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On Unwatchables, we dive deep into the most controversial, disturbing, or just misunderstood films. From punishing art films to extreme horror to bizarre curiosities, Marc and Seth test their limits and try to pin down what separates the art from the trolling. At the end of each episode, we answer the same question: If you could, would you Unwatch this? Unwatchables is hosted by Marc Dottavio and Seth Troyer, produced by Tony Scarpitti, featuring artwork by Micah Kraus. Find us at unwatchabl ...
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In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re joined by horror author Emma E. Murray to take a look at the Unwatchable side of motherhood. Today’s films aren’t afraid to put both small children and pregnant women in peril; they include possibly the single bloodiest film of the New French Extremity horror wave, as well as a truly demented (and underseen) Hitchcoc…
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Today we’re going back to 1928 for what might be the most harrowing film of the silent era. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s intense, claustrophobic THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC was like nothing at the time and arguably still isn’t; we’ll talk about the film’s controversial history, what makes it so radical, and whether it might be too much for some viewers.Unw…
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Unwatchables welcomes Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango.com, to discuss possibly the most heart-wrenching film we’ve yet covered. Erik wrote the first review of 2008’s true crime doc DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER after its Slamdance premiere, and anyone who’s seen it knows it’s not the kind of movie you ever forget. We disc…
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Today we welcome back Jetta Weinstein, aka Letterboxd's theironcupcake, to discuss the film that scarred a generation of HOME ALONE fans. Macaulay Culkin was at the height of his child stardom when his father/manager signed him on for HOME ALONE 2 under one condition… that his next role be the murderous child sociopath in 1993’s R-rated thriller TH…
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Today’s film is so controversial it’s never actually been released. In 2017, comedian Louis CK wrote, directed, and starred in I LOVE YOU, DADDY, which was pulled just a week before release after a New York Times article detailed his sexual misconduct; as if that timing wasn’t bad enough, the film itself concerns a director known for his sexual ind…
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Unwatchables is thrilled to welcome back Amy Hensarling of Watch This List for our special pre-Oscars episode! Jonathan Glazer’s harrowing Holocaust drama THE ZONE OF INTEREST may be the most unconventional Best Picture nominee in years, if not ever; we discuss Glazer’s entire career, his uniquely unsettling approach to a familiar unsettling subjec…
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Today’s Unwatchables looks back at a stretch of the 2000’s when seemingly every grimy horror classic was getting a slick, ultra-gory remake. Author and podcaster Mallory Smart joins us to discuss contemporary updates of two of the most iconic and disturbing guerilla horror films of the 70’s, and whether they might actually be *more* sadistic than t…
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Today’s Unwatchables is all about the loquacious, shockingly brutal modern exploitation films of S. Craig Zahler. Special guest Matt Belenky helps us discuss Zahler’s artful approach to extreme violence, the controversy around his perceived politics, and whether his films are actually as regressive as their inspirations. On deck are 2015’s grisly h…
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Unwatchables kicks off Season 3 with one of the most notorious outsider cult films of the 2000’s. With help from video essayist Jacob Sleezer, we dissect the surreal provocations of filmmaker Damon Packard, starting with his epic, vomit-drenched, copyright-infringing magnum opus, 2002’s REFLECTIONS OF EVIL. Topics include Packard blowing his inheri…
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For the Unwatchables Season 2 finale, we’re tackling the highest-grossing— and we do mean gross— documentary series of all time. In this special “Producer’s Pick” episode, our producer Tony Scarpitti helps us discuss the JACKASS phenomenon, how the films evolved over the years, and which parts we found too painful to endure. In the end, we rank all…
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Film critic Mike D’Angelo returns to Unwatchables with our most unexpected guest pick yet: Bobcat Goldthwait’s 2006 dark comedy SLEEPING DOGS LIE. We discuss what makes it so queasy yet unexpectedly moving, how Mike’s opinion has shifted over the years, and whether this is the first rom-com to pivot on an act of bestiality. ALSO: Stay tuned after t…
