by David Christopher Bell
There’s really no such thing as pleasant renewal when it comes to metamorphosis in a horror movie – only flesh falling off to expose whatever nightmare lurks beneath. It’s not unlike puberty, actually.
Since we’re almost hitting the dark lord’s birthday, I thought we could celebrate by remembering some of the most nauseating horror movie transformations ever mashed onto the screen…
10. Ash Splits In Two in Army Of Darkness
The deadite spirits have always had a thing for screwing with reflections – but who would have thought to smash your reflection, let it extract itself out as a tiny you, and then swallow it like a pill? Not that Ash did any of that on purpose, but thanks to his actions we now know a handy little way to make an evil clone of yourself.
Plus, the splitting process, while kind of disturbing to take part in, seems relatively pain-free if you don’t count all the Three Stooges antics your other self might inflict.
9. The Woman In Room 237 in The Shining
I’m pretty proud to say that this sequence is tied with the beginning of It as the first ever horror movie moment to engrain deep illogical fears in my childhood. It’s why I’ll never fully be bale to ever trust clowns or naked women.
Interestingly enough, both of the actresses involved in that scene never did a movie before or after. The younger of the two, Lia Beldam, was a model who was originally going to be in the ballroom scene while the old lady apparently did it as a favor. In an interview with Beldam she reveals, to no Kubrick fan’s surprise, that the brief scene took a whole week to shoot.
8. Frank’s Restoration in Hellraiser
Besides those triangle peg boards you get at family restaurants, this film features what has to be the most disappointing handheld puzzle game ever. Imagine if you spent like, a whole day trying to figure it out. You finally give up and go online and find the answer and then BAM – hook torture. Way more disappointing than most of the stuff you find in those plastic vending machine eggs.
This whole movie seems to run on some kind of grotesque logic where even guy’s resurrection has to involve a skeletal rise from goop and multiple blood sucking homicides. And that’s how we get to watch this Frank fellow come back to life, like the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark in reverse.
7. David’s Transformation in An American Werewolf In London
Turning into a werewolf is probably the most reasonable explanation for going from quietly reading to naked screaming in less than 30 seconds. Had he just kept standing there bare-assed and yelping about his burning skin that would have been far more disturbing.
That would be Rick Baker as the dude you want to thank for kicking CGI in the balls with this stunning transformation. Baker has a bit of a knack for hairiness as he also did the transformation in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the film Wolf, Harry and the Hendersons, and of course Escape For LA where I assume he worked on Kurt Russell’s manly stubble.
6. Lt. Muldoon Takes Off His Mask in Planet Terror
Of course Bruce Willis’s character would be the one to kill Osama Bin Laden. Hell, I could see that playing out in real life, too.
The Grindhouse films always kind of bothered me the way pre-worn jeans and faded CBGB shirts bothered me – there’s a artificial campiness that makes it hard to fully love. You can’t enjoy these as stand-alone films because they’re neither genuine nor are they rip-offs of any kind. And while they entertain up to a point with practical effects and inside horror jokes, that value is limited by modern CGI and Tarantino/Rodriguez dialogue quirkiness. What I mean is that while we all might love these films, time will probably see it differently.
5. Debbie Becomes A Cockroach in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4
You have to admit, Freddy can sure get creative about how he kills a fool.
She starts by having her arms broken while lifting weights – which seems the start of some kind of delightful exercise equipment-related death sequence until the arms go completely off and turn into bug legs. Next she’s stuck to the floor and her face tears away, revealing her to be a big ol’ cockroach that’s really a tiny cockroach in a roach motel. The whole thing plays out like an M. Night Shyamalan film: full of twists and pretty unbearable to watch.
4. Lionel’s Mother Becomes A Zombie in Braindead aka Dead Alive
Otherwise known as a damn good reason never to eat pudding again, Braindead aka Dead Alive is the movie that makes every horror fanatic curse the day Peter Jackson ever read the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
The film is so horrifyingly grotesque while Sam Raimi-silly at the same time, it’s truly as shame that there’s no potential for another Jackson gore fest in the future. One can only imagine the horrible tortuous things he could accomplish with the help of Weta Digital and perhaps, and I’m just throwing out names, a virtual double of Sean Astin.
3. Regan Becomes Possessed in The Exorcist
Monstrosity doesn’t always have to be as visually repulsing as everything else on this list, and The Exorcist is good proof of that. While certainly not easy on the eyes, Regan doesn’t go inside out or leak gallons of puss all over the place (vomit is a different story). What makes her transformation so startling is not just her skin becoming ragged and eyes going white – but also what she says and what she does.
And thanks to that, no movie about possession ever entertains the possibly of polite, soft spoke, demon. Knowing a few assholes in my time, just once I’d like to see a demonic possession movie where it’s actually an improvement on the character of the victim.
2. Every Time The Alien Shows Its True Colors in The Thing
Day one for the alien in The Thing should have been spent learning how to quietly ingest people without turning their heads into giant spiders and attempting to inconspicuously exit the room. That should have been day one. But since none of that seemed like unusual for it, it kind of begs the question as to what its home planet must look like. My guess is that whatever it’s like, it would make H.R. Giger wreck his pants.
And of course, none of this high-octane nightmare fuel would have been possible without special effects mad scientist Rob Botin, with a little help from Stan Winston – who did the transformation seen above.
1. The Fly
Ladies, let the above scene be a reminder to you about the follies of falling for a man already in love with his work. Seriously, Geena Davis really picked a lemon in this film, as her relationship with Jeff Goldblum’s character seems to last over only a few months. In that brief fling he manages to turn himself into a giant fly person.
At the same time, you can’t exactly feel bad for her either; the guy turns a baboon inside out on like, their third date. If that’s not a red flag for you then you deserve to have maggot-birth dreams.
What transformation grosses you out the most?