them down on YouTube if you so choose).


This is probably the tamest entry on this list (and given that it features a guy being, literally, pulled inside out, that should tell you something), if only because the big stuff doesn't kick in until the very end. But oh, what an ending. A pseudo-successor to the suburban cannibal satire Parents (also very much worth seeing, though not quite visceral enough for this particular list), our hero is a high schooler who's beginning to suspect that his wealthy adoptive parents (and sister) are keeping creepy rich people secrets from him. At first what he uncovers makes it seem like they (and other local members of The 99 Percent) may be involved in some kind of elite orgiastic sex cult, but the truth is much, much more bizarre and requires much, much more stage blood and foam latex from cult horror FX legend Screaming Mad George. Made in 1989, it was considered so hideous (and difficult to market) that it wasn't released in America until 1992, though it was a hit in Europe and Japan.

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