The Most Controversial Movie From The Year You Were Born
We generally like to keep things from getting too controversial around here, but in today's world, there's no way around it! Some filmmakers have taken risks over the years the rest of the world would never have the guts to take.
Here we have some of the most controversial of all time. Films like The Last Temptation of the Christ (1988) - a film that had churchgoers and religious folks upset with its depiction of Jesus.
Curious what movie was creating the most buzz the year you were born? Well, we have done the research and have gone back over 50 years to find the most controversial movie from the year you were born.
Ace in the Hole (1951)
This Billy Wilder film starring Kirk Douglas is a nail-biting drama about a ruthless newspaper reporter named Chuck Tatum, willing to do anything for the next big scoop. When a man gets trapped in a mine, the unscrupulous reporter convinces rescuers to take a "safer" route to rescue that man. His motive was to drag out the story and turn it into a media circus for his own personal gain.
The controversy in this movie is as applicable today as it was in 1951. This satirical film reminded people of the unethical behavior of the media and the consequences of sensationalism.
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
In a film based on Oscar-winning scriptwriter Charles Schnee's adaptation of the short story Memorial to a Bad Man by George Bradshaw, moviegoers get yet another flick about the sordid affairs that go on backstage in Hollywood productions.
People had mixed feelings about the film, which led to the controversy surrounding the film. It turns out that people don't really want to know how awful it can be trying to make a name for yourself in Hollywood. No one wants to think about all the disturbing things people must do to become famous.
Peter Pan (1953)
You might be surprised to see a Walt Disney production on our list of controversial movies, but the fact is that Disney's adaptation of Peter Pan raised a lot of debate about the way it portrayed Native American folks. In the 1950s, it wasn't as cringeworthy to portray indigenous people as "savages." Yet people were offended even back then (and for a good reason).
Today, a movie like Disney's Peter Pan would have been boycotted if it ever made it to production. Somehow, we doubt Disney would have let it come to that because today, they stand against racism and bigotry.
Casino Royale (1954)
The movie Casino Royale made our list for one simple reason; James Bond fans argue that this was by far the worst Bond film of all time. According to critics, if it hadn't been for Linda Christian (seen here) playing a Bond Girl in this flick, chances are, the "entire film would have been left on the cutting room floor."
It received such bad reviews that some Bond fans refuse to acknowledge it as part of the franchise. Take note: if you're talking to a Bond fan, avoid talking about this film if you want to dodge the controversy.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
The Night of the Hunter is not only one of the most controversial movies of 1955 but also one of the creepiest. It's most notable for the words L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E tattooed across the knuckles of actor Robert Mitchum.
This iconic masterpiece made controversial headlines with its depictions of the minister. This film broke a cardinal rule and made a minister the villain. (Grab your cross and holy water and watch out for lightning strikes as you watch this movie.)
Baby Doll (1956)
Baby Doll is a controversial film from 1956 that will shatter your preconceived notion of movies in the 1950s. This dark comedy is set in the South and is about an arranged marriage between a young girl named Meighan (played by Carroll Baker) and a much older man named Archie (played by Karl Malden). But that's not the controversial part!
This film was so controversial in its day because it broke the Production Code by "depicting impure love." In one scene, Archie's young wife is seduced by one of his rivals in what is notably one of the hottest love scenes in film history. Very taboo in the 1950s!
The Three Faces of Eve (1957)
The Three Faces of Eve starred Joanne Woodward as Eve, a woman who suffered from multiple personality disorder. It was rare to mention risque topics like mental illness in the movies, and moviegoers weren't sure how they felt about the winds of change blowing through Hollywood during that time.
Director Nunnally Johnson was not deterred by shifting away from the status quo in Hollywood and making a film about topics previously considered taboo in movie productions. The film also covered social dynamics like morality, feminism, and gender dynamics.
The Defiant Ones (1958)
Filmmaker Stanley Kramer is well-known for making movies about heavy-handed social issues and was never afraid to take risks in his career. In The Defiant Ones, Kramer breaks all kinds of rules in the Production Code, the first being that he hired Sidney Poitier.
As a result, Poitier became the first black actor to star in mainstream Hollywood productions in non-stereotypical roles. That did not sit well with many filmgoers in the late 1950s.
