Top 10 Best Body Horror Movies, Ranked
Fear of the blood tends to create fear for the flesh.
Out of the myriad sub-genres in cinema, body horror may be one of the most hardcore. While its origins can be traced all the way back to early 19th-century gothic fiction like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the form has mutated and evolved over the years. Exploiting our deepest fears of being violated by an unknown presence, monster, or sickness, when it’s done right, biological horror can really
get under burst out of your skin. But what are the best body horror films out there? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the top ten best body horror movies, ranked. Let’s go!
2007’s Teeth is ostensibly a feminist horror movie about a woman who develops – *checks notes* – dentata. ‘What the heck is dentata?’ I hear you asking. Well, it’s basically a very rare, real-world condition that results in a lady developing teeth in her… southern regions.
Of course, as expected for a body horror film, Teeth takes this idea and runs with it to the blood-drenched hills and beyond. Not only is almost every male character a complete pervert who wants to get in the protagonist’s knickers (portrayed excellently by Jess Weixler), but it’s a clever inversion of the frail and feeble damsel in distress trope.
If you’re a guy, prepare to cross your legs for around, say, one hour and thirty-eight minutes.
9.) The Void
I’ll be honest: If a movie has good practical effects, it automatically wins a few points for me. Case in point: 2016’s otherworldly Lovecraftian horror flick, The Void, might be the least well-known pic on this list, but what it lacks in prestige, it more than makes up for with some intensely grisly, unadulterated gore and shlock.
While ’80s-style body horror shockers like The Thing are super rare these days, newish Canadian writer-directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie channel their inner John Carpenter in one the most criminally underrated biological horror movies out there. Nefarious cults, hellish abominations, batshit crazy doctors, and mysterious gumshoes take center stage in this unsettling Lovecraftian tale of otherworldly terror and skin-crawling dread. And it comes highly recommended!
While Eraserhead may be a little too surreal for some, it’s hard to not at least appreciate its uber-weird tone, fascinating cinematography, oddball characters, industrial soundscapes, and otherworldly fairytale-like story. I mean, it’s from visionary filmmaker David Lynch, who created Twin Peaks, The Elephant Man, and Blue Velvet, amongst many other cult classics, so it’s bound to be pretty trippy, right?
Well, really, there’s weird. And then there’s Eraserhead weird, which is basically on another level entirely. Dancing woman living in a radiator? Check. Baby getting cut open? Yep. A deeply disturbing family dinner involving a twitching turkey? You betcha. Sure, it may not be a film for everyone, but it’s still a hugely influential pic that went on to influence horror classics like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
7.) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
There are few horror movies that have been remade as many times as Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Based on a 1954 sci-fi novel by Jack Finney titled the Body Snatchers, we’d opt for Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of Don Siegel’s 1956 black-and-white classic as the best of the bunch.
Focusing upon a slow, encroaching usurpation of the human race by a hostile alien species that spawn from extraterrestrial flowers, Invasion of the Body Snatchers sees a group of survivors unraveling the mystery of alien world domination while trying to escape the clutches of the evil critters.
Thing is, it’s not like The Day of the Triffids where the plants attack society directly. Nope. Instead, said flowers create copies of emotionless human beings 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 of only the most hardcore devotees of the body horror sub-genre. Written, produced, and directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, the bonkers cyberpunk 1989 black-and-white horror flick helped catapult independent Japanese cinema into the limelight back in the ’90s.
The story is largely a surreal fever dream, with nightmarish imagery and horrifying symbolism. If you’re a diehard horror enthusiast, this may be one of the strangest and most freaky films you’ll ever bear witness to. In short, only the most hardcore need apply. You’ve been warned!
It’s hard to get a villain as metal as Pinhead. Seriously, just look at him. But he doesn’t just look the part, but he also sounds it, too. Yes, not only will he tear your soul apart, but he hates tears as they’re a waste of good suffering. Oh, and yes, he has such sights to show you. Really, he’s like a walking reincarnation of every hardcore death metal band blended into one otherworldly rock-and-roll deity.
While Clive Barker’s 1987 debut went on to spawn many sequels, it’s fair to say that the OG is the best of the bunch, though its direct sequel Hellraiser 2: Hellbound is pretty underrated. Come for the sadistic and eldritch creature designs and stay for the surprisingly unpredictable goth horror fairy tale.
A campy, fun-packed debut from iconic splatterfest writer-director Stuart Gordon, Re-Animator is a no-holds-barred descent into should-I-laugh-or-should-I-vomit territory. (Chances are, you’ll likely do both.)
Mad scientist Herbert West (Jeffrey Combes) has concocted 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 USA to continue his research. The real twist is that West isn’t the true villain of the movie but instead acts as more of a likable anti-hero.
Ultimately, Re-Animator is a groundbreaking horror flick that frequently runs the gamut between laugh-out-loud hilarity and some seriously twisted gross-out moments that’ll have you reaching for a sick bag. The squeamish need not apply.
3.) The Fly
In David Cronenberg’s remake of the 1958 sci-fi classic, self-involved scientist Seth Brundle (portrayed by Jeff Goldblum) experiences a literal fly in the ointment.
Sure, while he’s invented a “telepod” that can teleport matter from one pod to another instantaneously, he still needs to complete a live specimen test before dotting the i’s and crossing those t’s. Thing is, the experiment goes horribly awry when a sneaky bluebottle hitches a ride during the experiment which fuses the two of ’em together.
Initially, Brundle seems perfectly fine. Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that his genetic makeup has been altered and intermixed with that of a common housefly. Yikes!
2.) The Thing
When you’re up against a deadly alien organism that can replicate its hosts with 100 percent authenticity, you know you’re in for a tough fight. And that’s exactly what happens in John Carpenter’s retooling of Howard Hawks’ beloved 1951 hit.
Set within an isolated research station in Antarctica, a group of scientists discovers a spacecraft that crash-landed into the nearby ice 100,000 years ago. Unlucky for them, the group unwittingly releases a hostile alien that’s lain dormant within the ice.
Kurt Russell shines brightly as the cocky and amiable helicopter pilot, while the rest of the ensemble cast breathes life into a handful of surprisingly realistic and grounded characters that are played with understated nuance and intensity. Gripping, claustrophobic, and absolutely essential viewing to anyone with a soft spot for sci-fi horror: The Thing is easily one of the best things to come out of the ’80s. (Followed closely behind by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)
What can be said that hasn’t been said about Ridley Scott’s 1979 interstellar body horror masterpiece, Alien? Well, if you’re one of the seven people who’ve yet to see the film, just stop reading this and go and watch it. Like, pronto. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
Set in the near future of 2122, a small haulage craft with a seven-man crew receives a distress call from a mysterious planet. Of course, they go and investigate, but much to their chagrin they get a lot more than they first bargained for.
A stellar cast spearheaded by Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt, combined with a lithe and tight screenplay from Dan O’Bannon, nightmarish creature designs from German artist HR Giger, and a startlingly eerie score from Jerry Goldsmith, and you’re left with one of horror’s lightning in a bottle moments. Let’s just say Alien’s dinner scene may be one of the most iconic body horror moments in the entirety of cinema. No small feat!
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