5. The Stuff (1985)
The very first scene of The Stuff features a random man walking through a snowy rail yard and seeing a bubbling white goo oozing out of the ground. Of course, his first instinct is to eat it, and after proclaiming “that tastes real good!” out loud, to no one, THE STUFF is on its way to a refrigerator NEAR YOU! As absolutely ludacris as a concept of KILLER DESSERT TOPPING is in context, The Stuff wisely takes a beautiful high-wire act between campy and sinister and makes it all fit together pretty masterfully.
It is at times a razor sharp satire on consumerism and marketing. While also being a wink and a nod to 50’s style alien invasion films at the same time. It even boasts some pretty impressive practical effects when it wants to creep you out. But the very non-subtle message that runs through the entire film like a germ is “watch what you’re eating, doofus” and that’s some pretty sound advice. Whether you’re dealing with a mind-eating parasite in your fridge or not.
4. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)
Nobody does big, boisterous comedy setpieces like Monty Python. And big and boisterous would be two of the more friendly euphemisms you could use for their Mr. Creosote sketch from 1983’s The Meaning of Life. If you were to casually explain the situation, you’d say it was the simple act of Mr. Creosote sitting down for a nice meal at a fancy restaurant. But the devil is in the details as watching Mr. Creosote eat, then puke, then repeat an entire night’s worth of dinner specials is certainly funny. And of course, the context of everything here can certainly help you keep your cool. But you’ll be cringing and perhaps even retching watching everything devolve into a truly nauseating display of excess at its most…well…excessive.
3. Matlida (1996)
Matlida is your classic example of a kids film that really isn’t intended for children. Sure, it’s rated PG and it’s even based on a Roald Dahl book of the same name. But once you realize it was directed by Danny DeVito you know it really just is modeled after being a dark comedy at its core. Which is of course one of the main reasons it has gone on to be praised as one of the best family films of its generation. Storyline-wise, it plays like a Disney Channel version of Stephen King’s Carrie that puts titular Matlida at odds against tyrannical principal Miss Agatha Trunchbull, widely known for her harsh punishments.
Chief amongst them being the infamous cake eating scene where Trunchbull accuses Matilda’s friend Bruce Bogtrotter of stealing and eating her own personal piece of cake from the kitchen. And as punishment, she has him eat an entire cake, piece by piece on stage in front of everyone, in livid, graphic detail. The scene shifts from light comedy to omnious tension, then to sheer guttural horror as poor Bruce labors through bite after bite, smearing cake shrapnel all over himself as the crowd of kids recoil in disgust. Yes, it’s just cake. But it’s A LOTTA cake. Enough to make you forget your birthday until next year.
2. Se7en (1995)
As far as mainstream horror films go, Seven is proudly as grisly as they come. Unapologetically grim, ugly and depressing, Seven puts you in the room with Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as they investigate a series of murders that have been elaborately staged to depict their suffering at the hands of one of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth.
Their first investigative scene finds them inside of a roach filled appartment where a morbidly obese man has been bound at the hands and feet and forced to eat until his stomach lining literally burst. With the detectives later learning that he was fed clues that would lead to another crime to come. While not as explicit as some of the other scenes we talked about earlier, the entirety of Seven has a murky, gross veneer of filth and scum around it at all times. Which is a feeling not known for inspiring a healthy appetite. It’s all a recipe that will surely make you not want to dip your hand into a bucket of popcorn in the dark.
1. La Grande Bouffe (1973)
Without question, no film takes the concept of enjoying a good meal and deconstructs it down to the menial, reptilian-brain act of gnashing food into pulp quite like La Grande Bouffe does. The simple (on the surface) story of four well to do lads who have become bored with life to the point of planning a lavish weekend together in an adorable French countryside mansion with the goal being to eat themselves to death. Not death by chocolate: the actual, literal ending of their lives.
Without knowing that rather major detail, it would be easy to mistake the first hour or so of the film as your typical soft, romantic comedy where casual friends gather together after a time apart and reminisce and re-forge their lost bonds. And in fact, the entire film plays everything matter of fact and straight-laced despite its grim undertone. Nobody is shocked when they are served a mountain of egg salad. Pals are happy to climb on one another and massage out massive farts just so more ritualistic gorging can continue. And moments in empathy and logic come only in small flashes, before characters shrug and divert directly back to being fully masochistic.
What would be considered beautifully rendered banquets of food in other films instead have a bitter, empty presentation here as you watch each character pound down spoon full after spoon full with their faces twisted in discomfort, tears in their eyes, or malice in their words. It’s one humongous example of just how grotesque living to excess can actually be. And while subtle, it is not, it’s powerful enough to make you skip dinner afterwards. Maybe even the next couple of dinners, actually.