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
If you were born in 1959, this captivating courtroom drama was the most outspoken film of the year - and the entire decade. Anatomy of a Murder is about a defense attorney defending a military officer accused of murdering the man who raped his wife.
In the 1950s, it was very clear in the Production Code that “rape should never be more than suggested.” The highly controversial language in this movie was the first time such words were spoken in film.
For those born in 1960, you know that growing up in the '60s meant learning to be adaptable to an ever-changing world. However, moviegoers weren't quite prepared for female villain protagonists, open feminism, and schizophrenic antagonists.
Psycho gave audiences all three with a few risque scenes and some very gruesome ones. Did we mention cross-dressing? It's got that too. Alfred Hitchcock hit all the major controversial buttons with this film.
Victim was a movie decades ahead of its time. It's a movie starring Dirk Bogarde, about a well-known attorney who goes after a blackmailer threatening to expose gay men. Something that was still considered an illegal act.
Audiences were not thrilled when they learned the movie was about homosexuality. Some religious organizations even boycotted the film - it was that controversial.
If you were born in 1997, the remake of this movie was just as controversial as the original. Lolita is about a middle-aged professor pursuing a relationship with an amorous 14-year-old girl.
In 1962, topics like this were completely taboo, but director Stanley Kubrick was not afraid to push the envelope. Critics reviewing the film called it "disgusting" and "insecure." People also disliked that the movie did not accurately depict the events in the book.
The Birds (1963)
It isn't controversy that has one writer absolutely terrified of birds to this day! Thanks, Alfred Hitchcock! Yet, the movie script itself isn't the controversy.
There were actually two reasons people debated over the film. Actress Tippi Hedren spoke out about what it was like to work with Hitchcock after the film was released, claiming he was mentally and verbally abusive.
The second bit of controversy came from the animal rights groups who argued that the live birds used for the movie were mistreated.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
If you were born in 1964, we have some good news and bad news. The good news is that you were born the same year Mary Poppins came out! The bad news is that you were born the same year Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was released, a movie about Santa and a pair of Earth children going to Mars to save the world.
We will save you the trouble of watching this awful movie, Santa and the kids save the day. So, where's the controversy? Easy, they allowed moviegoers to waste precious time that we'll never get back.
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Doctor Zhivago is a powerful movie about a Russian physician experiencing hardships during World War I. He meets and falls in love with the wife of a political activist.
While the '60s were all about free expressions of love, moviegoers were not ready to watch films that glamorized infidelity. For that reason, this movie got some harsh reviews from puritan critics.
Africa: Blood and Guts (1966)
The '60s brought us free love, the Civil Rights Movement, and anti-war protests, but it also sparked activism on hot-topic issues like poaching and big game hunting. In Africa: Blood and Guts, audiences are stunned to learn about the violence surrounding the slaughter of protected species (and the people trying to preserve these creatures and their habitat).
The film ignited discussions about whether the animal trade of any kind was ethical. It still sparks debates to this day, and this film has been the center of many of those arguments.
I Am Curious (1967)
I Am Curious is told in a documentary-style narration and speaks on topics like relationships, sex, societal classes, and non-violent resistance. There was also a follow-up film released the following year with the same title (distinguished between each other by the colors yellow and blue).
By 1967, audiences were still looking for movies about wholesome family values, and this film didn't contain any of that. While sex and relationships aren't a controversial issue today, in '60s cinema, we were still looking to make some progress in those areas.
The Green Berets (1968)
The Green Berets is a movie starring John Wayne about a team of military elites serving in the Vietnam War. When this movie was released, it was so controversial that protesters stood outside theaters boycotting the film.
What caused all the buzz? Director Ray Kellogg's film was nothing more than a war propaganda piece looking to garner favor from citizens towards the highly controversial Vietnam conflict. Yuck!
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
If you were born in 1969, you graced us with your presence the same year we graced the moon with ours. You also made it just in time to see the highly controversial Midnight Cowboy. (Yes, we know you wouldn't have been old enough to enjoy it!)
Midnight Cowboy is a film about a young traveler moving from Texas to New York City to seek wealth and good fortune. The movie stars Hollywood elites like Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman, John McGiver, and Sylvia Miles and was a huge hit. The problem with critics was all the graphic sexual content.
