10 Shocking Scenes from (Mostly) Mainstream Movies

Every now and then, a brave (or an admittedly controversial) director will shoot a particularly taboo scene. The type of scene other directors would be too afraid to touch. The type of scene that makes a whole audience shift in their seats at the same time, squirming with collective discomfort. The type of scene that makes you look at the person you are watching the movie with as if to silently ask: Did you just see that? Sometimes, the scene is based around a somewhat surreal act of sex or even an act of extreme violence. Other times, it is something so absurd and out there, no viewer even knows what to make of it. From little kids randomly dying, to naked actors beating the crap out of each other, I have seen it all and decided to make a quick list of some of the most memorable and shocking moments in mainstream movies that I have seen.

EASTERN PROMISES: Viggo Mortenson and the naked fight in the sauna

Look at it!

This list could easily be comprised of only David Cronenberg films. He works in a sub-genre of film he calls ‘body horror’, and there are examples of taboos in every movie he makes. From weird, fleshy video game systems you plug in to yourself, to men who derive pleasure from having sex with scars or wounds, David does not shy away from making people squirm. Eastern Promises took this to new levels by having a naked, four minute fight scene in a Russian Sauna featuring none other than Viggo Mortenson, of Lord of the Rings fame.

The really kicker here (pun intended) is the fact that the fight scene really is not that remarkable, outside of the fact that it is full of naked men. Actually, it is pretty bad in execution and awkward as hell to watch, so I think that may make it a doublefail. Oh, I guess being a doublefail makes it somewhat remarkable, but for all the wrong reasons.  Another lesson I learned in watching this film is that naked men should NEVER jump kick.  You might have just learned it too, based on that photo there. This movie just barely beat out the Borat wrestling scene for the amount of discomfort it can summon in the viewer.


TEETH. The movie about the vagina that grows teeth. The WHOLE movie


Relax, it’s just the trailer.

The movie Teeth came out in 2007. And for the few of us who saw it, thinking it might be a funny little dark comedy, we were ruined for life. Well, not really. But it did make us slightly nauseous.

Teeth is a movie based around an old urban legend about a woman who is wronged and grows sharp teeth out her vah jay jay. It is a teen, anti-sex movie that uses sex to sell its anti-sex message, but sells said message with brutal violence instead. In some ways, the violence used to spread this anti-sex message is far more damaging and is far worse than any faux cinema sex could be.

I could tell you specific parts of the film and why it is here, but the whole film deserves a spot here, so use your imagination. I will tell you the mildest example of one of the many escalating scenes, though. A doctor loses his finger during an examination. Yes, it is like that. Now realize later in the film there are teen sex scenes. Now imagine how those scenes end up. Yes, it is that messed up.

MY GIRL: Macaulay Culkin gets stung to death by bees without warning (in a kids movie!)

God, I hope those tissues are being used for what I think their being used for.

I tell people who know nothing about movies to watch this flick, just so they can get mad at me afterwards, and it works every time. How does it work, you ask? Well, Macaulay Culkin gets stung by bees and dies.

I still find it shocking they kill off the bigger of the two actors in this movie. Well, not only that, but they kill a kid. And they do it in a Summer time, coming-of-age comedy and in a movie that didn’t seem to hint anywhere that a kid was going to die. Yeah, it pissed a lot of people off and I am pretty sure Kleenex stock went up 3 points that month.

I know it is a cruel thing to do to an audience, but it is also sort of brilliant. Macaulay Culkin dies after getting stung by bees in front of his little lady love. No epi-pen to save him. All we get is a shot of his little nerd glasses, falling to the forest floor, surrounded by bees. A shot that would later haunt a whole generation of people who thought they were seeing the next great, feel-good movie of the summer.

If the director of this movie, Howard Zieff, ever decides to write an autobiography, it better be called: Hey, remember that time I killed Macaulay Culkin with bees and traumatized a whole generation? Or else he has failed at book naming. I am sorry, but I HAD to find this scene on Youtube and post it here. I mean, he kicks the hive. He kind of deserved it, right?


PAN’S LABYRINTH: Face Smashapalooza!

Hey Mom, we should watch Pan’s Labyrinth together! It is like the classic Wizard of Oz and Wonderland tales of yesteryear about an unhappy young girl who escapes into a world of fantasy and OH MY GOD, DID THAT NAZI JUST SMASH THAT INNOCENT GUY’S FACE IN WITH THE BUTT OF HIS GUN AND DID THEY JUST SHOW IT IN DETAIL????!!!! Oh my God Mom, I am so sorry! I didn’t think it would be like this, really. Wait, where are you going? Watch this clip at your own risk, because this is violence portrayed on a freakishly realistic level.


The CHANGE UP. Pregnant booty call

This photo is NOT from The Change Up. I just thought it would be fun to confuse people.

Ok, so this movie sucked.

