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    Ranking The 15 Most Effective Uses Of Body Horror And Gore In Horror Movies

    Hey, maybe don't read this if blood bothers you!!!

    Hey howdy hey, readers! It's your friendly neighborhood Allie back at it again with another weirdly specific, granular ranking* that absolutely no one asked for! This time around, we're returning to my personal favorite genre β€” HORROR.


    In case you missed 'em, in the past I've ranked everything from Jump Scares to Underrated Disney Songs to Fight Scenes to Plot Twists β€” heck, I even ranked PadmΓ© Amidala's Outfits back in the day (and by "the day" I mean 2018)!

    As a horror lover and apologist, I've found that β€” in recent years β€” the use of body horror and gore is often touted as "cheap" or thought to be used solely for "shock value" when, in fact, a well-placed gory moment can make the entire movie!

    Lions Gate Films

    Don't let every Saw movie after the first one ruin an entire genre for you...and yes, I'm directly calling out the Saw franchise. LOOKIN' AT YOU, BILLY THE PUPPET. Do YOU want to play a game?!

    So, with that in mind, I've taken it upon myself to rank what I personally believe are the 15 most effective and most terrifying uses of body horror and gore in horror films. Now, of course, these are all just my humble opinion β€” but, to be fair, I've spent a lot of time on this, so love me, please.

    Dimension Films

    ALSO, WARNING: Given the title, intro, and entire explanation of this post, I'm sure you can guess that this list includes quite a few descriptions of violence. I tried my best to use non-gory GIFs and linked out to the scenes in the titles for those who'd like to see them, but β€” if gore bothers you β€” take care of yourself and click away, please! I love you!

    All right, here we go! BUCKLE UP, BUTTERCUPS:

    15. Green Room (2015) β€” The Arm Scene


    Some Context: A punk rock band accidentally witnesses something horrifying after they begrudgingly play for a crowd of neo-Nazis (no, like, actual neo-Nazis). They are then locked in the venue's green room (lol, she said the title) while said neo-Nazis try to decide the best way to dispose of them so they can't rat them out. While trying to escape, one of the band member's arms is completely hacked to bits while he's trapped in a door, and it remains that way throughout the film. Also, Patrick Stewart plays a big ol' meanie in it and it'll make you sad because, Professor X, how could you???

    Why It Works: This movie has a secure spot on my "More People Should've Seen This Movie" list. The claustrophobia of the entire film is really encapsulated in this one gross scene. He can't even stick his ARM out of the door without it getting hacked at. It's an A+ example of GOOD shock value because it not only sets the incredibly high stakes of the band's situation, but the truly messed-up state of the character's arm plays into the rest of the story.

    14. Freaks (1932) β€” The Ending Scene


    Some Context: A group of carnival employees are duped by a crooked couple hell-bent on stealing one of the wealthier employee's money. They exact revenge on the woman who tricked them by brutally mutilating her in an attempt to, quite literally, make her one of them (see above gif for visual aid). ONE OF US. ONE OF US. ONE OF US.

    Why It Works: It's an oldie but a goodie, to be sure! Sometimes you just have to give a spot on your list to respect the O.G. scares that came before, ya know? While a lot of people probably don't consider this too terrifying by today's standards β€” when it was released, a woman sued the studio over claims that she'd miscarried out of fear.

    13. Final Destination 2 (2003) β€” The Opening Scene

    New Line Cinema

    Some Context: A terrifying car accident that massacres a buttload of people in an absolute bloodbath of an opening scene ends up being a really awful daydream this one girl has β€” or is it?! (It's not.)

    Why It Works: No matter how silly the premise of these movies was, you have to admit β€” a lot of the methods of death were so freaky, they stayed with you. This was my personal favorite one they did, specifically because I can't drive behind a truck carrying logs anymore without shouting, "FINAL DESTINATION 2!!!" at whoever's in the car with me (I'm not fun to drive with).

    12. Gerald's Game (2017) β€” The Hand Scene


    Some Context: One of the most underutilized, underrated actors of all time (we stan Carla Gugino in house) is handcuffed to a bed during sexy time by her shitty husband β€” who then becomes even shittier by promptly dying afterwards and leaving her trapped, hand-cuffed to the bed posts with no escape. Still, that doesn't stop her from trying to break loose by cutting her hand and trying to slip out of the cuffs by STRAIGHT-UP RIPPING HER HAND'S SKIN OFF LIKE A GLOVE, resulting in one of the grossest effects I've seen in recent memory.

