The best shit on screen

Having their protagonists covered in it, forced-fed it, or just enjoying a good dog-poo steak, filmmakers have never shied away from challenging the poo taboo. Here are five shit-centric cinematic moments you won’t forget.

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The Human Centipede (2009)
Having their protagonists covered in it, forced-fed it, or just enjoying a good dog-poo steak, filmmakers have never shied away from challenging the poo taboo. Here are five shit-centric cinematic moments you won’t forget. Pink Flamingos (1972) John Waters’ transgressive black comedy features incestuous blowjobs and a couple squishing poultry between them as they fuck. But it remains best known for its climactic scene, in which drag queen Divine scoops up a fresh dog turd, eats it and smiles into the camera, to the strains of “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” There is no visual trickery – according to Waters, they fed the dog steak for several days and followed it around. As for Divine, she agreed to eat real shit simply because “it was in the script”. For some, it’s a shock tactic that defined exploitation cinema; for others, it’s a cheap, juvenile stunt. What everyone can agree on is that Pink Flamingos redefined bad-taste cinema, as well as the term “shit-eating grin”. — David Mouriquand Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) Pier Paolo Pasolini’s final “gift” to cinema, which premiered weeks after the director was murdered, remains one of the most harrowing films of all time. Loosely adapted from the scandalous 18th-century scribblings of the Marquis de Sade, this highbrow shocker charts the descent into depravity of four wealthy libertines in Fascist Italy during WWII. After marrying each other’s daughters, they kidnap 18 teens, take them to an opulent palace, and subject them to 120 days of ritualistic abuse. A tough watch from the outset, the film takes a turn for the truly retch-inducing in a chapter entitled “Circle of Shit”. First, one of the tormentors feeds a girl his own faeces. Shortly thereafter, human excrement is calmly served at a perverse wedding banquet. It’s about as potent a visual metaphor for the corrupting effects of absolute power as you’re ever likely to see. — Paul O’Callaghan Black Book (2006) Paul Verhoeven returned to his native Netherlands to expose the skeletons in his country’s closet with Black Book, an incendiary WWII drama which reflects the filmmaker’s fascination with both moral ambiguity and the human body. Its scatological credentials present themselves when Carice van Houten, playing a young Jewish woman who becomes a spy for the Dutch resistance, is stripped and covered in human faeces as punishment for her suspected Nazi ties. A repulsively realistic mix of potato powder, peanut butter and cookie dough was used – an oppressively thick combination that reportedly made van Houten scream for real shit to be used during the shoot. Some critics used it to reignite accusations of misogyny towards the director, but Verhoeven defended it as being based on historical facts. Furthermore, it reinforced the film’s central thesis – that all people fall back on animalistic behaviour when revenge and retribution are in play. — DM The Human Centipede trilogy (2009-2015) Shit isn’t relegated to a mere cameo in Tom Six’s infamous three-part horror opus – it’s the main attraction. First Sequence introduces the concept of the human centipede: three unlucky victims surgically joined together, mouth to anus, to create a conjoined triplet that shares the same digestive tract. But the moment you’re dreading – the point at which the relatively lucky guy at the front has to defecate – is more darkly hilarious than vomit-inducing. Its sequel, Full Sequence, goes full meta by focusing on a crazed fan of the first film, who dreams of creating his own centipede. The film is shot in black-and-white, but when the centipede is assembled (crudely, with duct tape), Six splashes the screen with brown after the laxative-fed victims start moving their bowels. The outrageous Final Sequence somehow renders these scatological episodes quaint, with scenes of castration and kidney rape. — Jared Abbott Babylon Berlin (2017 – ) We’d be remiss to not mention a “shit” TV moment – and a Berlin one at that. The Tom Tykwer-helmed Babylon Berlin charts the exploits of young detective Gereon Rath and wild child-turned-police inspector Charlotte Ritter. With a budget of nearly €55 million (the most ever for a German series), the show turned out far from shitty, but what befalls Trotskyite Alexei Kardakow (Ivan Shvedoff) in episode two certainly is. When the printer that fronts for his communist cell gets raided by Stalin’s secret police, it seems like the end for the Russian refugee. Cut to a lone outhouse outside the printer’s. As the camera pans down into the hole, a pair of white eyeballs appear amidst the fecal soup. Our red friend survives throughout series one and two, but up until the very last scene, we can see that he never quite wipes the shit off his character. What can we say? Berlin stains. — Walter Crasshole
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Black Book (2006)