I am a huge Jason Bateman fan, but Ryan Reynolds has what I like to call the Silent Hill touch. Everything he touches turns to ash, rust and shit. Even Bateman could not save this floating stinker. It did give us one scene that will be remembered long after seeing it, though.

The scene in question is the one where Ryan Reynolds is begging Jason Bateman (it is actually Bateman begging Reynolds because they switched bodies, but I willingly digress) to meet up with his weekly screw while they are in each other’s bodies, so he doesn’t lose her after all the work he has put in. Bateman half-heartedly agrees, and then the taboo happens.

While Bateman is waiting, the weekly screw shows up in a long trench coat and high heels. She yells something wonderfully inappropriate and strips off her coat, revealing she is about eight and a half months pregnant. She then continues to try to mount the Reynolds character (who Bateman is actually inside of). All the while, being blissfully unaware there has been a body switch. (Who is ever really aware of a body switch, actually?)

The scene comes out of left field and is one surprisingly taboo moment in a movie otherwise filled with cliché’s and tropes. He doesn’t actually bed the preggo, which is good, because he seems as repulsed by the prospect as we, the viewers are, at the prospect of having to watch it. Though I could not find a good clip of said scene on Youtube, this “Lorno” scene will have to do for now. Just as awkward a scenario, I would imagine.


PINK FLAMINGOS: Divine eating actual doggy doo scene

Divine should have been the final boss in Skyrim.

Some people push boundaries to try and test the limits of art, but at times, director John Waters just tries to push the boundaries to see if he can make people pay money to throw up. In the case of the movie Pink Flamingos, it seemed to work. Actually, you know what? No! I won’t even talk about this. I refuse. I don’t even want to be the one responsible for bringing this scene of pure depravity into anyone else’s life. Just know it is all-real, and all life-ruining.

Do not watch.

You can never unsee it.

You just have to trust me. I really could have hated John Waters as a result of this scene, but I forgave him eventually because the movie Cry Baby with Johnny Depp was kind of awesome.

*There will be no scene here. Look elsewhere for scatplay, you perverts.

  • Morono

    thanks for spoilering The Deer Hunter.

  • Guy Incognitus

    I would put the baby crowning in Knocked Up over The Switch.

  • Guy Incognitus

    Whoops I meant The Change Up. It was that forgettable I guess.

  • David

    just the mention of the curb stomp makes my brain hurt

    i saw that when i was 16 and it still bothers me

  • Danelhombre

    Drive had a few pretty shocking scenes that I don’t think anyone saw coming on the way into the theater.

  • Drester

    Of these 10 movies Irreversible was the most shocking to me. It’s the most horrible rape scene I’ve ever seen. If I’m correct there is also a scene in that movie that’s very similar to the one of Pan’s labyrinth. Where a guys face get’s knocked in by a fire extinguisher.

  • The gyno scene in Teeth is far and away the most horrifying scene for me, but not because the fucker loses some fingers. A doctor using his position to sexually molest a patient? That’s sometimes real life, unfortunately. A victim being able to (quite literally) bite back? Only in the movies.

    Awesome article. The face smashing in Pan’s Labyrinth literally made my jaw drop. Also, I couldn’t believe it when Julianne Moore’s character died in the beginning of Children of Men. It was like “Whoa, they just offed a leading lady 10 minutes into this. Shit just got real.”

  • beckett929

    anyone ever seen The Hole, with Keira Knightley and Thora Birch (from American Beauty)?? Some absolutely chilling scenes in that one.

  • Andy

    Remy, lemme be the first to congratulate you on your first official post. I look forward to many more.

  • ThatGuy

    Pink Flamingos is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. I may never watch it again, but I laughed my ass off.

    Also think I may be among the few not traumatized by the death scene in My Girl.

  • Jake Fortner

    I dunno about mainstream, exactly, but this is a good set of picks! I found all the ones I’d seen to be very surprising/horrifying. Especially seeing as I watched Requiem for a Dream when I was 13.

    And woohoo for Cronenberg! His entire film library could be put on this list (Videodrome, anyone? Naked Lunch?).

    Great list.

  • Ness

    The entire movie KIDS left me with an uncomfortable feeling, hard to tell if they were horrible people, or just constantly making horrible decisions.

  • @Ness KIDS! Ugh. I live in NYC and that movie made me swear never to raise kids in the city. Or maybe anywhere.

