Though I consider myself a fan of horror that has a fair balance of artistic merit and visceral scares, I am not above a first-class, old fashioned gore fest. My eyes have taken in the squishy crimson goodness of Re-Animator, Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (initially Rated X over its violent gore), The Thing, Hellraiser, Cannibal Holocaust and every gleefully sadistic Herschel Gordon Lewis film ever made. And let’s be honest- few horror films these days go for broke in the gore department. Many big studio horror films look for a more lucrative PG-13 rating. The old adage- they don’t make them like they used to– has never been more appropriate. There may be bloody waves in micro budget films, but the fangs of gory horror have been dulled in comparison to the drive-in flicks of the 70s and 80s.
Many older over the top horror films would easily fill several different best of lists that I could compose. But, there were a few times at the drive-in when I had to put down that popcorn or concession stand hot dog because of a sight that made me green and queasy.
The following statement is merely to prepare you for my list: I am not going for gross-out scenes but rather creatures that turned my stomach. I won’t be mentioning Hostel or Saw. I am not what you would call an extreme horror fan; torture porn and gore for gore’s sake gain very low marks on my laminated scorecard. Also, realize I was younger (much younger in some cases) when I first watched these movies, so though one or two might seem tame to you now, I am going by my initial reactions.
I have a pretty strong tolerance for the make believe yuck, but here are five gross monstrosities that tested my limits:
5. The Incredible Melting Man: An astronaut returns from space with an affliction that is slowly melting him. I was very young when I saw this flick and it is not a very good one. But those Rick Baker effects- disgusting. The oozing visage was a sight that, much like swimming, one should avoid for at least a half hour after eating.
4. The Funhouse: This freak in a Frankenstein mask made my stomach lurch. I think the icing on the cake was the thick cascading drool that came from his mouth. One of the most disturbing things I have ever seen in a horror movie was the old gypsy giving this monster a handie. BLECH! You know, with some slight tweaking on the mouth and a little tan, this carnie could pass for Arseface from the Preacher comic.
3. Mother from Dead Alive: Okay, there are multiple puke-inducing sights in Dead Alive. Peter Jackson’s zombie flick has to be one of the goriest I have ever seen. The zombie baby emerging from a skull, the grue dripping into custard, the death of the carrier Sumatran rat monkey at the zoo-GROSS! But what really skeeved me out was the progression of Lionel’s mum. Her transformation from domineering mother to gigantic zombie ogre with a hungry womb was a gloriously giddy gore moment that sticks to me still.
2. The Thing: I love John Carpenter’s The Thing. But it is a movie that I watch absent a snack nearby. The abstract, slimy coupling of the wet alien clay with copied human bits- it was a gore-laden stew. Rob Bottin’s practical make-up effects for The Thing grew with every set-up. I found the scenes of the in transformation or busting out of human hiding Thing extremely disturbing and, yes, upon my first viewing, a gag or two was had.
1. The Fly: I love this film and have seen it only once. Cronenberg’s remake was a perfect vehicle for the director’s artistic sensibilities (he has been dubbed the King of Venereal Horror for good reason). Seth Brundle (played by a pumped up Jeff Goldblum) develops teleportation technology. He tries it on himself, but a fly lands in the teleportation pod and a confused computer merges the DNA of Seth and the fly together. A slow and terrifying transformation occurs and it is one of the most vile processes I have ever seen. The Fly was released in 1986. I was 21 years old. I saw this in the theater, and I have not seen it since. It made me queasy for days. The Fly is a brilliant film, it deserves all of the accolades it has received over the years. But I have no desire to see this film again.
So there are my picks for grossest movie monsters. Share yours in the comments but don’t get too descriptive or I might totally hurl!