The Depths Of Obscurity: Sadistic Horror Films from the 1970s

Alex Stajos

Like all too many that spend countless hours ranking and endlessly debating the merits of films long since forgotten by most, I am addicted to film. I work as a computer programmer, but my passion is film. I started writing about film a few years ago when I found it irritating that a few months after watching a movie, most of memory of it would be completely gone. To preserve my impressions on a movie I started writing about every one I watched and eventually started chronicling them on my blog. Once I started this, I was hooked. There isn't a period or a genre that doesn't interest me, I'll watch and write about anything. A couple of years and hundreds of movies later, I still can't get enough.

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6 Responses

  1. johnmason says:

    Well, I applaud your effort (I think). It’s certainly not an experiment I’d put myself through.

    My kind of horror movies include Alien, Jaws, The Sixth Sense, The Mist, Gremlins, stuff like that. Even The Mist pushes the gore factor for me; I like scary, but not the gross blood and guts. A decent recent example of “my kind” of horror movie would be 1408.

    I sat through Saw. Thought it was vaguely brilliant, in a completely sick and twisted way. I have no desire whatsoever to see the other six. Everything I’ve heard about the Hostel movies just makes me want to throw up.

    But, like I said, I’m not a horror movie fan. I was thinking about maybe celebrating Halloween with a viewing of Ghostbusters….

  2. KingofPain says:

    I like horror movies, but I’m not generally into displays of prolonged cruelty. I do enjoy clever or spectacular death scenes, particularly if they’re done with a sense of humor, though.

    According to my Flickchart ranking, my Top 5 Sadistic Horror movies are:

    Turistas, Make them Die Slowly, Two Thousand Maniacs!, The Last House on the Left (2009) and Audition. There are some missing movies that should be labeled as Sadistic Horror that would’ve ranked highly (like Cannibal Holocaust).

    I don’t find any of these to be scary. Turistas is good for the bikinis, while Two Thousand Maniacs! and Make them Die Slowly are funny in a twisted sort of way. The Last House on the Left remake is superior to the original, and probably less sadistic overall (there’s an entertainingly brutal scene where one of the villains is killed, but that’s the worst of it). Audition is funny, too, but also a tad disturbing.

    Bloodsucking Freaks is pretty rotten, but if you’re impressed by the brain sucking, watch Wicked Lake. It’s another nasty movie ivolving degradation and cruelty (though, not as extreme as Bloodsucking Freaks), with a more gruesome (and convincing) brain sucking scene. The women in the movie are more empowered, as well.

    Have you watched any of the Ilsa movies? They’re totally loaded with sex and sadism, but a few steps above Bloodsucking Freaks in quality. Those should give you a run for your money.


    The first Hostel is indeed twisted and gross, but I’d have to say the sequel is more disturbing. Some of the torture/death scenes are truly messed up. I’m not in a hurry to see either of them again, but the original is at least more humorous. Hostel II just depressed me.

  3. Alex Stajos says:

    I love the great responses this blog gets!

    I haven’t seen any Ilsa films. I’m not a fan of sadism in film in general. I was a bit out of my comfort zone with this list. I suppose before I watch any more I should check out Salo… Only I really don’t want to.

    By far, and I mean by huge bounding leaps, my favorite film in this genre is ‘Audition’. Talk about a well thought out, perfectly paced horror flick. It has everything which the films in this list didn’t have– a solid story. The graphic sadistic elements actually had a purpose. It elevated the experience rather than defined it. A concept which is entirely lost on these exploitation pieces.

  4. KingofPain says:

    Back in the day, I was more squeamish toward these sorts of movies, but now they don’t usually get to me. The more recent gore and sadism flicks, like Martyrs, Haute Tension and Frontier(s), are rougher to get through than old school stuff, I feel. I haven’t convinced myself to sit through the August Underground movies, yet. Those are supposedly on the high-end of repulsive.

    Salo is more about the depravity than the sadism, I would say. There is cruelty in the movie, but most of it revolves around humiliation. The Ilsa films are shamelessy sadistic and gross, and a lot more torture-oriented. I usually feel more nauseous than disturbed by the Ilsa series. Salo doesn’t really make me feel anything, maybe because it’s presented more aesthetically than most exploitation movies. Audition had a stronger effect on me than Salo. Ichi the Killer, too. The sadism in Salo is supposed to be a metaphor or allegory, or something. Personally, I don’t buy it, but check it out for yourself.

    I’m looking for that Last House on Dead End Street. You’ve got me curious. I try to give every extreme movie a shot at least once.

  5. justin newell says:

    i like horror films like Jaws, Cursed, the haunting,the sixth sense,Poltergeist, Dracula ,night of the living dead,boogey man,and others ,,the pg-13 horror films are much better and the sadistic brutal one suck!!!!!the r rated ones are evil and they are not worth the watch,,they are sorry movies,.the sadistic horror ones with the decapatation of women shall be banned.

  6. KingofPain says:

    I don’t know if “evil” is the word I’d use for all “R” rated horror movies. There are certain horror and exploitation movies that stretch the limits of good taste, but I doubt most are actually created for the sake of spreading evil. Are you just opposed to women being decapitated? What about men? And when you say “shall be banned”, do you mean that you saw into the future and witnessed the banning taking place? Or that you heard from a reliable source that this banning would occur?