Thursday, 21 February 2013


We've already had flashes of ferocity, moments of murderousness and spells of savagery in part one, but we've still got twenty more mind-blowing moments in world cinema to get through.

Celebrating those scenes with the best shock-scares, cracks of creeping tension, or long, lingering shots of something so wrong that it mentally scars us forever, I quickly realised that I couldn't possibly categorise this top thirty with one word. Instead, I merged unforgettable, terrifying and shocking to form unforgerrifying. Actually, the girlfriend did. Catchy, isn't it? Here's part two, from twenty to eleven (there will be spoilers)...

20. Les Diaboliques (1955)

Considered by some as the greatest film that Alfred Hitchcock never made, Les Diaboliques is set in a provincial boarding school run by headmaster Michael Delasalle (Paul Meurisse). Being a cruel and ruthless lothario creates enemies, so it comes as little surprise when Michael’s long-suffering wife Christina (Vera Clouzot) and his mistress Nicole (Simone Signoret) conspire to kill him. Trouble is, after the murder his body mysteriously disappears and strange events begin to plague the two women. A film that oozes suspense, the simple murder plot soon goes out of whack and includes a brilliantly composed finale with a shock-ending imitated ever since.

19. Ichi The Killer (2001)

Directed by Takashi Miike, written by Sakichi Sato, and based on Hideo Yamamoto's manga series of the same name, Ichi The Killer is notorious due to its extremely graphic violence and lengthy scenes of torture – what’s not to like? Well, it’s probably best to ask Norway or Malaysia, seeing as the film is still banned in both countries. The plot sees sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) searching for his missing boss until he comes across Ichi (Nao Ohmori), a repressed killer able to inflict levels of pain that Kakihara has only dreamed of. Let battle commence!

Okay, so there are many scenes we could pick here, including a barbarous moment when Kakihara captures Suziko (Susumu Terajima), a man he thinks has kidnapped his boss, and tortures him with large hooks and boiling water. But the pick of the bunch arrives moments later, when he realises that he was wrong, so to appease Suziko’s boss, Kakihara  slices off the end of his own tongue and offers it as penance, in glorious close-up.

18. Suicide Club (2001), Sion Sono

Sion Sono’s first major commercial hit (and winner of the Jury Prize for "Most Ground-Breaking Film" at the Fantasia Film Festival) grips with a drip-feed of gory shocks and intrigue. Its audacious finale is just as fascinating, with mass suicide, baby chickens and annoying Japanese pop stars keeping you firmly in your seat rather than anywhere else far more sinister. The plot deals with a wave of seemingly unconnected suicides that strikes Japan and the efforts of the police to determine the reasons behind the strange behaviour.

The most shocking moment in this hellish tale actually arrives at the beginning of the film. Over 50 teenage schoolgirls make their way to the train station, giggle and chat in a carefree manner, line up on the edge of the platform, hold hands, count to three and commit mass suicide by throwing themselves in front of an oncoming train. Well, it sure beats homework.

17. Come And See (1985), Elem Klimov

With a script that had to wait eight years for approval, Come And See is a war drama and psychological thriller about the Nazi German occupation of the Byelorussian SSR. Aleksei Kravchenko and Olga Mironova star in this astonishing film, about a young boy called Florya (Kravchenko) who, after finding an old rifle, joins the Soviet Army and experiences the horrors of World War II. There are many harrowing moments in this eighties epic; a bog, a minefield… even a cow will tug at the heartstrings.

Winning hands down, however, is the moment an entire village is herded and locked inside a wooden church. Instructed that anyone can climb out through a side window as long as they leave their children behind, Florya takes up their offer and climbs out. Sadly, a woman who follows with her child isn’t so lucky; gang-raped by a group of soldiers while the toddler is thrown back through the window. If that wasn’t bad enough, grenades are thrown into the church, which is also set on fire and shot at. All Florya can do is watch the inferno while the Nazis stand and applaud, taking photographs and laughing. All we can do is watch Florya watch…  

16. The Silent House (2010), Gustavo Hernandez

La Casa Muda (its Spanish title) is supposedly inspired by real events that took place in the 1940’s and was purported to be filmed in one continuous shot. Neither of these claims can be authenticated, but the film still went on to achieve success at the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival, rewarded with an inferior English-language remake starring Elizabeth Olsen.

