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44 Body Horror Movies To Kill Your Appetite

Because nothing says "Thanksgiving" like being too grossed-out to eat. WARNING: Major gore ahead. Also, spoilers! Proceed at your own risk.

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Body horror is defined as "a horror film genre in which the main feature is the graphically depicted destruction or degeneration of a human body or bodies." It is best enjoyed on an empty stomach. With that in mind, here are some of the finest, most cringe-inducing body horror films of all time — definitely not for the faint of heart.

1. Eraserhead (1977)

Criterion

Directed by: David Lynch

Written by: David Lynch

What it's about: Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is abandoned by his girlfriend Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) and left to care for their child, an incessantly crying infant that may not be human.

Key body horror moment: Spencer removes his child's swaddling and realizes it has no skin. Without anything to hold them in, the child's organs spill out, and Spencer cuts them apart with scissors.

2. Rabid (1977)

Somerville House

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Written by: David Cronenberg

What it's about: After a motorcycle accident, Rose (Marilyn Chambers) gets experimental skin grafting surgery. Soon she's hungering for human blood and turning all her victims into equally rabid zombies.

Key body horror moment: From the new orifice in Rose's armpit — which, it's worth noting, looks very much like a vagina — a phallic stinger emerges to drain blood from her victims.

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3. The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

Shout! Factory

Directed by: William Sachs

Written by: William Sachs

What it's about: Doesn't the title say it all? Astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) returns from a trip to Saturn where his fellow astronauts were killed by a radiation blast. As Alex's skin begins melting away, he is forced to eat human flesh to survive.

Key body horror moment: Unable to go on any longer, West collapses and ultimately melts into a pile of goo, which a janitor mops up with little fanfare the next morning.

4. Alien (1979)

20th Century Fox

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Written by: Dan O'Bannon

What it's about: Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the crew of the Nostromo defend themselves against an alien that gestates as a parasite and grows into a seven-foot monster.

Key body horror moment: Shortly after a facehugger leaps from an egg and latches on to Kane's (John Hurt) face, he writhes in pain as a baby alien bursts forth from his chest and kills him.

5. The Brood (1979)

MGM

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Written by: David Cronenberg

What it's about: As Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) fights a custody battle with his disturbed wife, Nola (Samantha Eggar), her experimental treatment at the hands of Dr. Raglan (Oliver Reed) produces a brood of murderous children.

Key body horror moment: The body of one of Nola's homicidal children is given an autopsy, revealing no belly button, sex organs, or teeth.

6. Altered States (1980)

Warner Bros.

Directed by: Ken Russell

Written by: Paddy Chayefsky

What it's about: Professor Edward Jessup (William Hurt) is studying other states of consciousness when he begins to experiment with powerful hallucinogens that actually change his body.

Key body horror moment: As his hallucinations intensify, Edward eventually emerges from his isolation tank as a formless primordial mass with very few of his human characteristics intact.

7. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Universal Studios

Directed by: John Landis

Written by: John Landis

What it's about: David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne) are attacked by a werewolf while on vacation in London. Jack is killed and David begins to transform into the creature.

Key body horror moment: While the werewolf transformation itself is visceral and disturbing, there's also Jack's posthumous return to David as a decaying corpse with slash marks down his face.

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8. Scanners (1981)

Criterion

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Written by: David Cronenberg

What it's about: Scanners are people with unique psychic powers, including telepathy and pyrokinesis. ConSec is a company attempting to harness scanners' abilities as weapons.

Key body horror moment: In one of the most GIF-ed gross-out moments of all time, a ConSec demonstration of scanners is sabotaged, culminating in the scanner's head exploding.

9. Possession (1981)

Anchor Bay

Directed by: Andrzej Żuławski

Written by: Frederic Tuten and Andrzej Żuławski

What it's about: Anna (Isabelle Adjani) wants a divorce from her spy husband, Mark (Sam Neill). As her behavior grows increasingly erratic, Mark discovers that she has taken up with a creature that morphs over time.

