The horror genre is a must-watch for thrill seekers. However, a subgenre called body horror is equally disturbing and stomach-churning. Body horror is gruesome and distressing, like most horror movies.
However, it focuses more on the human body’s defilement and grotesque transformation. This article’s top 13 body horror movies tell disturbing and fascinating stories.
We’ve scoured Reddit, online message boards, and movie reviews to give you the front-row seat to this movie mayhem. So, buckle up and prepare for a wild cinematic ride.
1. Possessor (2020)
English 1h 43m IMDb
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Stars: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Brandon Cronenberg, the body horror king’s son, directed this mind-bending film. The movie revolves around Tasya Vos. She’s an assassin who uses sinister technology to infiltrate another person’s mind.
She aims to assassinate her victims without tracing them back to her or her clients. However, things get wrong when the mercenary and the controlled body have a conflict.
It navigates the relationship between violence and sexuality, like most films from this genre. However, it takes on a modern approach suitable for the present time. It explores the chilling consequences of the digital age.
2. Titane (2021)
French 1h 48m IMDb
Director: Julia Ducournau
Stars: Vincent Lindon, Agathe Rousselle, Garance Marillier
This highly acclaimed and multi-awarded masterpiece by Julia Ducournau elicits deep, dark emotions. It explores a girl’s tale of having a titanium brain implant following a childhood accident.
As an adult, she entered the world of car modeling and exotic dancing. It is where she explored her sexuality. To fully enjoy the film’s unbelievable experience, it’s best to hold off on reading spoilers.
It’s a journey you need to take without any hint of additional information. It may be visceral, mortifying, and gruesome but injected with morality. It should be on the must-watch list of avid moviegoers, especially those who enjoy bizarre and mind-blowing films.
3. The Brood (1979)
English 1h 32m IMDb
Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle
This classic film has body horror mastermind David Cronenberg at its helm. It tells the story of Nola, a woman said to be patterned after the director’s estranged wife.
She’s getting unusual psychological treatments for her mental health problems. Her family’s life turned upside down when anamorphic children started a killing spree.
The film contains several sinister scenes due to experimental treatments. Some people who watched this movie as children claimed it scared them away. It’s creepy cinema, made more brilliant by the actors’ performance.
4. The Thing (1982)
English, Norwegian 1h 49m IMDb
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
This John Carpenter classic body horror movie had a cult following in the 80s. It still gave the chills to movie fans across many generations. The all-male ensemble led by Kurt Russel played researchers in an Artic facility.
It sparked paranoia when an alien lifeform started to possess the men. It followed the form of its victim and moved from one host to another. The result is bloody mayhem made more intense by the isolated and enclosed location.
Special effects may have been old-school, given the technology during that period. However, the director’s claustrophobic shots elicited feelings of dread.
5. Society (1989)
English 1h 39m IMDb
Director: Brian Yuzna
Stars: Billy Warlock, Concetta D’Agnese, Ben Slack
Society is a body horror film that explores the religious cults in Beverly Hills. It revolves around Billy, a teenager whose wealthy parents join an elite, horrendous cult. Everything in his home isn’t what they seem.
His paranoia heightens whenever he discovers something very off in his family’s behavior. Like most 80s movies, Society has its share of cheesy dialogue and unnecessary erotic scenes.
However, it made up for the haunting music and the frightening, gruesome scenes. It’s a classic case of not judging the book by its cover. A warning: make sure you don’t watch on a full stomach.
6. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
Japanese 1h 7m IMDb
Director: Shin’ya Tsukamoto
Stars: Tomorô Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka
This film became a cinematic masterpiece despite being a low-budget project. It’s a combination of genius and madness. It’s a story of a white-collar employee man who accidentally hits a metal fetishist with his car.
The sadomasochist, “metal man,” did not die. Instead, he went through an astonishing transformation that disfigured the human flesh.
It’s a mind-blowing narrative that can only come from an original mind. It’s far from something you’ve seen before. The presentation is hardcore and graphic, something you should not be watching alone or at night.
7. The Fly (1986)
English 1h 36m IMDb
Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
This movie placed David Cronenberg on the map of body horror films. It stars Jeff Goldblum as Seth, one his most significant roles ever. He plays a scientist who accidentally tests his biotechnological experiment on himself.
