I was discussing with a friend today movies which we saw in our teens which affected our perceptions of beauty, cynicism, religion, life and death. For me that was the early 80s. And tho greater titles might come to mind, these are a few that left a mark on me in those years. I think when most people think of disturbing movies from decades past we think of the big names such as Clockwork Orange, The Birds, many 70s films were very intense. The 80s on the other hand were not a particularly great decade for movie making.
People have different motivations for watching movies, for some it's laughter, for others it's adrenaline, for others it's tears or love. For me, as an adult, the greatest quality of a movie is it's ability to disturb and/or challenge. And I think these early 80s films were the start of that fascination for me. I suggest these lesser known ones for the next time you're at the video club looking for interesting oldies:
-Altered States (1980)
I was only 14 when this came out, it left quite a mark on me. Came out just before Scanners (which I also liked), I love all brain screwing movies. This was my first one.
Isabelle Adjani doing her thing, France so rarely ventured into the genre
-Cat People (1982)
Might be because I'm a woman, but nothing compares to the photogenicity of those cats. I desired that.
-Dead Ringers (1988)
Cronenberg of course. The film that made me churn most inside after Salo
and one older one just as disturbing (which I saw in 1985):
More brain messed up people, and one of the ultimate gut churning moments in cinematic history.
Yes, Altered States was a great mind-bender for me as a child. It was mysterious and inexplicable. I liked movies like that.
It is hard to answer your question, because it's hard to remember things as you perceived them as a child when we remember them as adults. Nonetheless, I would say A Clockwork Orange and Dead Ringers were both disturbing, ACO moreso for me. I was younger when I saw it, and I wasn't used to seeing movies where people were so cruel.
I didn't see Equus until a few years ago. It is a great movie. I never made it through all of Salo.
Powder had a great emotional impact on me.
According to my voting history on IMDB I gave it an 8/10, which is pretty good, considering how little I remember of it :)
I just found out yesterday that my roommate actually got in one of those tanks once (he's 60) and was high at the time. He loved it!
Im from the 90's so I guess the one movie that really changed me as a teen was Donnie Darko
Yeah I know its not that difficult to understand and its not disturbing but it helped me find my self in my angsty teenage years/ when I was 13 XD