by David Christopher Bell
Any psychotic can smash someone’s fingers or beat a head to a pulp until they get what they want – and thanks to the spree of bizarre torture porn movies like Saw and Hostel, seeing people get cut apart is almost standard at this point.
Still, filmmakers do manage to get creative every now and then, and from it we get a scene of brutality the likes of nothing before it. Shall we celebrate that?
Oh, and warning – this is going to be painful.
10. A Head In A Vice in Casino
I was trying really hard to avoid Scorsese or De Palma or Tarantino for this list – not just to keep it fresh, but also because those three are really the bread and butter of masochistic interrogation.
But the head in a vice bit just couldn’t be ignored. While now a classic, the concept no doubt gave audiences nightmares – especially considering that it was quite unfortunately based off a true story.
9. Erasing Neo’s Mouth in The Matrix
It’s a neat idea that we’ve all no doubt pondered in the past: making Keanu Reeve’s mouth disappear. Without it, he’d have to rely solely on his ability to emote – which is needless to say, a hilarious prospect.
But really, as a way to get someone to comply with you, magically erasing their mouth before sticking a robotic sperm into their bellybutton isn’t exactly the fastest way to do it. Especially if that thing would have to be pooped out later.
8. The Gingerbread Man in Shrek
It’s easy to forget how gruesome this scene is considering what a full-on badass the gingerbread man is. Had he been emotionally equating less to Porter in Payback and more to the cop in Reservoir Dogs, this would have been downright hard to watch.
Uniqueness-wise, there’s not much that tops this, as we are watching a man interrogate someone by crushing up his legs. Then again, god did make the little abomination out of gingerbread, and it’s not like we aren’t supposed to eat that.
7. The Cooling Tower in Brazil
For anyone born in the 1980s, it’s easy to watch this film blind to the effect that seeing Sir Galahad torture a guy must have had to people back in the days of Monty Python. Today, it would be like watching Bruce McCulloch curb stomp somebody while wearing a clown mask.
But unlike a clown mask, baby masks make any interaction an interrogation. If the guy checking out my food at the local co-op were wearing a baby mask, I’d open the conversation by screaming out my social security number while throwing them the keys to my house.
6. The Cleaver in Revolver
This is a refreshing reminder that the most painful forms of interrogation aren’t necessarily the most effective. The game is this – our good guy has one hand nailed to the table, and in the other a meat cleaver. He is then set on fire and has the option of chopping off the first hand to get to the water in the sink. It’s like a DIY Jigsaw trap.
In fact, it’s so horrendous that the most cold-blooded killer in the room can’t stomach it and prefers to just kill everyone instead.
5. Hammer + Teeth in Oldboy
Hammers get used all the time in torture scenes, even to break teeth. But to release them via hammer claw like you would a bent nail – it’s both cruel and one of a kind.
That’s why, according to the new trailer at least, the very unnecessary remake has apparently replaced that scene with a throat cutting of some sorts. Because obviously, if you’re going to remake an amazing film that happened less than a decade ago, you might as well also make it slightly less fun.
All that said, there is – of course – a much better tooth torture scene than that.
4. “Is It Safe?” in Marathon Man
There would be nothing more frustrating than being tortured for information that you didn’t only lack, but couldn’t even comprehend the request for. And by a Nazi diamond-stealing dentist of all people – that’s like winning (losing?) the torture lottery.
This scene is the gold standard when it comes to horrendous tooth torture, something that’s surprisingly not all that present in films. Perhaps that’s because this film pretty much conquered it, eliminating the point for anyone to try again.
3. The Microwave in Kick-Ass
Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – but I’m almost 100% certain that there has never been an interrogation scene involving a giant man-microwave before this movie. The film very clearly explains why, as the subject is zapped in just 30 seconds time.
It’s a nice breath of fresh air from movies where the villain or hero sticks something volatile in the microwave only to have it explode exactly at zero. Anyone who has ever had a Hot Pocket can attest to this oversight.
2. The Chair in Casino Royale
It’s a very unfortunate situation, and an exquisite use of a carpet beater. That’s really what makes this so effective and unique – the fact that it uses no metal tools or chainsaws or elaborate contraptions while still managing to be the worst method on this list.
As the DVD commentary pointed out – it’s most impressive in showing just what kind of a badass Bond is, somehow maintaining his cool exterior while getting his testicles turned into Play-Doh.
1. Torture By Time Travel in Looper
It’s hard to balance mercilessness and creativity. For example – a scene like the chainsaw dismemberment in Scarface – while gut wrenching and effective – was also pretty commonplace in a world where The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was already a thing.
Looper’s torture/interrogation scene managed to have that same absolute barbarism as Scarface – but with almost no blood. All thanks to the magic of time travel; which we now know is the most terrifying means of dismembering a person for coercion. After all – there’s nothing you can do if it already happened to you.