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Today’s guest is Robert Daniels, associate editor of http://RogerEbert.com, to help us discuss a controversial fugitive drama that takes a provocative look at police violence against Black Americans. 2019’s QUEEN & SLIM is the feature debut of Melina Matsoukas— director of the iconic music video for Beyonce’s “Formation”— and stars Oscar-winner Dan…
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Who better to join our Halloween special than film critic Katie Rife, aficionado of all things horror? She proves her strong stomach by exposing us to two of the most harrowing serial killer films ever made, starting with 1986’s hugely influential HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. We discuss its revolutionary approach to depicting violence, how i…
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We’ve already tackled two films from KIDS’ Larry Clark on our previous “Kids Aren’t All Right” episode— who’d have thought he had more unwatchable in him? Today we’re joined by B.R. Yeager, author of the acclaimed horror novel NEGATIVE SPACE, for further evidence that the kids still aren’t, in fact, all right. Both of these films show the dark side…
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Today’s films take us deep into the subjective sensory experience of extreme mental illness, including at least one character with paranoid schizophrenia. Chicago film critic Isaac Feldberg (of http://RogerEbert.com, Paste Magazine, and more) joins us to discuss the very different— but equally harrowing— approaches of two superficially similar film…
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Today we’re joined by Bob McCully from the film podcast Split Your Head to discuss two of the first films to violently tear up the notion that puppets are just for kids. Back when puppetry was mostly the domain of children’s entertainment, these movies brought enough graphic sex, drugs, and violence to traumatize any child unlucky enough to stumble…
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Today we’re tackling two controversial landmarks in gay cinema with help from Guy Lodge, film columnist for The Observer and chief UK film critic for Variety. Both films were scandalous for the early 1980’s, pushing boundaries with their unflinching depictions of the lives of gay men just before the AIDS crisis. First up is 1982’s QUERELLE, the fin…
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This week’s Unwatchables is a double feature of “NYC cop movie sleazecore”— a term coined by guest Jason Bailey, film critic, author, and host of the popular film podcast A Very Good Year. Both of these films were mired in controversy for their explicit content; both are by directed by legendary, and legendarily cranky, auteurs; and both star iconi…
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Today we’re joined by Bilge Ebiri, one of the country’s leading film critics for Vulture and New York Magazine, to tackle Peter Greenaway’s most disturbing film. The British director may be best known for his 1989 arthouse classic THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER, but he made several other singular, controversial, and often shocking films …
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Today’s guest is Christopher Norris aka Steak Mtn, the visual artist behind album art for bands like Against Me!, the frontman of Combatwoundedveteran, and now the author of the new book THE HOLY DAY. He’s here to help us figure out what happened to Lindsay Lohan, former teen idol from films like FREAKY FRIDAY and MEAN GIRLS, who seemed on her way …
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Unwatchables welcomes author and film/TV critic Charles Bramesco to discuss one of the most intimidating of all cinematic rites of passage. Bela Tarr’s SATANTANGO is 7 hours and 20 minutes long, and at least one of our hosts endured the entire film in one butt-numbing sitting. And lest you think that 7+ hours flies by, it’s also a quintessential ex…
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Today’s Unwatchables features Aisha Harris, cohost of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and author of the new book Wannabe: Reckonings With the Pop Culture That Shapes Me. On our “Stranger Than Fiction” episode, we discuss two bizarre true crime stories dramatized in unflinching detail: Craig Zobel’s shocking drama COMPLIANCE, and Stuart Gordon’s darkly…
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Unwatchables welcomes Scout Tafoya— critic, video essayist, and author of But God Made Him a Poet: Watching John Ford in the 21st Century— to discuss the film branded for decades as the quintessential big-budget disaster. Michael Cimino’s HEAVEN’S GATE gets blamed for a lot of things: for bankrupting its studio, for animal cruelty, and for singleha…
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On today’s Unwatchables, we ask the question: how do you follow up one of the most popular sci-fi trilogies ever made? If you’re the Wachowskis, it’s with three straight flops, each one stranger, more expensive, and more widely derided than the last. We’re joined by Brad Efford of the internet zine Wig Wag to survey the sisters' entire post-Matrix …
