Movies That Have Lost Their Shock Value

Madonna’s 1991 tell-all film Truth or Dare arrives on Blu-ray today. The raunchy behind the scenes documentary followed the iconic pop star on her 1990 Blond Ambition tour and shocked many viewers with its frank sexuality (of the gay and straight variety). In one scene the singer simulates fellatio with a water bottle. The rest of the film continues to live up to its alternate title, In Bed with Madonna, as the star engages in other sexy games with her dancers. Truth or Dare became the highest grossing documentary of its time, raking in over $29 million worldwide.

Could Madge’s movie manage to drum up the same kind of controversy today? With the passing of 1990’s AIDS anxiety, gay culture more openly celebrated, pop stars like Lady Gaga spooking the masses, and celebrity sex tapes and iPhone smut making the rounds, what’s a girl in a cone-shaped bra to do? We wanted to look back at other movies that have lost their shock value, and tried to figure out why these once controversial efforts have since cooled. Visit our picks below, and leave yours in the comments section.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

“The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying,” Roger Ebert wrote about seeing George Romero’s zombie opus Night of the Living Dead during its original release. “At that age, kids take the events on the screen seriously, and they identify fiercely with the hero. When the hero is killed, that’s not an unhappy ending but a tragic one: Nobody got out alive. It’s just over, that’s all,” he continued. During the premiere of the 1968 horror classic, the MPAA ratings system we now love to hate was not in place, allowing children to purchase tickets for the grim story about seven strangers who wind up stranded in a deserted farmhouse fighting for their lives. Now, young audiences are tuning into shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead on a regular basis. Zombies have infiltrated the pop culture mainstream entirely. Then, however, Romero’s bleak vision and hordes of flesheaters were a new and horrifying experience for viewers. Audiences today enjoy discussing NOTLD’s subversive socio-political statements about race, violence, and more. While the film remains nihilistic and incredibly depressing, we’re not certain that it’s still shocking.