  • Remy Carreiro

    @ Drester, YES! I was torn between the two scenes, but the subway scene just ruined me, so it seemed fitting, but the fire extinguisher is nauseating. @ Andy, thank you very much. Feels like home. @ Sara C, I agree, but the real underlying problem with that film is that EVERY GUY she met tried to rape or molest her in some sense, and even though it is a huge problem in society, that movie played it up just a wee bit too much.@ DanelHombre, Drive was a staggeringly cool movie, but the only way it would have made this list if he hammered the nail down, which some people say he did, but in the DRIVE I saw, he did not. @Guy, MANY movies have shown real babies being born. Spike Lee did it WAY more raw than Knocked up. But to me, that is not the shocking I was going for. Yeah, I think the hardest part in making the list was picking ten scenes, because there are a good 200 I could have pulled from. Think this will be an ongoing series of articles for me. I have already done one for comics that I will be putting up on here soon, and I intend to do one for TV and video games as well. Generally, just a fun (albeit twisted) piece to put together.

  • @Remy I totally agree with you, wholeheartedly. I just mean to say the doctor was the one that I found most believable, which is why it got to me. Talk about squirming in my seat. And of course I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who’s actually been to that particular kind of doctor. Obviously I wouldn’t be as bothered seeing all the other guys get their winkies bitten off, since I have no direct frame of reference for penile injuries. On that note, watching Teeth with my husband still stands as one of our better shared cinematic experiences.

  • Remy Carreiro

    I say watch Teeth and Hard Candy back to back with your husband, then look into his eyes and watch a little part of him die inside. Hahaha

  • Gil

    For years I couldn’t remember the name of the movie “Requiem for a Dream” but I could still remember that last scene. Totally messed up. I would have possibly included the scene from Deliverence but then again you don’t want to just focus an all the rape scenes depicted in films.

  • Jeannie

    Great article Sir. I would have to include the man rape scene from Pulp Fiction and the toilet diving and dead baby stuff from Trainspotting.

  • Guy Incognitus

    @ Remy

    I guess I just don’t think The Change Up belongs on there at all.

  • @Remy Ha! That was another fun one, to be sure. I never thought I’d find the hubs’ intense discomfort so hilarious. But I guess this all makes sense, our first date was to see Secretary.

  • Chelsea

    “Macaulay Culkin dies after getting stung by bees in front of his little lady love.”

    He was alone when he got stung by bees, she found out later.

    Great list, though. I might have added a few:

    The Audition
    I Spit on Your Grave

  • Michael O.

    The Eastern Promises scene is SUPPOSED to be awkward. It’s a bunch of naked dudes fighting in a slippery shower. It’s also awkward because it’s brutal as all get out. That’s not badly executed; that’s PERFECTLY executed.

  • MasterC

    You totally forgot the rape scene and the revenge scene in The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.

  • emignatius

    How about Apocalypse Now’s water buffalo slaughter scene. I think it is unique in it’s brutality for the fact that it is real not like other scenes in movies that in the back of your head, you know that everything and everybody is fine.

  • Robert

    Mainstream for its time, maybe not so much now, Max von Sydow’s encounter with the child demon on the rocks about halfway through Hour of the Wolf dropped my jaw.

  • Amy

    What? No mention of the Human Centipede? I don’t care what these other movies are like – the pure fact that the Human Centipede doesn’t at LEAST have A scene to showcase here is wrong is every way. Technically, the whole movie should be here. I severely wish people (like South Park and Bevis and Butthead) would stop making fun of it – just their mentions of it has ruined me for life. My husband was watching that South Park episode (as was I, and disgusted by it already) and told me this was an actual movie. Not believing him for one second, I looked it up. And it was. And not having ever seen it, it still ruined my life. The most disgusting, vile movie on the planet.
    But, I guess The Human Centipede wasn’t “mostly” a mainstream movie. And thank GOD for that.

  • Remy Carreiro

    Listen guys, I could have filled this list with just rape scenes or scenes of unbelievable violence ( Last House on the Left, I Spit on your Grave, Hard Candy, The Accused, 120 days of Sodom, Descent, (not to be confused with The Descent), Boys Don’t Cry, Human Centipede, Poughkeepsie Tapes, Martyrs, Audition, Inside, August Underground, Man Bites Dog, Mirrors, Hostel 2, Ichi the Killer, Grace, Dead Girl) but the fact of the matter is I was attempting to make as broad a list as I could. I wanted fans of every genre to be able to read it and relate or be interested. Truthfully, if I stuck to horror, this list would have taken ten minutes. That would have been a cop out. @ Master C, I didn’t forget that scene, I just didn’t wanna write the most rapey list ever. That is not something I would want on the resume. @ emignatius, I almost went with the turtle scene from Cannibal Holocaust for the same reason, but that is TRUE horror and I try to keep that stuff separated as best I can. Good call, though.@ Robert, a great example I feared very few would recall. And @ Amy, why would I list a scene, when the whole movie falls under that category? When something just shocks to be shocking, it loses all the appeal of a good shock.