Multiple Maniacs (1970)
For those born in 1970, you share the stage with one frightful movie - and it's not even a horror flick. Multiple Maniacs is about a traveling sideshow of male cross-dressers and female performers using the show as a front.
'Lady Divine's Cavalcade of Perversions' is actually a group of psychotic killers who kidnap their victims before torturing them and murdering them. The characters are so vicious and depraved in this film that critics urged moviegoers to "just stay home."
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Clockwork Orange is a movie set in the future, where a sadistic gang leader becomes imprisoned and decides to volunteer for an aversion therapy experiment, but it doesn't go as expected. That is all we will say about this movie because we don't want to ruin it for you!
The controversy surrounding the movie is due to the graphic nature of the violent content. This disturbing masterpiece is not for the faint of heart. Viewer discretion is advised - it's also strongly advised that you watch this movie!
Deliverance is about an outdoor fanatic who takes his friends on a canoeing trip on the Cahulawassee River. He has promised them an adventure they would never forget, and boy did he deliver!
Again, we don't want to ruin this movie for you because it's just too good not to go see. We will warn you about the cause of the controversy - the horrific assault scene. This is another movie that is not for the faint of heart.
The Exorcist (1973)
By today's standards, The Exorcist is a run-of-the-mill horror movie about demon possession. In the early 1970s, the dark themes and creepy prosthetics kept this film off the shelves of some stores owned by superstitious or religious folks.
There was much controversy surrounding The Exorcist that entire cities banned the selling or viewing of the movie. People claimed they had heart attacks and miscarriages after watching the movie. What? Did that really happen?
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The title alone is sure to stip up some controversy (mostly about which Texas Chain Saw Massacre movie is the best), but in 1974, this version of the film stirred up a buzz due to the graphic nature of the murder scenes - something audiences in the '70s didn't seem to enjoy as much as audiences today.
Critics of the movie say that the mindlessly gruesome murder scenes were included only to "cause a reaction from audiences and not to further the plot." Uh, we think that was kind of the point. Aren't horror movies supposed to make you jump? Or better yet, scream? The Texas Chain Saw Massacre does just that, tenfold. Carry on, Leatherface. Carry on.
Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975)
If you were born in 1975, we want to apologize in advance because there really were not as many controversial movies to pick from as just downright awful films. Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS was our top pick due to the content and how utterly terrible the movie is - save yourself the trouble and trust us on this one.
The film is about a Nazi warden conducting medical experiments at a death camp. We really don't need to go into any more detail for you to understand why a film about Nazi war camps was a bit controversial to moviegoers in the mid-70s - and today.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Taxi Driver is a Martin Scorsese classic about an unstable veteran (played by Robert De Niro) working as a cab driver in New York City on the night shift. Throughout the movie, he struggles to fight the urges to commit violent acts against those he encounters each night.
The violence in this film is what placed it on our list of the most controversial movies. One scene was so violent that Scorsese had to edit the scene and even reshoot parts of it to make it appear less violent.
Jungle Holocaust (1977)
Jungle Holocaust is about an oil prospector who gets captured and held as a prisoner by primitive and violent cannibals in a rain forest in the Philippines. He and a woman hostage escape, and action ensue as the two make their way through the jungle to find his missing travel companion.
The violence in the movie caused the controversy surrounding this film. It appears that moviegoers in the '70s were not okay with too much violence in their flicks. Maybe this controversy was more about the violent cannibalism?
The Deer Hunter (1978)
The Deer Hunter is a Michael Cimino film starring Christopher Walken, Robert De Niro, John Savage, and John Cazale about how the Vietnam War is impacting the lives of a group of friends in a small town in Pennsylvania. This powerful masterpiece didn't make our list simply because it's about Vietnam.
The movie caused controversy among audiences because of the Russian Roulette scene. Cimino does not shy away from pointing out how the aftermath of the conflict continued to adversely affect those who fought in the controversial war.
In a film about one of the most notorious leaders in Ancient Rome, Caligula does a great job of depicting the brutality and lunacy of this perversely ambitious historical character. While Caligula himself was quite controversial, the film about his reign created a buzz all over Hollywood for another reason.
This film caused controversy because of the excessive nudity and sexually driven content. If you are interested in watching this movie, we recommend the cut version of the film. The uncut version is a little... pornographic.
The Shining (1980)
The Shining has long been regarded as one of the greatest horror movies of all time and has earned its spot on our list of most controversial films. It isn't due to the graphic nature of the film or explicit scenes.
