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The Most Disturbing Moments From The Hostel Franchise Ranked

This article contains triggers for graphic scenes of torture and violence.

The long-spanning and decade-defining "Saw" franchise often gets all the attention as the poster child for the "torture-porn" subgenre of horror. And while that series certainly earns its gory bonafides given that almost every "Saw" film was originally rated NC-17, we think Eli Roth's "Hostel" and its two sequels deserve just as much attention for delivering some of the most disturbing moments in any horror movie of the 21st century.

The first two "Hostel" films were banned in Ukraine, and the uncut version of "Hostel: Part II" is banned in Germany and New Zealand, while in the United Kingdom some politicians argued that parts of the film should be illegal (via IGN).  Needless to say, there's no doubt that the franchise contains some truly harrowing scenes. It's also a testament to how brutal these movies are that we were able to put together a list of fourteen most disturbing moments from a franchise that only contains three movies.

While Roth only directed the first two movies himself, there are some scenes in the third movie, directed by classic slasher deep cut "Intruder" director Scott Spiegel, that stack up right next to the most disturbing sequences in the first two. So without any more lead up, let's jump into the gory fun with the most disturbing moments from the "Hostel" franchise, ranked.

Spoiler alert for all "Hostel" movies: to talk about the most disturbing moments, we have to spoil a lot of deaths.

14. Chainsaw accident (Hostel)

It's a difficult balance to pull off, but there are a number of horror movies that deliver scenes that are simultaneously horrifying and hilarious, and the chainsaw accident scene in the first "Hostel" is one of the best of these. The scene starts out in pure horror territory: Paxton (Jay Hernandez) is strapped down to a chair with a ball-gag in his mouth as his torturer Johann (Petr Janis) brandishes a chainsaw inches from his face. Things only get more disturbing when Paxton vomits and it has nowhere to go but back down his throat because of the ball-gag.

But then, things begin to take a turn. Johann puts down the chainsaw and removes the ball-gag so that Paxton doesn't choke to death before he's able to have some fun, yet Paxton, desperate to do anything to fight back, attempts (and fails) to bite Johann's fingers. Johann then picks up the chainsaw again, accidentally cuts off some of Paxton's fingers, and backs up a bit before rushing Paxton with the chainsaw.

It's then that the scene reaches its peak as both a disturbing and uproarious moment. Johann slips on the blood puddle left by Paxton's severed fingers and lets go of the chainsaw which lands on his leg, severing it from the rest of his body. It's a series of unfortunate events for both men involved, that delivers one of the movie's goriest images, but is also undeniably funny for how ridiculous it is.

13. Soccer with a severed head (Hostel 2)

Also somewhere on the funny and disturbing spectrum like the chainsaw accident in the original "Hostel," the final sequence in "Hostel: Part II" certainly lands significantly farther on the disturbing side. After the climax of the movie (don't worry we'll get to that much later), the gang of children in both of the first films steal Axelle's (Vera Jordanova) purse from an outdoor festival and run off into the woods. There she finds Beth (Lauren German), who beheads her with a surprisingly big double-sided ax.

But it's not the beheading that makes the moment disturbing — and obviously it's not the beheading that makes the scene funny. It's that immediately after Axelle's head is cut off, the joyous music from the festival comes back into the scene and the gang of kids start playing soccer with her severed head. It's a moment that's played lightheartedly, which makes it almost more disturbing. The thought of children who are so desensitized to violence that instead of any real shock or horror, their reaction to a beheading is to use the severed head as a soccer ball is enough to give even the most seasoned hardcore horror fans pause.

12. Headless in the kitchen (Hostel 2)

Once again, what makes this scene so disturbing is the incongruity of it. There's not much narrative connection between "Hostel" and "Hostel: Part II," besides the titular hostel, but the second movie does begin with Paxton, who escaped the Elite Hunting Club at the end of the first film. Of course, the club can't allow any loose ends, and Paxton has to be eliminated.

The movie opens with Paxton having a nightmare about what might have happened if the club had caught up with him in Europe, but he wakes up safely in bed next to his girlfriend Stephanie (Jordan Ladd) in a remote estate home where he hopes to remain safe. The two have a late night fight about his paranoia and how she told some people where they were, but she thinks that he's overreacting.

