Violence in the Media Case Studies

Recommended Viewing...but not for the faint-hearted. These films and videogames form part of the discourse on violence in the media by being very violent themselves, and contribute by confronting the issues involved in terms of content (like Eden Lake and Videodrome). Therefore, they contain some very violent scenes which may shock and disturb. They have all attracted the wroth of censors, politicians and parents over the years. Please observe age restrictions on this material.

Movies Notorious For Violence

These are just a few movies which made headlines for the violence they contained, sometimes generating a full blown moral panic. Whilst the older ones might seem tame to today's audience, it's worth studying them in the sociohistoric context of their time, and considering the taboos each movie broke in the year of original release.


Hostel:Part II

— released at the height of the backlash against torture porn, banned in New Zealand, with cuts demanded for theatrical distribution in Germany, Malaysia and Singapore.

Free Speech and the Concept of Torture Porn: Why Are Critics So Hostile to "Hostel:II"

— Also cited as an example in a UK House of Commons Debate (on the Criminal Justic and Immigration Bill) of undesirable material on general release.

“From beginning to end it depicts obscene, misogynistic acts of brutality against women—an hour and a half of brutality—yet that film has been passed by the British Board of Film Classification for public release to people aged 18 and over. I understand that, although the Bill will not make that film illegal, it could make it illegal for someone to take stills from that film, because they could be deemed to have a purely pornographic nature. If it were deemed that stills from a film such as "Hostel Part II" were of a pornographic and unacceptably violent nature, it seems madness that that film should be allowed on general release.” — Charles Walker MP

Irreversible (2002)

Rotten Tomatoes reviews

— Newsweek dubbed it "the most walked out of movie of the year". Time runs backwards in this stark narrative about the trauma of rape and how it changes everything. Stars Monica Bellucci

The Passion Of The Christ (2004)

— the most successful R-rated movie ever in terms of box office, Mel Gibson personally funded this movie because studios wouldn't. It was castigated for its graphic scenes of torture and crucifixion, and - especially in the light of Gibson's subsequent on-tape rants - for anti-Semitism. Also stars Monica Bellucci.

Severance (2006)

— Average UK horror comedy that nonetheless managed to get a scene cited in a murder case

Eden Lake (2008)

— Above-average UK horror movie regurgitates headlines about feral kids, happy slapping, have-ago-heroism into a suspenseful thriller. Driven by a moralistic social commentary on violence in 2000s England, it seems to have been ripped exclusively from Daily Mail front pages about "hoodies".

Rotten Tomatoes Reviews

The narrative relies on the standard "don't go into the woods" trope, but instead of pitting the hapless heroes against a near-mythical gang of rednecks (Deliverance) or an incestuous family of mutants (The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre), the protagonists face a realistic group of teenagers from some nearby executive homes. Rather than causing a moral panic, this movie buys into one - the demonisation of teenagers (which has been going on since the 1950s) - as uses it as a source of thrills.



The 1990s saw a lot of high profile violent movies (this is the decade when Quentin Tarantino fused Hong Kong action with old-school, Peckinpah-style bloodshed, to great critical acclaim), and a lot of attendant high profile controversy.

These three movies attracted particular attention, as they were specifically cited in grisly murder cases. read more about each one by clicking on the link.

  • Basketball Diaries (1995)
  • Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Child's Play 3 (1993)

  • 1980s

    *** see the separate section on Video Nasties on our sister site, Horror Film History ***