Extreme cinema is a subgenre used for films distinguished by its use of excessive sex and violence, and such various extreme nature as mutilation and torture. It recently specializes in genre film, mostly both horror and drama.


The rising popularity of Asian films in the 21st century has contributed to the growth of extreme cinema, although extreme cinema is still considered to be a horror film-based genre.[1] Being a relatively recent genre, extreme cinema is controversial and widely unaccepted by the mainstream media.[2] Extreme cinema films target a specific and small audience group.[3]


Still from Caligula (1979), known for its graphic sex scenes.
Still from Caligula (1979), known for its graphic sex scenes.

The prehistory of extreme cinema can be traced back to censorship of art films and advertising tactics for classical exploitation films to Anglophone markets alongside later liberal representations of sex in the first half of the 20th century onwards.[4]

The name "extreme cinema" originated from a “line of Asian films that share a combination of sensational features, such as extreme violence, horror and shocking plots”.[5] Extreme cinema can be rooted as "Asian Extreme", the term for Japanese and other Asian films used to its excessive nature. Early examples of Asian Extreme such as Ring (1998) and Battle Royale (2000).[6]


Extreme cinema is highly criticized and debated by film critics and the general public. There have been debates over the hypersexualization that makes these films a threat to the ‘mainstream’ community standards.[7]

There has also been criticism over the increasing use of violence in modern-day films. Ever since the emergence of slasher-gore films in the ’70s, the rising popularity of extreme cinema has contributed to the casual violence in popular media.[8] Some criticize the easy exposure and unintended targeting of adolescence by extreme cinema films.[9]

Classification and guidelines

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) classifies extreme cinema films into an "R18" rating, which is defined as “special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit works of consenting sex or strong fetish material involving adults.”[7]

Notable films

Notable directors


Pink Flamingos was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2021.[76]

Requiem for a Dream and Oldboy were named on the BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.[77]

As the other examples in media, it can be seen in Japanese works, television, and video games as varied that are related to or inspired by extreme cinema due to its subject to its nature (eg. Berserk,[78] Game of Thrones,[79] Redo of Healer,[80][81] 2007's Manhunt 2,[82][83] 2018's Fear and Hunger,[84] and 2022's Martha is Dead[85]).