The next morning she wakes up to the sounds of a chainsaw — a chainsaw being used by a landscaper outside to cut off dead branches from a tree in the yard. So she heads downstairs to the kitchen, only to find a cat licking the neck wound of a headless Paxton's body. The image of a cat licking a headless corpse is horrifying in itself, but it's the pairing of the extremely disturbing image of a headless body with a beautifully lit, idyllic country home kitchen that makes the scene even more disturbing.

11. Bathory bath (Hostel 2)

We're finally fully out of the disturbing moments in the "Hostel" franchise that might inspire some laughs along with some horror. But this entry isn't only disturbing, the Bathory bath, as we're calling it, in "Hostel: Part II" is undeniably kind of hot, and one of the few horror sequences in any movie that can simultaneously be called horrific and cool.

The scene begins with a nude Lorna (Heather Matarazzo, who is horror royalty for her roles here and as Martha Meeks in the "Scream" franchise) gagged and hung upside down over a bathtub as she whimpers and attempts to scream. Men light candles in the otherwise empty room before leaving and turning off the overhead electric lights, leaving the room lit only by candlelight. Then, a hooded woman enters the room. She slowly makes her way to the tub before taking her robe off to reveal that, she too, is nude. She lays down in the bathtub under Lorna and picks up a scythe. She toys with Lorna a bit, flipping her hair and stroking her skin with the scythe before making any cuts. But then the real terror begins when she cuts the gag and Lorna begs her to stop. Of course, she doesn't, and instead begins slashing at Lorna and bathing in her blood, before finally slitting Lorna's throat.

It's a horrifying scene, but there's no denying that it's more than that, which might make it the most uncomfortable scene in all three movies to watch, but it's far from the most disturbing.

10. Death by cockroaches (Hostel 3)

The first entry on the list from "Hostel: Part III" is a doozy, especially for those of us who can't stomach (pun intended) bug-related horror. The second murder setpiece in the third film may not be that hard for viewers who aren't afraid of bugs, but for the rest of us, it's one of the most disturbing scenes ever put to film.

The scene starts with sex worker Nikki (Zulay Henao) strapped to an upright metal operating table as a man speaks Hungarian to her. He then sprays her with some liquid from what looks like a bottle for nasal spray. But then he walks over to a nearby table and reveals a box full of cockroaches crawling all over each other. He picks one up and brings it over to her, shoving it in her face as she squirms and attempts to get as far away from him as she possibly can while strapped down to the table.

But, after the brief tease, her torturer collects many of the roaches into a bucket and flips the operating table into a horizontal position where he then pours the bucket of roaches onto Nikki's body. The concept of being covered in cockroaches is horrible enough, but what pushes the scene over the edge is that we then see, from the vantage point of Nikki's esophagus, the roaches pile down her throat.

It combines the general ickiness of bugs and the sheer terror of being force-fed into a scene that's going to stay with us for a while, if not forever.

9. Conversation about how to kill (Hostel)

While almost all of the entries on this list include the extreme gore that the franchise is best known for, this entry highlights the horror of the central premise: that the ultra-wealthy can pay to murder someone for fun. It's an idea that's explored from the killers' side more in "Hostel: Part II," but the most disturbing moment in any of the movies about that premise comes in "Hostel," when Paxton, having escaped his torturer, is pretending to be an Elite Hunting Club member and meets a man credited only as "The American Client" (Rick Hoffman).

The American Client talks to Paxton about the murder he's about to commit. He asks Paxton "how was it?" about the killing he believes Paxton just did, Paxton answers with a weak "good," and the client then asks what he went for. When Paxton answers "American" he gets thrilled and goes on about how much he loves that. He says that they have something "real special" lined up for him and it's not clear exactly what he means.

He talks vulgarly (albeit very similarly to Paxton and his friend's earlier in the movie) about women and sex, but says it's all the same eventually, before pulling out a gun and saying "but this, this is something you never forget." Hoffman is fantastic and incredibly memorable in the brief scene because his character is so matter-of-factly horrifying in his attitudes and excitement about murder. It's not a gory scene, but this conversation is absolutely one of the most disturbing moments in the franchise.

8. Kana's suicide (Hostel)

Part of what makes the "Hostel" franchise so disturbing, aside from the gore and the premise, is simply how bleak these movies are. Even the happy endings aren't really happy endings and are full of a sense that nothing will actually ever be okay. Of course, Paxton's murder at the start of "Hostel: Part II" plays a role there, but already in "Hostel," there's a scene that beats down the idea of hope: Kana's suicide.

