List of body horror media
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Body horror, biological horror, organic horror or visceral horror is horror fiction in which the horror is principally derived from the unnatural graphic transformation, degeneration or destruction of the physical body. Such works may deal with decay, disease, deformity, parasitism, mutation or mutilation. Other types of body horror include unnatural movements or the anatomically incorrect placement of limbs to create "monsters" from human body parts. David Cronenberg, Frank Henenlotter, Brian Yuzna, Stuart Gordon, Lloyd Kaufman, and Clive Barker are notable directors of this genre. The term body horror was coined with the "Body Horror" theme issue of the University of Glasgow film journal Screen (vol. 27, no. 1, January–February 1986), which contains several essays on the subject.
Notable films and television series
In his introduction to The Mammoth Book of Body Horror, the film director Stuart Gordon says that "Body Horror has been with us since long before there were movies". According to the summary of this anthology, the important writers of Body Horror are :
- Mary Shelley
- Edgar Allan Poe
- H. P. Lovecraft
- John W. Campbell
- George Langelaan
- Richard Matheson
- Stephen King
- Clive Barker
- Robert Bloch
- Ramsey Campbell
- Brian Lumley
- Nancy A. Collins
- Richard Christian Matheson
- Michael Marshall Smith
- Neil Gaiman
- James Herbert
- Christopher Fowler
- Alice Henderson
- Graham Masterton
- Gemma Files
- Simon Clark
- Barbie Wilde
- David Moody
- Axelle Carolyn
- Tony Vilgotsky
- H. G. Wells
But others names could be quoted, according to Xavier Aldana Reyes in his book Body Gothic :
Notable graphic novels
|The Visible Man (2000 AD)||1978–2012||wherein a man suffers a nuclear waste accident, making his internal organs visible.|
|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.|
|Ruins||1995||wherein the Marvel universe goes horribly wrong, most notably Bruce Banner turning into a pile of tumors (and yet he's still alive.).|
|Black Hole||1995–2005||wherein a sexually transmitted disease gives teenagers in a small town grotesque mutations.|
|Uzumaki||1998–1999||wherein humans distort into spirals.|
|Saya no Uta||2003–2013||wherein the main character Fuminori has agnosia as known as "meat-vision".|
|Extremis||2005||wherein a virus makes the body re-interpret itself as an open wound, thus forming a scab cocoon around the body.|
|Animal Man||2011–2014||The New 52 ongoing Animal Man features many body horror elements including grotesque mutations, disease and decomposition of animals, plants and humans alike.|
|Dorohedoro||1999–present||People are alive due to magic after decapitation, fungi grow from people's bodies, etc.|
|Hino Horror||1983–2004||Later adapted into the Guinea Pig film series. Features transformations and mutilation.|
|Made In Abyss||2012-present||A massive pit causes numerous ailments for returning explorers, depending on depth. Past a certain point, grotesque transformations/mutations or agonizing death are all but certain.|
|Druuna||1985-present||An infectious disease called "the Evil" lets peoples' bodies mutate into various forms which are not necessarily recognisable as humanoid.|
Use in video games
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.
|Amnesia: The Dark Descent & Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs||2010 & 2013||The gatherer enemies are deformed human-like monsters; their eyelids are cut off and their bottom jaw is mutilated and stretched down and attached to their chests leaving their mouths permanently open.|
|BioShock series||2007–2014||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 trauma.|
|Dead Space series||2008–2013||The primary enemies of the series are called Necromorphs, which are mutated humans with protruding appendages, open wounds, and rotting 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 known as Headcrabs attach themselves to heads of people and cause them to develop mutations such as elongated claws and gaping jaws in their chests.|
|Inside||2016||An indie puzzle platformer developed by Playdead. Inside tells the story about a young boy as he struggles against evil forces trying to take over the world. The boy infiltrates a massive facility where scientists perform mind-control and underwater experiments on human bodies.|
|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.|
|Resident Evil series||1996–present||A pharmaceutical company uses a mutagenic T-Virus in order to produce monsters to sell as weapons. The most basic were zombie versions of whatever organism was infected or giant versions of insects. There are also human/insect and human/reptilian hybrids, malformed super-soldiers called "Tyrants", and various other mutants. Later games introduce, for example, more viruses and las plagas (an ancient parasite which take over animal nervous systems).|
|Parasite Eve series||1998–2010||The Squaresoft (now known as Square Enix) video game based on the 1996 Japanese SF 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 multicellular 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.|
|The Thing||2002||A sequel to the 1982 film The Thing, player follows Captain Blake, a member of a U.S. Special Forces team sent to the Antarctic outpost featured in the film to determine what has happened to the research crew. The enemies encountered come in three main forms. "Scuttlers" are small Things formed from the limbs and appendages of infected personnel. "Walkers" are larger and much stronger than Scuttlers, and finally the Bosses are larger and much more powerful than Walkers.|
|Soma||2015||A SF survival horror game developed by Frictional Games.|
Use in tabletop gaming
|Magic: The Gathering||1993–present||The basis of Phyrexia, an antagonist faction composed of assimilatory biomechanical undead. The Scars of Mirrodin block in particular focuses on this theme, in which assimilation and infection are emphasised upon, and Phyrexia has branched into all colours of mana, introducing new forms of mutilation.
In the Shadows Over Innistrad block, the gothic horror inspired setting of Innistrad undergoes a transformation; at first marked by subtle mutations in both the human and the already-monstrous living residents, it gruesomely distorts many of the plane's inhabitants in the image of the invading cosmic being, Emrakul.
|Warhammer||1983–present||Mutation and bodily modification are emphasised upon in the Chaos factions.|
|Kingdom Death: Monster||2012–present||Monsters contain extensive incorporation of human body parts.|
- Definition of "body horror". CollinsDictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved November 01, 2012.
- "Horror Film History — Horror Films in the 1980s". Horrorfilmhistory.com. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- Kyle Turner, "Trapped in the Closet: “Closet Monster” and Queer Body Horror". Movie Mezzanine, September 21, 2016.
- Thill, Scott (2009-01-04). "Cronenberg Drifts From Tech Horror, but Shocks Remain". Wired.com. Archived from the original on 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- "Taxidermia Review – Read Variety's Analysis Of The Movie Taxidermia". Variety.com. 2006-02-05. Retrieved 2009-09-09.