25 Films More Controversial Than "Aladdin"

Jun 18, 2006

The Bottom Line Entertainment Weekly placed Disney's "Aladdin" at #25 of their most controversial list. I disagree. Here are 25 reasons why.

Entertainment Weekly has recently put out a list of what they feel are the "25 Most Controversial Movies of All Time." As one who prides himself on all things controversial or shocking in the world of film, this is one issue that I wanted to get. Standing in line at Best Buy, I saw the issue on the check out table, and asked if I could purchase it. The employee went in to the sales speak about how I could "get a year's subscription for"...I can't remember the rest. I replied with, "no, I just want this one." There was no doing. But, she did let me take a look at the list while standing in the isle.

It's honestly not a bad list. I have quarrels with the order that a lot of them have been placed in, but the same can be said with every single entertainment list I've seen. Have you ever seen a list that went along entry by entry matching up with your own opinion? Films I was so happy that they added included "Caligula," "Cannibal Holocaust," and "The Warriors" among others. FYI, "Caligula" belonged much higher than #24.

But what set me off was #25. It still confuses me. It frustrated me in the isle, and I haven't shaken it off since. According to EW, the 25th most controversial movie of ALL TIME is "Aladdin." I don't mean some soft core porn "Aladdin" movie, I mean Disney's "Aladdin." Now, don't take this as an assault on the film. I happen to love that movie. It's in the top 5 of my favorite Disney cartoons of all time. But controversial? Was it? Do you remember the controversy off the top of your head? Here is EW's reasoning being the inclusion: "The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee balked at a lyric describing the film's Arabian setting as a land 'where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face.' Result? The studio dubbed out the lyric for subsequent releases."

Okay, I slightly remember that going on. I believe that that would cause a little controversy. And if the list of EW's most controversial movies list stretched all the way out to 100 entries, then maybe this one could squeeze in there at number 100. #25 can't be controversial for simply the dislike of a lyric. What are they thinking? How does this entry make any sense to anyone who prides themselves on watching the most controversial of the controversial? Its inclusion seems like it was made from the one staff writer would couldn't make up his mind on anything to contribute, so he just threw one in there to get an inclusion on the article credits. Why the editor didn't send them back to the #25 drawing board, I still don't know either.

This list I have concocted below is created in the off chance that maybe one of them frequents epinions.com. They had 25 movies they felt are the most controversial ever made, so down below are 25 movies that they could have used in the place of "Aladdin" but didn't, because anyone who knows anything about controversial flicks knows that any of these movies below ranked in more notoriety and controversy than "Aladdin."

In alphabetical order, here are 25 movies more controversial than "Aladdin," and the reasoning behind it.

Angel Heart
In actress Lisa Bonet's effort to not be typecast in the role of Denise Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," "Angel Heart" features her in a sex scene with Mickey Rourke so raunchy and explicit (including buckets of blood) that the film was originally slapped with an X rating. The ending twist also makes the scene a bit more disturbing in retrospect. Theatrical releases showed a trimmed version, but that didn't stop the critical swipes at Bonet, some of which came from her disapproving tv dad himself. The movie has for a while existed in an uncut version.

Baby Face
This 1933 film was fully banned in the United States merely due to sexual innuendo. The controversy even caused actor Walter Brennan to request that all of his scenes be edited from the movie, which they were. Several other cuts were made by the order of the New York Board of Censors, and not until 2004 was the film shown containing those scenes cut out by the censors.

The Blackboard Jungle
The first mainstream motion picture to feature rock music on the soundtrack ("Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets), this gritty film depicted juvenile delinquency, led by Vic Morrow and Sidney Poitier, at an inner city high school. Riots broke out in various theaters showing the film, though not to the extent of infamous showings of "The Warriors."

Bloodsucking Freaks
Due to a protest by Women Against Pornography, the film was eventually banned in the United States. When purchased for distribution by Troma, a fake R-Rating was slapped on the poster, until the MPAA eventually found out about it and sued Troma. To this day, according to an interview on the DVD, Troma President Lloyd Kaufman says this is one film that he regrets distributing. Full Review

Citizen Kane
Infuriated by the film's supposed depiction of him, tycoon William Randolph Hearst engaged in an all out war to stop this film from even being released. Attempts were made at ruining Orson Welles' reputation by claiming he was a Communist, and there was supposedly an attempt at getting photos with Welles and a naked women. Hearst even forbid any mention of the film in his newspapers. But after critical praises in limited screenings, not even Hearst's entire empire could destroy the film.

