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!