A caterpillar turns into a butterfly, Optimus transforms from his gorgeous red truck to his humanoid form, but a chest buster turns into a Xenomorph Drone, and Seth Brundle becomes Brundlefly. As a result, we understand that every transition has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Technology has made everything possible in modern times, but it has also left us with nothing unique. Nonetheless, a few directors remain committed to practical effects and believe in their ability to produce something that no computer can duplicate. Bringing anything to life from real, concrete objects is certainly a more challenging endeavor that requires following the road less traveled.
Mary Shelley was arguably the first to introduce the world of literature to truly terrifying body horror, followed by H.P. Lovecraft’s numerous imagined and published works. Body horror and transformation as a sub-genre of horror would never have gotten the recognition it deserved if it had not been for people like David Cronenberg and John Carpenter. We will look at some of the most horrifying monster transformations from horror movies in this video. Let us get started, shall we?
BRUNDLEFLY from THE FLY (1986)
“I’m saying, I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it, but now that dream is over, and the insect is awake.”
Directed by David Cronenberg, this epic science-gone-wrong film starred Jeff Goldblum as Seth Brundle, an ambitious and eccentric scientist who attempts to win the heart of a young and beautiful journalist named Veronica Quaife, played by Geena Davis. He offers her a scoop of his latest invention that helped teleport matter.
His machine, however, initially fails to transport living things or even tissues. But once he successfully transports a baboon, he starts to believe that he has mastered his scientific establishment. Thrilled with the success, he tries to teleport himself via the machine he has created, but unbeknownst to him, a fly enters the machine just as the teleportation was beginning. Brundle soon becomes what he calls the Brundlefly, an amalgamation of a fly and himself. The fly’s DNA and his got amalgamated at the molecular DNA level, and Brundle’s human instincts gave way to uncontrollable primitive impulses.
When Seth Brundle came out of his teleportation device or the telepod, he looked normal and didn’t suspect that 50% of his DNA was now that of a fly. His first stage of transformation gave him faster reflexes, heightened physical strength, craving for sugar, agitation, and coarse, hairy bristles. With time, however, his skin began to rot. Soon, Seth developed the ability to climb and cling to walls and ceilings.
He could vomit some digestive enzymes on his food before eating. Later, he began to lose his hair, fingernails, teeth, and even ears. When Brundle learned that a fly had entered his telepod and that he now had 50% fly DNA, he concluded that the only way to regain his human side was through merging with another human being, which would give him 75% human DNA and 25% fly DNA.
After abducting his love, Veronica, Seth’s transformation hastened. Whatever little skin and flesh remained, eroded and fell. Seth had metamorphosed into a bipedal, insectoid being. Despite lacking an exoskeleton and wings, the Brundlefly had an elongated head, huge black eyes, a segmented body, and his limbs had grown extra joints. Clearly, he was more insect than human. In the end, the Brundlefly fused with his own device and begged to be killed.
The Long One from Slither (2006)
Grant Grant: I’ve been around a million years! Do you think you can f*** with me?
Bill Pardy: Yep.
From the depths of infinite space came a flaming meteorite that crashed into the lovely, deep, and dark woods of the quiet town of Wheels. But the rock hid something sinister and sentient. A silent but spiteful parasite emerged from the rock; a creature that has existed for millions of years and invaded several worlds, making them bereft of life.
With its arrival at Wheels, an alien invasion began. Like all parasites, this one also needed a host, and the victim was the unfortunate businessman of Wheelsy, Grant Grant, played by Michael Rooker. Slowly but steadily, Grant started to undergo internal transformations and ultimately became an utterly hideous monster.
His wife Starla starts to worry about her husband’s changed habits and looks, but Grant’s transformation is far from complete. When that happens, Grant would launch an unstoppable attack on Earth, slowly infecting other people with an army of slithering slugs. Directed by James Gunn, this sci-fi film is a real treat to the eyes for anyone who can behold and appreciate its beauty.
The Long One was dubbed a conscious disease, a life form that traveled across the universe in search of organisms to infect, kill and eat. It devours all life forms on an inhabited planet until none but itself is alive, and then moves on to another world to perpetually repeat the same process.
Although its means and mode of travel are unknown, it came to Earth in the form of a needle encased in a gelatinous covering, which was further covered in a piece of rock presumably from the last planet that it destroyed. On Earth, it got its primary host as Grant Grant, who started to change and grow into the Long One with rapid speed. Grant initially didn’t have many physical changes but developed an extreme hunger for meat.
