30 of the most controversial films of all time

These movies have taboo storylines, graphic sex scenes, and gruesome violence

Straw Dogs (1971)

30 of the most controversial films of all time 14

Based upon Gordon M. Williams’ 1969 novel The Siege of Trencher’s Farm, Straw Dogs follows David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman), a mild-mannered academic from the U.S. who moves with his English wife Amy (Susan George) to her hometown of Cornwall. There, David is ostracized by the brutish men of the village, including Amy’s old flame, Charlie (Del Henney). When Amy is raped, David takes brutal revenge on the two locals who violate his wife.

Straw Dogs is deemed as one of the controversial films of all time primarily because of the prolonged rape scene that was apparently presented as the film’s centerpiece. Critics accused director Sam Peckinpah of glamorizing and eroticizing rape and of engaging in misogynistic sadism and male chauvinism. What made the rape scene even more disturbing was the implication that Amy enjoyed parts of the first rape as she was seen kissing and holding her attacker. Critics also saw the movie as an endorsement of violence as redemption.

The two complicated rape scenes of Straw Dog, as well as the film’s violent concluding sequences were subject to censorship by numerous film rating boards.