    Why It Works: As someone with high-functioning anxiety, the trailer for this almost gave me a full-on panic attack when I wrote it up back in 2017. They make sex-safe handcuffs with self-releasing locks for a reason β€” not that I would know about that. Hi mom, I know you're reading this since you read all my posts. What a coincidence, because I'm about to go to bible study once I finish writing this!

    11. Jaws (1975) β€” The Alex Scene

    Universal Pictures

    Some Context: Everyone's like, "Don't go in the water, there's a big shark!" and the mayor is like "But money!" Then a child goes in the water and is horrendously killed and eaten by the big shark and the mayor is like, "But money, though?!"

    Why It Works: You'll see this theme appear again later down this list, but any time something happens to a child β€” even if it's mostly off-screen β€” it's shocking. We're conditioned to think children are safe from the horrors of, well, horror β€” so when a writer goes there, it's always nightmare-inducing. Plus, we get that famous Vertigo shot in this scene that everyone in film school loves trying to do.

    10. Cabin Fever (2002) β€” The Leg Shave Scene

    Lionsgate Films

    Some Context: A blood-infection spreading through the water supply causes a bunch of sexy college students' skin to start peeling off in increasingly disgusting ways β€” the ickiest being when chunks of flesh start coming off while the Yellow Power Ranger (Cerina Vincent) is shaving her legs. Also, Shawn from Boy Mets World is in this and it's jarring! (Also-also, the title of this movie never DOESN'T make me think of that song from Muppet's Treasure Island.)

    Why It Works: UM, NO THANKS?! That's literally it β€” just, big yikes. Ew. I think of this scene every single time I shave my legs, and I hate it (but that's also why I love it, because it's been 15+ years since I first saw it). Thanks a lot, Eli Roth.

    9. The Thing (1982) β€” The Tummy Scene

    Universal Pictures

    Some Context: The plot of this movie can be summed up in a modern context as, "Have you ever played Among Us?" Anyway, in the scene in question, a crew member is having a heart attack β€” and then his torso quite literally attacks a fellow crew member, becoming a gaping mouth and biting both of the man's arms off. Body horror in which the body BECOMES the horror. Also, let's talk about Kurt Russell's mane in this because it's Exquisite with a capital "E."

    Why It Works: This exact moment ALSO made my "Best Jump Scares of All Time" ranking (self-promo, heyyy) because it's absolutely ridiculous. A scary tummy takes off both of a man's arms in the practical effect to end all practical effects. It's iconic and, also, disgusting.

    8. Hereditary (2018) β€” The Head Scene


    Some Context: The nerdy kid from the new Jumanji is kind of a dick to his younger sister β€” who is played by the most terrifying child I've ever seen in my life β€” when he's forced to bring her to a party. After she eats some nuts we've been foreshadowed-ing-ly(?) told she's 100% allergic to, he rushes her home. She sticks her out of the moving car's window to get some air, and her HEAD IS KNOCKED OFF BY A STREET SIGN.

    Why It Works: So, a quick fun story time about me, Allie, the person writing this: I had a reoccurring nightmare when I was a child about headless people? We're talking an every other night thing? So, with that context, headless people really β€” how do I say this diplomatically β€” freak me the heck out??? This entire sequence is shocking, and the sudden jump cut to a CHILD'S ANT-EATEN HEAD is pure nightmare fuel.

    7. Candyman (1992) β€” The Bees Scene

    TriStar Pictures

    Some Context: A horror villain who's voice is actual ASMR would very much like this lady to say his name five times (he requires more effort than Beetlejuice). Anyway, he tricks her into his lair and reveals his insides are made up of mostly bees. All men are filled with bees in one form or another, am I right, ladies?! (IDK what that even means, I'm so sorry.)

    Why It Works: I really like bees. I seriously have a tattoo of a lil' bumble bee on my arm (she's cute). We need more bees on this planet. That being said, I DO NOT LIKE BEES ENOUGH THAT I WANT THEM INSIDE OF MY BODY. HARD. PASS. Also, fun fact: Actor Tony Todd (whose voice I would very much like to have narrate my life) had to hold all of those very real bees in his mouth while shooting this sequence, but negotiated a $1,000 bonus for every time he was stung. He was stung 23 times.