The buzz circling this movie hit recently when actress Shelley Duvall went on the Dr. Phil Show and talked about the abuses she received from director Stanley Kubrick. Nicholson corroborated her accounts in an interview, saying Duvall was mistreated by Kubrick. He said he always regretted not doing more to stand up for her and his other mistreated co-stars.
In Absurd, a doctor and priest chase a man with supernatural powers of regeneration who recently escaped a medical research laboratory. He follows the mutant to a small town where he goes on a rampant killing spree.
This is another film that earned controversy with its obscene amount of violence. Critics argue that the volume of gruesome violence was "grotesque and unnecessary." Perhaps the critics are right, but we believe a horror flick should be gory.
The House Where Evil Dwells (1982)
The House Where Evil Dwells is another movie that made our list simply because it was so bad that it was actually controversial. The film is about a young American family that moves to Japan and is subsequently haunted by ghosts.
There are a lot of details about who killed who and why the storyline is a bit convoluted, in one writer's humble opinion. It's not even clear why someone would defend this film as a cult classic. But, apparently, there are people who argue this film deserved more recognition than it got. (We respectfully disagree!)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
If you were born in 1983, you have something in common with one of the most popular television series in the 1970s and '80s, The Twilight Zone. Well, sort of - you share a birth year with the year the popular TV show released a movie!
The movie was able to do something the show never could, and that was land some big-name stars like Dan Aykroyd and Vic Morrow.
It made our list of controversial movies because people were upset that instead of one storyline, viewers got four separate horror or sci-fi plots directed by four different directors.
People were angry, and we just have one question. Did those viewers ever watch the format of the TV show?
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Silent Night, Deadly Night is not like your traditional Christmas-themed movie (obviously). This slasher film received national attention (and all its controversy) for its depiction of a murderous man dressed as Santa Claus killing people.
It isn't exactly your family-friendly holiday film. Even critics Siskel and Ebert were so upset by the film that they read the credit of this movie out loud, adding "Shame on you" after reading each name. People argued that Siskel and Ebert were too hard on the film and told them to "lighten up."
So, was the movie awful? Who's right, the famous critics or the viewers who loved the film?
Return to Oz (1985)
There was a time in Hollywood when sequels didn't receive the best reviews, rarely had the original actors, and always kind of seemed more like a B-list movie than a major Hollywood production. In 1985, this was still true, and the movie Return to Oz was one that received some unfavorable criticism as a result.
Although, the controversy had little to do with the film being a poorly executed sequel. The original movie was classified as a children's movie. Viewers argued the sequel was too frightening to be a kid's film, but it was marketed as one and parents were not happy.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a movie about a man who moves in with an ex-con and begins teaching him how to be a serial killer. It is a film that horror fans and mainstream audiences both respect.
It's another film that earned its controversy due to the violent content within the movie. That, and the fact that it gave us a perspective into the life of a serial killer. We learn there is more to serial killers than just the lust to murder. People didn't seem to enjoy learning that murderers do things the same as normal people do.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Full Metal Jacket is a movie about a pragmatic marine who witnesses the effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits. In yet another film about this controversial conflict and the servicemen caught in the middle, we witness depictions of the violence these poor soldiers faced every day.
The violence, the honest depiction of the conflict, and the disturbing images of what happened proved to be too much for some moviegoers who said the movie went too far.
As you can tell by the name of this movie, it isn't about some wholesome family that happens across a corpse. Nope. Nekromantik is a movie about a street sweeper who brings home a dead body he found on the side of the street after a car accident.
He brings the body home for him and his wife to do... unspeakable things. That should be enough details to help us all understand why it made a list of controversial movies. If you were born in 1988, we're sorry this is the most controversial movie from the year you were born. The Last Temptation of Christ was a close runner-up on our list if that helps.
Going Overboard (1989)
Going Overboard is another movie that made our list because of how absolutely awful this movie is, yet that is what causes all the controversy, even to this day! People actually argue that this was one of Adam Sandler's best movies.
What? Sandler himself says that Going Overboard was not his best work. He said it got him type-cast as an actor with one comedic niche - infantile slapstick with sexually explicit undertones. It was a label Sandler had to work hard to overcome and prove his acting versatility.
