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]

Notable graphic novels[edit]

  • Parasyte (Kiseijū) (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, 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.

  • 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 and Nostrums grant the player "psychic" powers; 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 In this game, the Big Daddy has been replaced by the Handyman, a human whose spinal cord, head and heart have been connected to a steampunk robotic frame with minor effects like Psychological traumas as one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.
  • Parasite Eve, 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.
  • In Dead Space, the primary antagonists of the series are mutated humans, called necromorphs.
  • Outlast, 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.

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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