5. Contracted: Phase 1 (2013)
While a good portion of the movies on this list use body horror as a visceral means of getting some form of satire across, Contracted remains a more or less pure example of the genre without any big statement: A girl is at a party, gets drugged and taken advantage of, and wakes up with the mother of all sexually transmitted diseases.
Now this might sound familiar, as 2012’s Thanatomorphose had a near-identical plot, but Contracted has an edge in terms of vomit-inducing practical effects and the seemingly helpless situation the protagonist finds herself in.
Since its release, Contracted has changed its name to Contracted: Phase 1 and has gained itself a second phase, but the sequel is more or less the same film all over again, and curiously, it ignores the last-minute plot twist that made the first Contracted so interesting. Be wary before you enter this one however, as it may be the most disgusting on the list and the closest thing to a cinematic form of contraception.
4. Clown (2014)
Eli Roth presents this slice of horror, and you can tell it used his own Cabin Fever as an inspiration due to its hideous transformation sequences. When father Kent McCoy throws a birthday party for his son and the clown mixes up the address, he is forced to improvise a back-up plan.
Luckily for him, he’s a real estate agent, and he remembers one of the houses he is overseeing has a clown costume stashed away in the attic. Unluckily for him, the costume is the skin of an ancient demon from Northern Europe under the name Cloyne, and it is not coming off his own skin anytime soon.
Obviously a film like this is not without its comedy, but that’s part of the appeal: The movie feels like it changes with the protagonist of the movie.
As it starts off with a man trying to pull of this fake demonic clown nose glued to his face, it’s obviously got a heap of black comedy potential. But as Kent begins to change to a towering pale-skinned creature who kills children on an hourly basis, the movie itself turns very serious very fast, and in the last half an hour, is genuinely pretty terrifying. God help you if you suffer from coulraphobia.
3. Under the Skin (2013)
Under the Skin is a dark and cold sci-fi movie unlike you’ve ever seen, and deals with an incognito alien luring Scotland’s male population to their doom by seducing them under the guise of a beautiful young van driver, played to icy perfection by Scarlett Johansson.
Under the Skin is a lot of things: an erotic thriller, an arthouse film, a sci-fi, and a drama with a satirical bite on how humans perceive beauty. It is on a body horror list, too, because it has two examples of the idea that are not only terrifying and unsettling, but almost hypnotic and, ironically, sort of beautiful.
2. Excision (2012)
What is the scariest setting for a horror film? An abandoned mental asylum? A graveyard? A broken down car in the middle of nowhere? Not bad choices, but Excision might take the cake. Set within the mind of a psychotic teenage misfit who dreams of being a surgeon, Excision plays out as a dysfunctional family drama punctuated by the gruesome dreams of the daughter: Nightmarish collages of disease, sex, blood and dissection.
The movie has something of an all-star cast for something so brutal and disgusting: Malcolm McDowell, John Waters, Matthew Gray Gubler, and AnnaLynne McCord, but nobody acts quite as astonishingly as Traci Lords who adds a very human touch to this otherwise completely off-the-rails movie.
Excision is a breezy 80 minutes long, but in that, it can be darkly hilarious, grim, unsettling and at one point in the film, devastatingly sad. It might be a movie about a teenager played by Miss McCord, but this is a far-cry from 90210.
1. American Mary (2012)
American Mary is another 2012 body horror movie that deals with an aspiring surgeon, but this one is a lot more sleek and clinical than Excision. Mary Mason is a medical student up to her eyelids in student debt, until, when applying for a desperate job at a strip club, she is offered a cool $5,000 to pick up her tools and save somebody’s life.
After doing such a good job, she begins to enter the dark world of body modification, and as the prices of her surgical procedures rise, so do the unorthodox practices. American Mary is one half body horror, one half rape-and-revenge thriller, but 100% fascinating.
The movie itself can be summarised in the character Beatress, who has had herself surgically altered to look like Betty Boop: Mysterious and creepy, yet utterly, utterly fascinating.
Author Bio: Joey Taylor is a British personal trainer who is much nerdier than he lets on, having viewed well over 2000 films in his time. He likes pizza, Brazilian music, travelling and a good lazy movie night.