Brokeback Mountain
Firing up the religious right, and Fox News Pundits, "Brokeback" caused all kinds of odd assortments of wild theories that seeing the film would turn it's audience homosexual, or that the film was part of a secret gay Hollywood agenda. One pundit even forcast that the movie would make no money at the theater, yet win Best Picture at the Oscars (he was wrong on both counts). On the other side of things, lines were drawn between simply not seeing the film due to one's taste in film, or staying clear because of anti-gay bigotry (the latter being evident in talk radio, and even in various members of the Academy). It's loss at the 2006 Oscars infuriated the film's supporters so much that many thought it was evidence of Hollywood simply "playing it safe."

The Devils
Banned in Italy, and it's stars, Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, were threatened with jail time if they even set foot in the country. The film deals with sexual decadence within a Protestant region in 1634. Reed's Father Grandier, who gets one woman pregnant and is sexually fantasized about by a Redgrave's Sister Jeanne, becomes the target of a witch hunter who convinces the nuns they are demon posessed and that Grandier himself is a warlock. And if that weren't enough, there a orgies with nuns, rotting corpses, and one notorious scene that features the nuns raping a statue of Christ.

Even before the film's release, Catholic Churches all over the nation passed out fliers within church services and elsewhere expression their disgust in the film and warning people to stay away from any theater playing it. When the film actually was released, protesters demonstration in front of numerous theaters (including the one I was working at at the time). Director Kevin Smith even infiltrated one of the protests and was interviewed on camera giving a fake name.

The Exorcist
Documentaries have been made about the weird and sometimes unexplainable occurances that went on during this film's production. From a strange fire that that destroyed a set, to nine members of the production, including two cast members, dying before the film's release. But when the film was actually released, mass hysteria was being reported at several of the film's screenings. Paramedics would often be called in to attend to those who fainted during the showings. Protesters of the film even went so far as to send death threats to Linda Blair, plus evangelist Billy Graham even claimed that he believed an actual demon was living inside the film reels. The film was not officially released in the UK until the late 1980's.

Faces of Death
Gaining a cult following in the college crowds, "Faces of Death" has simply just become one of those movies that everyone has to see to please themselves. Why? Because of the urban legends that the film contains real deaths, autopsies, executions, and the works. By now everyone knows the film is fake, and one wonders if Dr. Francis B. Gross is even a real doctor!! Uh oh. But the film will never live down its reputation or its notoriety. Banned in 46 countries, it's one of the front runners in the "see it just to say you've seen it" category.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
This character study about a killer (based on Henry Lee Lucas) sat on the shelf for nearly four years due to it being slapped with an X rating. The film's look at violence set a realistic tone that came close to making viewers feel they were no longer watching just any movie. From graphic images of corpses (one with a broken bottle sticking through her face), to the film's most infamous death scene, which shows an entire family being raped and murdered all through the eye of a camcorder, the film takes a creepingly nonchalant look at violence rarely seen in a horror film of that era.

I Spit On Your Grave
Still described by Roger Ebert as being the worst film ever made, the film gained a decent sized amount of publicity after protests by women's rights activists, and also Siskel & Ebert effectively got the film banned in Chicago due to their campaign of violence against women on film. Banned in several countries such as Canada, Australia, and West Germany, the movie exists all over the world in several cut versions, and still remains to be one of the most notorious revenge films ever mare. Full Review

Life of Brian
Starting with the financier backing out due to their belief that the film was blasphemous, the funding was later put forth by none of than George Harrison. After the film's release, the film went on to be banned in a few countries due to, you guessed it, blasphemy. Italy finally did release the film in the early 90's. Well, God may have a sense of humor, but it appears like a great number of his followers simply do not.

Where to start on this one. Beginning with many actors (including David Niven and Laurence Olivier) refusing the role that eventually went to James Mason, for fear their reputations would be tarnished, or by going by the advice of agents. Censors had a field day trying to steer this film away from pedophilia, one example being their rejection of a scene where Mason oggles a picture of Lolita while bedding her mother, Shelley Winters. While taking away some of the more shocking elements from the book, the film still caused enough controversy simply by having middle aged men yearn for a girl all but 14. The UK even gave the film an X rating.

Midnight Cowboy
The film was given an X rating upon its 1969 release. It wasn't until later that the X rating would begin to go hand in hand with pornography. In 1971 the film was granted an R rating, even though nothing had actually been edited out of the film, so the stigma of the X was no longer attached. It became the first X rated movie to win Best Picture at the Oscars, to be shown on network television, and to be screened at the White House.

