10 Movies That Caused A Public Backlash

Hysteria, outrage and uproar - when the big screen causes a big fallout.

Matt Damon The Great Wall
Universal Pictures

The film industry is geared towards public opinion. It may dress itself up in many different forms - appealing to our love of comic book characters, trying to capitalise on our nostalgia or simply giving us what we think we want - but it has always died or lived in the court of public opinion.

There are, however, some films that have caused a visceral reaction either with the viewing public or with the boards that decide their rating and their distribution. And sometimes it has led to either open rebuke or a huge backlash within the audience it was meant to reach.

Sometimes the drama is both caused and resolved before the film ever reaches the cinema, but on other occasions the interest and scandal built up by a production can be the single most famous thing about the ensuing project, regardless of intentions.

Whichever way you cut it, here are ten films that managed to cause a huge reaction with the viewing public and an overview of how the controversy helped or hindered the end result after everything was all said and done.

10. Salò (1975)

Matt Damon The Great Wall
United Artists

Also known as 120 Days of Sodom, this 1975 Italian film was based on an unfinished novel by the Marquis de Sade and the content certainly reflects it. The original material was never completed, written in secret while the Marquis was imprisoned in The Bastille, but has been outlined and fleshed out with notes from the man himself.

The concept of the novel and the film is that four Libertine men have locked themselves away with a cohort of young people of both sexes, some elderly prostitutes and necessary staff to tend to their needs. Both their intentions and the actions that they carry out do not need outlining here but anyone with a knowledge of the Marquis can guess at the sort of things it might include.

Due to the extreme depictions of obscene acts, sexual violence and many illegal behaviours, especially with characters that are purported to be underage, the film fell foul of many licensing boards the world over.

Australia, New Zealand and the UK all initially banned it but have allowed its release more recently with the highest rating possible.

*Note - the content of this film is not for the faint hearted. Research at your own risk.*


Matthew is a Marine Engineer to trade who writes sub-standard Scottish crime fiction in his spare time that can be found here:- https://mmacleodwriting.uk/ Originally brought up in the Western Isles of Scotland, he lived in Edinburgh for 18 years but now stay in Aberdeenshire with his partner, sons and dog.