This article is part of our ongoing series, 31 Days of Horror Lists.
Oh Italy, you’ve given us so much. Ballet, pizza, dentures, jeans, and the list goes on and on. The boot-shaped country has also played a pivotal role in keeping horror weird and freaky, but still quite fashionable. The most famous addition to horror to originate in Italy is the giallo, and that makes sense. They’re cool, sleek murder mysteries that get stabby and sexy. But don’t sleep on the gut muncher, my friends. Don’t sleep on the gut muncher.
Gut munchers are exactly as they sound. They’re movies about guts being munched. Usually, they have zombies, demons, or cannibals to do said munching, and if you’re really lucky you get all three. They’re gory, grisly films that make you feel dirty and each one should come with a barf bag. If you’ve got a weak stomach, turn back now, because it will be munched. And it will be munched good.
I hope you came hungry because 31 Days of Horror Lists continues with a look at the tastiest gut munching treats. Read on to see the ten film’s that made the cut, as decided by the Boo Crew — Anna Swanson, Valerie Ettenhofer, Kieran Fisher, Brad Gullickson, Rob Hunter, Meg Shields, Jacob Trussell, and myself.
10. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)
When we talk about zombie films, specifically early zombie films, it’s easy to be blinded to the heavy hitters. We’re talking I Walked With A Zombie, Romero’s Dead series, and of course the shark punching spate of Italian Zombie films. But one that seems to have fallen through the cracks, that is arguably just as influential as these other films, is the Italian/Spanish film Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (aka The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue). Released only five years after Night of the Living Dead, before Romero would take his zombies to technicolor, was Jorge Grau’s film that, dare I say, feels extremely classy, even as living dead grannies eat the eyeballs of unsuspecting constables.
Despite being an Italian production, with some scenes filmed in Rome, the entire story takes place in the British countryside giving it the aesthetic of a golden-era Hammer film, with the gore and guts you’d come to expect post-Dawn of the Dead. Perhaps it’s because Grau beat Romero to showing his flavor of zombies in brilliant color, but the way the zombies bleed, burn, and gobble up flesh feels remarkably familiar to Romero’s later films. As if it is both an homage and inspiration to Romero’s legacy, while also staying faithful to the films Freddie Francis feel, the story ending on a button that will make fans of EC comics feel incredibly seen. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is an important film in the legacy of modern zombie cinema, and it shouldn’t be this criminally underseen. (Jacob Trussell)
9. Antropophagus (1980)
I don’t know if there is a more repulsive and mythic image in the canon of horror than George Eastman eating his own intestines in prostration to his own inevitable fate in Antropophagus (sometimes spelled Anthropophagus). Even in a movie that includes a man eating through a pregnant woman, it’s the film’s final shot that is truly evocative of who director Joe D’Amato was as an artist. The incredible moment is only made more potent once you know why he becomes who he is in a bleak flashback which features one of the best, if not totally emotionally connected, guttural screams from Eastman. Antropophagus is by no means a masterpiece, but this merging of beauty in the grotesque is nothing short of a work of art. Weird, gross, crazy art. (Jacob Trussell)
8. Absurd (1981)
One of the best things about Italian horror movies is how hard some of them try to make you think they’re American movies. No movie does a more hilarious job at this than Absurd from director Joe D’Amato (credited as Peter Newton). The film is about a monster of a man that has blood that coagulates at a rapid rate, making him nearly impossible to kill. This dude is on the run from a priest who is out to stop him and the whole thing takes place during Super Bowl XIV. Nothing is more American than the Super Bowl and the film wants you to know this. They constantly reference the game, with everyone watching or trying to watch it. Meanwhile, a monster with Wolverine powers is ripping out intestines. It’s the perfect Italian horror flick. (Chris Coffel)
7. Nightmare City (1980)
If you’ve never seen Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare City I’m going to ask that you stop what you’re doing and go watch it now. This is a movie in which zombies are armed with guns. Yes, the zombies do look terrible, but they have guns. Armed zombies is a game-changer. They’ll still eat you, but not they can shoot you first. Makes for a more efficient zombie. There’s also a wild scene in an abandon amusement park and maybe it’s all a dream. This movie gets all the stars. (Chris Coffel)
6. Demons 2 (1986)
As we’ll discuss further in a few moments, Demons is a special movie. The sequel, meanwhile, is an enjoyable romp in its own right that doesn’t get the credit it deserves simply because it’s overshadowed by true greatness. Still, any movie that features creatures — including a demonic dog — causing havoc in an apartment complex deserves to be celebrated. This was the last movie in the franchise that’s actually a Demons movie, even though they made countless more that pretended to be sequels afterward. God bless the Italians. (Kieran Fisher)
Related Topics: 31 Days of Horror Lists