After escaping the Elite Hunting Club's building, Kana (Jennifer Lim) and Paxton make their way to a train station, carefully keeping out of view of the goons who are chasing them. It seems like they might just make it out of here and back home alive. But then Kana catches a glimpse of her reflection in an empty signboard. She stops, and looks at her mutilated face. Lim's performance makes the moment, which lasts surprisingly long, as we can see Kana reflect on how she can go forward in life with this constant reminder of the horror she's experienced on her face. Paxton calls to her but she begins to slowly walk towards the track where a speeding train is headed. walking slowly over to the tracks before leaping in front of the train, which splatters her body on impact.

The gore is horrifying of course, but even more than that, it's the hopelessness of Kana's suicide that makes this scene one of the most disturbing in the franchise.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

7. Death by car and parking spikes (Hostel 3)

Towards the end of "Hostel," after having escaped the Elite Hunting Club's building in a car, Paxton and Kana come across the trio that led Paxton to the hostel and into the hands of the club. It only takes a second for Paxton, who's driving the car, to make a decision about his next move once he recognizes them. He guns it and hits them all, knocking them in a variety of directions and leaving one of them to be hit by the speeding car that's chasing him and Kana. It's a disturbing moment, but it's got nothing on the vehicular murder in "Hostel: Part III."

After having stabbed Flemming (Thomas Kretschmann) seemingly to death and throwing his body from his car, Carter (Kip Pardue) reevaluates his plans for Flemming's corpse when he realizes that the parking lot for the remote building has one-way parking spikes. Carter drags Flemming's body right next to the spikes so that his body can serve as a guard for the car's tires as he drives away. It's a horrifying enough idea already, but right before the car hits Flemming, he opens his eyes and we learn that he didn't perish from the stabbing, and is instead dying by being simultaneously run over and forced into the giant spikes.

6. Death by dogs (Hostel 2)

Being fed to dogs may be classic when it comes to terrifying deaths, whether in horror, historical fiction like "Django Unchained," or high fantasy (it was certainly a favorite method of killing for Ramsay Bolton in "Game of Thrones"), but it never gets any less disturbing. In "Hostel: Part II," we learn that the Elite Hunting Club reserves death by dogs for members who fail to complete their end of the contract.

After Todd (Richard Burgi) loses his nerve and can't go through with killing Whitney (Bijou Phillips), he's informed that he has to kill someone to fulfill his contract with the club. He tries to get out of it, but is told that he won't be allowed to leave the premises if he doesn't kill. He refuses and screams at the guard that he's the one who is paying here, before escaping to an elevator where he curls up in the fetal position and has to stop himself from vomiting.

But when the elevator doors open, two German Shepherds are unleashed on him. As the dogs attack him, he screams and the doors close, making this seem like a pretty tame (if conceptually horrifying) death for the franchise. But then the doors open again and we see the dogs licking his decimated corpse. It's a striking image that shows the consequences of an act of violence we often only hear off screen.

5. Interactive gambling murder theater (Hostel 3)

The "Hostel" franchise has done a great job of offering new perspectives and adding new aspects to its central premise of "the ultra-rich pay to torture people for fun" with every movie. While "Hostel: Part III" is the first (and as of now, only) movie in the franchise that isn't written and directed by Eli Roth, it still manages to add an original (and incredibly disturbing) aspect to the world of the films.

Like the conversation that Paxton has with the American client in the first "Hostel," this entry is more conceptually than viscerally horrifying, though it is revealed during a torture scene. After Mike (Skyler Stone) goes missing, his friends have no idea where he's gone, but the audience knows that this is a "Hostel" movie, and he's almost certainly going to end up being tortured.

But what's new this time is that unlike the previous movies where the torture took place in a private room with just a few security cameras, the torturers in "Hostel: Part III" perform for an audience — but not just any audience. The members of the Elite Hunting Club who sit in a lounge-style club and watch the show aren't just passive viewers, they actively gamble on the choices that the torturer will make. Will they kill their victim using a saw, a drill, or some form of blunt force trauma? The concept of turning the violence of the "Hostel" series into a game for spectators shows how far removed the members of the Elite Hunting Club are from humanity.