Goodfellas is the story of a man named Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta) and his life in the Italian mafia. If you are blessed enough to share a birth year with the year this movie was released, consider yourself a Goodfella!
The controversy behind this iconic Italian-American crime drama is the use of the F-word. In fact, it is known for featuring the most F-bombs in film history. It was still too much for some moviegoers, even in the progressive '90s.
Nekromantik 2 (1991)
If you were born in 1991, we need to apologize to you for the same reason we had to apologize to those born in 1988, and it's because of the original Nekromantik. These movies are literally some of the worst of all time, on plot alone.
The controversy surrounding this movie is well-earned. I mean, who wants to watch a flick about a girl who keeps parts of her former boyfriend's body and... Alright, that's as far as we're willing to divulge.
Walt Disney makes our list for the second time with their 1992 hit, Aladdin, and for the same reason as its classic Peter Pan. Except for this time, it isn't the Native Americans being depicted unfavorably.
This Disney movie received a lot of criticism for its stereotyped racist depiction of the film's characters. While some protested the film, the controversy certainly didn't impact the film's undeniable success.
Schramm is a horror movie about a serial killer who is dying and replaying horrific memories from his life. As his life flashes before his eyes, audiences get a glimpse into the mind of a serial killer.
Schramm is another movie that makes our list because of the graphic, violent nature of its content. It covers all the taboo topics, and many believe the violence was so extreme that the movie "deserves to be outlawed."
Natural Born Killers (1994)
If 1994 is the year you were born, you share this year with the release of one of the most controversial movies of all time. Natural Born Killers is about two psychopathic serial murderers traumatized as children (each in their own respective households) who meet, fall in love, and go on a murderous rampage.
This movie is controversial because it highlights the media's responsibility for the actions of the murderers. The film depicts how the media sensationalizes serial killers in real life and why that sometimes makes things worse.
Kids is a 1995 cult classic about a group of teenagers as they trek around New York City, drinking, smoking, skating, and engaging in... ahem, other adult activities. Not only was the film graphic, but it contained explicit language that some audience members had a difficult time dealing with.
Most of the film's controversy centers around whether people believed the depiction to be too extreme or spot-on. We suppose some people don't want to accept that not everyone grows up in a suburban paradise.
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
If you share a birth year with the release of The People Vs. Larry Flynt, you have something in common with another cult classic from the mid-90s. This film is the story of Larry Flynt (played by Woody Harrelson), a controversial pornography publisher defending his right to freedom of speech.
The movie is based on real-life events, but the controversial man himself had little to do with the film's controversy. The film received criticism from anti-porn feminists, and many believe it cost the movie an Acadamy Award.
Funny Games (1997)
Funny Games is a thriller about a family vacation turned nightmare when two disturbingly charming but psychotic men force the family to participate in a sadistic game. The movie was labeled as unnecessarily violent and cruel, and critics urged moviegoers to avoid seeing this film.
The movie was so violent that people at Cannes walked out. Fans of the movie said it was a shame that people walked out because they missed the ending and, therefore, the entire meaning of the movie.
American History X (1998)
No one can argue that 1998 was a good year for films (and a good year to be born). American History X was not only one of the most powerful and poignant films of that year but possibly of all time.
We won't spoil any of the film for you, but we strongly recommend you see this movie immediately, if not sooner. The film earned its position on this list for its violence, but that's not the only reason. American History X has arguably one of the saddest movie endings of all time. So sad that audiences are still in denial.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Eyes Wide Shut is a dark thriller about a Manhattan physician (played by Tom Cruise) who embarks on a bizarre odyssey one night after being told by his wife (played by Nicole Kidman) about her... unfulfilled longings. The film received a lot of criticism for its sexually explicit content.
The controversial scenes between Cruise and Kidman were labeled as pornographic, serving no purpose other than to arouse. Director Stanley Kubrick claims the movie is "atmospheric" and "not meant to arouse." Yeah, okay!
Requiem For a Dream (2000)
If you were born in 2000, you share a birth year with Requiem For a Dream, arguably the most controversial movie of all time. This is another movie we refuse to spoil any part of - you have to go see this movie!
Requiem has it all, sex, drugs, and depraved indifference. Despite the movie being a film warning about the dangers of drug use, critics argue that the drug use in the film is "triggering."