Best body horror movies of all time

There are different subgenres in horror, which is a dynamic and constantly evolving medium that can capture the caverns of the human subconscious. Body horror is a particular pocket that resides within the horror genre, which can evoke visceral reactions while acting as a metaphor for deep-seated psychological issues.

Some stories are inevitably body horrors all over the place, while others simply reference the genre in order to bolster the narrative, like Stuart Gordon’s. From beyond, which begins with elements of cosmic horror and morphs into something rather grotesque. The genre has had an interesting evolution over time, culminating in films such as Julia Ducournau Titaniumwhich used body horror to provide in-depth commentary on its title character, while also delving into the film’s inherent themes.

As any list is subjective, the following body horror entries are integral to not only shaping the genre as we know it, but also due to the fact that they drive storylines that dive into the daring and the bizarre. The body, an extension of the self, can manifest in ways beyond human comprehension, and here are some of the best films that delve into these themes.

A bunch of David Cronenberg movies

EXistenZ by Cronenberg

The body horror genre is synonymous with David Cronenberg, who produced a series of films that leaned into the mutations of the flesh, heightening the anxieties surrounding the vulnerability of the self. Seminal among Cronenberg’s body horror offerings are The Brood, Videodrome, Flyand Existthough nearly all of his films bear a unique brand of psychosexual commentary informing a cerebral and psychological theme.

To highlight the essence of Cronenbergian body horror, one can look no further than The Brood, in which a woman named Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar) enrolls in experimental therapy at a distant institute. Over the course of the sessions, Nola confronts her subconscious trauma and rage, and manifests them externally through her body, giving birth to creatures that are disturbing to say the least. Here, the horror is attached to the trope of subversive motherhood, and the idea of ​​childbirth, which is already a painful process attached to certain societal expectations.

In movies like naked lunch, Cronenberg takes a more visceral, fantastical approach: grotesque creatures find a way to merge with human bodies, and seemingly dangerous non-living equipment, like a typewriter, transforms into a talking insect. Besides, Videodrome and Exist treat the flesh as conduits to other worlds or subversive caverns of the human mind, where some form of metamorphosis is required to move to the next level of human consciousness.

Cronenberg’s Next Future Crimes also deals with gruesome and limitless aspects of the human body in a dystopian setting, in which the psychosexual aspects of the human race are actualized in extreme settings.

The thing

The thing

While John Carpenter explores a wide range of themes when it comes to his filmography, body horror culminated with his The thing, which was overlooked and underappreciated immediately after its release. Carpenter has always been a master at injecting compelling suspense into his stories, the case in point being his equally brilliant and gruesome In the mouth of madnessbut The thing takes the cake in terms of being a horror movie that oozes with palpable anxiety.

The thing opens with a group of people in a remote Arctic facility who are fighting for their lives when an alien shapeshifter, who takes the form of people they know and trust, infiltrates their camp . The creature, of course, is a testament to masterfully crafted practical effects, combined with lovely iconic sequences such as the crawling spider’s head and a man’s chest collapsing and nibbling on an arm.

Apart from that, the real terror in The thing lies in the fact that no one has any real control over their body anymore – by the time the alien parasite takes over, the host is nothing more than a shell to them, all of their humanity reduced to a final act of senseless murder. The heightened sense of claustrophobia that pervades the film stems from a specific, hyper-masculine distrust, particularly due to the group being essentially cut off from the rest of the world, and the prospect of having to kill a fellow man by oneself. preservation (never knowing if they are really themselves or not) is a terrifying situation to be in.


Cenobites in Hellraiser

at Clive Barker hellraiser is memorable for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being the cementing of a pop culture icon named Pinhead, as well as the founding of a franchise that has spanned decades (and is still expanding). Although all hellraiser the films consist of body horror aspects due to the presence of the Cenobites, the 1987 horror thriller conveyed the concept like no other.

First, there’s Frank, whose resurrected body is grotesque and uncomfortable to watch, a premise made more gruesome when several people are outright murdered in order for him to reform. The fact that Frank continued to wear his brother’s face adds another unsettling layer to the film, complemented by the visions of extreme sadomasochism seen in the world the Cenobites originate from.

Finally, the cenobites, who are neither angels nor demons, sport various bodily disfigurements, a source of both pleasure and pain, as their understanding of these concepts differs from that of humans. When each of these aspects, along with the premise of the wailing interdimensional setup, are combined, we end up with a terrifying film that later paved the way for many films with similar themes in horror.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man

Tetsuo the iron man

It’s Impossible To Talk About Body Horror Without Acknowledging Shinya Tsukamoto’s Legacy Tetsuo: The Iron Man, which is as graphic, disgusting and nightmarish as one can imagine. The film opens with a man slitting his thigh to insert a metal rod inside, and things gradually get worse when the wound becomes infested with maggots.

Sure, Tetsuo is not for those strongly attached to extreme portrayals of terrifying imagery with psychosexual themes, as the narrative becomes increasingly intense and crude with its execution. The reason Tsukamoto’s film is so defining is the cartoonish aura of hyperreality that surrounds it, whether it’s the premise, the acting, or the frenetic camera movements that drive certain scenes home.

eraser head

Eraserhead by David Lynch

David Lynch masters surreal horror, bringing unhinged and disturbing tales to life with a sense of absurdity inherently his own – just look into the world of twin peaks in order to understand the artistic complexities of the author. While Lynch has always injected horror into his work, in films such as lost highway and Inner Empire, it was his 1977 Eraserhead that embraced body horror down to the smallest detail. Experimental in a way that can only be called Lynchian, eraser head addresses themes of bodily pain that arise from concepts of deformity.

The film revolves around a man (Jack Nance) who finds himself forced to take on the role of father to an odd-looking infant creature with a bulbous egg-shaped head. the eraser head baby is a metaphor for the deformities of the mind and a way to dive deep into the psychological constructs inherent in the characters in the film. However, what the baby symbolizes beyond this narrative function is largely interpretive, as the meanings have psychological and spiritual connotations and may resonate in different ways with different audiences.



Teeth embraces the body horror trope to great effect, equipping protagonist Dawn (Jess Weixler) with a built-in bodily mechanism to inflict pain on aggressors of all kinds. by Mitchell Lichtenstein Teeth uses the mythology surrounding the dentata vagina to subvert the film’s horror tropes, as Dawn’s state is empowering rather than limiting. Dark humor pervades the film, which also deals with heavy themes of sexual abuse and physical assault while delving into the true meaning of consent. Teeth is a worthy entry on this list purely because of its cult status and fresh take on the genre.



It’s time to complete the list with none other than Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, who has followed in his father’s footsteps and created his own unique brand of body horror. His movie 2020 Possessor is an effective portrayal of bodily autonomy, control, and the loss of it, which is explored through the character of Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough), who uses certain technology to hijack other people’s bodies in order to to accomplish missions.

However, things go awry during her final mission, in which Tasya struggles to take control of the body she inhabits, causing the two identities to bleed into each other, which is a terrifying prospect. . Brandon situates his father’s body horror tropes within the modern era, delving into the issues of rampant digitization and loss of privacy. The violence is brutal, the revelations disturbing, and the characters emerge as compelling portraits offering commentary on the personal and the political, with the body taking center stage.

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