See also


  1. ^ The Most Disturbing Movies of All Time - Complex
  2. ^ Dirks, Tim. “100 Most Controversial Films of All Time.” 100 Most Controversial Films of All Time. Filmsite, n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
  3. ^ gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
  4. ^ Frey, Mattias (15 March 2016). Extreme Cinema: The Transgressive Rhetoric of Today's Art Film Culture. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 9780813576527 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Lee, Eunah. “Trauma, excess, and the aesthetics of the affect: the extreme cinemas of Chan-Wook Park.” Post Script 2014:33. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Feb. 2016.
  6. ^ "10 great Japanese films of the 21st century". BFI. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  7. ^ a b Pett, E. “A New Media Landscape? The BBFC,  Extreme Cinema As Cult, And Technological Change.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 13.1 (2015): 83-99. Scopus. Web. 9 Feb. 2016    
  8. ^ Sapolsky, Barry S., Fred Moliter, and Sarah Luque. “Sex and Violence in Slasher Films: Re-examining the Assumptions.” J&MC Quarterly 80.1 (2003): 28-38. SAGE Journals. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.    
  9. ^ Sargent, James D., Todd F. Hetherton, M. Bridget Ahrens, Madeline A. Dalton, Jennifer J. Tickle, and Michael L. Beach. “Adolescent Exposure to Extremely Violent Movies.” Journal of Adolescent Health 31.6 (2002): 449-454. JAMES MADISON UNIV's Catalog. Web.
  10. ^ a b "Extreme Cinema: Top 25 Most Disturbing Films of all time – part3 - HNN". horrornews.net. 23 August 2010.
  11. ^ "Extreme Cinema". Edinburgh University Press Books.
  12. ^ a b c d The 30 Most Extreme Movies of the 21st Century So Far « Taste of Cinema
  13. ^ Extreme Cinema - Rape Squad - Flickering Myth
  14. ^ a b c Extreme Cinema: The 40 Most Disturbing Horror Movies Ever Made - PHASR
  15. ^ (Butcher Block) Chaos Reigns in Visceral Pain in 'Antichrist' - Bloody Disgusting
  16. ^ a b c Mattias, Frey. "Extreme Cinema: The Transgressive Rhetoric of Today's Art Film Culture". ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Extreme Cinema: List of Disturbing Films Compendium A-D - HNN". horrornews.net. 27 July 2019.
  18. ^ Bandit Queen (1995)|Roger Ebert
  19. ^ Black Friday is grim yet great|Rediff.com
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Extreme Cinema: List of Disturbing Films Compendium E-K". 27 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Extreme Cinema: Top 25 Most Disturbing Films of all time – part2". 23 August 2010.
  22. ^ a b c "Cultivating Extreme Art Cinema". Edinburgh University Press Books.
  23. ^ Extreme Cinema - Cannibal Holocaust (1980) - Flickering Myth
  24. ^ Ruggero Deodato, Director Of The Controversial Horror Film Cannibal Holocaust, Dies At 83|/Film
  25. ^ The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)|Roger Ebert
  26. ^ Extreme Cinema - David Cronenberg's Crash (1996) - Flickering Myth
  27. ^ (Butcher Block) Ken Russel's Controversial 'The Devils' Is a Holy Trinity of Sex, Violence and Religion - Bloody Disgusting
  28. ^ a b The 30 Most Extreme Movies of the 21st Century So Far « Taste of Cinema
  29. ^ Gandu - Variety
  30. ^ Extreme Cinema - Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - Flickering Myth
  31. ^ (Butcher Block) The Uncomfortable Realism of 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' - Bloody Disgusting
  32. ^ Extreme Cinema - The House That Jack Built (2018) - Flickering Myth
  33. ^ a b "5 Examples Of Extreme Japanese Cinema That Will Freak You Out". Monkey Fighting Robots. July 6, 2016.
  34. ^ How Ichi the Killer brought ultra-violence to the mainstream - BBC Culture
  35. ^ Extreme Cinema - The Idiots (1998) - Flickering Myth
  36. ^ "Extreme Asian Horror - Cat III Asian Films". horrornews.net. 26 February 2019.
  37. ^ Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1997)|Roger Ebert
  38. ^ Extreme cinema: the transgressive rhetoric of today's art film culture 2015021892 ... - EBIN.PUB
  39. ^ Extreme Cinema - Maniac (1980) - Flickering Myth
  40. ^ (Butcher Block) Tom Savini's Gore Effects of 'Maniac' - Bloody Disgusting
  41. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Extreme Cinema: List of Disturbing Films Compendium L-R". 30 July 2019.
