It's a question I've asked myself over and over since starting my first book, the upcoming short story collection 'Fleshed Out'. Something has always enchanted me about the sub-genre, and I remember many of the horror films I watched growing up had themes of bodily destruction, distortion and disease.
From: Society (1989)
It's been said that horror is a very relatable genre, and one which readers and viewers engage with to achieve a certain type of emotional release. This can include a feeling of safety, (I'm at home watching this, experiencing the adrenaline rush but not the danger) curiosity (what do our bodies look like when they're dismantled) and entertainment, of course.
For me, I've always had a huge anxiety around illness and health. It doesn't affect me on a day to day basis, but I have had to learn not to let things spiral if I have any odd symptoms or notice a weird mark on my skin (and, of course, not to use the evil portal of Doctor Google if I am worried.)
I think the control I have over reading and writing body horror, as well as the rather bizarre and over the top symptoms the characters in these stories experience, helps me to exert a certain emotional release that allows me to justify any anxieties I may have. An odd symptom that I may experience for a few days is nothing in comparison to the horror and distortion in the body horror genre, and there is something comforting in that fact.
I think there are many things to celebrate about body horror, and with films like Cronenberg's Crimes of the Future renewing discussions about the sub-genre, I think it's a brilliant time to dig out some books and films which I think encapsulate its magic.
1) society (1989) - feature film
An ordinary teenage boy discovers his family is part of a gruesome orgy cult for the social elite.
2) UZUMAKI (1998-99) - GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES
Kurouzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral — the hypnotic secret shape of the world.
3) RABID (2019) - Feature film
A remake of Cronenberg's classic - After a brutal accident, Sarah, a young fashion designer, undergoes an experimental treatment and recovers quickly. However, severe side effects await her.
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