There have been a lot of controversial movies over the years. In fact, controversial and disturbing movies hit theaters each and every year. Yet time has a way of making movies that were once considered blasphemous and appalling seem rather tame. Laughably tame in some instances. Many movies that were banned from theaters when first released are now shown on television on a Sunday afternoon—uncut and unedited. And subject matter that was once extremely controversial and polarizing is no longer. As society evolves and people’s tastes change, so too do the subjects, issues and movies we consider controversial or in bad taste. Here then are 10 movies that were controversial when first released that now seem tame.
10. Death Wish (1974)
This Charles Bronson vehicle, about a mild mannered architect who becomes a gun toting vigilante and takes it upon himself to clean up New York City after his wife is murdered and his daughter is raped, was extremely controversial when first released in 1974. The film struck a nerve with urban dwellers who were grappling with rising crime rates and violence at the time—particularly in major cities such as New York and Chicago. The movie’s premise, which made a violent and lawless vigilante its hero, plus the violent shootings it depicted, made Death Wish highly controversial 40 some years ago. Fast forward to today, and this movie seems pretty sedate. In fact, it could pass for a “made for TV movie” these days. The shootings aren’t that violent and there is very little blood shown on screen. There’s also no real bad language used, and, in the age of the comic book film, vigilante antiheroes are pretty common place. You can now see worse than Death Wish in PG rated summer films.