Butcher: How many do you need?
Grant Grant: Eight. Naw… ten. Uhm, no, no. You know what? Gimme fourteen.
Butcher: Having a party?
Grant Grant: Yeah, something like that. It’s a… little surprise for the wife.
Over time, Grant started to resemble a squid and developed whip-like tentacles from various parts of his body. Grant also developed rashes and swelling of multiple parts in his transformation into a grotesque monstrosity.
Initially, he had the ability to move and kill both humans and animals. But once Grant no longer felt any threat, he resorted to staying at one place as a massive blob of flesh that was created by merging with more hosts. Ultimately, he looked something like ‘the Thing’ from John Carpenter’s The Thing.
THE THING from THE THING (1982)
“This thing doesn’t want to show itself; it wants to hide inside an imitation. It’ll fight if it has to, but it’s vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies. Nobody left to kill it. And then it’s won.”
― R.J. MacReady.
Amid the snowfields of Antarctica, scientists and the crew of US Outpost 31 are shocked to see a Norwegian chopper circling their camp, in an attempt to shoot down a dog. The helicopter gets destroyed, killing the crew, and the pilot began shooting at the dog. However, the station commander, Garry of US Outpost 31 shot the pilot down. The dog is then allowed to reside in the base, but the Americans are clueless as to what actually happened.
A team from the US Outpost 31 goes to investigate the Norwegian base, and they discover a mangled human body. They bring the body back to the American base for further research. The dog that was kenneled soon transformed into a horribly morbid creature created by assimilating with other dogs. It becomes clear that there’s an alien entity among them that has the power to assimilate with any living being and take up their appearance.
The US Outpost 31 soon becomes ground zero for a lot of action, and the cold air fills them with feelings of claustrophobia and paranoia because no one knows for sure who’s already infected and who could be trusted. Amidst the chaos, helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady takes control in an attempt to find answers.
Rob Bottin became a well-known name in Hollywood after his hideous creatures were featured in Carpenter’s film. ‘The Thing’ is a shape-shifting alien that comes in contact with another organism and integrates with the latter to take the exact form, so much so that it copies the cellular structure.
The Thing’s cells digest and replicate the cells of the host and eventually replicate the entire body. Once assimilated, it assumes the memory and intelligence of the host, which helps it blend with the others without being discovered and choose when to attack. It is most vulnerable as well as dangerous when it is threatened or when it’s in the process of assimilation.
At this moment, it bursts open inside out and allows a variety of strange and terrifying forms to be seen. The Thing’s intelligence is directly proportional to its size. For instance, a sample of blood tries to attack because of its lack of intelligence, the spider head’s instinct is to hide, but a fully developed Human Thing or Dog Thing blends with others.
There were several great transformations in the film, but a special mention has to be given to the Dog Thing, which Stan Winston helped in creating after Rob Bottin fell ill due to over-exhaustion. Then there’s the Spider head Thing, another result of great special effects expertise. If you wish to explore our in-depth analysis of ‘The Thing’ creature, please check out our video titled ‘The Thing – Anatomy, Real Form, Timeline, And Future Of The Franchise Explained In Detail’.
Zoanoid from The Guyver (1991)
Dr. Tetsu Segawa stole an alien device called The Guyver Unit from a corporation called Chronos. But he gets apprehended by Lisker, the right-hand man of Chronos’s president named Fulton Bacus. Lisker transforms into a Zoanoid and kills Segawa, who was a Zoanoid too.
Lisker thought that he had procured the Guyver Unit from Segawa, but in reality, Segawa had hidden the device in a pile of trash. Meanwhile, the Guyver Unit falls into the hands of Sean Barker, who was the boyfriend of Segawa’s daughter Mizuki. The device soon fused with Sean. Lisker and his gang of Zoanoids will stop at nothing to retrieve the Guyver Unit from Sean, but Sean has bigger issues to face. He hasn’t yet confronted the leader of the Zoanoids, the Zoalord.
As many of you would know, the film is based on the manga of the same name by Yoshiki Takaya. Now, several changes were made when the film was being adapted, but the most prominent one was the portrayal of Lisker, the leader of other Zoanoids. In the mangas, he was a Guyver, but in the film, he is a Zoanoid.
