Body Horror

What is Body Horror?

Body Horror is horror that deals with the body of course. The scariness is derived from the manipulation of the body. The stories can be grounded in reality or can have Supernatural elements. The manipulation can come from disease for example. Another example is parasites, flesh eating or otherwise. Novels in the genre may also deal with mutation. The manipulation of the body doesn't always have to be biological however. It can be as simple as the body decaying or being mutilated. Others: unnatural movements or incorrectly placed body parts to create monsters. This principle could apply to the protagonist, antagonist, or any amount of characters.


Characteristics of Body Horror

Level of Characterization
High level. Body manipulation is detrimental to a character's psyche.

Level of Plot Complexity

Level of Supernatural
Moderate. Some Body Horror novels focus on supernatural elements, but not all.

Level of Scary
High. Spine-tingling descriptions.

Level of Violence 

Typical Setting

Related Fantasy Sub-Genres

Splatterpunk shares similarities because the gore often involves the body. Can sometimes involve creatures that overlap with ones in the Supernatural subgenre. Mutilated bodies are common in Bizarro.

Body Horror Isn’t For You If You Dislike

Characters that suffer severe physical trauma.


    1. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka. Gregor Samsa awakes one morning to discover he has turned into a giant insect.

    2. Crash, J.G. Ballard. James Ballard gets off on car crashes after experiencing one of his own, and he isn't the only one.

    3. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks. Frank turns to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations.

    4. Tomie, Junji Ito. Tomie is a schoolgirl who just won't die.

    5. The Mammoth Book of Body Horror, Paul Kane and Marie O'Regan. A collection including big names in the horror community.

    6. The Cipher, Kathe Koja. When Nicholas and Nakota discover an endless hole which they name the Funhole, they're both drawn to it.

    7. Breed, Chase Novak. Alex and Leslie Twisden undergo an experimental procedure that has unsettling consequences.

    8. Thinner, Stephen King. Overweight Billy Halleck, sideswipes an old gypsy woman. He receives the curse to get "thinner." Now he can't stop losing weight. 

    9. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk. A super model loses everything when her jaw is shot off and eaten by birds, leaving her looking like a monster.

    10. Who Goes There?, John W. Campbell. A small band of scientists and engineers are trapped in an Antarctic research station with an extraterrestrial creature.

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