Things went downhill when he started taking the form of a fly. It turns out that the insect was inside the machine during his investigation. Its special effects were technologically-forward for its time.
It’s a story of a scientist going too far and retaining some of his humanity. Some viewers shared that filmmakers don’t make these kinds of movies anymore.
8. Eraserhead (1977)
English 1h 29m IMDb
Director: David Lynch
Stars: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph
This black-and-white film takes place in a mysterious industrial wasteland. A sad man named Henry Spencer lives a miserable life. It became more tragic when his angry girlfriend told him she had given birth to an unspeakable child.
It’s a howling, despicable mutant that made their lives more horrifying. Viewers have revealed that it is one of the most surrealist films ever made. Yes, you’ll get baffled about so many elements, but that is where the beauty lies.
Sometimes it isn’t about the plot. Instead, it’s about the subtle revelations that make you think. It’s a crazy look into the human psyche and the parenting journey.
9. Videodrome (1983)
English, Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian 1h 27m IMDb
Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: James Woods, Debbie Harry, Sonja Smits
Another one of David Cronenberg’s body horror classics, Videodrome, explores the effects of media violence. In an astounding performance, James Woods is Max Renn, a TV station president obsessed with a television show.
He started to experience hallucinations after watching the show. Then, he succumbed to body and mind alterations. It’s a cinematic masterpiece that takes subtle jabs at the media’s negative impacts on the human mind.
Fans of the film revealed that the movie wasn’t what it seemed. The special effects were fascinating, given the limited technology during the 80s. It tells a chilling story that can still be relevant today.
10. The Prince of Darkness (1987)
English, Latin 1h 42m IMDb
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Jameson Parker
This film is one of the underrated John Carpenter creations. It follows a group of physicists investigating a mysterious liquid found in a church basement. Some people believed the canister contained the secret to ending the world, so they started harassing the researchers.
Hellish events began when one of the members was accidentally exposed to the liquid. He started eliciting unusual and sinister behavior.
While the movie’s release was almost 40 years ago, the theme resonates until the present time. It’s like the book of revelation getting a more frightening makeover. It’s also famous for its wicked soundtrack that will haunt you for years.
11. From Beyond (1986)
English 1h 25m IMDb
Director: Stuart Gordon
Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel
Based on an H.P Lovecraft tale, this movie is directed by another body horror innovator, Stuart Gordon. It revealed how an experiment on alternative reality affects a person.
The scientist in charge of the study transforms into a monster. He changes into various grisly forms that disfigure his human body. Some demons from the other side penetrated the natural world and began eating people.
This underrated movie made fans revel in its unusual yet scary plot. Even without fancy special effects, it captured the creepiness of the monsters.
12. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
English, French 1h 55m IMDb
Director: Philip Kaufman
Stars: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum
This movie remake is a perfect combination of body horror and science fiction. The horrible violence and the bizarre creatures offered an exciting narrative. The story began when sinister parasites from another planet invaded San Francisco.
These odd creatures took the form of the citizens’ bodies. The lead investigator must overcome his paranoia to solve the mystery. However, it becomes harder knowing he can’t trust anybody.
The attention to the creatures’ details made this film stand out among movies released in the 70s. Fans of this cult classic can’t get over the brilliant sci-fi ending. It’s a satisfying watch, no matter what genre you belong to.
13. American Mary (2012)
English, Hungarian, German 1h 43m IMDb
Director: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Stars: Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk
This horror movie may have a female lead but veered away from Hollywood cliches. As an independent film, it took the liberty of exposing the sinister world of the dark web. The story revolves around Mary.
She’s a former medical student forced to perform an illegal surgical procedure on a criminal. Since the task paid well, she decided to open a business. It specializes in atrocious cosmetic surgeries.
This movie is body horror personified as it showcases gruesome transformations. It did not bank on famous movie stars but garnered a cult following. The beautiful lead is an ironic take on the ugly acts she does to her “patients.”
The article’s top 13 body horror movies proved that gore and science fiction go hand in hand. Yes, they are gruesome and disgusting on so many levels. However, these films also dove into the human psyche.
They also revealed the impact of the environment on one’s behavior. These movies share a common factor of having brilliant directors who brought their crazy ideas to life.