Gore is an interesting aesthetic for me when seen in films because it can be either humorous or horrific and depending on who you are, gore might just be the selling point of a specific film (I like my slashers messy). I really enjoy violent films (horror or otherwise) because of their fantastical and brutal nature that either embellishes gore or plays close to the brutality of living on our planet earth. Gore, when used as a noun is just defined as “blood that has been shed from violence” (Dictionary.com) but when gore is mentioned to an everyday man, we automatically think of flying body parts and exploding heads. While this extreme violence is seen predominately in horror films, there are other genres, even mainstream movies that have just as many horrific gore scenes (even more extreme sometimes). I wanted to make a list of movies that were non-horror related but showed plenty of moments dismembering or arterial spray. I will not number the movies as which ones are more gory than others because there may be too much debate. Remember too that I probably won’t get every movie that you’re thinking of, so exercise some leniency when reading my list. I am trying to create a list that goes outside the normal boundaries of what we know as “gory”. Think too about how horror has affected the mainstream movie circuit in giving directors ideas (violent ones) to put in their movies. Horror is more influential than people give it credit for.
Punisher: War Zone (2008)
One of those films that I can watch over and over again because of the ridiculous nature of the movie. Yes, the movie is pretty awful by many means. The acting is over-the-top and the villain of Jigsaw is trying to be way to similar to Leger’s Joker but you can forgive every aspect of the film because it never sits by itself too long to get caught up in its revenge story. Stevenson (The Punisher) has a great emotionless face fit for killing hordes of bad guys by shooting rocket launchers at them and kicking table legs into their eyes. The movie almost feels like a throwback to the action films of the 80s but with more gore and swear words. One scene has The Punisher holding a child while shooting a guy point blank in the face with a shotgun (therapy will be needed for that kid). To be fair, it’s not all that bad of a movie because we see The Punisher actually cares about human life when he accidentally kills that undercover agent. It’s a great film only pushed forward by its intense violence and you will either love it or hate it.
Ninja Assassin (2009)
A rather great story is interwoven with a sub-par cop investigation story mixed with some of the most brutal ninja scenes I have ever seen. Starring Rain (who in real life is a South Korean music star) as a runaway ninja named Raizu, who grew up in a dojo fit to raise young boys and girls as contract killers. At one point he puts a girl in a washing machine after he butchered her (she was a rival clan), scenes like this sort of shock you because you don’t expect this much violence in a mainstream ninja film. This one fell under the radar for most and while the story leaves more to be desired, it still is a great time. The opening scene alone is worth the rent or download and the constant use of Shurikens is a plus. If you like seeing ninjas rip people apart then see this.
This one surprised me because I didn’t think it would be as amazing as it turned out to be. I have said it before to people but say what you will of Mel Gibson as a person but I think he is one fine director that should focus on creating more films. Yes, he is nuts but he has an eye for violence and this movie is no exception. With infamous scenes like the Jaguar face-munching scene or the part in which heads are rolling off the temple, this movie will make you cringe. It is not the detailed look of the gore but more the realism of the brutality that scares you because you understand that people did this to one another. Underrated and understated; probably has to do with the fact that Mel’s name was on it or because the context was too NatGeo for most people.
Sin City (2005)
I am probably talking about the final cut that Rodriguez put out and I was hesitant to mention this one because a lot of you probably already saw it, but what the hell. I am a huge fan of graphic novels that explore some deeper elements (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) and Sin City use the noir setting to display ultra violence and the complications of relationships betwixt characters. What makes the film seem more gorier and violent, is the use of the black and white scheme being exploded with color every now and then. One scene that sticks out, is when John Hartigan shoots the Yellow Bastard in the dick and yellow blood and guts are lying everywhere. Rodriguez has a love for ultra-violence but I feel this movie is one of the gorier ones (aside from Planet Terror and Machete).
It is understood that RoboCop is super violent but people tend to forget about this one when discussing gory films. Partly because so many more films have come out that up the ante but this one is still rather brutal no matter what year it is. Most notably is the death scene of Murphy in which he is blown apart by shotguns. After surviving all that, he is then shot directly in the head with a pistol (by Red Foreman!) thus giving way for him to be the first RoboCop. His death scene is still hard to watch, I don’t know why but maybe because (like Apocalypto) it is so very real. Another brutal scene takes place in the office in a man is shot over and over again by the malfunctioning robot. Then they eventually made a kids cartoon out of this? Bizarre.
Based off a graphic novel that was an exercise in ultra-violence (the kid shot his neighbors and innocent people just because he could) the film version of Wanted not only toned down some of the gore but deviated from the original story. While the violence may have been toned down, there are still some excessive scenes of gore. Take the bullet going through Morgan Freeman’s head in the end or the character of Wesley running through the hall with a dead body as a shield while shooting through its mouth. I personally love this film for its outrageous nature (rat bombs!) and I know it went under the radar for many but give it a chance, it’s a decent action movie.
Afro Samurai (2008-09)
Technically not a film but this violent Anime TV series was later released on DVD as unrated and contained tons of bloody spray to be admired. There was even a follow up movie that played very much like the show in terms of the story but brought back the characters that you loved so much. Maybe this choice is a bit of a reach for the list but it is a series that should not be forgotten. Samurai films are usually violent mo matter what, look at Yojimbo, that came out in black and white and is still pretty gory at times. Afro Samurai has some great voice acting too from our boy Samual L. Jackson, with his yelling and such.
Law Abiding Citizen (Unrated) (2009)
A sleeper hit in 2009 but really worth going back and viewing if you have not seen it. I didn’t expect much from a film starring Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx and even though it falls apart at the end a but, it still held my interest long enough to make me care. The thing that shocked me though, was the use of Saw-esque gore effects. When Butler’s character begins to cut that guy open, it reviled the makings of Eli Roth. Maybe these scenes were not in the theatrical run and only the unrated DVD release. Whatever the case, you probably can’t see the theatrical version anymore. Hardly an amazing film but fun nonetheless. Look below for one of the best shock scenes:
I can’t say that it brings me pleasure to put an Uwe Boll film on this list but this movie was extremely shocking. We all know that Boll makes shit films and buys video game film licenses just to find a market. Rampage is different because it acts more as an almost well made film. You would never have thought that he was behind this one. I was even tempted not to mention his name but that wouldn’t have been fair to you guys. The scene in the hair salon still haunts me to this day…
Watchmen (Directors Cut) (2009)
A love it or hate it movie, this one received both anger and appreciation when it came out in 2009. Many wanted another Dark Knight film and were not expecting the darker and more violent nature of Watchmen. It doesn’t help that the movie is super long and tends to focus on the pathos of the characters. Fans of the graphic novel were impressed (as was I) and felt that Zach did a great job at directing this one. Not for everyone but for those who like intelligence behind their superhero film. The violence too was explicit and maybe people were not ready to watch a guys arms get sawed off. I was unable to get the code for this great scene, so just follow the link to youtube.
So there it is, my list of some of the goriest non-horror films in movie history. Now I left some out that were more recent like Machete, Drive Angry, and 13 Assassins on purpose because we all know they are violent. I wanted to pick movies that were a little more obscure and did not appear on many peoples radar as “gory”. Remember I said that these were “10 of the goriest non-horror movies”, not the “top 10”, so there is freedom there to leave certain films out and not cause an uproar. Feel free to add your list in the comments below and see you soon.