10 X-Rated Movies That Are Now Considered Classics (2024)

At one time, an X-rating killed any chance a movie had at success. The movie couldn't screen in theaters, and some ended up banned completely when they hit video. But things have changed a lot over the years. Censorship in movies is not as prevalent as it used to be, and while there are still movies that receive the NC-17 rating, the movies still have avenues to reach fans.

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Often, older X-rated movie releases have become classics decades after they received what many thought was a death sentence at the cinema. Some of these movies became cult classics thanks to their X-rating and others were so good that not even the dreaded rating could keep them from their status as genuine classical masterpieces.

Kids (1995) - Not Currently Available To Stream

10 X-Rated Movies That Are Now Considered Classics (1)

In 1995, Larry Clark directed the controversial teenage drama Kids by screenwriter Harmony Korine. The movie was supposed to be a realistic look at kids in New York City involved in actions including sexual promiscuity and substance abuse.

What really caused the ratings board to reject Kids was the fact these were teenage characters, and there was little in the way of actual punishment for their actions. Despite the X-rating, the Weinstein brothers released the movie through a one-off company and went on to become a cult classic, with critics like Roger Ebert championing it.

Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970) - Available To Rent On Amazon Prime

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In 1967, the movie Valley of the Dolls came out, a drama that followed three women starting careers in adult entertainment, and it was a critical failure. Three years later, film critic Roger Ebert wrote a script for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and Russ Meyer directed the movie as a satire, poking fun at the original.

The movie received an X-rating, so Mayer wanted to add even more nudity and sex, but Fox released it and didn't allow him that option. The movie has since become a beloved cult classic and the Criterion Collection even released a special edition of the movie in 2016.

Crash (1996) - Not Currently Available To Stream

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David Cronenberg has always released movies that pushed the boundaries of what the ratings board would accept. He even had his own video nasty in Scanners that went on to become a revered classic. In 1996, he released Crash and the movie ended up rated X.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the movie's release, even seeing the British Board of Film Classification fight to ban it. The subject matter involved sexual acts following traumatic accidents. Despite the protests, Crash ended up as a success, winning the Special Jury Prize at Cannes and remaining a revered classic to this day.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) - Stream On Hoopla

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Few mainstream movie fans look at The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in the same light as the original movie in the franchise. However, both horror movie fans and film scholars hold the sequel in high regard thanks to its black comedy surrounding Leatherface and his family.

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The movie is a cult classic to this day, still screened at horror conventions around the world. While the original was re-edited to gain an R-rating, the sequel ended up released as unrated for its gore and violence.

The Evil Dead (1981) - Stream On HBO Max

One of the most popular movies ever to receive an X-rating was the 1981 Sam Raimi horror classic, The Evil Dead. The movie was released as unrated and eventually helped Raimi become a cult favorite and a big-budget blockbuster movie director.

The movie received an X-rating for its graphic violence and practical effects of the demon-like Deadittes. The Evil Dead ended up on the video nasties list and became the start of a successful franchise that included two sequels, a remake, and a TV show.

Last Tango In Paris (1972) - Stream On Tubi

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The X-rated movie Last Tango in Paris had a lot going for it when it came out. Marlon Brando, at the time considered one of Hollywood's most talented actors, was in the lead role, and Bernardo Bertolucci, one of art-house cinemas greatest auteurs, directed it. However, it ended up with an X-rating.

Criminal courts in Italy actually brought charges of indecency against the movie, with both Brando and Bertolucci found guilty. However, it received critical praise, with the greatest film critic of that era, Pauline Kael, calling it the "most powerfully erotic movie ever made," as reported by Criterion.

High Tension (2003) - Stream On AMC+

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When it comes to classic movies, horror has several that its fans will praise, even if the appeal does not spread outside the genre. One movie that has received cult classic status is the 2003 French slasher movie Haute Tension, also known as High Tension.

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The movie focused on two girls who go to a secluded farmhouse to study, only to find themselves under attack by a serial killer. The movie was initially released with an X-rating and ended up helping shepherd in several similarly violent movies.

Man Bites Dog (1992) - Stream On HBO Max

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Man Bites Dog is not a movie that a lot of people might know about, but it is highly revered in film circles, even receiving a Criterion Collection release. The movie, released in 1992, is a mockumentary shot in black and white that was years ahead of its time.

In Man Bites Dog, a film crew decides to make a documentary following a serial killer and documenting his kills. The movie ended up premiering at Cannes and won the International Critics' Prize before going on to become a cult classic.

Showgirls (1995) - Stream On Tubi

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Not all movies considered classics are good, and few have ever claimed that Showgirls is a good movie. However, it holds its place in history as the first and only NC-17 movie to get a wide theatrical release, and while it was a box office bomb, it will always hold that place in history.

Showgirls is a Paul Verhoeven movie about a girl (Elizabeth Berkley) who heads to Las Vegas with the hopes of rising to the level of a showgirl. Despite its box office failure, it was a massive success on video and has become a cult classic in the years since its release.

Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) - Stream On AMC+

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Alfonso Cuaron was the first Mexico-born director to win Best Director at the Academy Awards and is one of only a handful of people to receive Oscar nominations in six different categories. One of those nominations was for Best Original Screenplay for Y Tu Mama Tambien.

The movie is a coming-of-age drama about two teenage boys who take a road trip with an older woman. The movie received an X-rating for depictions of sexual content and substance abuse. Despite that, it set the record for the biggest opening box office in Mexican cinema history and remains a minor masterpiece.


10 X-Rated Movies That Are Now Considered Classics (2024)
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