    6. Alien (1979) β€” The Chestburster Scene

    20th Century Fox

    Some Context: What begins as a simple meal between astronauts on a spaceship ends with a whole-ass alien poppin' out of a man's chest. It's! Nasty! As scary as the scene itself is, I will never not love the way the lil' alien runs away afterwards. Just look at him go! Cute lil' guy! You stay outta trouble (and other people's bodies) now, ya hear?!

    Why It Works: If I didn't put this scene on here somewhere, could you imagine the comments? I'm fairly certain I'm legally obligated to include it (don't fact check that)? Still, it's beloved for a reason and remains one of the best executed shocks in all of cinema, and it's made that way BECAUSE of how gory it is, not in SPITE of it. It also showcases my personal favorite horror trope: "Foreign Thing In Body That Does Not Belong There."

    5. Misery (1990) β€” The Hobbling Scene

    Columbia Pictures

    Some Context: The human embodiment of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" song terrorizes an author she really enjoys. She wants him to finish the series he's writing but he's like, "Please, no." So she positively SHATTERS his leg with a sledgehammer to give him more downtime to write (oh, and, ya know, so he can't leave her).

    Why It Works: I saw this scene on accident WAY TOO YOUNG (I was haphazardly flipping through channels and was like AH, MY EYES, MY WAY-TOO-YOUNG EYES) and it has never left my dumb brain. I hate it. And that's exactly why it's here, because a good use of grossness sticks with you.

    4. Suspira (1977) β€” The Ceiling Scene

    20th Century Fox/International Classics

    Some Context: Ballerinas! Witches! Bright colors! A soundtrack that slaps way harder than it has any real right to! I love this weird-ass movie! Anyway, at the very beginning, we see one of the young dancers stabbed repeatedly then hung from a bright, colorful skylight. It's terrifying, but also, stunning??? I would 100% buy an art print of it???

    Why It Works: The original Suspira is one of those films that makes art out of gore so marvelously, it gets to the point where you almost forget what you're looking at. Dario Argento's use of color is second to none and this scene is one hell of a way to open a movie. Also, a rare honorable mention, but I really liked the remake, which has another excellent body horror scene that would've 100% made it on this list if was 30 and not 15.

    3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) β€” Also, The Ceiling Scene

    New Line Cinema

    Some Context: One, two, Freddy's coming for you. Three, four β€” just don't fall asleep. That's literally it. That's the film. Don't do it. He'll get ya β€” like with this young lady, whom he viciously drags up onto the ceiling before ripping her open. It's a beautiful ballet of blood! Or what it'd be like if that one fight scene in Inception was way gorier!

    Why It Works: Your girl here has a thing about blood and ceilings, I guess? This scene's high appearance on the list shouldn't be all that shocking, considering it's pretty widely-beloved by fans of this genre, since it's technically the Freddy's first on-screen kill. Also, it's just really cool-looking?!

    2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) β€” The...Ya Know What? The Entire Movie, All The Scenes

    Bryanston Distributing Company

    Some Context: A film that asks, "What if EVERY member of a single family just was Ed Gein?"

    Why It Works: This is my stupid list, so yes, I do get to cheat and put an entire film on it at number 2 if I want! I make the rules! I say who! I say when! I say how much β€” sorry, a tangent. Anyway, I could talk for actual hours about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and how it's a masterclass in body horror and how it influenced every single torture film that came after it, but ain't nobody got time for that. If you love horror, but have never gotten around to the original β€” I implore you to check it out.

    1. Audition (1999) β€” The Torture Scene

    Omega Project

    Some Context: A gentleman's film producer friend holds an audition (lol, she said the title again) pretending it's for a film part, when really it's for the role of his new girlfriend. Gross. Anyway, nothing good comes out of it, resulting in the single most terrifying torture sequence of all time. Period. End of sentence. I'm not even going to describe it to you, because no amount of words could do it justice.

    Why It Works: I have been mesmerized by this film since I first heard about it on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments (who else remembers those specials?!). It was my gateway into Japanese horror, and I will forever be grateful. Plus, this torture scene is so unequivocally brutal β€” Saw and Hostel could never. You hear me? NEVER. It's still the best build-up to gore I've ever seen that is both expertly foreshadowed and inexplicably horrifying. I will say, though β€” do NOT watch this film if you have a soft stomach or plan to eat, like, ever again.

    Okay so, you've read my list β€” but what's yours? What's your personal favorite use of body horror and/or gore in a horror movie? Share yours in the comments below! I seriously read all the comments!!! I can't help it!!! No judgement here, just fake blood and real love!

    Thanks for readin'! Until my next ranking β€” see ya around, lovebirds!