The Top 13 Most Controversial Movies

The most controversial movies of all time are the ones that have had a profound effect on society, whether they were controversial because they pushed boundaries or because they went against what was considered acceptable at the time.

They get remembered for their controversial nature rather than how good the movie is now. This article will discuss 13 controversial movies that you may not have heard of but should be aware of if you want to know more about our society’s history.

By controversial, we don’t mean movies that you should avoid. We want to inform the reader about how controversial these movies were at release to understand why they are essential.

The top 10 most controversial movies of all time

Porky’s (1982)

Bob Clark also produced other notable films such as A Christmas Story (1983) and Baby Geniuses (1999). The film follows a group of high school boys trying to lose their V-card before prom night with one scene where Porky takes off his pants and dances around while singing a song from Snow White called “Some Day My Prince Will Come.”

This single scene caused many controversies, but the truth is that it was a controversial movie from start to finish because of its co, including used prostitution and alcohol use.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

This one caused so much trouble due to several factors, including graphic violence, actors getting killed in gruesome ways during filming, and actual animal killings used for special effects. Some went as far as saying they were real murders caught on tape after watching the footage.

Directed by Ruggero Deodato, who also produced other horror movies such as Jungle Holocaust (1979). The film follows an expedition group into the Amazon rainforest kidnapped by a cannibalistic tribe for food. Even though you can see the strings attached to some animals, you can see actual footage of a turtle killed. This controversial movie got banned in multiple countries for its graphic content, which included violence.

Straw Dogs (1971)

Directed by Sam Peckinpah, who also directed other movies such as The Getaway (1972). It’s about an American mathematician named David Sumner who moves with his British wife to her hometown, where they don’t receive a warm welcome, causing tension. She still believes that men shouldn’t get bullied around.

There were many scenes involving violence, but what caused it to be so controversial at the time of release was one scene where he ties up two local guys and assaults their friend’s wife, and that scene is still controversial to this day.

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, who also directed other films such as The Conformist (1970). It follows a widower named Paul, played by Marlon Brando, having anonymous sexual encounters which caused controversy at the time of release because it had an X rating before being changed to NC-17.

Some theaters refused to show it all together. One theater owner even got arrested for showing it after receiving death threats from those against its content, including strong language and nudity.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, who also produced other controversial movies such as Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Paths of Glory (1957).

The film follows a group of boys that dress in uniforms, beat-up older adults, and attack women, all to the soundtracks of classical music. Many gang members have said that they based their violent acts on Alex, leading director Stanley Kubrick to remove some parts.

Natural Born Killers (1994)

Directed by Oliver Stone, who also produced other notable movies such as JFK(1991). This controversial film follows two serial killers named Mickey Knox and Mallory Wilson, whose marriage led to a killing spree.

One controversial scene features their victims begging for mercy. They get assaulted simultaneously, but what made this movie controversial was its violence combined with one of the main characters’ likings for heavy metal music, including Metallica’s hit song “Enter Sandman.”

Basic Instinct (1992)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, who also produced other controversial movies such as Showgirls(1995). The film follows a murder investigation where Detective Nick Curran suspects that successful author Catherine Tramell knows more about the murders than what she’s letting on. The controversial scene involves one of Roxy’s main characters killing someone with an ice pick, including nudity and strong sexual content combined with violence.

The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist was controversial because it was the first R-rated movie to show a priest with his shirt off. It also showed gore and violence, including an exorcism scene where the priest stabs himself in the stomach.

Some people were offended by these scenes. Other people felt that the violence was necessary to tell the story. It’s interesting how times have changed since then–nowadays, many movies are more violent than The Exorcist.

Shindler’s List (1993)

Shindler’s List was controversial because it showed the unimaginable atrocities Gen. Stern had to commit against innocent people during the Holocaust.

The controversial movie, released in the USA and Israel for including graphic scenes of violence on-screen (although censors had passed it after Spielberg removed some footage), deals with genocide. This controversial movie is based on a book written by Thomas Keneally titled Schindler’s Ark. It won seven Academy Awards at the 1993 Oscars ceremony, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Kids (1995)

Released by Miramax Films, an American entertainment company owned by the Walt Disney Company, “Kids” is about how two teenagers are trying to lose their virginity.

The movie caused quite an uproar when it premiered in theaters because of its depiction of young people having sex without using any form of birth control or protection. These were activities that parents did not want children exposed to at such early ages, so they felt very strongly against what this film portrayed on screen.

Another controversy surrounding this film was complaints from local government officials and censorship board members for movies regarding how much violence existed among young people in New York City when it premiered in theaters on July 12th, 1995.

Honorable Mentions

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan is controversial because it shows graphic violence and gore, including many scenes featuring blood spurting from soldiers’ bodies and an opening scene with the main character shooting young German soldiers in cold blood.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption was controversial because of the violence it contains and the controversial portrayal of masculinity. The movie shows how one man can overcome hardship and brutal violence by following his conscience.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction,” was a very famous one since many people liked this particular type of film with a stellar cast put together to form a compelling story. However, some critics believe that there was too much drug use.

In addition, Quentin Tarantino’s strong language also made Pulp Fiction controversial.

The Hunger Games (2014)

The controversial movie “Hunger Games,” has been controversial because of the violence and killing shown in the film. This movie may make people feel sad or uncomfortable when they watch it.


The controversial movies span decades and genres, proving that controversial films aren’t a new phenomenon. There are plenty of controversial topics to discuss in these 13 movies – from the despicable characters who perpetrate violence against women, children, or people of other races; to directors’ decisions about how much nudity or gore should be shown on screen.

We hope you enjoy reading our list as much as we enjoyed making it!


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