Of the myriad subgenres in cinema, body horror is perhaps one of the toughest. While its origins can be traced back to early 19th-century Gothic novels such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the form has varied and evolved over the years. When done right, biological horror can prey on our deepest fears of being harmed by an unknown presence, monster, or disease
to stay bursting out of your skin. But what are the best body horror movies out there? Then you are exactly right here. Here are the top ten best body horror movies, ranked. Let’s go!
2007’s Teeth is reportedly a feminist horror film about a woman who – *checks notes* – develops dentata. ‘What the hell is it dentata?’ i hear you ask Well, it’s basically a very rare, real-world condition that causes a woman to develop teeth in her… southern regions.
Of course, as is to be expected for a body horror film, Teeth takes that idea and runs with it to the blood-soaked hills and beyond. Almost every male character is not only a complete pervert who wants to slip into the protagonist’s underpants (superbly portrayed by Jess Weixler), but it’s also a clever inversion of the fragile and weak damsel in distress.
If you’re a man, prepare to cross your legs for about an hour and thirty-eight minutes.
9.) The Void
I’ll be honest: if a film has good practical effects, it automatically gets me a few points. Case in point: The Void, 2016’s otherworldly Lovecraftian horror film, may be the least-known image on this list, but what it lacks in prestige it more than makes up for with some utterly grisly, unadulterated gores and shlocks.
While ’80s-style body-horror shockers like The Thing are super rare these days, new Canadian writer-directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie are channeling their inner John Carpenter in one of the most underrated biological horror films out there. Nefarious cults, hellish abominations, mad doctors and mysterious rubber shoes are at the center of this disturbing Lovecraftian tale of otherworldly terror and skin-crawling fear. And it is highly recommended!
While Eraserhead can be a little to surreal for some, it’s hard not to appreciate its overly quirky tone, intriguing cinematography, odd characters, industrial soundscapes and fairytale-like, otherworldly story. I mean, it’s from visionary filmmaker David Lynch, who created Twin Peaks, The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet, among many other cult classics, so it’s bound to be pretty freaky, right?
Well, really, it’s weird. And then there’s Eraserhead Weird, which is basically on a whole other level. Dancing woman living in a radiator? Check over. Baby gets cut up? Yes. A deeply disturbing family dinner with a turkey twitching? You can bet on it. Sure, it might not be a movie for everyone, but it’s still a hugely influential image, having influenced horror classics like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
7.) Invasion of the Body Thieves (1978)
There are few horror movies that have been remade as many times as Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Based on a 1954 science fiction novel by Jack Finney called The Body Snatchers, we’d pick Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of Don Siegel’s 1956 black-and-white classic as the best of the bunch.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers focuses on a slow, encroaching usurpation of the human race by a hostile alien species emerging from alien flowers, and sees a group of survivors unraveling the mystery of alien world domination while attempting to escape the clutches of the escape from evil creatures.
The thing is, it’s not like The Day of the Triffids where the plants directly attack society. nope Instead, said flowers create replicas of emotionless humans, culminating in an ending that will stay with you forever.
6.) Tetsuo: The Iron Man
Much like David Lynch’s aforementioned Eraserhead, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is an experience befitting only the most die-hard devotees of the body horror subgenre. Written, produced and directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, the 1989 zany cyberpunk black-and-white horror film helped catapult independent Japanese cinema into the spotlight in the 1990s.
The story is mostly a surreal fever dream with nightmarish imagery and terrifying imagery. If you’re a die-hard horror enthusiast, this might just be one of the weirdest and craziest movies you’ve ever seen. In short, only the toughest needs apply. You have been warned!
It’s hard to get a villain as metal as Pinhead. Seriously only see with him. But it doesn’t just look like it, it sounds like it too. Yes, not only will he tear your soul apart, but he hates tears as they are a waste of good suffering. Oh, and yes, he has such sights to show you. Really, he’s like a walking reincarnation of any hardcore death metal band fused into an otherworldly rock and roll deity.
While Clive Barker’s 1987 debut spawned many sequels, it’s fair to say that the OG is the best of the series, although its direct sequel Hellraiser 2: Hellbound is quite underrated. Come for the sadistic and sinister creature designs and stay for the surprisingly unpredictable gothic horror fairy tale.
A cheesy, fun-filled debut from legendary Splatterfest writer-director Stuart Gordon, Re-Animator is a no-holds-barred descent into laugh-or-puke territory. (Chances are you’ll probably do both.)
Mad scientist Herbert West (Jeffrey Combes) has created a mysterious serum that can bring dead tissue back to life. After the death of his professor (in a super gory opening scene that sets the tone for the entire flick), West travels to the United States to continue his research. The real twist is that West isn’t the real villain of the film, but rather behaves as a sympathetic anti-hero.
Ultimately, Re-Animator is a groundbreaking horror film that frequently walks the line between laugh-out-loud hilarity and some seriously twisted, gross moments that will have you reaching for a puke bag. The squeamishness doesn’t have to apply.
3.) The fly
In David Cronenberg’s remake of the 1958 sci-fi classic, selfish scientist Seth Brundle (portrayed by Jeff Goldblum) literally experiences a fly in the ointment.
Sure, even though he invented a “telepod” that can teleport matter from one pod to another in an instant, he still has to complete a live rehearsal test before puncturing the i’s and crossing the t’s. The thing is, the experiment goes horribly wrong when a sneaky bluebottle rides along during the experiment, merging the two together.
Brundle seems perfectly fine at first. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes clear that its genetic makeup has been altered and mixed with that of a common housefly. Oops!
2.) The thing
When you’re dealing with a deadly alien organism that can replicate its hosts with 100 percent authenticity, you know you’re in for an uphill battle. And that’s exactly what happens in John Carpenter’s reinterpretation of Howard Hawks’ beloved 1951 hit.
At an isolated research station in Antarctica, a group of scientists discover a spacecraft that crashed in nearby ice 100,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the group unknowingly releases a hostile alien that lies dormant in the ice.
Kurt Russell shines as the cocky and lovable helicopter pilot, while the rest of the ensemble give life to a handful of surprisingly realistic and down-to-earth characters, played with understated nuance and intensity. Gripping, claustrophobic, and a must-have for anyone with a penchant for sci-fi horror, The Thing is easily one of the best things to come out of the ’80s. (Closely followed by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)
What can be said about Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece of interstellar body horror Alien that hasn’t already been said? Well, if you’re one of the seven people who haven’t seen the movie, just stop reading this and watch it. Like, pronto. Don’t worry, we’re waiting.
In the near future of 2122, a small transport ship with a crew of seven receives a distress call from a mysterious planet. Of course they go and investigate, but to their chagrin, they get a lot more than they originally expected.
A stellar cast, led by Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt, combine with a sleek and tight script by Dan O’Bannon, nightmarish creature designs by German artist HR Giger, and a startlingly eerie score by Jerry Goldsmith, and you’ve got one of those bolts of terror in you bottle moments. Let’s just say Alien’s dinner scene is perhaps one of the most iconic body horror moments in all of cinema. No small thing!
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