The Zoanoids are essentially humans who have been transformed into powerful creatures with superhuman speed, strength, and agility. They were created more than a hundred thousand years ago, and since then, they have blended with other humans. The film also portrays Fulton Balcus as the Zoalord or the leader of all Zoanoids.
After Sean kills Balcus’s minions, the latter takes it upon himself to defeat Sean and takes up his true form as the Zoalord. This mutant form looks like a blend of a dinosaur and a spider. Naturally, it has excellent strength, courtesy of its huge size. Sean struggles to fight this monster but ultimately manages to kill the Zoalord.
The film also features a transformation scene that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. Mark Hamill stars as Max Reed in the film, and he gets experimented upon. The end result of the experiment was his transformation into a grotesque and ugly cockroach-like Zoanoid. Clearly, all the Zoanoids portrayed in the film are a marvelous wonder in the world of special effects, but credit should be given where due.
Solid Snake from Curse 2: The Bite (1989)
Eddie Peck and Jill Schoelen star as Clark and Lisa, a young couple who travel through the desert in New Mexico and unwittingly come across an abandoned nuclear test site. The place has become the breeding ground for deadly and mutated snakes. Clark and Lisa’s car breaks down, and Clark gets bitten by one of the snakes.
Clark soon goes through a hideous transformation and takes the form of a solid snake monster. He begins to lose his humanity and gives in to reptilian instincts. The sheriff and his squad must join hands and launch an expeditious search and rescue operation for Lisa and kill the snake monster in the process, or else all hell will break loose.
As far as Clark’s transformation is concerned, Lisa initially thinks that Clark was acting abnormally because he was jealous of another man. But she soon figures out that the snakebite was changing Clark in more ways than one. Clark’s hand transforms into a huge snakehead with a forked tongue, rolling eyes, and a massive pair of jaws that could not only cut a victim’s throat but also chew their entire face in seconds.
Furthermore, Clark could rip the hearts out of his victims, and lasso them with his tongue. By the end, when Lisa crawls through the mud to her boyfriend, he hardly looks like a human and vomits oodles of vipers from his mouth before his head splits in half to disgorge the serpentine host.
Werewolf – The Howling (1981)
Karen White: A secret society exists, and is living among all of us. They are neither people nor animals, but something in-between.
Newswoman Karen White was investigating a serial killer named Eddie Quist in a red light area, because he had been stalking and threatening her over phone calls. Karen had been bugged by the police, who found Eddie in a peep-show cabin and shot him. But the incident took a toll on Karen, and she was so disturbed by it that she lost her memory.
In the hopes of conquering her inner demons, Karen heads to a secluded retreat called the Colony, where the residents try to make her feel at home, but they seem a bit too eager in their mannerisms. Furthermore, there seems to be a strange relationship between The Colony and Eddie Quist. At this supposedly safe haven, Karen starts hearing unearthly cries.
Karen White: There was howling just a minute ago.
William ‘Bill’ Neill: It was probably somebody’s stray dog.
Karen White: It didn’t sound like any dog I’ve ever heard before.
William ‘Bill’ Neill: Honey, you’re from Los Angeles. The wildest thing you’ve ever heard is Wolfman Jack. This is the country.
One night she ventures out into the forest, only to make a terrifying discovery; the people in The Colony were all werewolves.
The primary transformation sequence takes place in an office when the creature transforms right in front of Karen’s eyes. The man responsible for bringing the creatures to life, Rob Bottin, designed the progressive stages using clay casts. For the first stage, several bladders were used and placed on Robert Picardo’s various body parts like arms, shoulders, chest, etc. He was also made to wear prosthetic teeth and contact lenses.
In one of the scenes, we see Eddie’s nails grow into claws; this was achieved by using cable-controlled nails, which slowly sprung out. The ultimate design was a fairly realistic one, and all the werewolves shared this feature. Rob Bottin, who also worked on the creature of John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, gained outstanding positive feedback for his work on ‘The Howling’.
Prawns from District 9 (2009)
In 1982, a giant alien spacecraft containing almost a million aliens landed in Johannesburg. The aliens had vague humanoid features but shared acute similarities with Prawns, and hence were dubbed Prawns. The South African government welcomes them and places them in a makeshift refugee camp called District 9, but over the years, the warm-hearted welcome deteriorates to cold-blooded disgust.
