Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)


Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Stars: Paolo Bonacelli, Aldo Valletti, Caterna Boratto

The sickest film ever?

In 1973 most audiences were fainting and having heart attacks over shockers such as, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Exorcist. Little did they know that two years later a little Italian film would pop out of the waters and stun the world to silence. Being the twisted chap that I am, I had of course heard a lot about Salo. If you look at anyone’s list of disturbing films, then you’re likely to see Salo right at the top. A film so shocking that upon its release, director Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered in very mysterious circumstances. Having read a lot about it, I put off seeing Salo. Who wants to see about the rape and torture of teenagers? Well, I suppose that curiosity got the better of me.


Salo isn’t just about the mental and physical torture of young innocents, it just appears that way. The film is quite obviously one big political statement as four bored old fascists decide to use a bunch of young men and women for their own needs. These needs consist of the most depraved sexual acts you could think of. Salo’s full to the brim with rape and sexual humiliation. By the end of it, rape feels like a natural occurrence, although it’s still no easier to watch.

Some call it a masterpiece because of its political message; however I fail to see why. Whilst the film is very well made, with excellent directing and acting, there’s no plot. I see the narrative of a film as being quite an important aspect. Salo is quite literally two hours of despicable depravity. There’s nothing more to it than watching four old perverts perv over teenagers and finally kill them in the most horrific ways possible.

salo white dress

Contrary to popular belief, Salo is not gory. There are two moments of extreme gore at the end, but other than that the violence remains purely sexual. What makes the film so difficult to watch is that it’s all real! It’s like watching some sort of soft child porn film. The actors are clearly under eighteen, yet are completely naked in nearly all scenes and fondled by old men and women. It’s extremely uncomfortable to watch. The constant explicit tales, which the old women tell, of paedophilia are also very disturbing to hear. Especially, as it’s used as an opportunity to molest the children.

The film reaches its most disturbing peak during the chapter aptly named, “Circle of s**t”. Parts in this chapter actually almost made me gag and is the hardest chapter to watch for me. Watching people being force fed poo is not my idea of entertainment. The fact that all the old fascists contently eat the poo makes the scene all the more disturbing. It has to be the most disturbing scene I’ve ever watched. I’ve seen poo being eaten before (not in real life, but in the Thai thriller, 13: Game of Death) but not in this much grotesque detail.


Who would’ve thought that the most disturbing film ever made would come out in 1975? If this film was made now, then there’s no way that it would ever see the light of day, and I’m surprised it has been widely distributed now. Perhaps, Lars von Trier should do a remake? Or maybe we shouldn’t give him ideas! Salo is by far the most disturbing film I’ve ever seen and I have zero intention in seeing it again. I’m bemused by the amount of critical praise this film receives. Even with the political message and excellent directing, you’re still left with an overlong and perverted mess of a film with extremely little plot.



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