15 Most Controversial Movies Of All Time

POSTED BY Ali Raza, UPDATED ON February 28th, 2024
15 Most Controversial Movies of All Time

Controversial movies are usually dubbed many names, such as misunderstood, ahead of their time, or something great for their time. However, the dispute it generates at its time of release will be affiliated with it. Today, we’ll be looking at 15 of the most controversial movies of all time. So, let’s begin.

Caution: Some readers may find the plot & the reason for controversy behind some of these films to be very disturbing.


15. Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

The Last Tango In Paris is only another edgy film from its time. The film tells the story of a guy named Paul, played by the ever-prominent Marlon Brando. However, the film wouldn’t generate any controversy until 2016.

The thing that stirred up things about a 45-year-old movie (in 2016) was the fact that Maria Schneider didn’t’ consent to the notorious sexual assault scene. Upon the revelation, Hollywood’s household names went into a frenzy and rage over how one of the culminating scenes in the movie came together.


14. Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015)

Fifty Shades Of Grey 2015 Movie

Based on the novel of the same name, Fifty Shades of Grey was something that was always going to stir the pot. Over the past 7 years and 11 years since the book’s release, the plot has been called many things, such as misogynist, promoting deviant sexual behavior, and whatnot.

However, the real controversy erupts from its graphic details about people’s desires behind closed doors. For a film that doesn’t feature any frontal nudity, the questionable behavior of the main characters surely made it the most infamous film of 2015.


13. Basic Instinct (1992)

Basic Instinct (1992)

Basic Instinct is a cult classic at this point, and there’s nothing that could take away from its iconic plot and the mystery surrounding it. However, the film stirred up a lot of problems back when it was released in 1992.

The graphic intimate scenes that earned this film an NC-17 rating might be one of the leading factors. However, it was the portrayal of Catherine that many bisexual-rights people found offensive and suggestive of psychotic behavior.


12. Da Vinci Code (2006)

The Da Vinci Code 2006

Da Vinci Code is an adaptation of the infamous Dan Brown novel of the same name from 2003. Dan Brown, who’s known to question the history of the Catholic Church through his fiction, didn’t stay too far behind in this one.

While it does tone it down a bit, the film adaptation still has to carry the key aspects of the story. In turn, it generated criticism from Christians around the globe, as well as followers of the church, being called ‘sacrilegious’ at times.


11. Natural Born Killers (1994)

Natural Born Killers 1994

Image Source: IMDb

Natural Born Killers is perhaps one of the films that you’ll find most ridiculous to even be on this list. Yet, it’s widely known as one of the most controversial films of all time. Storied by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Oliver Stone, this film gave us two of the stars of our generation, i.e., Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr.

The film tells the story of two sociopaths who fall in love and marry. Then, they go on a killing spree since both share a knack for violence. But that’s when a journalist, Wayne Gayle (RDJ), takes it upon himself to stop all this madness.


10. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 Horror Movie

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the most famous horror movies of all time. A film that has caused various other films in the franchise, including various sequels and prequels. So, how does a franchise that is this successful stir problem?

The answer lies in its time, as it’s another film that pioneered modern body-horror films. But, the violence and gore in this film caused many to call it:

“The film that terrified a rattled nation.”

Moreover, the test screening caused many people to get physically ill.


9. Lolita (1997)

Lolita (1997)

Lolita is something that’ll give you cringe when you see it. The inappropriate story, on top of the graphic depiction, will leave you thinking, how did this film even get made? As for the story, it’s based on Adrian Lyne’s controversial novel of the same name.

It’s about a man’s obsession with an underage girl, causing him to marry her mother just so he could be close to the adolescent. The imminent controversy was so obvious that the lead actor Jeremy Irons secured a huge salary for this film, knowing he may not find work for the next couple of years.


8. American Psycho (2000)

Bret Easton Ellis American Psycho

American Psycho is one of the most infamous yet celebrated movies about a psychopath — hence the name. Before he was known for his chameleon-like transformation and playing Batman, Christian Bale’s resume was led by this film.

The story was so unhinged that Bale’s agent suggested that he not take the role, as it would derail his career in its early days. If anything, it made him famous for portraying a blood-hungry psychopath who goes on a graphic and gory murdering spree.  


7. The Human Centipede (2009)

The Human Centipede (2009)

The Human Centipede is not for the faint-hearted people. Nor is it for the normal-hearted people, as it’s considered one of the films that make it a little too far.

The story begins like just another horror film, as two girls get lost on a trip through Europe. Only to end up in the clutches of a psychotic doctor, whose dream is to physically connect people via surgical means —creating a human centipede.


6. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange 1971 Home Invasion Movie

A Clockwork Orange is yet another film that has become a classic since its controversy-days. Over the past five decades, the film has served bans in various countries, becoming one of Stanley Kubrick’s most iconic works.

The controversy mostly stemmed from its graphic depiction of violence. The story is about Alex, adapted from the book of the same name. It all goes wrong when he volunteers for experimental therapy after being imprisoned for murder and sexual assault.


5. Taxi Driver (1976)

You Talkin To Me Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver is yet another nod to the fact that what people might consider controversial today might be a cult classic in the future. This was one of the films that are considered truly ahead of its time, as it depicts post-war trauma and PTSD properly.

The charismatic Robert De Niro portrays Travis Bickle, a Vietnam War veteran, on the edge of insanity. But, perhaps the most controversial aspect of this film is the portrayal of Iris, an underage prostitute played by Jodie Foster, who was 12 at the time. While she lied about her age in auditions, it is, to date, still frowned upon in the industry.


4. The Silence of The Lambs (1991)

Sgt Jim Pembry The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of The Lambs is perhaps the most commonly associated film with Anthony Hopkins. His iconic brutal portrayal of the main character, Hannibal Lecter, has been etched into people’s minds for 30 years now.

Once Lecter is indicted, a cannibalistic serial killer himself, he is sought out by the FBI to help find other serial killers. Controversy aside, this film has become one of the classics of its era and is known as one of the greatest films of all time.


3. Cuties (2020)

Cuties (2020)

Cuties by Netflix is perhaps one of the most controversial movies of all time, and surely the most one in recent times. Reading the plot alone might make you flinch a little and make you think about how it even got a green light from producers.

Widely accused of sexualizing children, this film was almost indicted for various charges. On top of that, it caused the removal of the film from Netflix. On top of that, it was crucified by the media, people, and the film industry alike. It spawned a worldwide boycott of Netflix which saw Netflix losing subscribers at an astonishing rate. Netflix had to publicly apologize for releasing such a film on its platform.


2. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

The-Last-Temptation-of-Christ-Movie 1988

The Last Temptation of Christ was banned right after its release. Its controversial depiction of Jesus, alongside the titular temptation in the film, made this film a commonly hated name in the Christian community.

The plot is that right before the crucifixion, Jesus is tempted by the vision of ordinary life—hence the name. This caused a lot of stir in the community and Hollywood, who called this film an abomination.


1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Cannibal Holocaust is perhaps the only film that almost got its director imprisoned. The gory details and the extremely graphic scenes in this film not only make it difficult to watch but also get it banned in various countries.

Besides that, the film committed animal cruelty, and it’s become a commonly despised name around the globe for that very reason. It’s also one of the reasons for stricter animal cruelty laws in the film industry today.


Other Notable Controversial Films

  • 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
  • The Blue Lagoon (1980)
  • Antichrist (2009)
  • I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
  • Life of Brian (1979)

What are the most controversial movies in your opinion? Let us know in the comments!

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