District 9 becomes a modern form of a concentration camp, where the aliens are oppressed and subjected to torture and painful experiments. In due course of time, the authorities received several spiteful and hateful complaints against the Prawns from local humans. So, the government resorted to hiring a local weapons manufacturing firm called Multinational United to relocate these aliens.
Wikus van der Merwe, a crude and brute man, is put in charge of this. But while attempting to transport the aliens, Wikus came in contact with an alien substance, gradually transforming into the Prawns.
The only positive is that he is now able to operate the Prawn weaponry, which is biologically restricted to only Prawns. Now that he was the only common link between humans and Prawns, he was made the new subject of experiments. He realized that only the Prawns were the ones who could help him, so he switched sides. But will he succeed or even survive?
Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 deals with various social issues that plague humanity, while revolving around vulgar-looking aliens and body transformations. The film is visually striking and satisfying and successfully evokes interest and attention in a way that’s powerful and irresistible.
Wikus accidentally sprays a suspicious canister of some alien fluid that slowly turns him into one of the aliens, lest he gets help. His mutation begins at his left arm and gradually spreads to his body. This transformation is so efficient that it has managed to find a place in any list that concerns body horror. Interestingly, the Prawns were given humane emotions and psychological characteristics.
Wikus becomes more sympathetic and empathetic towards the aliens, whereas he was shown as a brute thug at the beginning of the film. Ultimately, Wikus becomes more humane and kind, the more he morphs into an alien. The designs were made by Weta Workshop and executed by Image Engine.
Scanners from Scanners (1981)
Scanning is not mind-reading. It is the merging of two nervous systems, separated by space.
—Dr. Paul Ruth
A seemingly homeless man named Vale salvages food and cigarettes left behind at tables in a mall; as he begins eating, two women look at him with disgust and express it loudly. However, when Vale stared at them, one of the women fell unconscious and fell to the ground with a seizure. Within no time, two mysterious men appeared and shot Vale with tranquilizer darts.
It is revealed that Vale is one of the many Scanners that roam on Earth. Scanners are humans with telepathic and telekinetic powers due to their advanced brains. The film revolves around a Scanner named Daryl Revok, who wished to dominate the world using other Scanners and their abilities.
On the other hand, an organization called ConSec incessantly struggles to suppress Vale’s underground revolution and the rise of Scanners as a power. But, ConSec’s intentions are not as pure as they seem.
When director David Cronenberg released this one in the early 80s, it received largely cold reviews from the critics, but it became famous as a cult classic over time. Back then, the film came as a breath of fresh air, but there were also people who noted that it was ahead of its time. The scene where Revok manages to telepathically explode another character’s head is one of the highest points in the film and will remain a classic example and spectacle of body horror.
And one shouldn’t be surprised as body horror was one of Cronenberg’s fortes. It’s truly an eye-popping and mind-blowing film if you know what we mean. Apart from this, the film is deeply satirical and packs layers of metaphors in its imagery and dialogues.
Insect Creature – Bite (2015)
Casey goes to Costa Rica with her friends Jill and Kristen for her bachelorette trip. Being a bratty young girl, Casey doesn’t fear going for a swim in a deserted lagoon and takes her friends along. Casey goes for a swim in a secluded lagoon because, well, that’s what people do on bachelorette trips. But this unnecessary love for thrill lands her in deep trouble instead of deep waters because a strange bug bites her.
Obviously, she ignores the bug bite. She is worried about her upcoming wedding with Jared, which she secretly considers an impending doom. Casey returns home and her friend Jill gives her a cream, but of course, that was not going to help because otherworldy bug bites leave scars that stay forever. Soon, she goes through a series of changes and develops insectoid habits like weaving webs, excreting a multitude of eggs from her vagina, and discharging chitinous fluids from her oral and other cavities.
If we had to describe this film in 4 words, we would go for: ‘Love at first bite.’ . The special effects are sure to gross you out with scenes where gooey substances come out of Casey’s body and the vulgar excretions from her private parts. Elma Begovic plays the lead in this movie, and special mention must be given to her acting despite being wrapped in thick makeup for most of the film.
It is a gross gooey galore. ‘Bite’ is known to have made people nauseous at the screenings, and the makers of the film decided to distribute Bite Barf-Bags. After the first ten minutes, the viewers are taken on a gore ride. The transformation that Casey undergoes to become a humanoid bug was filmed with explicit details. The first stage of her transformation was like any other; she developed rashes.
