1. Clownhouse, Powder and the Jeepers Creepers franchise
Victor Salva, the creator of the well-known Jeepers Creepers horror film franchise was convicted for the molestation of the 12-year-old child actor in the lead role of his 1989 film Clownhouse. He was sentenced to 3 years in a state prison and served 15 months.
If you ever watch Clownhouse, the worst thing you can do is keep this in mind. The film is about three young brothers home alone whose house is invaded by three insane asylum escapees dressed as clowns. It plays out like a twisted child molestation story, and it’s clear that that’s what Victor Salva had in mind. The camera constantly close-ups on the boys’ crotch regions and on their partly undressed bodies.
As Victor Salva’s first film, this really reveals what kind of person he is, and his terrifying lack of self-control. He kept the 12-year-old lead actor Nathan Winters behind for ‘extra rehearsals’ in which he forced him to give and receive oral sex on-camera.
After being released from jail for child molestation and child pornography, Victor was surprisingly hired by Disney to film Powder—another film with a young boy as the lead actor in which the camera displays a salacious interest on his body.
Salva has been in the news recently for his casting call for an 18-year-old girl to play the role of a 13-year-old who flees from her abusive grandfather for an upcoming film. It seems that Salva is continuing to play out his paedophilic fantasies on the big screen, and film companies are continuing to hire him.
2. Men Behind The Sun (1986, T. F. Mous)
Men Behind The Sun is a Hong Kong–Chinese film about the atrocities committed by the Japanese at Unit 731, the secret biological weapons experimentation center of the Japanese during WWII. The film captures the Chinese sentiment towards the Japanese which is still deeply resentful, and it aims to be as historically accurate as possible. One scene sees a group of live rats set on fire. This was actual footage. In another scene, the director throws a cat into a room of hungry rats, and it is eaten alive.
But, most horrific is the scene of the film’s cover. Actual autopsy footage of a boy who died just before filming is included, and this scene received the strongest criticism. The director received Japanese death threats and Australia banned the film
To this day, Men Behind The Sun is held as one of the most shocking films of all time.
3. Last House On The Left (2009, Wes Carven)
This was Wes Carven’s breakout film, but in making it, he often stated that he feels that he went to far in pursuing the horrifying realism. Actor Mac Shaffer reportedly grabbed the actor Sandra Cassell and threatened to throw her off a cliff if she didn’t act with the kind of real fear that he was looking for. He filmed scenes in which actors threw real punches at each other, but the most brutal shenanigan was when actor David Hess was threatened with a real chainsaw by the actor playing his father.
4. The Revenant, (2015, Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
People often chide that Leonardo DiCaprio will do anything to win an Oscar. Maybe there is truth to this claim considering that he won an Oscar for this film after eating raw animal organs, sleeping in animal carcasses and contracting severe hypothermia during the filming of this movie. It raises questions about just how far method acting should go for the sake of art and good cinema. Like many of the films in these list, the actor is harmed for the benefit of the film, which raises major ethical questions, but at least it was his choice and he won an Oscar for it.
5. Poltergeist, (1982, Tobe Hooper)
In the famous Poltergeist scene where the actor JoBeth Williams swims with dead bodies….yep, those are real human carcasses. What’s even creepier, is that she came home after filming to find all the pictures on her wall to be hanging at a crooked angle. Was she traumatised out of her mind, was the director playing tricks on her (involving home invasion) in order to get real fear out of her on-camera, or….was there really something supernatural going on here?
6. The Shining, (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
The Shining is one of Kubrick’s masterpieces, and many consider it to be the best horror film of all time. One of the fantastic things about it is the acting of the frail, pallid Shelley Duvall whose look of fear and weariness are impeccable. That’s because Kubrick spent painstaking time and energy in filming each scene again and again and again, until Duvall broke down into an emotional mess. Shelley Duvall is now renown for being possibly the face of The Shining, but it would appear that Kubrick was the catalyst in her decline into mental illness, and she has not been the face of any major films since.