Five More Awesome Body Horror Movies
I already wrote a hub espousing my love for body horror movies. Even whilst writing it though, I knew there'd be way more films that I could cover. Like with the previous hub, I'm only including directors once, and I'm not including any that were in the other hub. So here's five more awesome body horror movies
1. Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People (1963) - Ishiro Honda
And you thought that The Last of Us introduced fungus zombies. Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People, also known as Fungus of Terror, (I still can't decide which title I like best), is directed by none other than the creator of Godzilla back in the 1950s. In many respects, Matango is arguably a better movie, whilst still retaining a lot of the themes and tone that was in Godzilla.
The story involves a group of people who are shipwrecked on an unknown island after their yacht gets caught in a storm. Without any means of getting in contact with anyone, the group begin to search the island and discover that they're not the only ones to have ever gotten stuck there. Without spoiling too much, one of the characters ends up trying some dodgy looking mushrooms and then all hell breaks loose.
What makes Honda's film so great is that it really takes its time to build things up and establish the characters. None of the group fit into the typical stereotypes, which also keeps you guessing who's going to make it through to the end. Even without the fungus-zombies, the conflict between the survivors makes for engaging viewing thank to a solid script.
Then there's the special effects, this is by the guy who made Godzilla after all. I always have to do a double-take whenever I check the movie's release date: 1963. It's effects have aged extremely well, hell, there's films that have been released in the past three years alone that have aged way worse than anything in Matango.
Despite having a relatively simple premise, Matango is a surprisingly complex movie. It's also a product of the post-war years in Japan; there's numerous allusions to the fungus being a product of radiation, as well as some other nods to nuclear warfare.
If there's one frustrating thing about this film, it's hard to get a hold of...at least outside of the US. I have no idea if there's even a DVD version that isn't a Region One copy. Still, it's not too hard to track down through online stores if you want to check it out.
2. Splinter (2008) - Toby Wilkins
One theory I have as to why body horror movies have been in decline is that they typically require a big budget. Since the late 1990s CGI has meant that films are quicker, easier and, most importantly for studios, cheaper to make. Hence, there's been a general lack of interest from bigger places to invest in any body horror flicks.
Enter Splinter, a low-budget movie directed by British filmmaker Toby Wilkins. To save money, the vast majority of the film takes place in and around a gas station stuck in the middle of nowhere. Whilst on a camping trip, Seth and his girlfriend Polly are attacked by an escaped convict and his partner, who force them to drive out to a gas station, in order to steal some cash.
Needless to say things don't go so well when it turns out that one of the gas station's staff has been infected by some strange fungal (yup, more 'shrooms) disease that causes all sorts of horrible looking problems.
Given that the film was on a tight budget, Wilkins has to play it safe and keep the monster(s) off-screen for the majority of the film. It works in the movie's benefit though, and despite borrowing elements from a lot of similar films, Wilkins manages to put a fresh spin on things and maintain the excitement.
3. Naked Blood (1996) - Hisayasu Sato
Another, relatively unknown Japanese flick, Naked Blood is a unique approach to what's now widely considered "torture porn". Make no mistake though, this isn't anything like Saw or Hostel, although I do suspect that James Wan or Eli Roth might have watched this movie at some point.
Naked Blood follows three different women after they have been unwittingly injected with an experimental drug known as MySon, by a young scientist called Eiji. The drug causes them to experience pain as pleasure, resulting in some especially gruesome scenes as each woman finds a facet of their personality (one of them is obsessed with her looks, another loves cooking) morphed into something horrible and violent.
One scene in particular is horrific and is certain to linger in your mind after watching. Despite all the gore though, there's a rather complex, and somewhat surreal, story beating at the heart of Naked Blood. It's not the easiest movie to follow, and is one of those films that will likely require a second viewing in order to appreciate what Hisayasu Sato was trying to do.
It's a conundrum I've regularly had as to whether or not to consider certain torture/gore movies as works of body horror. In Naked Blood's though, I'd definitely say that it is.
There's no official trailer for the movie, so here's a clip that'll give you an idea what's in store...
4. Slither (2006) - James Gunn
It's not all that surprising the amount of people that get Slither muddled up with David Cronenberg's Shivers. Despite being rather different on a deeper level, at a general glance, the two films are very similar, as they both involve a group of parasitic worms that seek out human hosts to infect, turning them into repulsive zombies. Heck, the titles almost sound the same.
Whereas, Shivers was well, classic Cronenberg, Slither is unabashed good fun. It's special effects are fantastic, it's monsters are disgusting, which shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, considering this is by the same guy that wrote and directed Tromeo & Juliet. What's more, Michael Rooker turns in yet another brilliant villain performance as Grant; the first person to come into contact with the alien slug-parasite.
5. Hellraiser (1987) - Clive Barker
Barker's style of horror lends itself to body horror in many respects. The dude really loves the macabre. I know you could say that about pretty much any horror director or writer, but there's always something unique about Barker's approach.
And that approach is summed up with the Cenobites, creepy S&M-like fetishists from another dimension that went on to be one of the most recognised baddies in horror movies. The film might suffer from some pacing issues, and it takes us about halfway through the movie until we catch a glimpse of the Cenobites, but boy is it worth it. The hospital scene alone, when Kirsty opens the puzzle box, oozes with style, and Doug Bradley is great as Pin Head.
Numerous sequels might have ruined what was one of the most intelligent villains in '80s horror, and I have serious doubts whether the reboot will be any good, but the original still makes for great viewing.