TETSUO: THE IRON MAN
This 1989 Japanese movie opens with a character charmingly named “Metal Fetishist” cutting open his leg and shoving a metal rod inside. Shortly after he gets killed in a hit and run accident. The man driving the car and his girlfriend dispose of the body, but soon find themselves slowly turning into pieces of walking scrap metal. What follows from here is a selection of bizarre and terrifying sequences chock-full of images of metal puncturing into skin or erupting out of it. People get possessed by the Metal Fetishist and others transform into grotesque, metal-infected monsters.
Oh, and did I mention the giant electric penis drill? If you thought that scene in 127 Hours was rough, then the near constant sights of the body being traumatized by scrap metal may not be for you. Although, it wouldn’t be a proper body horror movie if you didn’t want to rip off all your skin just to make sure you weren’t secretly turning into a Japanese, scrap metal-obsessed monster.
UNDER THE SKIN
The 2013 film comes to us from director, Jonathan Glazer, who is most famous for having directed a bunch of music videos in the 90s (he did that Jamiroquai video for Virtual Insanity but like also a bunch of other videos for far more reputable artists).
The plot, while somewhat aimless, focuses on an otherworldly being played by Scarlett Johansson while she wanders around Glasgow in a van looking for men. It’s no spoiler to say that these men don’t meet very “happy endings,” as it were. The movie has been heralded for both its technical and artistic merit as well as its very natural approach to the dialogue. Many of the scenes are unscripted and shot with hidden cameras.
While there are many elements of body horror in this movie, I don’t want to give away too much by telling you what they are. Though I can assure you they are far more gentle than the other movies on this list, in case you are only interested in dipping your toes into the world of body horror.
This is one of those films that has to be seen to be believed. Not only because I can’t tell you too much about the plot without revealing its nearly endless supply of twists and turns; but also because you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway.
This 1981 film whose genre refuses to be defined (even though we are defining it as body horror, it’s actually a fascinating mix of horror, action and serious drama, but filtered through a body horror lens) is, very simply put, a story about divorce.
Isabelle Adjani, who won the Best Actress award for her performance at the Cannes film festival, tells her husband, a spy who has recently returned home from a mission, that she wants a divorce. The husband, played by Sam Neill (that guy from Jurassic Park!), attempts to find out why she wants a divorce.
And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot, because saying any more would ruin all the fun and shock of finding out for yourself. But I will leave you with this little bit of information: there is some tentacle porn. Alright!