History Lessons: “Body Horror” (Episode 2.3)

Some juicy nuggets from last night’s body-horror-themed episode of the docuseries Eli Roth’s History of Horror


Joe Hill: So in Hellraiser, who’s the monster, what is the menace? I think the menace is really obsession, you know, much more than the demons. You go with the demons when you can’t rise above your obsessions, your own fixation with the puzzle box. When you’ve turned away from your wife and into that unhealthy fixation.


Mick Garris: [David Cronenberg] had lost his mother to cancer and was experienced with seeing the decline of the human body from within, a revolt from within. And so much of his work is about a body in revolt, and changing, and turning septic and almost evil.


Dana Gould: Body horror is a meditation on the transitory nature of the human form. We all get old, we all decay. That’s true horror to people.


Katherine Isabelle: Walking around in a female body is terrifying. You’re a target, you’re an object, and I think that part of the reason why we have all these walls, is obviously to protect us.


Eli Roth: And that’s what the disease becomes in Cabin Fever. You’re with your best friends, but you’ve got to isolate them, or you’ve got to kill them, because whatever is inside them could get inside you. And suddenly you’re not seen as a human anymore. And I think there’s something very real about that. You know, when lepers have leprosy, what do we do, we isolate them. When SARS happened, when this disease you don’t understand–tent them off. People want to get out–too bad: epidemic, population control, can’t let them get out. There’s something really, really scary about that.


Eliza Skinner [on Society]: Obviously, it’s like all a metaphor about propriety and fitting in, and also capitalism, and having the upper class act as though they’ve got access to much finer things, when really, they have access to much more upsetting and debased things.


Eli Roth [closing commentary]: Sometimes disgusting, often disturbing, but always powerful, body horror films make us question our prejudices about physical difference, our attitudes about sex and gender, our fear of disease and contamination, and how much our appearance determines who we are. They confront us with the beauty and horror of being human.

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