Provocation is an art; one that demands a strong singular vision and the audacity to defy conventions and evoke the most fiercely powerful emotions from the viewers. Many provocateurs like Lars Von Trier, Gaspar Noe, Yorgos Lanthimos and the great Michael Haneke have perfected this art, and their fiercely authoritative, singular visions have placed them a level above most contemporary auteurs.
Over the years, cinema has witnessed an array of perverse movies that shocked audiences in ways that left them gasping for breath. Though many of them lack strong emotional, thematic depth, the impact, nevertheless, is powerful enough to shatter your sleep. So, let’s take a look at the list of top most perverse movies ever. You can watch some of these perverted movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
12. Funny Games (1997)
A stone cold classic, Michael Haneke’s infuriatingly provocative, frighteningly hilarious thriller is a film that invites, engages its audience before torturing them in ways so frustratingly manipulative and absurdly shocking that you begin to question the meaning behind all those “thrillers” you’ve seen your whole life. ‘Funny Games’ satirizes the concepts of thriller and horror, and Haneke uses it to make a statement on the depiction of violence in the media and mainstream Hollywood movies. Haneke himself has stated that the film is perverse and provocative. Though he tried reinforcing the statement with his remake 10 years later in Hollywood, the original remains far more impactful due to the performances and that subtle sense of Austrian psychopathy which is so in line with Haneke’s vision.
11. Last Tango in Paris (1972)
Well, I don’t even have to state the reasons for this, do I? Bernardo Bertolucci’s iconic erotic drama is possibly the most controversial movies of all time and probably one of the most perverse movies ever made. Featuring the great Marlon Brando and a young, gorgeous Maria Schneider, the film depicts an intensely passionate, sexual relationship between a widowed American and a young Parisian women. The two agree to remain distant from each other, emotionally and do not even reveal their names to each other. There are many disturbing scenes in the film, the most notable one being the controversial rape scene where Brando’s character uses butter as a lubricant to perform anal sex. The film generated significant controversy due to its explicit depiction of sex, and it continues to be seen by many as one of the most perverse movies ever made.
10. Dogtooth (2009)
Absurdly provocative and frighteningly realistic, ‘Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘Dogtooth’ is a film that spits on human civilization. The film is as comical as it is frightening in many ways and the way Lanthimos manages to make the most violent, perverse of human acts look so absurdly natural is brilliant beyond belief. The plot revolves around a family in which the kids are confined to the family compound for years and are isolated from the outside world by their austere father. ‘Dogtooth’ is a film that has no shock value and though it may leave you frozen on the first viewing, it just kind of claws its way on to you with time.
9. I Stand Alone (1998)
Argentinian provocateur Gaspar Noe’s shocking directorial debut is about a man who, after being released from prison, attempts to get in touch with his estranged daughter. However, he struggles to gel with the society and torn by rejection and isolation, resorts to extreme, inhuman acts. ‘I Stand Alone’ lacks the precision and focus of ‘Irreversible’ but is still an incredibly powerful piece that takes a devastating look at the abyss of civilization. It’s dark, morbid, violent and so absurdly perverse.
8. Nymphomaniac (2013)
One of the most controversial movies of the decade, ‘Nymphomaniac’ is Lars Von Trier at his most absurdly perverse and self-indulgent. The film truly defines Lars Von Trier’s most bizarre obsessions that have always been inherent elements of his cinema. With ‘Nymphomaniac’, he takes things off to the next level; his morbid fascination with sexual violence is unabashedly displayed here with unbridled passion. Charlotte Gainsbourg is stunning in the lead role and delivers, arguably, one of the finest performances of recent times.
7. Ma Mere (2004)
Starring the great Isabelle Huppert, ‘Ma Mere’ depicts a disturbing relationship between a mother and her son who grow increasingly close to each other and eventually indulge in perverse acts of sex and violence. It’s a film that lacks a precise vision and feels like a film made only to shock its audiences with no real emotional power or thematic depth. The film is infuriating to watch and though Huppert tries to salvage the film, it ultimately comes off as a painfully mediocre exercise and perversion. ‘Ma Mere’ continues to be regarded by critics, cinephiles and audiences as one of the most perverse movies ever made.
6. A Serbian Film (2010)
Cut straight from the same bloody cloth as Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘Salo’, ‘A Serbian Film’ offers an even more perverse, cynical look at the absurdity of power. The film’s exploration of violence here is bold and in-your-face and the way it goes about tackling its issues is remarkably daring and undeniably challenging. The film’s deceptive plot follows an aging porn star who, out of desperation, agrees to work on a film project which turns out to be something unimaginably sinister and could culminate in his own death. There are numerous layers to film’s plot and its ambiguities continue to fascinate cinephiles and critics around the world.
5. Antichrist (2009)
Lars Von Trier’s gorgeously perverse film is almost a masturbatory exercise in provocation and perversion. It tells the story of a couple who set off on a journey into the woods in order to treat the wife as she is terribly depressed after her son jumps out from a window and dies while she was having sex with her husband. The opening shot of the film is a stroke of genius; it’s an absurdly beautiful, wildly absorbing scene, hypnotic in its emotional power and visual eccentricity, that takes a deeply disturbing look at the darkest of human fantasies buried underneath the guise of civilization. The film features many violent scenes that are extremely shocking and though one can’t deny the raw truthfulness to it all, it certainly isn’t a film that you would want to revisit.
4. In the Realm of the Senses (1976)
Nagisa Oshima’s masterpiece is possibly one of the most controversial movies ever made. ‘In the Realm of the Senses’ depicts a torrid sexual relationship between a hotel maid and her employer; they indulge in numerous violent sexual acts including erotic asphyxiation, and it eventually results in the death of one of them. The film is intensely disturbing in its raw depiction of violence and sexuality, but makes for an incredibly challenging, powerful cinematic experience that makes you think about the film long after the credits have rolled out.
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3. Nekromantik (1987)
Disgusting would be an understatement to describe this atrocious horror exploitation flick that tells the story of a perverted sweeper who brings home a decaying corpse for him and his wife to satiate their sexual desires. It’s an utterly perverse film that is made with the sole intention of triggering a reaction from its audience and though the film is immensely creepy, the impact withers away with time and there’s no real emotional or solid thematic ground provided to it.
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2. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Possibly the most outrageous exercise in perversion on screen, ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ is a film that breaks and destroys the limitations of the medium in ways so absurdly shocking that you’re left infuriated by its audacity. The film follows a professor who discovers the remains of a film crew in the Amazon and brings their camera footage to America. The film features numerous violent scenes including real depictions of animal killings and slaughtering which caused massive controversy at the time. However, despite being regarded as one of the most perverse movies ever made, ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ continues to be rated by many critics and cinephiles as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
1. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
Arguably one of the greatest movies ever made, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s magnum opus is easily the most perverse film ever made. The film is about four wealthy fascists who abduct and subject a group of teenagers to the most perverse, inhuman acts of violence. The film’s unflinching exploration of violence generated significant controversy at the time and it still continues to shock and provoke viewers with its raw emotional power. Though the graphic value of the film may not translate well enough to a contemporary audience, the universality of its themes and the sheer truthfulness of it continues to hit even today and is still a frighteningly relevant movie. ‘Salo’ has influenced the works of many great auteurs including Michael Haneke and Gaspar Noe and it continues to be regarded as one of the most perverse movies ever made.
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