80’s Body Horror – The Fly and Hellraiser

As we come closer to the end of the 20th Century and therefore the end of our horror journey, which will be ending on Halloween day, today we’re discussing a horror sub-genre that is synonymous with the 1980’s and I’ll give you a guess at what made it so special…

The practical effects of course!!

Body horror is definitely unique within the overall genre as many horrors, even going as far back as the 1920’s used the effect of the disgusting and grotesque body to scare people. Obviously the sub-genre developed after that time and hit its peak in the 80’s with such films as the two we’re talking about today, David Cronenberg‘s ‘The Fly’ and Clive Barker‘s ‘Hellraiser’. Of course, Body Horror, in terms of the history of the genre, has always been a ‘thing’ (haha puns…get it!?…The Thing). Anyway, John Carpenter‘s ‘The Thing’ (1982) is another great example of 80’s Body Horror at its finest…but sadly, it won’t be a part of our horror journey…I apologise for its absence.

Anyway, we’ll start by focussing on The Fly. The Fly, like The Thing, is a remake of a 1950’s horror film. The Thing was a remake of 1951’s The Thing From Another World and The Fly is a remake of its 1958 counterpart of the same name, starring Vincent Price . (click herehere and here for more Price from us).

1986’s The Fly is the more well received however, as it changed what was a more traditional sci-fi horror into something of horrific disgust (just look at the main image). That is the primary focus of Body Horror…to disgust. And sure, while many horror film’s may disgust us in some part due to their effects, this film was one of a select few in the 1980’s that primarily focussed its scares on the disgusting and phenomenal practical effects. It’s arguably the main reason that I suggest you watch this one.

It does also have a fantastic poster as well as great performances from Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis…completely taking out the low-budget, slightly campy elements from Price’s version and making it a very serious horror film.

The Fly is a staple of any horror collection and after watching it, it’s clear to see why…it is an excellent film…if you can stomach the truly vomit-inducing effects of ‘Brundlefly’ that is. Otherwise, I’m sure you’d never watch it again. But for any horror lover, its iconic of not only its sub-genre, but its parent one…go and watch it this Halloween guys…although its not as traditionally scary as many so maybe go for something more traditional…still, watch it!!

Now look at this picture…

The tweet says enough…its Hellraiser (1987)…simple as that.

And no, I don’t think Hellraiser is as disgusting as The Fly…even with that image. But I think from that image, you get a pretty good idea of what Hellraiser’ is like. I’m sure many of us are familiar with the quote, ‘We’ll tear your soul apart!’ spoke with thundering bass by Pinhead…a genre icon himself.

Hellraiser is one of the more original horror stories that I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. It’s incredibly unique and that’s what really makes it special. I think I prefer it to The Fly. Yeah, I do. It’s really quite indescribable…all I can say is you have to watch it for yourself. It really is something special. The performances are also pretty decent. Andrew Robinson is great as Larry…pictured above with chains through his head. But you know who the real star is…it’s Doug Bradley as Pinhead, who has a very small amount of screen time but makes that time so memorable with his very presence. His booming voice sticks in the mind and he, and his gang of Cenobites are easily some of the most grotesque and horrible looking creatures in any film. It takes a real genius mind to come up with something like this…praise to Mr. Clive Barker.

I did want this post to rather skim over the actual films and more so talk about the sub-genre itself. That’s why I haven’t really delved into quite as much detail on the films themselves that I usually do. But anyway, Hellraiser…I wouldn’t say watch this before The Fly because I think The Fly is more accessible but I do think that Hellraiser is less disgusting…although its still pretty bad. Defintely go and watch it though…I’d also recommend Hellraiser for Halloween more than I would The Fly…I don’t know, I just prefer it.

Anyway, if for some reason my talk of how disgusting these films are has piqued your interest in watching them…then good, I’ve done what I set out to do…so go forth and allow yourself to be disgusted by two of the best films to make that happen.

Also, this is worth a quick watch if you want to introduce yourself to a number of other Body Horror greats.

Next up on our journey, as it begins to come to its end, we get into the 1990’s…a notoriously quiet decade for horror in its first half, but that is where our next film comes from…1990 to be exact. A much more psychological horror than any we’ve had recently with a major theme of isolation and one seriously messed up ‘No.1 Fan’…oh and its another Stephen King adaptation…I’m sure you’ve got it now.

Let me know your thoughts on the Body Horror sub-genre in the comments and be sure to check me out on Twitter and Instagram!

The Journey Continues

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