30 of the most controversial films of all time

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

Crash (1996)

30 of the most controversial films of all time 15

Directed by David Cronenberg, Crash follows a film producer (James Spader) who, after getting into a serious vehicular accident, becomes involved with a group of symphorophiliacs who are sexually aroused by car crashes. The group tries to rejuvenate the producer’s sex life with his wife (Deborah Kara Unger) through car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce.

Like J. G. Ballard’s 1973 novel on which the movie is based, Cronenberg’s Crash was controversial because of its vivid depictions of graphic sexual acts instigated by violence. Though the movie received the Special Jury Prize at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, it left censors hot and bothered. For instance, U.S. distributors were forced to release separate R and NC-17 versions of the film, while the U.K. barred the movie from screening in certain venues across the country.