Body horror

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Body horror, biological horror, organic horror or venereal horror is horror fiction in which the horror is principally derived from the graphic destruction or degeneration of the body.[1] Such works may deal with disease, decay, parasitism, mutilation, or mutation. Other types of body horror include unnatural movements, or the anatomically incorrect placement of limbs to create 'monsters' out of human body parts. David Cronenberg, Frank Henenlotter, Brian Yuzna, Stuart Gordon, Lloyd Kaufman, and Clive Barker are notable directors of this genre.

Notable films and television series[edit]

Novel Year Description
Akira 1988
Alien (franchise) 1979-present [2]
Altered States 1980
American Mary 2012
Antiviral 2012
The Blob 1958 including it's 1972 sequel Beware! The Blob and 1988 remake The Blob (1988)
The Brain 1988
Cabin Fever 2002
Deadgirl 2008
Eraserhead 1977
eXistenZ 1999
From Beyond 1986
Re-Animator 1985 [2]
The Fly (1958 film) 1958 and its 1959 and 1965 sequels, the 1986 remake, and the 1989 sequel to the remake[3]
The Hands of Orlac 1960
Hellraiser (franchise) 1987-present
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) 2009 and its 2011 and 2015 sequels.
The Incredible Melting Man 1977 [2]
The Invasion (film) 2007
Jacob's Ladder (film) 1990
Leviathan (1989 film) 1989
Looper (film) (2012) the scene in which Old Seth is forced to turn himself in to his assassins
Marianne (2011 film) 2011
Parasyte 2014
Possession (1981 film) 1981
Repo Men 2010
Rosemary's Baby (film) 1968
Shivers (film) 1975
Slither (2006 film) 2006
Society (film) 1989
Splinter (2008 film) 2008
Spring (2014 film) 2014
Street Trash 1987
Taxidermia 2006 [4]
Teeth (film) 2007
Tetsuo: The Iron Man 1989 and its 1992 and 2010 sequels.
Thanatomorphose 2012
The Thing (1982 film) 1982 and its 2011 prequel [2]
Thinner (film) 1996
The Ruins (film) 2008
Tusk (2014 film) 2014
Videodrome 1983 [3]
Virus (1999 film) 1999

Notable graphic novels[edit]

Novel Year Description
Parasyte 1988-1995 wherein human bodies are taken over by parasitic extraterrestrial organisms.
The Invisibles 1994–2000 wherein the human converts of an invading interdimensional force are selected for "modification".
Ed the Happy Clown 1983-2006 wherein the titular character endures having the tip of his penis replaced with the head of Ronald Reagan.
Black Hole 1995–2005 wherein a sexually transmitted disease gives teenagers in a small town grotesque mutations.

Use in video games[edit]

In recent years the subjects of human experimentation, medical research, and infection have played large roles in video games whose plots are heavily influenced by themes common in body horror.

Video Game Year Description
Amnesia: The Dark Descent 2010 The gatherer enemies are deformed human like monsters, their eyelids are cut off and bottom jaw is mutilated and stretched down and attached to there chests leaving their mouths permanently opened.
Bioshock (series) 2007-2013 Both BioShock and BioShock 2 consist of enemies called Splicers, who were once normal humans that were heavily mutated and driven insane from a drug called ADAM, which they used to re-write their genetic codes to develop "psychic" powers such as telekinesis and pyrokinesis. The game also contains the iconic Big Daddy, which is a man whose skin has been removed, and whose organs have been grafted to the inside of a modified deep-sea diving suit. BioShock Infinite uses a similar premise, although in this case series of compounds called Vigors grant the player extraordinary abilities; however, unlike ADAM they are consumed orally rather than injected. In this game, the Big Daddy has been replaced by the Handyman, a human whose spinal cord, head and heart have been connected to a steampunk robotic frame with minor effects like Psychological traumas as one of results.
Dead Space (series) 2008-2013 The primary enemies of the series are called necromorphs which are mutated humans with protruding appendage, open wounds and potting flesh
Fallout (series) 1997-present The fallout games take place in a post apocalyptic wasteland and as such many of the enemies and species have physical deformities from the radiation.
Half-life (series) 1998-2007 Parasitic monsters know as headcrabs attach themselves to to heads of people and causes them to develop mutations such as elongated claws and a gaping jaw in their chest
Outlast 2013 A first person survival horror game in which an investigative journalist explores an asylum housing inmates displaying various degrees of bodily mutilation and/or mutation.
Parasite Eve 1998 The Squaresoft (now known as Square Enix) video game based on the 1996 Japanese Science fiction horror novel of the same title, was released in 1998. The premise of both the novel and "cinematic RPG" being that the mitochondria, organelles from early aerobic bacteria that formed a symbiotic partnership with cells of most present day multicelluar eukaryotes, e.g. humans, are able to retain their separate identity as independent organisms in the form of cellular parasites. A dispersed intelligence, known as Eve, was able to take over the consciousness of certain individuals to make them reproduce and form an ultimate organism that will bring the downfall of humanity and other creatures alike.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ body horror. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved November 01, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Horror Film History — Horror Films in the 1980s". Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  3. ^ a b Thill, Scott (2009-01-04). "Cronenberg Drifts From Tech Horror, but Shocks Remain". Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  4. ^ "Taxidermia Review – Read Variety's Analysis Of The Movie Taxidermia". 2006-02-05. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 

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