Killing Outside of the Box: The Most Violent Non-Horror Releases of 2011

Reading year end lists on horror sites may welcome different outcomes and differences of opinion but they typically have one thing in common: horror films. With the ever increasing difficulty of making “best of” lists due to the vast amount of films that I see each year (I’m at 194 releases for 2011!) and my opinion of them potentially changing drastically with each successive viewing, I’ve decided to change things up a bit.

One of the main reasons that I watch horror films (and I know that I am not alone here), is for bloodshed. I love gore. I love inventive deaths. I love witnessing savage brutality on screen. However, there are very often films that get released outside of the genre that are equally gruesome and unrelenting yet get overlooked by genre fans. Hopefully this list will help to rectify that. I should, for full disclosure, make it clear that I do not necessarily enjoy all of the films listed here. Hell, there are a couple that I flat out hated. Still, in the interest of this list, I have included them for obvious reasons. Hopefully there is a viewer who will find enjoyment where I did not.

In alphabetical order:

Conan the Barbarian

Ok, that line about how I flat-out hated a couple of these? This is one of those. I really, really disliked this one. So much so that I even wrote a scathing review of it for this very website. Still, regardless of how little I did enjoy this, it is pretty goddamn violent. You will see every limb get dismembered (and frequently), a few decapitations, some lengthy battle scenes and, yes, a finger up the nose. This is bloody, brutal stuff and is delivered with glee at the expense of any sort of coherent story. If that is what you want, dig in.

The Devil’s Double

This is another film that I reviewed here but I enjoyed it quite a bit more. This isn’t quite as over-the-top as the above film but it is just as brutal, if not more so. What this has going for it is how wonderfully trashy it is. The violence is never cartoonish and always blunt, making it one of the more jarring viewing experiences on this list. It is also one of the best.

Drive Angry

This is one that I reviewed for Dreamin’ Demon a while back and I was rather torn on  how I felt about it. It is over-the-top to say the last, and not always successful at being so, but it is certainly violent. This one has more horror elements in it than most other films on the list but it plays more like violent road movie (think Natural Born Killers without all of the social commentary and the addition of demonic bullshit) than a horror film. The violence is pretty ridiculous but it is a lot of fun, at least when not being ruined by shoddy CG work.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Yeah, you knew this would have to be on here. It is David Fincher, after all, and the source material has likely garnered quite the reputation for its blunt brutality. The violence is not what will bring viewers to this one, considering it is about 160 minutes in length, but it will likely be what quite a few remember it for. Be advised that a lot of the more brutal stuff here is sexual, which does not make it fun to watch. Fincher’s grisly crime-scene aftermath imagery is present here which should make fans of Se7en and Zodiac rather joyous.

Hobo with a Shotgun

Does this even need an introduction? I think not. This is easily the most seen film on this  list within the horror community and the amount of blood on display here may rival even the bloodiest genre film of the year. Needless to say, if you haven’t seen this, do so. I’m not going to argue the point any further.


I am a big fan of Tarsem. The Cell is fucking twisted and The Fall is gorgeous. These things considered, I was quite looking forward to Immortals. I certainly wasn’t disappointed visually and I was rather impressed with how deftly he handles the violence on display. There are more than a few instances of slow motion head crushings, decapitations and other various excuses to show viscera fly about in 3D. It is not a perfect film (it may not even be a good one) but if you go in knowing what to expect, you will see the most well shot head crushing of the year.


I wish all medieval films were this savage. Ironclad legitimately pushes the boundaries of its R rating. Hell, it may be the only film on this list that gives Hobo with a Shotgun a run for its money. Honestly, considering the lackluster set design and the costumes that look like they may have been left over from some renaissance fair, it may very well be fair to assume that the majority of this budget went to pay for practical gore effects. Yes, I said practical. Sure, there is some CG blood here and there, but some of the most impressive practical work I’ve seen all year is on screen here. If that won’t sell you than how about Paul Giamatti as a crazed villain that just yells a lot?


This is the only documentary on this list but that should not deter you. If you have ever witnessed footage of a bare knuckle boxing match, you should know that it is no joke. If anything, this could be the most violent film on the list simply because it is real. There is no CG here. There is no acting here. These are just truly angry men beating the ever living piss out of one another and it is flawlessly captured. This is not only one of the most unrelentingly violent films of the year, but one of the most human and, subsequently, one of the best.


This is not easy to watch. Just want to get that out of the way first. It is slow, depressing and void of any hope. You will watch people suffer. You will watch them be helpless. And you will see some of the more sickening displays of domestic abuse this side of Once Were Warriors. This may not be an easy film to take in but it is rewarding (and brutal), just don’t expect to escape life while watching this one, it will only remind you of the worst that it has to offer.

Viva Riva!

I don’t even know where the hell this one came from. Well, geographically it came from Africa, but outside of that it seemingly just appeared without much notice. This is pulp fun and with a very unique flair. It is pretty damn violent, but never gets to the point of being excessive. This is the only non-English language film on the list but that should not keep you from seeing it. It is incredibly fast paced, absurdly sexual and always entertaining. One of the more hidden gems of 2011 (and one of the bloodiest, too).

That’s about all I have for you. If you can think of any others, comment away. Hopefully violence will appear outside of the horror genre in a big way in 2012 too!

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About Justin

Student of the Selznick School of Film Preservation in Rochester, NY. I spend too much time on social networking websites, watching sexploitation flicks and reading (and re-reading) anything Garth Ennis has put his name on.
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  • Jude

    Great list. There’s a few on here I am waiting to see with bloodthirsty anticipation