Key body horror moment: Two words — "tentacle sex." Anna makes love to the not yet fully developed creature, with tentacles, blood, and other fluids flying everywhere.

10. The Thing (1982)

Universal Pictures

Directed by: John Carpenter

Written by: Bill Lancaster

What it's about: At an Antarctic research station, a parasitic alien preys on scientists, adopting their physical features and inspiring paranoia within the ranks.

Key body horror moment: Norris (Charles Hallahan) appears to suffer a heart attack, but when the group tries to help him, his body opens up and he transforms into a hideously mutated version of Norris.

11. The Beast Within (1982)

Shout! Factory

Directed by: Philippe Mora

Written by: Tom Holland

What it's about: Seventeen-year-old Michael MacCleary (Paul Clemens) returns to the town where he was conceived and becomes possessed by the spirit of a creature seeking revenge.

Key body horror moment: The excruciatingly long transformation scene, in which Michael's head balloons as a monstrous tongue whips around from his face, until the creature inside him tears him apart from within to be reborn.

12. Basket Case (1982)

Something Weird Video

Directed by: Frank Henenlotter

Written by: Frank Henenlotter

What it's about: Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and his deformed conjoined twin brother go on a killing spree as revenge against the doctors who separated them.

Key body horror moment: Though small and malformed, the deformed twin crawls across his bedroom floor using his hands to drag his torso, and destroys everything in his wake.

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13. Videodrome (1983)

Universal Pictures

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Written by: David Cronenberg

What it's about: Max Renn (James Woods) stumbles upon Videodrome, a program where victims are tortured and murdered for entertainment. Shortly after, he starts to lose touch with reality.

Key body horror moment: Max's torso turns into a new (and vaginal) orifice that doubles as a VCR. At one point, he gets a brainwashing VHS tape shoved into his new hole.

14. Re-Animator (1985)

Image Entertainment

Directed by: Stuart Gordon

Written by: Stuart Gordon, William J. Norris, and Dennis Paoli

What it's about: Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) learns how to reanimate dead flesh. With the help of fellow medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), he begins turning corpses into zombies.

Key body horror moment: Dr. Hill (David Gale) has his head and body reanimated separately. Dr. Hill's body sexually assaults Dan's fiancée, Megan (Barbara Crampton), by shoving his severed head between her legs.

15. The Stuff (1985)

Image Entertainment

Directed by: Larry Cohen

Written by: Larry Cohen

What it's about: Mo Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) is hired to find the origins of a mysterious new food product called "the Stuff," which is sweet and highly addictive. He soon learns it's a parasitic creature feeding off the people who consume it.

Key body horror moment: Charlie Hobbs (Garrett Morris) opens his mouth wider than is humanly possible. The Stuff begins spurting out from his throat, until his entire body explodes into pieces.

16. From Beyond (1986)

MGM

Directed by: Stuart Gordon

Written by: Dennis Paoli

What it's about: Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and his assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), experiment with the Resonator, a machine that allows them to see into an alternate reality, but with serious consequences.

Key body horror moment: Though believed to be dead, Dr. Pretorius returns as a slimy, mutated version of himself. But when Dr. Crawford tries to touch him, Pretorius literally falls apart.

17. The Fly (1986)

20th Century Fox

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Written by: Charles Edward Pogue and David Cronenberg

What it's about: While experimenting with teleportation, scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) accidentally splices his DNA with a housefly's and slowly transforms into a hybrid creature.

Key body horror moment: There are plenty of upsetting scenes involving Brundle's devolution into the Brundlefly, but none more so than when he notices his fingernails are falling off.

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18. Hellraiser (1987)

Image Entertainment

Directed by: Clive Barker

Written by: Clive Barker

What it's about: Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) learns that her stepmother, Julia (Clare Higgins), is killing men to feed them to Kirsty's skinless uncle Frank, (Sean Chapman), after he was torn apart by Cenobites.

Key body horror moment: The opening scene shows how Frank lost his skin — he solves the puzzle box and hooked chains shoot out from within and rip him into pieces.

19. Street Trash (1987)

Synapse Films

Directed by: James Muro

Written by: Roy Frumkes

What it's about: A liquor store sells cheap, expired wine called "Tenafly Viper" to the local homeless population. Anyone who drinks Viper ends up melting.

Key body horror moment: A homeless man drinks Viper and immediately starts bleeding, then vomiting uncontrollably. Soon he is tearing off his own skin as brightly colored fluids shoot out from his crumpling body.

20. The Blob (1988)

TriStar Pictures

Directed by: Chuck Russell

Written by: Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont

What it's about: A meteorite crashes in the town of Arborville, bringing with it a sentient alien blob that absorbs and digests everything in its path.

Key body horror moment: The Blob latches itself onto a homeless man (Billy Beck), who then tries to cut his hand off. Shortly thereafter, the Blob eats through the man's lower half.

21. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Image Entertainment

Directed by: Tony Randel

Written by: Peter Atkins

What it's about: Kirsty Cotton continues to be tormented by the Cenobites when she's held in a psychiatric institution with the corrupt Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham), who resurrects a skinless Julia.

Key body horror moment: Pinhead's origins are exposed. Captain Elliot Spencer (Doug Bradley) solves the puzzle box and gets hooked by the familiar chains before nails are pounded into his head.

22. Society (1989)

Anchor Bay

Directed by: Brian Yuzna

Written by: Woody Keith and Rick Fry

What it's about: Popular rich kid Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) doesn't feel like he fits in with his parents (Connie Danese and Charles Lucia) or their high-society lifestyle, and becomes more suspicious when he overhears what sounds like an orgy.

Key body horror moment: The rich members of society expose themselves as inhuman creatures, who merge their bodies together and feed off Billy's sister's ex-boyfriend, Blanchard (Tim Bartell), while he's still alive.

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23. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Kino Lorber Films

Directed by: Shinya Tsukamoto

Written by: Shinya Tsukamoto

What it's about: After a businessman (Tomorowo Taguchi) and his girlfriend (Kei Fujiwara) hit the Metal Fetishist (Shinya Tsukamoto) with the man's car, the man begins to turn into metal.

Key body horror moment: The businessman realizes that, along with the other changes to his body, his penis has been replaced by a power drill that impales his girlfriend.

24. Naked Lunch (1991)

20th Century Fox

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Written by: David Cronenberg

What it's about: Exterminator William Lee (Peter Weller) hallucinates after exposure to his insecticide and imagines he is controlled by a talking typewriter and an alien.

Key body horror moment: Lee stumbles upon a gruesome scene as Yves Cloquet (Julian Sands) becomes a giant insect with a human face who rapes and murders his young lover, Kiki (Joseph Scorsiani).

25. Dead Alive (1992)

Lions Gate Films

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Written by: Peter Jackson, Stephen Sinclair, and Fran Walsh

What it's about: The Sumatran rat-monkey creature ends up in New Zealand, where its bite turns its victims into bloodthirsty zombies. Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) tries to care for his zombie girlfriend, Paquita (Diana Peñalver).

Key body horror moment: Lionel's overbearing mother, Vera (Elizabeth Moody), has transformed into a giant monster. She pulls Lionel back into her body, and he is forced to hack his way out.

26. Body Melt (1993)

Scorpion

Directed by: Philip Brophy

Written by: Philip Brophy and Rod Bishop

What it's about: The residents of Pebbles Court are unwitting test subjects for dietary supplement pills called "Vimuville," which cause hallucinations and then horrific mutations.

Key body horror moment: Cheryl Rand (Lisa McClune) is horrified by her rapidly expanding pregnant belly. A tentacle shoots out and kills a man, while Cheryl's stomach releases gas and finally explodes, revealing her hollow insides.

27. Thinner (1996)

Paramount Pictures

Directed by: Tom Holland

Written by: Michael McDaniel and Tom Holland

What it's about: After hitting an old gypsy woman with his car, overweight lawyer Billy Halleck (Robert John Burke) is cursed to drastically lose weight until he disappears.

Key body horror moment: Billy learns he wasn't the only person cursed when he encounters Judge Cary Rossington (John Horton), who was cursed with "lizard" and is growing scales all over his body.

28. Cabin Fever (2002)

Lions Gate Films

Directed by: Eli Roth

Written by: Randy Pearlstein and Eli Roth

What it's about: A group of college students takes a vacation to a remote cabin in the woods, where they come into contact with a fast-acting flesh-eating virus.

Key body horror moment: Marcy (Cerina Vincent) is horrified to discover sores on her back, but things get even worse when she takes a bath. As she shaves her legs, her skin begins to come loose.

29. May (2002)

Lions Gate Films

Directed by: Lucky McKee

Written by: Lucky McKee

What it's about: Outcast May Canady (Angela Bettis) struggles to make real human connections while remaining oddly attached to her best friend Suzie, a doll in a glass case.

Key body horror moment: May, who has murdered several people, assembles them into a Frankenstein's creature named "Amy." To complete her new life-size doll, May gouges out her eye with scissors and gives it to Amy.

30. Taxidermia (2006)

Regent Releasing

Directed by: György Pálfi

Written by: György Pálfi, Zsófia Ruttkay, and Lajos Parti Nagy

What it's about: Balatony Lajaska (Marc Bischoff) practices taxidermy and lives under the oppressive rule of his obese father Balatony Kálmán (Gergely Trócsányi).

Key body horror moment: After stuffing his father and his cats, Lajaska steps into a surgical harness and begins to taxidermy himself while still alive. He injects himself with painkillers and preservatives, then removes his internal organs.

31. Slither (2006)

Universal Pictures

Directed by: James Gunn

Written by: James Gunn

What it's about: A meteorite crashes into the town of Wheelsy, bringing with it a parasitic alien that infects people in the form of giant slugs and turns them into grotesque monsters.

Key body horror moment: Brenda (Brenda James) has become a giant mass of flesh teeming with the alien slugs. She finally explodes, setting the slugs free.

32. Teeth (2007)

Roadside Attractions

Directed by: Mitchell Lichtenstein

Written by: Mitchell Lichtenstein

What it's about: Dawn O'Keefe (Jess Weixler) is a quiet girl who has decided to stay abstinent till marriage. When she is raped by Tobey (Hale Appleman), she discovers that her vagina has a set of razor-sharp teeth.

Key body horror moment: Dawn seduces her abusive stepbrother Brad (John Hensley), then bites off his penis with her vagina. She drops it to the ground and Brad's dog eats it before spitting out the pierced bit.

33. Exte: Hair Extensions (2007)

Tokyo Shock

Directed by: Sion Sono

Written by: Sion Sono and Masaki Adachi

What it's about: Aspiring hair stylist Yuko (Chiaki Kuriyama) procures hair extensions from Yamazaki (Ren Osugi), not realizing that he is harvesting the cursed hair from a corpse.

Key body horror moment: Yuko's co-worker Kondo (Eri Machimoto) uses the deadly extensions and begins to sprout hair everywhere — not just from her head, but also from her eyes and mouth — until she dies.

34. The Ruins (2008)

Paramount Pictures

Directed by: Carter Smith

Written by: Scott B. Smith

What it's about: Two American couples vacationing in Mexico are led to Ancient Mayan ruins in the jungle. Once there, they are attacked by sentient vines that, quite literally, get under their skin.

Key body horror moment: Stacy (Laura Ramsey) becomes paranoid that the vines have infected her, so she starts hacking away at bits of her flesh while her friends try to stop her.

35. Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

Sony Pictures

Directed by: Yoshihiro Nishimura

Written by: Kengo Kaji, Sayako Nakoshi, and Yoshihiro Nishimura

What it's about: In futuristic Japan, a virus turns humans into Engineers, who sprout mutations whenever they are injured. The corrupt Engineer Officers set about getting rid of anyone infected.

Key body horror moment: A young woman emerges whose entire lower half is an alligator's head — and the alligator quickly starts devouring a man's limbs.

36. Splinter (2008)

Magnolia Pictures

Directed by: Toby Wilkins

Written by: Kai Barry, Ian Shorr, and Toby Wilkins

What it's about: A young couple (Paulo Costanzo and Jill Wagner) are hijacked by escaped convict Dennis Farell (Shea Whigham) and his girlfriend, Lacey (Rachel Kerbs), before all four are attacked by a parasite that reanimates its victims.

Key body horror moment: After she's killed, Lacey reanimates and tears Sheriff Terry Frankel (Laurel Whitsett) in half. The creature takes the top half of the sheriff away, and their bodies melt together.

37. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)

IFC Films

Directed by: Tom Six

Written by: Tom Six

What it's about: Retired surgeon Dr. Joseph Heiter (Dieter Laser) kidnaps and performs gruesome experimental surgery on three victims to turn them into a human centipede, a crawling mass of people sewn mouth-to-anus.

Key body horror moment: It's almost too horrible to say. As Dr. Heiter intended, when the front of the human centipede shits, it's forced into the mouth of the woman behind him. (Sorry!)

38. Splice (2009)

Warner Bros.

Directed by: Vincenzo Natali

Written by: Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, and Doug Taylor

What it's about: Genetic engineers Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) secretly create a human-animal hybrid named Dren that ages rapidly and grows increasingly violent.

Key body horror moment: Dren emerges from the grave where she's been buried, now transformed into a male with wings. He then proceeds to rape Elsa, previously his mother figure.

39. Black Swan (2010)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, and John McLaughlin

What it's about: Ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) feels intensely competitive with rival dancer Lily (Mila Kunis) and begins experiencing violent and disturbing hallucinations.

Key body horror moment: Nina notices a hangnail and begins tugging at it, but when she pulls, she rips a large swath of skin from her finger.

40. The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011)

IFC Midnight

Directed by: Tom Six

Written by: Tom Six

What it's about: Obsessed with the film The Human Centipede, disturbed loner Martin Lomax (Laurence R. Harvey) kidnaps and mutilates victims — minus surgical skills — to create a 12-person human centipede.

Key body horror moment: It's so hard to choose. Perhaps it's when pregnant Rachel (Katherine Templar) escapes from Martin. She gives birth to her baby in the car, then crushes its head when it rolls under the pedal.

41. Antiviral (2012)

IFC Midnight

Directed by: Brandon Cronenberg

Written by: Brandon Cronenberg

What it's about: Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works at a company that harvests viruses from celebrities to sell to wealthy fans. On the side, he injects the viruses into his own body and sells them on the black market.

Key body horror moment: Syd has injected himself with blood from A-list celebrity Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon), with unexpected effects. In the end, his deteriorating body is subject to ghastly mutations.

42. American Mary (2012)

Xlrator

Directed by: The Soska Sisters

Written by: The Soska Sisters

What it's about: Medical student Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is drowning in bills, so she agrees to perform horrific and unethical body modification surgeries.

Key body horror moment: After she is raped by Dr. Grant (David Lovgren), Mary holds him captive and performs surgeries against his will, including splitting his tongue and suturing his mouth shut.

43. Under the Skin (2013)

A24 Films

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer

Written by: Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer

What it's about: An alien disguised as a woman (Scarlett Johansson) seduces men into an abyss where they are dissolved, leaving only their skin behind.

Key body horror moment: During a violent struggle at the end of the film, a man rips off the woman's skin revealing the alien body underneath.

44. Tusk (2014)

A24 Films

Directed by: Kevin Smith

Written by: Kevin Smith

What it's about: Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) is kidnapped by eccentric Howard Howe (Michael Parks), who inflicts his obsession with the walrus and hatred for mankind on his victim.

Key body horror moment: Howe completes his project — Wallace is sewn into his own walrus pelt, with tusks made out of the bones from his legs, which Howe had previously amputated.

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