  42. ^ Interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner on quepeliverehoy.es; 22 November 2021
  43. ^ "Masking Threshold: A True Macro Exploration of Existential, Ringing Madness" (iHorror); 26 September 2021
  44. ^ "MASKING THRESHOLD: Obsession Takes Hold In This Brutal Horror Film"; review in: Film Inquiry, 26 October 2021
  45. ^ A Nation Without Women (2003) - Moria
  46. ^ Top Gross-Out Moments in John Waters Films - ANTIGRAVITY Magazine
  47. ^ Multiple Maniacs - DVD Talk
  49. ^ Extreme Cinema - Natural Born Killers - Flickering Myth
  50. ^ Extreme Cinema - Nekromantik - Flickering Myth
  51. ^ Extreme Cinema|Rutgers University Press
  52. ^ Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch Movie Review: Flash of Brilliance - madaboutmoviez.in
  53. ^ (Butcher Block) Going to 'Pieces' Over J. Piquer Simon's Gory Slasher - Bloody Disgusting
  54. ^ Extreme Cinema - Pieces (1982) - Flickering Myth
  55. ^ 10 Midnight Movies That Made History - MovieWeb
  56. ^ What to watch at LFF: New extreme cinema|London Film Festival 2020|BFI
  57. ^ Keerthy Suresh, Selvaraghavan are terrific in this bloody, yet focused revenge drama
  58. ^ 'The Sadness' Review – Gory Virus Movie Goes for the Jugular With Transgressive, Extreme Horror|Bloody Disgusting
  59. ^ Extreme Cinema - Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom - Flickering Myth
  60. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Extreme Cinema: List of Disturbing Films Compendium S-Z". August 2019.
  61. ^ (Butcher Block) Cyberpunk and Body Horror Collide in 'Tetsuo: The Iron Man' - Bloody Disgusting
  62. ^ a b "Against Happiness - Los Angeles Review of Books". 23 September 2015.
  63. ^ Extreme Cinema – Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible - Flickering Myth
  64. ^ "Project MUSE - Extreme Cinema". muse.jhu.edu. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  65. ^ Repp, Mark. "The 30 Most Extreme Movies of The 21st Century So Far". Taste of Cinema - Movie Reviews and Classic Movie Lists. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  66. ^ "10 essential films from the 'Extreme Cinema' genre". faroutmagazine.co.uk. 2021-07-31. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  67. ^ Extreme Cinema: The Most Shocking Movies Of All Time - Flickering Myth
  68. ^ Eaker, Alfred (2015-07-02). "JOHN WATERS' MULTIPLE MANIACS (1970)". 366 Weird Movies. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  69. ^ "John Waters brings back Multiple Maniacs: 'Of course I went a little too far'". The Guardian. 2016-08-03. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  70. ^ admin (2020-05-01). "Extreme Cinema - The Last House on the Left (1972)". Flickering Myth. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  71. ^ The New French Extremity: Bruno Dumont and Gaspar Noé, France's Contemporary Zeitgeist
  72. ^ When Takashi Miike Heard He Could Do 'Anything' For Masters Of Horror, He Put That To The Test|/Film
  73. ^ Sex and Violence: Journey into Extreme Cinema - Offscreen
  74. ^ (Butcher Block) Eli Roth’s Flesh-Eating Viral Frenzy ‘Cabin Fever’ - Bloody Disgusting
  75. ^ The 30 Most Extreme Movies of the 21st Century So Far « Taste of Cinema
  76. ^ Brief Descriptions and Expanded Essays of National Film Registry Titles|Library of Congress
  77. ^ The 21st Century's 100 greatest films - BBC Culture
  78. ^ Kogod, Theo (2019-11-16). "10 Best Fight Scenes In Berserk". CBR. Retrieved 2022-06-28.
  79. ^ Game of Thrones as a Gothic Horror in Quality Television - ResearchGate
  80. ^ "The Winter 2021 Preview Guide - Redo of Healer". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2022-06-26.
  81. ^ Kundu, Tamal (2021-02-10). "Preview: Redo of Healer Season 1 Episode 6". The Cinemaholic. Retrieved 2022-06-26.
  82. ^ "Kills, but few thrills with 'Manhunt 2'". NBC News. Retrieved 2022-06-26.
  83. ^ "Project Manhunt: Manhunt 2 - Trivia". 2012-11-06. Archived from the original on 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2022-06-26.
  84. ^ Rage, Dmitry (2022-03-01). "ОБЗОР ИГРЫ FEAR & HUNGER. ФИНСКИЙ ГРИМДАРК — Игры на DTF". DTF. Retrieved 2022-06-26.
  85. ^ Daly, Ciaran (2022-03-01). "PS5 game Martha Is Dead censored for extreme violence - and 'face peeling' scene". Dailystar.co.uk. Retrieved 2022-06-28.