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 most evil corporations in horror films is part of our ongoing series 31 Days of Horror Lists.
Let’s briefly break down the Reagan Revolution’s favorite policy: trickle-down economics. The idea was that if corporations were given steep tax cuts, the money saved would be injected back into the company, stimulating organizational growth and boosting the wages of the workers that make the business run. The competition generated from a free-market approach would send prices down, allowing the US dollar to be stretched further than ever before. But even a cursory look at the economy of the United States over the last forty years will show you just how much of a colossal failure that system was.
The naivety of trickle-down economics is staggering, but it was built on optimistic aspirations that the white-collars of the world would do the right thing and not hoard their wealth. But this is the US, the country where people wear shirts that say “fuck your feelings,” and that’s exactly what corporations said: fuck the working class, we’re giving ourselves an annual bonus! And in a country divided by the haves-too-much and the haves-none-at-all, we feel very confident in saying that corporations are the worst, spelled with a capital E V I L.
At The Boo Crew, we’re hungry to eat the rich, so Chris Coffel, Brad Gullickson, Rob Hunter, Mary Beth McAndrews, Meg Shields, Anna Swanson, and I have put together a list of our favorite evil corporations that horror cinema has incorporated. The question remains though, who’s worst: these evil entities, or the Amazons and Wal-Marts of the world? We’ll let you decide.
10. GeneCo (Repo! The Genetic Opera, 2008)
Repo! The Genetic Opera is one of the most bananas genre melds out there: a science fiction gothic rock opera horror film. What a delightful mouthful. The beneficiary of a hilariously limited theatrical release and a subsequent cult following, Repo! Is set in the not-so far-flung future of 2056 where an epidemic of organ failures has devastated humanity. Leave it to a mega-corporation to find profit in catastrophe. GeneCo provides a specific, and especially grisly service: organ transplants on a payment plan. Clients who don’t (or can’t) pay up are hunted down by Repo Men, violent surgeon-assassins who “repossess” the loaned organs without regard for the folks who happen to be using (ahem… borrowing) them.
Fitting of a corporeal apocalypse, the film largely concerns the drama of succession: GeneCo’s CEO Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) is the not-so-proud parent to three demented offspring (Bill Moseley, Paris Hilton, and Nivek Ogre), none of whom are worthy of inheriting his organ-slinging empire. Luckily, Rotti has a backup plan and begins to groom the daughter of his old flame (who he had killed, naturally). All’s fair in love and a future where a corporation is willing and able to repossess body parts! (Meg Shields)
9. Spectacular Optical (Videodrome, 1983)
In David Cronenberg’s 1983 sci-fi body-horror masterpiece, TV station president Max Renn (James Woods) finds himself in the middle of a vast conspiracy that begins with snuff films. As he chases down a mysterious TV signal, Max discovers the titular Videodrome and the Spectacular Optical Corporation behind it. The corporation dabbles in eyewear in between arms dealing and manufacturing socio-political broadcasts that trigger malignant hallucinations. As with most evil companies, the ultimate goal is obscured by a wealth of rabbit holes and booby traps. But as Max uncovers, the corporation is at the center of a burgeoning cultural war that could ravage the mind as well as the body. Long live the new flesh, indeed. (Anna Swanson)
8. Izon (Cube, 1997)
In Vincenzo Natali’s Cube, we are only given a few brief snippets of dialogue that speak to the film’s overall mystery: who created the Cube? We’re only told of a shadowy corporation of middle-men who commissioned the project, which is later fleshed out in Cube 2: Hypercube. Turns out, the Cube was built by a weapons manufacturer called Izon, who we can only discern wanted to use the structure as a prison for political prisoners.
This is later elaborated on in the film’s prequel, Cube: Zero, where the Cube’s overall metaphor becomes clear: Guantanamo Bay. While the first film was released before 9/11, both of the following films are clearly impacted by the weaponized War on Terror that saw governments and corporations alike roll back individual privacy in the name of patriotic duty. Since the Reagan administration, the lines between government and corporations have become blurred to the point of being erased, and Cube sets its focus on the untold horrors that erasure wrought. (Jacob Trussell)
7. The Stuff Corporation (The Stuff, 1985)
Enough is never enough of The Stuff! Sweet and addictive, never mind where it came from or how it hollows you out nice and quick. Chocolate Chip Charlie can’t compete with the Stuff Corporation’s product and its seemingly supernatural hold over its clientele. Sorry, bud, high fructose corn syrup is for the birds, and they’re probably already adjusting their diet as well.
Larry Cohen’s Reagan-era twist on The Blob is a nasty confection that tastes as honest as acid. A simple glance at the nightly news clearly reveals how corporate America observes its consumer base; we’re just pockets waiting to be emptied. Cancer and alien possession are small hurdles that can easily be ignored. And humans will happily pay for a speedy death as long as it’s delicious. (Brad Gullickson)
6. The Ancient Ones LLC (The Cabin in the Woods, 2011)
If there was a corporation on this list that arguably isn’t evil, it’s our old friends at The Ancient Ones LLC in Cabin in the Woods. Are they luring kids to their death? Sure. Is it for the greater good? Yeah, probably. This corporation isn’t beholden to shady boards of directors or unscrupulous executives with ties to the government like either evil entities like Amazon and Facebook. No, this LLC only answers to a higher power, which just so happens to live deep below the Earth’s surface. Still, like many corporations, a lot of the problems could have been avoided through sheer transparency. Yeah, ok, there may be a little bit of panic telling the world our lives are dictated by an ancient race of gods, but at least then they’ll know why disposable teens are being shepherded off to their gruesome fates. C’mon evil corporations! Let the world in on your little secrets. Who knows, we may be more forgiving of your actions afterwards. (Jacob Trussell)
Related Topics: 31 Days of Horror Lists