The stories behind the scandalous ‘More Films That Shocked The World’

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  • The stories behind the scandalous ‘More Films That Shocked The World’
  • Sally Luff
  • March 25, 2014

Due to popular demand, World Movies is bringing you another week of unforgettable films that changed the film industry forever. More Films That Shocked The World starts tonight at 9.30pm and is set to push the boundaries of controversial cinema further than ever before.

From an outrageously twisted cult-classic to a violent look at a real-life serial killer, these are the films that have shocked, outraged and been banned around the world.

Before the week kicks off, let’s take a look at why these films were so scandalous.

Pink Flamingos v3 R
Monday 17 March 9.30pm
Pink Flamingos (USA) – Australian Television Premiere

Starring the iconic drag queen Divine, this is the film that launched John Waters’ career and cemented him in the public’s mind as the leading authority on depravity and bad taste. Following the antics of a bunch of delinquents competing for the title of ‚Äúfilthiest person alive‚Äù, Pink Flamingos features a number of acts so grotesque that many initial cinema-goers were given “Pink Phlegm-ingo Barf Bags” in case they felt ill.

Produced on a budget of only $10,000, the film was shot mostly on weekends in a suburb of Baltimore. After gaining notoriety during screenings at US universities in 1973, it was picked up by a larger distributor and soon developed a cult following. While not banned officially by a censorship board, Pink Flamingos created such a cultural shock in the United States that many towns didn’t allow it to be shown in their cinemas.


Tuesday 18 March 9.30pm
I Spit On Your Grave (USA) – Australian Television Premiere

Described by film critic Roger Ebert as a “vile bag of garbage” this ‘70s exploitation shocker divided audiences upon its release. The story centres around a young female author who retires to a secluded cabin in the woods to work on her first novel. After she is brutally raped and abused by a group of local men, she sets out to systematically exact her revenge, with shocking results.

Written, produced and directed by Meir Zarchi, the film was originally released under the title ‚ÄòDay of the Woman’. Zarchi has mentioned that he drew on inspiration from his real experience with a victim of violent sexual assault. He and a friend were driving by a park when they witnessed a woman crawling out from some bushes ‚Äúbloodied and naked‚Äù. They helped the girl up and took her to the police station, but Zarchi was so horrified by her treatment at the hands of the police officers that he began to imagine how a woman in this situation might fantasise about revenge.


Wednesday 19 March 9.30pm
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (United Kingdom) – Australian Television Premiere

This psychological crime thriller follows the exploits of a crazed killer who embarks on a savage rampage of random killings, loosely inspired by real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. In prison, Lucas confessed to over 600 murders, however the vast majority of these claims turned out to be false. They instead resulted from Lucas confessing to any unsolved murder brought before him by policemen keen to clear their files of unsolved cases, all with the hope of ensuring better conditions for himself. The majority of murders which are committed by Henry in the film are inspired not by Lucas’ real crimes, but instead by his fabricated ones.

The film differs from many other serial killer storylines in that it isn’t centred on a criminal investigation – rather it is positioned entirely from the twisted viewpoint of the killer himself. Completed in 1986 the film spent four years on the shelf, deemed too brutal for general release. Upon its eventual release Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was infamous for its ultra-realistic portrayals of murder and was banned in numerous countries, including Australia. During an early film festival screening, nearly half the audience walked out during the notorious family massacre scene.


Thursday 20 March 9.30pm
Emmanuelle (France) – Australian Television Premiere

This softcore adult film follows the exploits of Emmanuelle, the young wife of a French diplomat who follows her husband to Thailand where she engages in several sensual trysts with other men and women. This erotic tale was banned in France upon release, but the ban was revoked with the sudden death of the French president Georges Pompidou. Within 14 weeks of its eventual release, 2.5 million French had watched the film. Emmanuelle became one of France’s most successful films, and was viewed as a rite of passage for generations of adolescents.

In France and the United States, the film was uncensored, but British censors were far more conservative, implementing heavy cuts to the film along with the complete removal of the scandalous ‘cigarette’ sequence. Upon the film’s international release people flocked to see it, with fans in cities around the world stampeding into cinemas with enthusiasm. It was shown in one cinema on the Champs- √âlysées in Paris for 13 years. Today Emmanuelle remains a ground-breaking picture, the first openly erotic film meant for the general public.


Friday 21 March 9.30pm
Caligula (United Kingdom) – Australian Television Premiere

Starring Helen Mirren, Malcolm McDowell and Peter O’Toole, Caligula details the graphic and shocking story of the rise and fall of Rome’s most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula.

With an all-star cast – and a screenplay by iconic writer Gore Vidal – the stage was set for Caligula to become the next Ben Hur. Things took a turn when Penthouse owner Bob Guccione (who was producing and financing the production) decided to give this potential masterpiece the ‚ÄòPenthouse treatment’. Unsatisfied with the amount of sex in the original film, he secretly filmed real, graphic sex scenes and inserted them into the final edit – all completely unbeknownst to the original cast.

Widely panned upon its release, Caligula was the first major motion picture to feature eminent actors and unsimulated sex scenes, and is as hedonistic and dramatic as the era it depicts.

More Films That Shocked The World premieres tonight Monday 17 March 9.30pm.

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