From nazi zombies to Amazonian cannibals, this article compiles all the most wicked (and often unintentionally jocular) gore horror movies out there.
What are gore horror movies?
Although the roots of gore, also known as splatter horror, date back to the early 20th century, cinema acted as the catalyst for the resurgence of gore around the 40s, the 50s, and the 60s. While many films in that era were monster movies – low-budget efforts that were often free to watch in theatres – gore movies and slashers benefitted from rising interest.
As you may deduct from the current masters of horrors, gore was prolifically explored in Japan (i.e. Jigoku (1960) by Nobuo Nakagawa) and The Great Britain (Terence Fisher’s The Curse of Frankenstein from 1957).
Let’s set aside the brief history lesson though.
What does gore actually mean?
What are the characteristics of this sub-genre?
First and foremost, gore horrors are bloody and focused entirely on the body aspect of fright. Most examples of gore movies incorporate tons of severed prostethic limbs, as well as liters of artificial blood and overall graphic violence. That violence, an inseparable part of gore horror, goes beyond extreme, becoming both excessive and lucid.
Furthermore, most horror films that delve into gore aren’t particularly rich in open interpretations and symbolism. Films such as Evil Dead (1981) or Dead Alive (1992) excel in the art of over-the-top practical effects, and since most of the budget goes into the designs, go figure out the payroll of the screenwriters.
Now, shall we proceed and see what are some of the splatter horror gems you should add to your watchlist?
Top 12 Gore Horror Movies
Dead Snow (2009)
Ah, the Norwegian classic.
Dead Snow (2009) (often referred to as “Zombie SS”) is a truly cult slasher.
Set against the snowy Norwegian mountains, Dead Snow (2009) tells the story of a few friends, who rent a cabin in the woods. Upon arrival, they find a treasure, which happens to wake a squadron of nazis from the dead, who were buried in the mountains.
My first thought when Dead Snow (2009) was first announced, was that the over-the-top aesthetic of the film could be disastrous. A bunch of people fighting off zombie nazis? That can’t work.
However, the director Tommy Wirkola has turned this ridiculous idea into a fairly entertaining, well-executed gore horror movie. Wirkola balances humor and violence perfectly. Dead Snow (2009) fully embraces the idiocy of its concept, and no matter how ludicrous it gets, the Norwegian filmmaker proves absurd ideas for horror movies can turn out great (looking at you, Tom Six).
The House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombie is a figure that doesn’t bring people together.
In fact, he’s either hated or loved (the latter seems to be the minority), though avid fans of gore tend to find his creations side-splitting.
Zombie paved his way into gore horror by devising a family of jokes-cracking, ruthless monsters called Fireflies, and The House Of 1000 Corpses (2003) introduced the characters. The movie follows two young couples who come across the Fireflies, and the consequences of this encounter end quite badly for the traveling four.
Years after The House Of 1000 Corpses (2003) premiered, Rob Zombie has openly criticized his directorial debut – even despite the cult following that the film gained ever since. The Fireflies disinheritance didn’t bother the following that praised the film’s practical effects and the nightmares Zombie painted.
The sadistic Firefly family’s first movie is as sick as it gets, with people turned into fish (the actor playing the fish-man dude is Rainn Wilson, a.k.a. Dwight Shrute), or being killed in many other violent ways.
The extremity of gore becomes caricatural at some point though, and Zombie definitely applies his now-trademark no-brakes approach. Even if he sees it as a flawed attempt at gore horror, I still see it as a film far superior to most of his later endeavors.
Dead Alive (1992)
Although splatter movies existed long before Dead Alive (1992), Peter Jackson’s romance with red paint is often quoted as the most brilliant example of gore comedy in the history of horror.
So yeah, before Peter Jackson made a fortune by adapting J.R.R Tolkien’s opus magnum, he got into filmmaking in drastically different way than epic fantasy.
The first one of those New Zealand-born little nightmares was Bad Taste (1987), an ultra-low-budget attempt at the close-encounter cliche. And while it’s a notable offering from the islander, it’s Dead Alive (1992) that really questions the strength of one’s stomach.
Dead Alive (1992) finds the city of Wellington, New Zealand, invaded by a swarm of blood-thirsty zombies. The movie is every bit as disgusting as it is amusing, topping all of preceding gore movies with its now-famous lawnmower scene. The protagonist uses the machine to get rid of a crowd of zombies, leading to a blood-soaked frenzy and definite (hopefully paid) over-hours of the prosthetics effects specialist.
True fans of shivers and scares? Read about the best cosmic horror movies ever made.
James Gunn, aother household name of today’s blockbuster scene, also started with some nasty flicks.
In Slither (2006) an alien lands on Earth and as the story usually goes – it doesn’t end well for humanity. In the case of Slither (2006), unaware victims turn into monstrous parasites that transforms human tissue into disgusting pulp, pretty much in the vibe of Society (1989) by Brian Yuzna.
