By Aaron Cutler
By Amy Nicholson
By Simon Abrams
By Chris Klimek
By Nick Schager
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
Some of us go to the movies to escape into fantasy, others to cry at tragic drama. Then there are those who just enjoy a couple hours of shock treatment. Maybe it's cathartic, or maybe it's just sick, but it was unquestionably a good year for connoisseurs of the grotesque. Here are our favorite moments:
Finger paining: For all the elaborate death traps in Saw II, the most intense scene occurs when the cop played by Mark Wahlberg decides to break the Jigsaw Killer's fingers. Tobin Bell's acting sells the pain better than any contraption.
Method acting gone wrong: George Clooney's separation from his fingernails in Syriana was seriously wince-inducing. Falling to the ground later in the scene, he really injured his back.
Barrels of fun: We're used to seeing shotgun blasts in movies, but seldom with the visceral splatter that accompanied Ed Harris' demise in A History of Violence.
Hammer time: Oldboy not only showed how to take on a corridor full of thugs armed with only a hammer -- it also demonstrated how to extract teeth with same. Now that's versatility.
Family recipe: The opening credits haven't finished rolling on the Japanese horror anthology Three . . . Extremes before we see, in graphic detail, the "secret ingredient" of Bai Ling's dumplings. You guessed it: aborted fetuses.
"I take his weapons. Both of them": What to do when confronted with a mutated, yellow-skinned rapist? If you're Bruce Willis in Sin City, you take his knife, then rip his nuts off with your bare hands.
"I want to eat something alive": In Oldboy -- a movie that centers on a plot to trick a man into committing incest, and also involves tongue slicing and amateur dentistry -- the most memorably disturbing scene was also one of the simplest. Our hero Oh Dae-su, freed from years of captivity, enters a sushi bar and scarfs down a live, wriggling octopus. Four cephalopods gave their lives for this scene, and live octopus tentacles briefly became a dining fad in Hollywood. Very briefly.
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