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Top 6 horror movie moments that made audiences sick

Prepare to be grossed out.


We love horror because it makes us feel things we don’t necessarily get to feel on a daily basis, and in most cases would never really want to. Usually, the vicariousness of a horror film is enough, and feeling chills or jumping when there’s a scare can be really exciting and invigorating.

Directors and movie studios know this, so there will probably never be a time when horror isn’t popular. However, some movies really go for it and in the process can actually make viewers feel physically sick. There are times when it’s too gory or too scary.

There are even movies where directors go so far that people have physiological responses to the movie, with some getting physically sick or nauseous. Some people have vomited. Others experience a sort of PTSD and never want to experience the movie again. One could even say that those movies are the absolute best horror movies because they make people actually feel something. Isn’t that the whole point? Regardless, let’s take a look at some of the most depraved horror movies that made people physically ill.

Warning: These scenes contain violence, blood, sex, and occult images and are not for the sensitive.

The Exorcist – That Crucifix Scene

It’s impossible to make this lost and not include this scene from the horror classic The Exorcist. In a movie full of iconic moments this one sometimes gets put on the back burner. Everyone remembers the vomit scene and the head-turning scene and even the spider walking scene, but this one’s a little dicier.

The scene involves Regan McNeill, played by a very young Linda Blair, as she gets more and more demonlike. In this scene, the wind is blowing violently inside the room as McNeill stabs herself with a crucifix in a very sensitive place.

The amount of blood makes it even worse but at one point she shoves a woman’s face in it. There are persistent stories that this scene in the movie would make some audience members faint. Others would get headaches and still, others vomited.

There are even rumors that movie theaters would provide vomit bags to customers or that ambulances would wait outside the theater just in case. While this seems hard to believe now, 1973 was a different time. People didn’t really have access to gore like this.

This thing really shocked people back then. Good job The Exorcist!

Irréversible – Incredibly Disturbing Assault

While not a supernatural horror film Irréversible is an extremely psychologically horrific one. Told in reverse order like the Christopher Nolan film Memento, this 2002 French thriller tells the story of two policemen hunting a man who brutally raped a woman they both love.

The centerpiece of the film is a nine-minute continuous shot of the assault in brutal real-time. It’s incredibly difficult to watch. Monica Bellucci plays the victim and she mostly directed the scene as well. It’s honestly not worth talking about it’s so disturbing, and it made a bunch of people ill.

A lot of people had to walk out of the movie, but this was weirdly intentional. Director Gasper Noé added in these low-frequency bass sounds that were used as non-lethal weapons in World War II, with the intention of making the audience really feel the tension (and nausea).

With that, the assault and the club scenes with strobing lights and loud music are all a recipe for sickness. Despite Noé’s best efforts, the movie still managed to be successful.

Raw – Unhealthy Appetites

The subject matter alone in this 2016 French horror/drama/gross-out fest is enough to give one pause as well as indigestion. I’m not going to mince my words here: this is a grotesque, bloody film about cannibalism.

A young vegetarian wants to be a veterinarian and as a form of hazing is forced to eat a raw rabbit liver or something. She begrudgingly does this and then realizes she has an insatiable hunger for flesh. It’s pretty gross.

At one point she eats her sister’s finger. Then they start murdering and eating people. There’s a pretty graphic sex scene where the protagonist Justine bites her own arm till it’s bloody. There’s a morgue scene and a murder sex scene and honestly, it’s really disturbing and no one should watch it.

When it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival they had to call paramedics because it was so disturbing.

The Perfection – Too many bugs?

The Perfection is a 2018 psychological horror thriller starring Allison Williams as a very talented cello player. There’s a whole reason she travels to China and the plot is fairly complicated so we don’t really need to get into it.

Earlier in the film, there’s a scene where Williams is on a bus and gets really sick and throws up. Her vomit turns out to be full of maggots. Then she gets kicked off the bus but continues to throw up. Then she sees bugs crawling under her skin and chops off her own hand to get rid of them.

It’s sick and disturbing, and the movie’s just getting started at that point. The movie turns into a weird revenge sex cult thing and that’s also gross but a lot of people were (understandably) freaked out by the whole bug hand-chopping thing.

People on Twitter couldn’t help but complain about the subject matter. “i actually feel physically sick after watching the perfection, i couldnt take the bugs man, i was about to turn the movie off but im glad i didnt, the ending was good,” one user wrote.

“Just watched The Perfection on Netflix and felt sick pretty much the whole way through. Gory and disgusting,” said another. In an interview with People, Williams revealed the puking scene came from a very real place.

“A big portion of that came from [director Richard Shepard’s] experience of being sick in Mexico on a bus,” she said. “And it’s just so viscerally relatable and horrifying and of course, in our movie, it takes a turn that you’re not really expecting.”

Macabre – Old School Horror

This 1958 classic is included because it very well may have invented the whole “so scary you might die” sales gimmick. This horror film comes courtesy of showman William Castle, who would become famous for gimmicks to sell his movies. Some people say he’s as influential a showman as the great P.T. Barnum.

Plot-wise, the movie is pretty good, but not great. It’s a story of secret love, secret children, and death. The most grotesque scene involves a decaying corpse and the supposed body of a dead child. What really caught people’s attention back in the day was the gimmick.

He played up the paranoia at the time that a movie could be so scary it could kill you, and he advertised the movie with this premise. Of course, if someone died during the movie it would be a real wrench in the cogs, so he came up with an ingenious plan to hand people life insurance policies backed by the very real Lloyd’s of London.

He also hired nurses (actors) to stand around just in case someone’s health was in jeopardy from watching the movie. Honestly, of all the movies on this list, this one is the tamest, but it also kind of started the whole thing.

The movie was an incredible smash hit, and Castle would go on to make several classic horror movies and use gimmicks to sell them. The gimmick, he understood, was the best way to get young people to come to see the movie.

Taxidermia – Abuse of Self Goes Too Far

At some point, movies started actually trying to make people sick. Taxidermia, a 2006 comedy/horror from Hungarian filmmaker György Pálfi, seems to be one of those. It’s a movie about men who treat their bodies like separate entities to be destroyed or mutilated.

There’s a lot of gross, uncomfortable stuff in this movie. It’s hard to pick out one in particular because there are so many gross scenes in it. The whole thing is a vomit-inducing living nightmare.

At different points in the movie a pig corpse is defiled, people overeat to the point of disgustingness, and a man creates a complicated machine to remove his own organs, which weirdly pulse. No one actually knows how the director achieved that effect.

This one is really dark and it’ll stay with you. It centers around three generations of Hungarian men who have strange, innate proclivities. The first is a soldier who’s a servant to a superior officer and his family. In a weird scene, he sleeps with the officer’s wife but wakes up to find himself doing something terrible to a dead male pig.

The officer executes the man but raises his son. The son becomes a competitive eater and that gets gross, but he has a son too. That son is a taxidermist but also a weirdo, and the dad becomes grossly obese. It gets worse. There are cats in cages that escape and eat the dad, and then the son, with nothing to live for, makes himself into taxidermy live.

I didn’t do it justice with the explanation. There are a couple of anecdotal instances of people getting sick while watching the movie, but it’s not surprising at all. This one’s really gross. It’s one of those movies you wish you never watched because it stays with you. You’ve been warned.

Jon Silman
About the author

Jon Silman

Jon Silman is a stand-up comic and hard-nosed newspaper reporter (wait, that was the old me). Now he mostly writes about Brie Larson and how the MCU is nose diving faster than that 'Black Adam' movie did. He has a Zelda tattoo (well, Link) and an insatiable love of the show 'Below Deck.'