Top Films for Graphic Violence


Don’t hate Quentin Tarantino; hate the game.

Actually that’s completely hypocritical of me; I can’t stand Tarantino’s particular brand of brutality. I made it through Pulp Fiction with only a feeling of resignation. And I think I stopped Kill Bill during the fight scene between Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu.
But Tarantino aside, blood and gore aren’t things I shy away from in movies.  I’m much more likely to avoid a movie focused on overblown and manipulative emotional scenes (i.e. why I haven’t watched Room yet) than a movie that unflinchingly shows blood and guts.

The criteria for this list? The film has to actually be good. No pain porn- an excellent plot is a necessity. The violence should enhance the plot, even if it does so a bit gratuitously.
No straight up horror.  That said, horror can be hard to define.
Lastly? Blood spatter.

And a disclaimer: I don’t claim to have seen all of the graphic films the world has to offer. I haven’t seen Sin City. Or Oldboy. Or Lady Vengeance. But what I’ve heard suggests that those might be at home on this list.


In no particular order:

Gangs of New York, 2002: Guess what I watched yesterday! That’s right, this one! Gangs of New York inspired this list, so it’s only fair that it’s included (and high up on the list-of-no-order). It’s a lengthy film about warring gangs in New York City during the mid-1800s. Loosely based on reality. Lots of anarchy. Butchery.  Well-known actors.
“In 1863, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father’s killer.”

Hacksaw Ridge, 2016: I have qualms talking about this one because of Mel Gibson (who it seems like Hollywood has forgiven for his anti-semitism?). But it’s a great film and deserved more recognition when it came out last year.  There’s one prolonged (most of the film) and particularly atrocious battle scene: you may have seen a clip of a soldier using a dead man’s torso as a shield. Based more solidly on reality- the story of conscientious objector Desmond Doss. World War II.
“WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.”

V for Vendetta, 2005: Not only here because I have an insatiable love for Natalie Portman. It’s so excellently dystopian and anarchic. Disturbing and troubling. I have a friend who goes by V, maybe I need to ask him if he moonlights.
“In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter, known only by the alias of “V”, plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman.”

Sweeney Todd, 2007: Is this horror? It’s part horror, but aren’t all very violent films? It’s also a musical and a drama and a film about the beauty industry (okay, the last is pushing it). Because of its chimerical, indefinable nature I feel comfortable including it. Johnny Depp seeks vengeance by giving people VERY close shaves. Helena Bonham Carter makes meat pies. Also Alan Rickman and the guy who plays Wormtail.
“The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, AKA Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett. Based on the hit Broadway musical.”

The Departed, 2006: Shipping up to Boston, woo! I love Boston.  I’ve talked this one up before, I think, so I’ll try to keep it short.  Practice telling DiCaprio and Matt Damon apart before watching.  An excellent cast, a gripping plot, etc etc.
“An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.”

Watchmen, 2009: I just talked about this film a few days ago because I literally just watched it for the first time. It’s the only superhero film on this list and it’s decidedly darker than most superhero films.
“In 1985 where former superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.”

Watership Down, 1975: Watershed Down has the questionable honor of being the only animated film on this list. Don’t let that (or the bizarre PG rating) fool you- this is not a kids’ movie.  You know the killer bunny in Monty Python? It’s like that bunny and his family got their own spinoff. And it’s not a comedy. Lots of gnashing teeth, rabbit traps, and bunny-on-bunny violence.
“A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.”

Inglourious Basterds, 2009: I’ve mentioned this film enough that I should add Inglourious and Basterd to my laptop’s vocabulary. The incessant autocorrects are getting spectacularly annoying.  Another WWII film, but this time completely completely fictional (Spoiler: They kill Hitler at the end). An excellent cast all around and some expertly framed funny moments. And Hans Landa, one of the best movie villains of all time.  The only Quentin Tarantino I’ve ever been able to bear. And I love it. So it must be good.
“In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner’s vengeful plans for the same.”

That’s everything for now! Anything I’m missing that I need to watch?
Interestingly, when you exclude horror from a graphic violence list you seem to get a lot of war films and crime dramas.


Also Ran: Chinatown (1974), Dirty Harry (1971), Nightcrawler (2014), The Untouchables (1987), Deadpool (2016), Cold Mountain (2003), Gone Girl (2014), Mystic River (2003), The Revenant (2015). The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), In Bruges (2008), Leon: The Professional (1994).

Whew, from Disney Princesses yesterday to blood spatter today! Quite the about-face.

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