October is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “31 days of horror.” Don’t bother looking it up; it’s true. Most people take that to mean highlighting one horror movie a day, but here at FSR, we’ve taken that up a spooky notch or nine by celebrating each day with a top ten list. This article about the grossest food scenes in horror movies is part of our ongoing series 31 Days of Horror Lists.
Hungry, anyone? Well, not for long!
I pride myself on having a strong stomach. There’s very little in the horror department that can make me lose my lunch. A grueling toenail removal? No problem! A drawn-out scalping? A cakewalk! Present me with the dankest perversions of the flesh and I’ll be right as rain. But if anyone chows down on a chicken leg with a little too much gusto, I’m a goner. Under the right ghoulish circumstances, food — regular boring-ass food — can give me the heebie-jeebies in ways no amount of blood and bone can.
Horror regularly teases out the horrific qualities of everyday life. A quiet night in can be infused with menace if you’ve watched too many home invasion films. You might side-eye children right after a viewing of The Omen. Even family pets can seem sinister in the shadow of any number of creature features. So perhaps it’s understandable that the perversion of something as essential, every-day, and comforting as food would cause even the biggest badass (me) to dry heave (also me).
In the spirit of confronting that which scares us most, we’ve assembled ten of the most wretched, rotten, and upsetting food moments in horror — and we’ve made a point of avoiding the obvious disgust that comes from scenes of cannibalism. Dig in at your peril. Keep reading for a look at the grossest food scenes in horror as voted on by Anna Swanson (vegetarian), Brad Gullickson (omnivore), Chris Coffel (omnivore), Jacob Trussell (omnivore), Kieran Fisher (Scottish), Rob Hunter (pescatarian), Valerie Ettenhofer (omnivore with a taste for fowl), and myself (vegetarian).
10. Fortune cookies in It (1990)
People like to say that Stephen King’s novel IT and the miniseries adaptation of the same name ruined clowns for them forever. Okay, but forget clowns for a minute: it also ruined fortune cookies! The scene in which the Loser’s Club reunites after twenty-seven years apart, inexplicably meeting up at a Chinese restaurant to rehash their childhood trauma, is one of the most wholesome parts in any version of this epic clown-monster story.
That is until it’s time to pay the bill and crack open those complimentary fortune cookies. Instead of finding words of wisdom, the six friends encounter a small assortment of nightmares: a gush of blood, a cockroach, an ever-wandering eyeball, a pair of crab legs, a dying bird fetus, and a single hairy tarantula leg. Worse yet, the waitress seems to think that nothing is amiss. Although they’ve found each other as adults, Pennywise’s tricks have isolated them all over again. The nostalgic mood is thoroughly broken, and we viewers have lost our appetites. (Valerie Ettenhofer)
9. Chicken salad in Hostel (2005)
There’s a nauseating moment in Hostel that shows a woman’s eyeball being sliced from its socket. But not even the grossness of that scene can compare to an earlier one in which a Dutchman munches down on a chicken salad with his bare hands. According to the hungry gentlemen, people have lost touch with their connection to food. That’s why he eats with his hands. As someone who’s been hungry and forgot to pack cutlery in the past, I can relate to him to some degree. (Kieran Fisher)
8. Chicken nuggets in Cooties (2014)
In the 21st century, we should probably change the old phrase “you don’t want to know how the sausage gets made” to “you don’t want to know how the chicken nuggets get made.” The opening sequence of Cooties force-feeds us a rapid-fire montage of how our favorite nuggies come together — from the slaughterhouse to the lunch tray, pink slime, and all — and it’s more disgusting than anything else you’ll find in this gory horror-comedy.
What’s hiding inside of our food, and how the fuck it’s going to kill us this time, is likely the genesis for this story about an elementary school besieged by pint-sized zombies after eating some tainted nuggs, so this montage acts like the film’s mission statement. Cooties‘ opening credit sequence is a reminder that we aren’t always what we eat; sometimes what we eat is a whole lot worse. (Jacob Trussell)
7. Spaghetti in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
This is the first time spaghetti will appear on this list, but it won’t be the last. As far as noodles go, spaghetti is by far the most ominous: pallid, wriggling, and unwieldy. Covering the cursed pasta in red-sauce only adds to its menace. It’s like a colony of tapeworms breeding inside a liquified corpse. Inherently: this is an off-putting dish.
What doesn’t help, and Barry Keoghan, this is directed at you, is when you eat spaghetti like a starving animal. In a white shirt no less, you absolute maniac. Keoghan’s Martin does horrible things in this scene: he unblinkingly tries to break up a marriage, doubles down on holding children hostage, and demands vague cosmic retribution for the death of his father. But none of that compares to the pure evil this boy teases out of a plate of spaghetti. Also, I cannot prove this, but that pasta is cold. And there is no danker evil than cold spaghetti. It’s unnerving, it’s repulsive, and I never want to eat spaghetti again. (Meg Shields)
6. The feast in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Hoity-toity dinner parties are never fun. The guests, fashion, and dinnerware are often equally obnoxious, and the whole affair is downright unpleasant. Sometimes they can be so boring that you just fall asleep. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what happens to poor Greta in the fifth installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and as result, she’s joined by a new dinner guest: Freddy Krueger.
Old Fred forces Greta to eat herself to death, killing her in a disgusting but highly amusing manner. Greta’s face begins to blow up resembling something from Dr. Pimple Popper as Freddy stuffs it with various forms of something vaguely meat-like and extremely bloody. Just before she plops dead, Freddy hits us with the hilarious “You are what you eat” line. Maybe dinner parties aren’t all bad. (Chris Coffel)