10 "Gory" Movie Moments (That Didn't Show As Much As You Think)

Maybe all that blood and guts was simply in your mind?

Psycho Stab
Paramount Pictures

When a film has a particularly gory scene it tends to burn itself into the memory of the viewer.

There are gruesome images from Hostel and Saw films that are tough to un-see. There are scenes of gratuitous bloodshed in Paul Verhoeven films that, upon watching a second time, are just as gory as you remember.

There are random acts of extreme violence that you can probably remember more clearly than the entire rest of the film, in fact.

But that isn't always the case. It isn't always about showing unflinching violence. Some scenes instead choose to trick the viewer into remembering them as far more gory than they are. These moments of violence are in fact deceptively brief, surprisingly bloodless, or completely imagined by the viewer.

There are plenty of powerful ways to depict horror and violence than by merely showing the act. And often our bloodthirsty brains are more than happy to conjure images far more gruesome than anything a director chooses to show onscreen.

10. Mr Blonde Severs An Ear (Reservoir Dogs - 1992)

Psycho Stab

Back in the day there were cinema-goers that walked out of Reservoir Dogs during this scene. It is clearly very violent, but the moment it’s most remembered for occurs out of shot.

A cop is restrained and tortured, but the only physical act of violence depicted on screen is a flick of the razor blade to the officer’s cheek. More concerning than the actual shown violence in this scene is the blithe sadism of Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) as he dances around to “Stuck in the Middle With You” whilst revelling in his torment.

When Mr Blonde begins sawing off the officer’s ear, the camera pans away to spare us from witnessing such barbarism.

Yet there is something unsettling about this camera pan from Tarantino. It is such a self-aware act of cinematography that it actually adds to the cruelty of the sequence. Tarantino winks to us horrified viewers as he orchestrates his gleefully “cool” grand guignol.

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Born in Essex, lives in South London. MA in Film & Literature, actor, and playwright.