  • Eileen

    Love this! I am so glad that you put Requim for a Dream on here. I saw the first picture on this article of Jennifer Connelly and automatically remembered that scene. Yea that scene messed me up pretty bad too, but not as bad as when Jared Leto broke out with his arm in that scene in the car….damn that was bad. Either way, awesome article as always 😉

  • Eileen

    OH! And The Crying Game messed me up pretty bad at the end as well….WHY no one told me what to expect about the end scene is BEYOND me lol

  • Orion

    Pan’s Labyrinth:
    1) not a Nazi.
    2) Not the butt of a gun. A bottle.
    Kinda seems like you didn’t actually see that movie… Or maybe you had your eyes closed during that scene, so you couldn’t read the subtitles or see what was going on?
    Sorry, that seemed nit-picky and harsh. But still. That movie is one of my favorites and it bugs me how ignorant the write-up was.

  • Remy Carreiro

    @ Eileen, thank you and great call with The Crying Game. I wish I thought of that, that would have been #2 on here for sure. I still shudder… @ Orion, I posted the video, so that should sort of speak for itself. Truthfully, I decided to contradict myself in the piece so as to SPECIFICALLY enrage and anger you, therefore getting you to spice up the comments a little, and by gosh and by golly, it worked. Who woulda thunk? Also, I find your usage of the word “ignorant” to be a little loose, but that’s fine. My dad got shot with a bottle when I was a kid, so I confuse bottles and guns all the time. Ignorant or retarded, it all depends on who you ask. Anyway, feel free to write a better list, and link me to it, and I will make sure to read it and find finite things wrong it as well. And once I do find finite things wrong with it, I will sit back and judge you harshly on a public forum for it, thusly implying that I could do better, which would start us in an unending cycle of sub-par articles. I may even use a misplaced word on you as well, calling your mistake “appalling” instead of, oh, I don’t know, A MISTAKE. It’ll be awesome. Stay tuned for details.

  • Keith

    I felt that the head in the vice scene from Casino should’ve been in there.

  • Omar

    Pan’s Labyrinth, and I dear to say most of your other entries, didn’t start as mainstream productions. I remember watching a teaser back when I was in Mexico, around 2003 or 2004 (I’m not sure) that was being showed in the webpage of one of Mexico’s big TV companies, and I remember myself thinking (in Spanish), “Well, it looks really cool (chingona). I wish they can actually make it happen. But compared to LOTR, it’s nothing. Besides Mexicans, no one’s gonna watch it.” I guess Del Toro got himself a better budget and then he produced it mainstream. But the whole idea and its execution was dark from the beginning, as it happens with so many other movies, and I’m thinking particularly of those European horror flicks Remy recommended recently (thanks, by the wary, they are great indeed).

  • DarthObsidenne

    Is it weird that your use of the words “most rapey list ever” made me snort with laughter so hard my latte leaked out my nose? Ouch.

  • MetFanMac

    Why would you consider Mufasa’s death more “shocking” than any other Disney death? (Sad, yes, that I’d agree with…)

  • georgina

    The nail-pulling scene in Syriana. GAH!

  • Remy Carreiro

    @ Darth, I was hoping someone would find that pairing of words as hilarious as I did, so thank you. Haha @ Omar, good point, actually. @ MetFanMac, For me, the Lion King sells it more with that ‘slow motion falling while looking terrified up at camera’ scene in the Lion King. Bambi was close, as was the Donkey transformation of Pinocchio, but the slow-mo fall won out because the visual stuck with me.

  • Alaric

    Guy from the subway scene: put him in an iron maiden.
    Guys from the “ass to ass” scene: put cages on their heads with rabid rats inside them
    Doctor from Teeth: cut him with rusty scalpels until he bleeds to death.

    I don’t have the stomach to actually do or even watch these things, I just really hate rapists.

  • Remy Carreiro

    @ Alaric, then you are REALLY going to hate my next list….

  • King Kashue

    Noe intended for that scene to be horrifying to watch. He’s specifically stated that he wanted to craft a scene that would make men view rape the way that women already do. That comment changed the way I perceive that film.

    For the guys who don’t “get” what I mean by that, think about the last time you were actually afraid for your physical safety. For most guys, we have to think about it – it’s likely months, if not years, in the past. Now, go ask the women in your life that question – their answers will likely shock you.

  • Eldor

    “God, I hope those tissues are being used for what I think their being used for.”

    “Their”? Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me, Remy? Even here, in distand Poland, we know the difference between “their” and “they’re”. How come YOU don’t?!

  • KomaxtheMighty

    Requiem for a dream is one of my all time favorite movies due to the fact that it hit home so hard with my friend and I that it single handedly caused us to stop abusing pills. We felt what the mother was going through and started to hallucinate with her while viewing it for the first time. That’s why I defend it from those who think it goes to far, it saved our lives.

  • turtlejack

    Excellent list, all squirm worthy scenes… Another fairly mainstream but unpopular movie with rapey content that first comes to mindis Hounddog. IrK!

  • Kevin

    SPOILER ALERT asshole