Criterion's Greatest Gross-Outs

by JustinDW

Created 01/02/13

Edit List

Films with scenes more repulsive that the average viewer can handle.

  • This cinematic nightmare is so chock full of terrifying sights and sounds you'd think any gore would pale in comparison to the twisted, creepy atmosphere. However, I think genital mutilation is always going to be a reliable source of repulsiveness. So take your pick! Female self-castration with scissors (in extreme close-up) or testicle crushing via firewood (with a bloody climax... literally).

  • Hopefully you don't have a weaker stomach than Udo Kier's pathetic, sickly Dracula, who projectile vomits blood for several minutes straight after making the mistake of feeding on a non-virgin. A close runner up would be the sight of him resorting to lapping up a bloody puddle off the floor, the result of Joe Dallesandro forcibly deflowering (i.e. raping) a teenage girl.

  • David Cronenberg had developed a reputation by the mid-80s for his blood-drenched gorefests, though most mainstream critics at the time failed to see the underlying social commentary and psychological themes underneath the blood and guts. It wasn't until higher profile projects like The Fly and Naked Lunch that he really got the respect as a filmmaker that he deserved (outside the horror fan crowd, anyway). The Brood was an early feature for Cronenberg, but he has yet to top its pure visceral horror, with feral, androgynous children viciously attacking anyone with whom their mother is displeased. There's plenty of blood and ripped open faces. The zenith of repulsiveness, however, comes when the mother of the brood (Samantha Eggar) bites open the chrysalis-like external womb and proceeds to lick the bloody infant mutant clean. Writing about it right now makes me nauseous.

  • This unrelentingly weird and creepy nightmare from the deepest and darkest corner of David Lynch's psyche is like being transported to another planet. Your sense of reality is warped for hours after sitting through it. Once your mind has been twisted and reprogrammed by the sheer dementia of it all, the vile, putrescent finale becomes the kind of experience from which you would normally wake up screaming.

  • In 1960, this film was the most outlandish gorefest ever seen. It has not lost much of its visceral power in over fifty years, and the gruesome imagery that appears onscreen with wild abandon was unsurpassed until a little film from Pittsburgh came along in 1968 and claimed the title for itself. A sequence of still shots showing the deterioration of Edith Scob's face is so effective you can almost smell the gangrenous flesh.

  • This one has so much blood and guts it's hard to pick one scene that's more disgusting than another. The Baron molesting his female creature via her gall bladder? His half-assed attempt to re-attach his severed hand (before chucking it at Little Joe)? Nah, I'm inclined to go with the male creature's extremely impractical method of suicide by self-disembowelment.

  • Do I need to even narrow it down? The coprophagia? The rape? The mutilation? I'd say the feces feast takes the cake for this one. But not by much.

  • This movie has so many genuinely funny moments in the first two-thirds of its running time you almost forget what it's about. When a serial killer and the film crew documenting his exploits invade a home and apparently all take part in the torture and murder of a young couple (whom they have interrupted making love), the horrific footage of the aftermath is a sobering wake up call. The laughs are few and far between after that moment, perhaps as they should be.

  • This brilliant, satirical action/sci-fi epic is full of violence so insanely over-the-top it almost becomes slapstick. Almost. Be it a hapless office worker being blown to smithereens by a giant robot or a hand being blasted apart with a shotgun, there's plenty of grisly violence to satiate the gore aficionados. But it's the post toxic waste demise of Emil that remains seared in my brain. It's one of those rare movie moments that is so shocking you actually can't believe you just saw it.

  • Makavejev's nearly non-stop barrage of everything taboo and perverse is thrown at you faster than your brain can process it. It all winds up making some sort of sense in the end (I think) but it's a rough ride getting there. I can take competitive defecation and urination as a means of foreplay, but the adult baby writhing around in every bodily fluid imaginable is way frigging gross.

  • "I have something I want to play for you." David Cronenberg's masterpiece is full of bizarre, surreal imagery, but none is more shockingly quease-inducing than the moment in which Barry Convex shoves a videotape into the vaginal like orifice in Max Renn's stomach. At that moment one can only wonder, "How the hell did we arrive here?"


  • By JMB
    November 10, 2013
    12:12 AM

    "Night ad Fog" might be a good contender for this list. It's a documentary about the Nazi concentration camps. throughout the film we are subjected to photographs of the horrible things that happened there such as piles of rotting corpses an headless bodies. you know, the real deal. we're not looking at corn syrup and latex here. "Flesh for Frankenstein also has the distinction of being a Video Nasty.
  • By Stroszek
    November 11, 2013
    03:10 PM

    Decent list. I would add "In the Realm of the Senses" on this list. I would of said "W.R. Mysteries of the Organism", but I found that one to be more hilarious than grossed out.
    • By JustinDW
      November 16, 2015
      08:45 PM

      Yes, Senses is pretty twisted. Organism is one of Makavejev's more out there films!
  • By Noah Abner Bowen
    November 19, 2013
    03:42 PM

    Excellent list. I must say though, having read through the comments, that I am rather surprised by the level of immaturity expressed, by some, in the criticism of the author's choices. His summary for each film very well explains the reason for selection. Criterion is a "continuing series of important classic and contemporary films", essentially a growing library, or anthology, if you will, of cinematic ART. Each film is disturbing in its own unique way: physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually.
  • By Daniel W.
    November 23, 2013
    07:53 PM