Peeping Tom
Completely trashed in its original 1960 release, the film became notorious for its depiction of sex, violence, and filmmaking. The movie tackles a sick side of voyeurism as we watch Carl Boehm's killer murder various women and film their reactions as the die, all at the hands of pointed blade located at the end of his camera. Odd feelings of uncomfort come into play when we are right there watching Boehm's snuff films with him, and seeing his reactions. The film all but ruined the career of director Michael Powell, and it did not get the full recognition it deserved until Martin Scorsese sponsored a rerelease of the film in 1979.

Pink Flamingos
Now here's a film that has everything. Onscreen coprophilia as star Divine actually consumes dog feces, oral sex featuring Divine and the actor who plays her son, and a close up sequence of an a**hole as it appears to be singing along with the music in the scene. The film is certainly a legend in the world of bad taste, having been banned in countries like Norway, no surprise there. It remained with an X rating all up until 1997 when it went down to the NC-17.

Here's a film that seems to be controversial for the sake of being controversial. It's so obvious and predictable that the Catholic church would take offense here that I'm surprised they even spoke up at all. The film takes a look at homosexuality in the church, and even branches out into incest when a girl confesses about how her father abuses her. The primary focus in the movie is on the two leading priests, one of which has an affair with his housekeeper, while the other frequents gay bars in his spare time.

Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom
Widely regarded as the most disturbing film ever made, "Salo" graphically shows four political fascists engaging in the rape and ultimately the torture of 18 adolescents. Confiscated in certain countries on the grounds of pornography, rumors also began to circulate that the murder of director Pier Paolo Passolini (an open Communist and Socialist during the war), at the hands of a male prostitute, was in reality a political assassination. No matter one's take on the film, it is certainly one of the hardest films for anyone to watch. Full Review"

Silent Night, Deadly Night
Even the silliest of films can become controversial. During it's limited release, the film was protested by angry parents all over the world who were offended that the film depicted Santa Claus as a sadistic murderer (even though in the film it's just a psycho dressed as Santa, and not the real thing). Due to the protests, the film bombed, but found a new life years later on an uncut home video. The most ironic thing was the protest by Mickey Rooney who said the makers of the film should be run out of town. Rooney later starred in "Silent Night, Deadly Night 5."

Some movies just don't deserve the controversy that surrounds them. This is one of those movies. Originally released as a low budget take on the Charles Manson story called "The Slaughter," complete with dialogue what was barely worse than it's acting. Directors Roberta and Michael Findlay later tacked on a newly shot ending showing a film crew murdering a female stage hand on the set of "The Slaughter." Renaming the film "Snuff," the Findlays hired phoney protesters to claim the ending murder was real (it's actually as fake looking as they come) and to picket the film. It worked. Not only did this become one of the most notorious horror films of the late 70's, but it also began the urban legend of the snuff film.

Song of the South
Does EW really think that in the world of Disney animation, "Aladdin" is more controversial than "Song of the South"? Though the film ultimately has a lot of heart to it, it has been withdrawn from circulation due to stereotypical portrayals of happy black people working in plantations, and is the only Disney animation feature not to have seen a video release in the US for fears of public boycotts by the NAACP. It has however seen video releases in European and Asian markets.

Straw Dogs
The film's depiction of intense and somewhat graphic violence, and the rape scenes, led the BBFC to ban the film from being released on video up until 2002, which is when the full uncut version was finally released by them. Here in the states, the film became controversial for being part of a string of films (including "A Clockwork Orange" and Dirty Harry") that not only were being released around the same period, but depicted violence in a more in your face style than had rarely been seen before mainstream, and indeed caused a controversy among those feeling films were beginning to go to far.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Banned in several countries, not surprisingly, the film also suffered from numerous walk outs in the US due to the film's shockingly intense moments of sheer terror. It's one horror film where a viewer's mind can be made up about it simply from hearing the title. The film also gained notoriety when debates began going back and forth about whether events depicted in the film were based on a true story, with some people asking: "is there some manaically freakish cannibal family loose in Texas?" The source of inspiration of it comes from serial killer Ed Gein, as most of us already know.

The Tin Drum
This 1979 film is a character study of someone who wants to remain with the mindset of a 3 year old to avoid the atrocities that appear to be going on around him, mainly the rise of the Third Reich. Controversy came from overzealous Christian groups claiming that pieces of the movie depicted child pornography, and indeed a judge in Oklahoma declared an order to seize every singly copy of the film statewide. Parts of Canada even banned the film as they felt uncomfort towards its depiction of youthful sexuality.

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