Shocking Saturday: Salo or 120 Days of Sodom

Just like A Serbian Film, Salo is another horrific exploitation film that doesn’t require an acquired taste to watch, just a very strong stomach. The 1975 flick is a film that some may describe as a snuff film, but others would argue is a piece of Italian artwork.


We are taken on a journey of violence, humiliation and extreme, depraved sexual urges. Set in the fascism controlled Salo, Italy in 1944, the film opens with four men of power – the President, the Bishop, the Duke and the Magistrate – and shows them agreeing to marry each others daughters. However there are many barbaric, ritualistic events which must take place before they can go through with the weddings. The actual reason why they are committing these atrocities is never really explained, just that they are taking inspiration from Dante’s Inferno. Nine male and nine female teenagers are kidnapped, taken to a remote mansion and are forced to act out the men of power’s most vile sexual fantasies on themselves and others. These include rape, violence and the swallowing of excrement. As the film plays out we are shown various days at the mansion, where the teenagers are tortured and forced to commit unspeakable acts against their will. All for the thrill of the four leaders. The ritual goes on for 120 days, after which the ones who are deemed worthy are spared, and the rest are, as the Bishop says “killed 1000 times over”.

Exploitation films such as Salo are always said to have an underlining meaning behind them, which the directors – in this case Pier Paolo Pasolini – are trying to get across to the audience, even if that meaning is buried underneath many layers of violence and sexual torture. Although hard to watch Salo has been praised for exploring various topics, such as: fascism, abuse of power, sadism and political corruption.

The Italians have always had a way with violence and exploitation in cinema, some of the best were the movies which were put on to the ‘Video Nasties’ list. Films like Zombie Flesh Eaters and Cannibal Holocaust put the country on the map for violent cinema as the make-up effects were just superb and so realistic. Salo still uses violence as one of its many shocking aspects, but attempts to look at the desires of a deviant sexual nature that society would rather leave hidden under the rug. By the end of the film you will be questioning to yourself whether the film was worth the watch just to discover the hidden meaning.

If you do decide to pluck up the courage to watch Salo, I warn you…it is not for the faint-hearted.

Tag Line: The Final Vision Of A Controversial Filmmaker.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

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