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The Carnal Catharsis of Body Horror

We all have bodies and they all do gross stuff. Here’s why that makes the body horror genre so cathartic to watch.
Videodrome Body Horror Themes
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on August 24th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that argues body horror is a cathartic sub-genre.


Horror has always got a bum rap as a degenerate genre. And within horror, no sub-genre is more maligned than body horror. All those crunking bones and distended skin is just nastiness for nastiness’ sake. Or so they say. Dig deeper (somewhere between the layer where subcutaneous flesh meets fat), and you’ll find a rich space full of meaning, metaphor, and meditative catharsis. Wait, what was that last part?

While plenty of die-hard horror freaks will go to bat for the genre’s merits as a vehicle for complex, uncomfortable ideas, you’ll be harder pressed to get a straight answer from a horror fan about why horror is so comforting. Sure, we’ve all heard the Life, Laugh, Love fumbling about “facing your fears” in a safe place. And there’s certainly some validity to that. But what’s this about body horror being cathartic? This is some perverse, Cronenbergian innuendo, no doubt. The man never met a sex organ he couldn’t turn into a gun. Do you think anyone has ever typed that sentence before?

The video essay below offers a fantastically compelling argument for why body horror is like meditation, actually. Additionally, it provides one of the most “yep, that about sums it up” ontological breakdowns of body horror I’ve ever come across. Remember your three Rs kiddos: Ruin; Release; and Rebirth. They’ll be teaching that stuff in schools in no time, I’m sure.

As the video notes in greater detail, if you’re looking for title specifics, visual spoilers abound. Yes, things like “the shunt” from Society count as visual spoilers. My house my rules.

Watch “The Catharsis of Body Horror”:


Who made this?

This video essay on the catharsis themes of body horror is by Yhara Zayd. They provide insightful deep dives on young adult content from Skins to My Best Friend’s Wedding. You can check out more of their content and subscribe to their channel on YouTube here. If you like their stuff and you want to support them, you can check out their Patreon here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).