4. Achilles tendon reveal (Hostel)

After spending the first half of "Hostel" with Paxton, his college friend Josh (Derek Richardson), and Óli (Eythor Gudjonsson), the Icelandic tourist they met and decided to travel with, the film takes a hard turn from a European travelog with three misogynists into something much more disturbing. Josh, after a wild night out with his friends and gorgeous locals Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) and Svetlana (Jana Kaderabkova), wakes up in a dungeon with a masked man. The man begins to drill holes in Josh's body and we hear his screams while looking at images of other torture tools and the halls of the Elite Hunting Club's property. After drilling Josh, the man takes his mask off and reveals himself to be the strange Dutch businessman (Jan Vlasák) the group met on the train to Slovakia.

Josh begs the businessman to let him go, and after a short chat about how he always wanted to be a surgeon and hold the power of life and death in his hands, the businessman gets up. He walks behind Josh and we hear the tearing of flesh and see Josh scream. A few moments later, the businessman uncuffs Josh, unlocks and opens the door wide, and tells Josh he is free to go.

It's only when Josh stands up that we see what has happened, and it's one of the most disturbing split second images in all of horror: the businessman has cut Josh's Achilles tendons so that when he stands up, his ankles split into two parts under his weight. It's a brilliantly executed sequence that makes the most of a striking image.

3. Castration (Hostel 2)

"Hostel: Part II" introduces characters on the torturer side as well as just the victims. We meet American businessmen Todd (Richard Burgi) and Stuart (Roger Bart) on their first trip to the Elite Hunting Club. Todd is thrilled about the trip, but Stuart seems somewhat nervous and apprehensive about the entire thing. On the other side of the story, we learn that American student Beth (Lauren German) has a significant inheritance that's funding her and some of her friends' escapades in Europe. We also learn that Stuart has a complicated relationship with his wife, and that Beth does not take kindly to men calling her the C-word. All of this comes to bear on the finale of "Hostel: Part II."

Beth is meant to be Stuart's victim, but he lets her go and says, "I'm not that guy." Just as Beth is about to leave, he knocks her out. When she comes to, he's a completely different person who goes on about how Beth looks like his wife who he desperately wants to kill. But Beth is able to seduce him and chain him to the chair where she was set to be tortured.

Elite Hunting Club guards arrive, but she says that she wants to buy her freedom, and she's told she can, but that she has to kill someone. Right on time, Stuart, who has been hurling insults at Beth for the last few minutes, calls her the C-word. She then cuts off the entirety of his genitalia and feeds it to the dogs. It's a scene so disturbingly violent that even the guards are shocked.

2. Face Skinning (Hostel 3)

Like any horror franchise, the "Hostel" movies had to continue to up the ante of their horror sequences, and with a series like "Hostel," that means more gore. In "Hostel: Part III," after we learn about the way that the Las Vegas Elite Hunting Club chapter differs from the Slovakian one at the start of Mike's torture scene, his torturer (Barry Livingston) places a strange mask on his face and begins to use a marking to outline the mask and its holes on Mike's face.

It becomes clear all too soon why. The torturer picks up a scalpel and begins to make precise incisions on Mike's face as he screams and struggles, but nothing Mike does can stop the torturer who is committed to his act of violence.

The sequence is horrifying, but it's nothing compared to the reveal of Mike's faceless face once the procedure has been completed, or the way that the torturer holds up the skin of Mike's face as a trophy to show off to his Elite Hunting Club friends. The bright red of Mike's skinless face is an image that's sure to hold in any viewers' mind for long after it leaves the screen.

1. The eye (Hostel)

While "Hostel: Part III" ups the ante by removing the entirety of a victim's face, nothing beats the original when it comes to disturbing sequences. Every "Hostel" fan knows exactly what you mean when you say "the eye scene." The scene comes towards the end of the first movie, after Paxton has escaped the Elite Hunting Club, but goes back because he can hear Kana's desperate screams.

When he gets to the room where she's being tortured, he sees the American client he spoke with earlier taking a blowtorch to her eye. He shoots the American client and takes a look at Kana's face. The eyeball of her eye is hanging by sinews from its socket, which has been horribly burned. Kana rightfully continues to scream in pain and horror as Paxton desperately attempts to figure out what his next move should be.

Finally, he picks up some surgical scissors from the table of instruments available to the torturers. He attempts to steady Kana's face as she writhes in pain, and then makes his move. He cuts the sinews holding the eyeball to the burnt socket. There's a brief pause after his cut, but then bright yellow pus begins to seep from the wound down her burnt face.

It's one of the most truly disturbing, and disgusting, moments in any horror movie made in the 21st century, and, honestly, maybe ever. Of course, it's definitely the most disturbing moment in the "Hostel" franchise.