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(Content Warning: The second half of this episode contains discussions of suicide) It’s time for Unwatchables to dive into some REALLY nasty stuff with an assist from Tom Davies, writer and podcaster for http://AVForums.com. Jörg Buttgereit’s infamously gross cult horror film Nekromantik defied state censors with its gruesome yet empathetic look at…
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Today’s Unwatchables takes our first dive into non-fiction with help from Jon Nix, documentary filmmaker and director of the new film Don’t Fall in Love with Yourself. Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentaries about the 1960’s Indonesian mass killings are a singularly bizarre and uncomfortable spectacle: The Act of Killing allows the killers themselves to…
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Unwatchables is joined by film critic Carlos Aguilar, writer for http://RogerEbert.com, Variety, the New York Times, and many more, to dive into one of the most original and provocative auteurs of the last 15 years. Yorgos Lanthimos has been compared to the likes of Michael Haneke and Luis Bunuel, and we’re talking perhaps his two most disturbing f…
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The Wrap’s film editor Kristen Lopez joins us this week to discuss one of the earliest entries in the Unwatchables canon. Tod Browning’s Freaks is one the most controversial films of the 1930’s, a one-of-a-kind exercise in empathy and (arguably) horror that essentially ended the career of the Dracula director. Topics include the film’s journey to b…
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This week’s Unwatchables welcomes Vanity Fair's chief critic Richard Lawson to discuss one of the most audacious and savage provocations from one of our most relentless provocateurs. Lars Von Trier’s Dogville is a 3-hour critique of American “values” that’s filmed on a mostly bare soundstage and puts its star Nicole Kidman through one of the direct…
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Ron Ormond was a B-movie exploitation director before a near-death experience inspired him to start producing some of the most bizarre and gruesome Christian films ever made. We're joined by Cinematary’s Michael O’Malley to discuss two of his surreally morbid collaborations with Baptist preacher Estes Pirkle: 1974’s nightmare vision The Burning Hel…
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Experimental filmmaker Harmony Korine burst onto the independent film scene with his screenplay for Larry Clark's Kids, but it's his own grotesque, alienating, and often shocking films that turned him into a cult figure. Unwatchables is joined by author, musician, and Korine superfan Marzi Margo to discuss two of the director’s most notorious provo…
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Today we’re joined by Marya E. Gates, film critic for sites like http://RogerEbert.com and creator of both #Noirvember & #AYearWithWomen, to discuss one of the most daunting of classic films. Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman is a 200-minute minimalist art film that recently topped Sight and Sound’s poll of The Greatest Films of All Time, unseating …
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Unwatchables kicks off Season 2 with special guest A.A. Dowd, former film editor of The AV Club and current culture editor at Chron. This week’s films challenge us to identify with main characters whose repellent behavior stretches the definition of “protagonist”: Mike Leigh’s blistering character study Naked, and Neil LaBute’s immersion in toxic m…
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Unwatchables closes out the year (and season one!) with film critic Keith Phipps, former film editor of the AV Club and The Dissolve, co-host of The Next Picture Show, and author of Age of Cage. In the spirit of the season, this is a special REVERSE episode: two heartwarming family films from directors who usually specialize in the Unwatchable. Fir…
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This week we’re joined by Filmspotting’s Josh Larsen— author of Fear Not, an upcoming book taking a faith-based look at horror— to discuss one of our most skin-crawling provocations yet. Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a seminal text of both body horror and Japanese cyberpunk, an experimental horror/superhero film that’s as surreal as it…
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Who better to help us close out our month of high-profile misfires than THE Nathan Rabin, author of My Year of Flops and The Joy of Trash? On the table are two wildly ambitious passion projects whose disastrous Cannes premieres threatened to end their directors’ careers: Richard Kelly's 2006 gonzo sci-fi satire Southland Tales, and David Robert Mit…
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This week’s Unwatchables features Matt Singer, film critic, author, and editor of ScreenCrush.com, to help continue our month of high-profile misfires (or are they?). His pick is one of the most foolhardy cinematic experiments ever released by a major studio: Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It’s not a reimagining, a reboot,…