She fails to figure out a solution to her problem and to make things worse, she has an unapproving future mother-in-law. Following that, there’s no stopping the infectious bug from taking over Casey’s body and mind. The gore seems relentless and has everything from wounds filled with puss to laying hordes of larvae from her private parts. Then there’s coughing up gooey, poisonous substances.
The bug that bit her didn’t just transform her physiology and psychology but also made sure that Casey transformed her surroundings into a hive. Practical effects used are top-notch and cinematographer Jeff Maher doesn’t shy away from taking crystal-clear shots of Casey as an insectoid human. It’s beyond an ounce of doubt that people who have a low tolerance for body horror will have a tough time watching the film, but if they do manage to sit through it, they will definitely sympathize with Casey, who was scared of getting married, having babies and starting a life, only to find that out she doesn’t have that option anymore.
Human Walrus from Tusk (2014)
Wallace and Teddy are noisy, energetic, and witty co-hosts of a podcast called The Not-See Party who crack dark and humiliating jokes on bizarre videos that go viral on the internet. Wallace sometimes travels around the world and interviews people who have funny stories, like running into funny but dark accidents.
After recording these interviews, he comes back to his studio, where Wallace and Teddy talk about the story for their listeners. His latest project is in Canada, where a young boy accidentally cut his leg off. But when Wallace reached Canada, he learned that the boy had died, and naturally, the interview was called off.
He stops at a bar before going home and finds a flyer that says a man is willing to share the stories of a sailor and provide a night’s stay. Wallace is intrigued by this new opportunity that flew his way, and he decided to pay a visit to the old man. The man gives Wallace a seemingly warm welcome, but his tea was laced with drugs, and Wallace fell unconscious after having it.
The following day was filled with terror and regret for Wallace, as he discovered that his leg had been amputated. His host was planning on turning him into a human walrus by carrying out dexterous medical procedures. Meanwhile, Teddy arrives in Canada and learns that this man is on the police’s wanted list.
You may have understood by now that most of the entries on this list depict a fate worse than death. But this film takes it to a whole new level, because of two factors. One, the transformation is taking place because of humanistic reasons without the involvement of otherworldly or inexplicable elements.
And two, the victim is fully aware of what is happening to him, at least for a while. As the film progresses, Wallace is forcefully transformed into a walrus, complete with body, mind, and instincts. He wasn’t just operated upon and mutilated, but made to wear a walrus outfit that was sewn from human skin.
Acclaimed makeup artist Robert Kurtzman has done exceptionally well to craft this into another one of his masterpieces. Although the film crashed at the box office, Justin Long and Johnny Depp’s performances make it worth your while.
Weresheep from Black Sheep (2006)
Henry Oldfield used to live on a Kiwi sheep farm with his father, and elder brother Angus. Henry was a natural at farming and gained the admiration and pride of his father, which angered Angus. One day, Angus decided to play a cruel and dark prank on Henry by placing the bloodied carcass of a sheep for Henry to discover.
Just as Henry discovered it, the farm’s housekeeper Mrs. Mac informed the boys about their father’s demise in an accident. Henry endured the combined shock of two of his most horrid nightmares and developed an extreme phobia of sheep. Fifteen years later, Henry decides to return to his farm to sell his share.
But what Henry didn’t know is that Angus had been secretly carrying out diabolic experiments on the sheep, that transformed them from tame and calm herbivores to disturbingly ferocious carnivores. Also, their bite had the ability to transform anyone into a bloodthirsty Weresheep.
The Weresheep look like humanoids, only with fur and ferocious sheep heads that resemble a predator’s. These super predators lust on raw flesh, and their hunger seems to be insatiable. They are more intelligent than regular sheep and can also retain some part of their memory from a time before their transformation.
These brutal and sadistic creatures use their newly developed maws to attack, and use their forelimbs like humans use their arms. Naturally, they are bipedal beings and totally resemble the stuff from nightmares. The film as a whole is jolly-good and fun to watch, but suffers from unidimensional characters and a rather shallow story. Comedy-wise, it almost reaches the level of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and remains clever, but not too clever. It’s definitely a recommendation if you want to watch it over a few chilled ones with friends.