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Controversial Classics

A collection of the bold and the banned; causes célèbre and succès de scandale to incite, provoke and arouse.

Any history of cinematic controversy in the UK is necessarily a history of our country’s censorship and the evolving vagaries of the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). Most of these films have fallen foul of the censors at some point, but thankfully they’re now all restored to their once incendiary glories.

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Enjoy subscription-only classic and cult films from across the decades.  Free for 14 days, then £4.99 a month - cancel any time

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Salon KittySalon Kitty

Drama1976133 minsDirector: Tinto Brass

Before Caligula, Italian provocateur Tinto Brass directed this controversial and transgressive drama, inspired by the true story of a Nazi-run brothel in 30s Berlin.

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Spanking the MonkeySpanking the Monkey

Comedy199495 minsDirector: David O. Russell

David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) made his feature debut in 1994 with this biting black comedy, which caused a stir with its incestuous subplot and portrayal of adolescent restlessness.

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Amores perrosAmores perros

Drama2000148 minsDirector: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Alejandro González Iñárritu's (Birdman, The Revenant) gripping debut feature is a savagely brilliant triptych around the theme of animalistic desires.

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Visions of EcstasyVisions of Ecstasy

Drama198920 minsDirector: Nigel Wingrove

Nigel Wingrove's experimental depiction of the erotic imaginings of the 16th Century Carmelite nun remains the only film ever to banned under Britain's blasphemy laws.

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Peeping TomPeeping Tom

Drama1960101 minsDirector: Michael Powell

Michael Powell’s dark, disturbing, once controversial tale of a shy camera technician who films women as he kills them is now rightly deemed a classic

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The BroodThe Brood

Horror197992 minsDirector: David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg’s highly disturbing horror about a woman who’s able to externalise her inner torment and manifest it into a brood of killer offspring.

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Love ExposureLove Exposure

Comedy2008237 minsDirector: Sion Sono

Japanese cinema's enfant terrible, Sion Sono, unleashes this demented, whirlwind tale of cults, love, violence and perversion.

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Drama1969116 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder

The first feature by Barbet Schroeder (Maîtresse, The Valley), More created a sensation when it was released in 1969, quickly becoming a cult classic and famed for its Pink Floyd soundtrack.

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Trans-Europ-ExpressTrans-Europ-Express

Thriller196695 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet

This stylish, cult 1966 erotic thriller stars French New Wave icons Jean-Louis Trintigant and Marie-France Pisier.

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TheoremTheorem

Drama196898 minsDirector: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pasolini’s classic about a handsome, enigmatic stranger (Terence Stamp) who arrives at a bourgeois household and seduces an entire family.

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L'Age D'OrL'Age D'Or

Animation & Artists Moving Image193063 minsDirector: Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali unite for this masterpiece of cinematic surrealism remains as brilliantly witty and shocking as ever, more than 80 years on.

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Immoral TalesImmoral Tales

Anthology1974103 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk

Walerian Borowczyk presents four stories of sexual taboos throughout the ages, in his highly controversial classic of 1970s erotic cinema.

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MaitresseMaitresse

Drama1976113 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder

Gerard Depardieu plays the young innocent who falls for the mysterious maitresse Ariane (Bulle Ogier), a leather clad dominatrix, in Barbet Schroeder’s controversial film.

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The Black PantherThe Black Panther

Drama197797 minsDirector: Ian Merrick

Gripping crime drama charts the killing spree which Donald Neilson, aka the Black Panther, perpetrated across England during the mid-70s.

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Battleship PotemkinBattleship Potemkin

Historical drama192569 minsSilentDirector: Sergei M. Eisenstein

A fixture in the critical canon almost since its premiere, Eisenstein’s film about a 1905 naval mutiny was revolutionary in both form and content.

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Wake in FrightWake in Fright

Drama1971109 minsDirector: Ted Kotcheff

In this classic, broiling Australian thriller, an exasperated schoolteacher finds himself stranded in the dusty outback town of Bundanyabba, where the growing isolation and unhinged locals begin to eat away at his sanity.

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La Grande BouffeLa Grande Bouffe

Comedy1973130 minsDirector: Marco Ferreri

Marco Ferreri's provocative and controversial satire about four friends who retreat to a country mansion with the intention of eating themselves to death.

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Un Chien AndalouUn Chien Andalou

Animation & Artists Moving Image192816 minsSilentDirector: Luis Buñuel

A scabrous study of desire, the subconscious and anti-clericalism - Buñuel and Dalí’s provocative first film is a classic of Surrealist cinema.

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The Mask of SatanThe Mask of Satan

Horror196086 minsDirector: Mario Bava

Italian horror classic from acclaimed Italian horror auteur Mario Bava, about a beautiful witch Asa (Barbara Steele) who rises from her grave to take revenge upon her enemies.

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City of the Living DeadCity of the Living Dead

Horror198093 minsDirector: Lucio Fulci

Lucio Fulci’s sensationally gory zombie horror finds undead hordes overtaking a sleepy New England town, with only a reporter and a local psychic to stop them.

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The BeyondThe Beyond

Horror198184 minsDirector: Lucio Fulci

Lucio Fulci's Italian zombie-horror classic about a New Orleans hotel built upon one of the seven gateways to Hell.