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Unwatchables is devoting November to the biggest flops, misfires, or— possibly?— misunderstood gems of the past few decades. Kicking off the month are two mega-budget failures that were widely mocked for assuming the worst of their audiences: 2019’s ill-fated adaptation of Cats, and 2021’s celebration of intellectual property Space Jam: A New Legac…
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Takashi Miike has made over a hundred feature films, but for our super-sized Halloween episode we’re tackling his two most notorious: 1999’s stealth extreme horror film Audition, and 2001’s ultra-violent yakuza thriller Ichi the Killer. To help us out, we welcome back one of our favorite guests, Kay (aka govnaim), who previously brought their exper…
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Big thanks to Paul Keelan from Cinematic Underdogs for joining us for this wide-ranging discussion about two art films whose explicit— and often un-simulated— sexual content caused some to cry obscenity: Nagisa Ōshima’s 1976 erotic true crime story In the Realm of the Senses, and Tsai Ming-liang’s 2005 surrealist romance The Wayward Cloud. We discu…
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We’re thrilled to welcome professional critic Mike D’Angelo—aka “The Man Who Viewed Too Much,” staple of The AvClub, The Dissolve, Las Vegas Weekly, and now Alternate Ending, among others (as well as a thriving Patreon)— to Unwatchables. Mike personally witnessed hundreds of people flee the Cannes premiere of 2002’s Irreversible, and to this day co…
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Unwatchables welcomes artist Jared Gonzalez to help us discuss Ralph Bakshi, whose profane, controversial animated films helped pave the way for everything from The Simpsons to South Park to Adult Swim. First up is 1972’s Fritz The Cat, the first X-rated feature-length cartoon; followed by 1975’s incendiary racial satire Coonskin (aka Street Fight)…
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Who’s more preoccupied with the Unwatchable than Todd Solondz, one of the leading misanthropes of the 90’s indie scene? Seth and Marc try to parse out whether his dark, button-pushing comedies have anything meaningful to say about sexual dysfunction and human cruelty… or if the joke’s really on us. First up is 1998’s infamously disturbing (and almo…
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This week’s Unwatchables tackles perhaps the most controversial film by one of our most controversial directors, the master of body horror David Cronenberg. Helping us out is Andrew Swafford— one of the founders of Cinematary and its long-running weekly podcast— as we discuss 1996’s ode to car-wreck fetishists Crash. We dive into J.G Ballard’s orig…
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Unwatchables is thrilled to welcome Chris Gillotte, aka Letterboxd’s Ziglet_mir, for our “Horrors of War” episode. Both of this week’s films filter the atrocities of World War II through the traumatized eyes of a child: 1985’s nightmarish Soviet classic Come and See, and the 2019 adaptation of Jerzy Kosiński’s scandalous The Painted Bird. We discus…
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This week’s Unwatchables is all about “The New French Extremity,” a wave of brutal horror films whose focus on bodily harm led directly to the torture porn era of America horror. (Depending on whether you like Hostel or Saw, you can give them either credit or blame.) Our aptly-named guest Zach Butcher joins us to discuss the only example to hit U.S…
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Special guest Sinead Lynch joins us from Ireland to lend her expertise and cultural perspective to a discussion of some of the bleakest depictions of nuclear holocaust ever committed to film - 1984's harrowing, docu-realistic nightmare Threads and 1986's gut-wrenching animated heartbreaker When the Wind Blows. You can hear Sinead's podcast "Crackpo…
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Unwatchables is taking a couple weeks off for summer break, so to close out the final week of Pride month, we're unlocking a recent Patreon-exclusive bonus episode where Marc and Seth discuss their favorite LGBT films. If you're interested in hearing more episodes like this one, consider supporting the podcast by subscribing on Patreon. Unwatchable…
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Unwatchables is excited to welcome Jetta, otherwise known as Letterboxd’s “theironcupcake,” to this week’s episode! Our guest brings her considerable expertise to discuss the “Golden Age of Porn,” that bygone span of the 1970’s where theatrically released hardcore films enjoyed commercial and even critical success. We start with 1973’s The Devil in…
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This week’s Unwatchables is proof that neither animation nor talking animals mean you’re not about to have your soul shredded. Animation expert Aaron Reese joins us to discuss two very adult cartoons where all dogs (and cats) really do go to heaven: Martin Rosen’s bleak heartbreaker The Plague Dogs, and Michael Schaack’s graphic feline noir Felidae…
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