    I always found Salo more of a petty film than gross out film. Its politically ineffective, horribly acted, and on a visual level it's really ugly. Antichirst was really tough. I liked Lars von Trier's earlier movies up to Breaking the Waves, but now... he kinda sucks (seriously Nymphomaniac looks awful). Robocop is just a lot of fun, and Man Bites Dog had a brilliant concept, but it was more shocking than funny.
  • By Christopher M Curcio
    December 10, 2013
    01:18 PM

    Ken Russell's "The Devils" should definitely bee on this list. Unfortunately, it's not a Criterion release--but it should be.
    • By JustinDW
      November 16, 2015
      08:48 PM

      You know a film is powerful when the studio refuses to release it for thirty years!
  • By KimRN
    January 01, 2014
    03:44 AM

    I started watching AntiChrist tonight, got too distracted with New Year's events but I cant wait to finish it.
  • By Matt
    January 03, 2014
    12:47 PM

    Fun list! Sweet Movie should be WAY higher though!! :P
    • By JustinDW
      November 16, 2015
      08:50 PM

      Agreed! That's why I made it alphabetical, to avoid controversy! Sweet Movie is even grosser than Salo.
  • By Jared
    January 07, 2014
    06:44 PM

    The scene in Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers where Karin inserts the piece of glass into her vagina is gross out worthy, though the film is not. Oh and (as hard as one might try) who can forget In the Realm of the Senses?
  • By RegoCinephile
    January 17, 2014
    02:56 PM

    How about the brains with cords killing relentlessly in Fiend Without a Face???
    • By JustinDW
      November 16, 2015
      08:51 PM

      Yeah, Fiend Without a Face might have to find its way in there.
  • By hoytereden
    February 24, 2014
    08:50 PM

    How about Criterion's Laserdisc release of Pink Flamingos? The ending still makes my stomach flip-flop.
    • By JustinDW
      November 16, 2015
      08:55 PM

      Ah, I'll have to see if it's in their database. That would definitely warrant entry in a gross list!!!
  • By ALVideoholic
    March 13, 2014
    12:38 PM

    An interesting, although great, list. You "hit the nail on the head" with Nos., 1, and 8-10 (I admit I haven't seen either Blood for Dracula or Flesh for Frankenstein - OOP and pricey). In regard to comments by others, I loved In the Realm of the Senses (watch it frequently), and don't really find it "gross"; Fat Girl was sad; and, Fiend without a Face was hilarious. Also, I agree with Matt, Sweet Movie should be higher on the list - that was one weird, in-your-face wild ride (and, I don't want to watch it again, ever).
  • By WillemDafoe
    July 11, 2014
    04:15 PM

    Nice List, as someone who seems to be able to watch the goriest of films without looking away, I'm surprised I've only seen two of the entries (The Ice Storm, and Robocop). Also Fat Girl would be a deserving edition
  • By Chad J.
    July 21, 2014
    04:22 PM

    "Seconds" (1966) includes shots of an actual rhinoplasty operation.
    • By JeffK.
      March 26, 2016
      08:41 PM

      Good to see a "Seconds" mention. The surgery didn't bother me. Just the overall creepiness of the film. It is like you know the character is doomed yet you have to watch.
  • By Owen Schalk
    May 17, 2015
    12:19 PM

    I think the fingernail scene from Clean, Shaven should definitely be on here.
    • By JustinDW
      July 01, 2015
      09:36 AM

      I'll have to check it out. Still haven't seen it!
  • By Jake B.
    July 08, 2015
    12:57 PM

    The fingernail scene from "Clean, Shaven" made me cringe.
  • By Jake W.
    August 13, 2015
    10:16 PM

    I certainly was in awe of Eraserhead- but not shocked or repulsed, and Robocop is violent- but not worthy of this list. Also I would say the goriest movie I've seen so far is Day of the Dead, not a Criterion release, nor will it ever be, but would have been worthy of this list. And as for my most disgusting scene so far, would be Requiem for a Dream (also not a Criterion release, but could be one but it won't) when we see Harry's fully infected arm and he shoots up heroin in that area. Great list too.
    • By Jake W.
      October 22, 2016
      10:45 PM

      Update, over a year later. Eraserhead is deserving of being on a gross out list. Why did I forget that ending? also, no In the Realm of the Senses. And finally, Day of the Dead is still the greatest bloodbath I've ever seen committed to celluloid.
  • By Eric Levy
    October 04, 2015
    02:32 PM

    Great list Justin! I have a low gore tolerance, so this list will help me know which Criterion films to avoid as I make my way through the Collection. Truth be told, I've actually seen six of these (just watched SWEET MOVIE--whoa!), so maybe my tolerance is higher than I thought. Still think I'll avoid ANTICHRIST, SALO, and the Morrisseys. It occurred to me that there's a pretty gross scene in an unexpected place: The killing and skinning of a seal in NANOOK OF THE NORTH. It's fun to show that one to my students ;-)
  • By Kilianf286
    October 06, 2015
    11:12 AM

    If seeing farm animals (specifically young cows) butchered makes you queasy, do not watch Franju's BLOOD OF THE BEASTS, which is featured on the EYES WITHOUT A FACE release.
  • By JeffK.
    March 26, 2016
    08:48 PM

    Having a high gore threshold I have yet to see anything really bothersome. Antichrist was extreme but it didn't really bother me. Perhaps I have become numb to it all.
    • By Ryan Oliveira
      November 25, 2016
      05:52 PM

      Dali is one of many disturbing cinema if your into films like these listed look up the YouTube video series covering almost 200 ldisturbing films" ,-""2: most disturbing movies ever
  • By Ryan Oliveira
    November 25, 2016
    05:51 PM