5. Roast chicken in Eraserhead (1977)
What’s more awkward than dinner with your girlfriend’s parents? Dinner with your girlfriend’s parents where you are served unnervingly small roast chickens that bleed profusely when carved. Where do they bleed from, you ask? What a silly question. From “the cavity,” of course! “Now, Meg,” you ask, “how do know it was blood if the film is in black and white? It could have been a gravy or perhaps some very dark marinade.” No. It is blood. I just know it.
After the dinner, it is revealed to our hapless, big-haired protagonist (Jack Nance) that his girlfriend has had his child. If you want to call that snake-faced demon a child. Anyway, what better way to preface the knowledge that you’ve had a kid than a chicken gushing blood out from between its legs when you cut it? Oh, also, while the “blood” (we know it is blood) is oozing forth, frothing, and pooling onto the plate, the chicken’s tiny, horrible legs give tiny, horrible kicks. Thank you, David Lynch. I’ve just lost my appetite. (Meg Shields)
4. Lemonade in Cabin Fever (2002)
Cabin Fever is the kind of film where everyone is terrible and deserves death. But, this entry belies the unfortunate reality that flesh-eating bacteria will make a meal of whoever it can, not just petulant college students. Alas, the hermit’s infected body is floating comfortably in the reservoir, polluting the water supply and tainting all taps, faucets, hoses, and sprinklers. Paul tried to warn the authorities. But unfortunately for Paul, the authorities are dumb as hell. His warning goes unheeded and his body goes, where else, but right next to another water source.
The victorious cops celebrate at the local convenience store, where two adorable children sell them lemonade. Lemonade made with water from the creek flowing over Paul’s festering corpse.* The famous sweetness of lemonade coupled with the knowledge that this batch is made not just with corpse water, but infected corpse water is enough to turn any stomach inside out. In fact, if you drink it, your stomach may very well do just that. (Meg Shields)
*Does the corpse water lemonade in Cabin Fever qualify as cannibalism? Yes.** Did we forget to exclude it from this aspirationally cannibalism-free list? Yes. Believe me when I say we tried very hard to swat away secretly cannibalistic food entries. But when you’re dealing with demonic fortune cookies and possessed poultry maybe a little corpse water is fine. Bottoms up!
**Editor’s note: Does the corpse water lemonade in Cabin Fever really qualify as cannibalism, though? No. Hear me out. They’re not eating that corpse, they’re just drinking the fluid it was stored in for a little while. Is it cannibalism if you stir your iced tea with a finger before drinking it? No, not even if you do it with someone else’s detached finger. Case dismissed.
3. Pizza in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Nothing will make you rethink the meat on your plate like Freddy Krueger digging into Rick the little pizza meatball in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. The tiny mouth, the loud scream, the squishy anguish as he goes pop in Robert Englund‘s mouth — gulp. Honestly, just typing these words makes me a little queasy.
This film taught me that every slice of beef or pork on your plate had a soul, and while I continued to chow down on animals for a long time after my first watch, every now and again, I could hear the chunks of dead critters cry out with a similar wail to Rick’s. Thanks, Freddy. (Brad Gullickson)
2. Spaghetti in Se7en (1995)
Eager for a second helping of spaghetti? While I assume the answer is a resounding NO after number seven, that’s exactly what you’re gonna get. And then a third, and a fourth, and a… you get the picture. Se7en thoroughly understands and boldly displays that there are some real godawful ways to die.
Among the film’s heavy-hitting death scenes is the gluttony inspired killing, featuring — you guessed it — spaghetti. Specifically, a lot of spaghetti. Enough to fill John Doe’s unfortunate victim as he’s force-fed with a gun pointed at his head until he gorges himself to death when he bursts. Mercifully, that happens off-screen, but of course, the idea alone is enough to horrify, and David Fincher provides us with enough context to vividly imagine exactly what this spaghetti-caused death would entail. So go ahead, imagine it. (Anna Swanson)
1. Steak and chicken in Poltergeist (1982)
Tobe Hooper‘s Poltergeist remains something truly special and rare — a funny, sweet, and terrifying family-friendly horror movie. From the clown to the swimming pool to every other thrill the film has to offer, it’s a delight for horror fans from start to finish. One of the many standouts, though, is its foray into grossly disturbing food scenes.
It starts innocently enough as a slab of steak inches its way across a countertop while a poor guy watches in disbelief, but it quickly turns horrifyingly gross. The steak begins to erupt with beefy tumors, and the guy, in shock, drops the chicken drumstick he’s been gnoshing on only to discover that it’s crawling with maggots. More terror follows as he tears his own face apart in disgust, but it’s those unsettling glimpses of revolting meat — meat in revolt? — that stays with you. (Rob Hunter)