From hangnails to horrific diseases, infections to amputations and all in between, here are 10 fright flicks that get the biology unbound right.
They say we only truly fear a few specific things: the death of a loved one; our own mortality; speaking in public (?). But buried within these specific phobias lies an equally compelling terror, one that can be summed up in two words: body horror.
For some, it's losing a limb. For others, it's an unnatural growth or tumor. Whether it's chewing on a piece of tin foil or sliding down a banister festooned with razor blades, rotting from the inside out or bouts of gross gangrene, injury to ourselves (or others, to be fair) provides a basic, inherent sense of dread. It's biology unbound, it's our own humanity out of control and harmed/harmful.
While almost all fright films trade on this trope to get us shivering, there are some that go gleefully overboard to make sure you are uncomfortable with every element of your physiology under vicious, perhaps vivisectionist, attack.
Frankenstein is one of the first scary movie monsters to use the concept. He's a homunculus made up of harvested corpse parts, after all. The Werewolf is the very essence of a shapeshifter while Dracula too can go from man to manimal in the blink of a blood-soaked eye. And yet, these aren't really prime examples of body horror.
Even movies which deal with such modifications, like John Carpenter's The Thing or David Lynch's Eraserhead aren't really invested in the subgenre proper. No, the 10 films we decided to feature on this pre-Halloween list are true examples of the concept concentrated and fully exploited. Be they brand new, or decided old school, the best of body horror elicits both sickness and shrieks. It's our own sense of self spilling its essence all over the floor. It's a fascinating freak show, and as such, we can't look away. Let's begin with: