Horror cinema encompasses the widest variety of content and quality, leaving room for some of the most disposable garbage and the most incredible art in the medium. It's also one of the most prolific genres of cinema, so there's a ton of good stuff that can get buried by bigger names.

Body horror eschews the incomprehensible threats of cosmic horror or the unkillable murderers of slasher films for something a bit simpler. Instead, body horror focuses on the inherent unpleasantness of the blood and skin mankind walks around inside. Between transforming into an inhuman shape to being ripped apart from within, body horror is the kind of thing that doesn't appeal to everyone but really appeals to a chosen few.


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James Gunn is perhaps the most sought-after director in the world of both blockbusters and independent cinema right now, but in 2006, he was a more obscure figure. Gunn's masterful contributions to both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe are hugely popular, but his first film only attained success from a cult audience. Slither stars Nathan Fillion as a small-town cop who is faced with an alien invasion. Elizabeth Banks plays opposite him as the first person in town to discover the problem. The parasitic aliens infest the bodies of their victims, turning them into tentacled monstrosities. The first victim is Michael Rooker, in a stellar role as a horrific host. In the time-honored style of James Gunn, the film plays this nightmarish situation into a pitch-black comedy alongside its horror elements.


No list of body horror films could ever be complete without the work of David Cronenberg. From his genre-defining Scanners in 1981 to this year's return to form in Crimes of the Future, he's been the king of the subgenre for forty years. His 1999 sci-fi horror effort brings the world of the internet and virtual reality gaming into his traditional horror style. eXistenZ, as the title is stylized, follows Jude Law as security guard Ted Pikul, charged with defending Jennifer Jason Leigh as game designer Allegra Geller. Geller has crafted a fully immersive virtual reality experience, in which the rules of the human body simply do not apply. Guns made from flesh that fire teeth, neural implants, and connections via the intestinal tract, this movie gets disgusting without boundaries. Cronenberg continues to be the biggest name in body horror, and his take on cyberpunk is happy to blend the concepts.


Brilliant independent director Julia Ducournau intricately crafted the strangest and most powerful body horror family drama of the past century. Released just last year, Titane is not something that can be understood through text. It has to be experienced first-hand, with an open heart and a strong stomach. It stars model Agathe Rousselle as Alexia, a woman whose behavior becomes increasingly erratic after a childhood auto accident leaves her with a metal plate in her skull. Beneath the revolting body horror, of which there is quite a bit, lies a complex narrative of gender, sex, and love. The film is masterful, but it is not for everyone. The extremely specific audience for this film needs to find it because it deserves to be seen and discussed.


Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are well-known for their indie sci-fi and horror career, and their more recent work with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The filmmaking duo's first few films are directed, written, and edited by Benson and Moorhead. They even occasionally star in them. Released in 2014, Spring is the second film created by Benson and Moorhead, and it's a very special experience. It follows Lou Taylor Pucci as Evan, a man who takes a trip to Italy to find himself in a time of personal crisis. He meets and is instantly smitten with Louise, a captivating and intelligent student portrayed by Nadia Hilker. Their bizarre romance is sidetracked a few times by the fact that Louise is something far more than human. Her nightmarish transformations complement the naturalistic romance and combine to form something truly unique. Spring wasn't a big-budget blockbuster, but it is a masterful work of indie horror and romance from two beloved filmmakers.

The Stuff

Written and directed by the master of satire Larry Cohen, this 1985 horror-comedy blends the horror of The Blob with the commentary of They Live. The film is a sharp parody of American consumerist culture and the perils of modern marketing, while also being a shocking body horror display. The eponymous Stuff is an alien organism that infects the mind of its victims. Rather than fear and destroy this beast, mankind discovers its sweet taste and markets it as a healthy alternative to ice cream. Michael Moriarty was highly praised for his performance in the lead role as a corporate saboteur. Between the disgusting horror, the grim comedy, and the on-target satire, there's something for everyone in The Stuff.

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