The plot is a simple one: Laura (Florencia Colucci) and her father Wilson (Gustavo Alonso) are repairing a cottage in a secluded area so that its owner can put the house on sale. He tells them that the second floor is unstable and that it’s unsafe to go upstairs. Spending the night there to start repairs in the morning, a noise emanating from that vicinity sends Wilson to investigate. The film focuses on Laura’s plight as she slowly unravels the dark secrets the house hides, and leads us to an unquestionably chilling moment involving her and a Polaroid camera. Click, flash, click, flash…

15. Wolf Creek (2005), Greg Mclean

Marketed as being "based on true events", Wolf Creek was nominated for seven Australian Film Institute awards, including Best Director. Three backpackers head into the isolated Australian outback and after several days of driving they finally arrive at Wolf Creek National Park, made famous when a meteorite landed in the area. But when their watches stop and the car won’t start, the three twenty-something’s are forced into spending a night there, and they’re joined by one of the craziest madmen in the history of film.

The moment: Liz (Cassandra Magrath) enters a garage and discovers a large stock of cars and an organised array of travellers’ possessions. She watches a video camera and is horrified to see their pursuer ‘rescuing’ other travellers in almost identical circumstances. Deciding now would be a good time to leave, Liz attempts to start one of the cars but she isn’t alone. What follows is comically brutal, and the phrase ‘head on a stick’ will be etched in your mind forever… 

14. Them (2006), David Moreau & Xavier Palud

Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud would go on to direct the terrible Hollywood remake of The Eye (2008), but forget that for now, because Them is a short but sweet French horror that truly delivers. Clementine (Olivia Bonamy), a young teacher, lives with her lover Lucas (Michaël Cohen) in a large house in the middle of rural paradise. There idyllic existence is about to be tested by “them”, shadowy figures that hide in the shadows, stopping at nothing in the name of fun. Uncompromising and nerve-shredding from the get-go, the most terrifying moment arrives after an hour of suspense, when Clementine refuses to play anymore, scrambling through tunnels for a way out of the madness, finding only the highway to hell instead…  

13. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009), Tom Six

According to director Tom Six, the concept of The Human Centipede arose from a joke he made with friends about punishing a child molester by stitching his mouth to the anus of a "fat truck driver". Why he didn’t stick to such a beautiful premise is certainly beyond me, but nevertheless, despite several cuts and a film that isn’t as outrageous as they would have you believe, there is still one scene that will unsettle (note: The Human Centipede 2 is easily more sickening and would be on this list if it wasn’t for Six succumbing to America).

Drugged and detained by crazed surgeon Dr. Josef Heiter (Dieter Laser), Americans Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams), Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) and Japanese tourist Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura) form the arthropod, joined mouth to anus, trained as a pet. Sadly, when a human centipede has to go it has to go, and with no doggy bags in sight a reluctant Katsuro is forced to defecate. Lindsay, second in line, is obliged to swallow.

12. Antichrist (2009), Lars von Trier

Horror at its most disturbing and unwatchable, which can’t be a bad thing, Antichrist is a film written and directed by Lars von Trier, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. With a narrative divided into a prologue, four chapters and an epilogue, the movie follows horror film conventions and tells the story of a couple who retreat to a cabin in the woods after the death of their child.

Strange visions and increasingly violent sexual behaviour hinders their grieving, and you’ll have the pleasure of embracing the madness as you witness a wealth of gratuitous voyeurism and violence.  Its standout scene occurs after a flashback to an alternate view of the prologue in which Gainsbourg’s character (known only as She) takes a pair of scissors and severs her clitoris while masturbating, letting out a tortured scream along with the rest of us.

11. Cannibal Holocaust (1980), Ruggero Deodato

Unique in its day for its "found footage" structure, influencing a ridiculous amount of horror films such as The Blair Witch Project (1999), Rec (2007) and Paranormal Activity (2007), Cannibal Holocaust tells the story of a missing documentary film crew who had gone to the Amazon to film cannibal tribes. Its graphic violence aroused a great deal of controversy due to its disturbing portrayal of graphic brutality, sexual assault and animal violence. Still banned in various countries, the most striking scene isn’t one of the many showing gang-rape, corpse mutilation or impalement, but a collection of shamefully sickening acts of genuine cruelty to animals.

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