Slither (2006) has its deliriously glorious gore moments, but don’t worry – it’s so far-fetched that you will laugh your butt out when the film gets really…intense.
Blood Diner (1987)
So far, we’ve been focused on the titles you might have heard about.
Let’s do one that has nearly vanished in the large pool of gore movies – Blood Diner (1987).
Directed by Jackie Kong, Blood Diner (1987) is a trashy gore where two cannibalistic brothers kidnap young women to use their flesh in a special recipe that’s served at their a rundown restaurant.
Things get better though.
While their shabby joint becomes recognized by the local community, the cannibal chefs seek blood sacrifices to awaken a dormant Egyptian goddess. That part, however, doesn’t have a well-explained end game…
So, yeah – cannibals, lots of naked women, and the weirdest finale in an 80s horror I recall. It’s definitely a movie that belongs to every list compiling the weirdest abominations of the past. Within all that bizarre composition resides a handful of jovial scene that prove Jackie Kong’s story was destined to appeal to the most acquired tastes.
Rubber (2010) appears on a countless number of horror lists, serving as a profound example of how an absolutely asinine idea can be forged into a surprisingly amusing movie.
As the title may suggest, Quentin Dupieux’s film follows a… wheel. Not an ordinary wheel, though, for this particular wheel is possessed by a demon that wreaks havoc anywhere it goes.
If you expected that every kill will be a person ran over – a reasonable assumption – then your imagination is no match to what the French director has in store. The demonic object makes Leatherface pale in comparison, as its psychic abilities cause human heads to… explode.
Quentin Dupieux explained that Rubber (2010) can be interpreted as a middle finger to all the conventional movies, with characters and whatnots. Whatever the reasons for making Rubber (2010) were, it’s 90 minutes of abstract, absurd entertainment. And if you enjoy this festivity of no-brakes fun, Dupieux’s dossier abides in similarly surreal concepts.
Green Inferno (2013)
Some directors whose movies appeared on this list turned out to be bonafide stars.
Others were insufferably bad, but didn’t gaslight the viewers.
Eli Roth happens to be a director with an ego bigger than Liechtenstein (yes, such a country exists), yet with little art to back those claims up. After making a name for himself as the director of Hostel (2005), a torture porn on par with Saw (2004), he went on a streak of bland, forgettable films.
Once praised as a horror auteur who would revive the dying genre, Roth slided down the downward-sloping line of his career.
Among the many low-budget efforts of his, Green Inferno (2013) stands out as one of his worst movies, however, it’s also special in its own, weird way.
Roth left his comfort zone of numbing stories to go full-on political and bash (or support?) the green freaks who stand in the way of bulldozers in the Amazon. This is partly a tribute to Cannibal Holocaust (1980), a delicacy for serious thrill-seekers, as well as an inspiration drawn from Mel Gibson’s violence-filled Apocalypto (2006). In between, there’s a messy script, where formulaic wins over creative.
But as far as gore horror movies go, Green Inferno (2013) delivers plenty of gut-wrenching scenes. Imagine what happens when a bunch of eco-freaks is captured by Amazon cannibals. Reminiscing the good old days when horror used to shock audiences, Roth reaches for extreme measures, putting nauseating scene at display.
Perhaps the most curious part of Green Inferno (2013) though, is how the film was made. The crew worked with indigenous people from the Amazon, struggled with venomous snakes, spiders and deadly humidity, and the overall experience seemed to replicate the hellish production set of Apocalypse Now (1979).
Cabin In The Woods (2011)
Cabin In The Woods (2011) is arguably one of the finest, most imaginative horror movies in the 21st century.
The film uses a fantastic premise of schematic horror characters who are specifically picked to spend a weekend in an isolated house. This is, however, a quasi-reality show, where the group claws their way out of a serious pickle.
Cabin In The Woods (2011) brings an imaginative mix of horror and comedy. Drew Goddard, who directed the film, openly mocks horror tropes – such as that one creepy gas station – amuses the audience by bringing an impressive motley of nightmare fuels. From vampires to aquatic zombies (a particularly nasty thing), Cabin In The Woods (2011) is every bit crazy, every bit hilarious, and also scary as possible.
Evil Dead (1981)
Bruce Campbell’s peak of fame has come around right after Army of Darkness (1992) premiered, however, years before that happened, Evil Dead (1981) was his true acting masterpiece. Alas the film met with rather mixed reviews at its premiere, gore horror fans embraced it as one of the raddest flicks ever made.
One can hardly argue that Sam Raimi’s film is one of the most violent, bloody, bone-crashing, and brain-splashing horrors in history.
The plot of Evil Dead (1981) follows a group of five friends who travel to a cabin in the woods, and accidentally release demons that possessed and ate bodies ages ago.
Raimi’s gore movie caught viewers by surprise, as it cleverly used the perspective of the monsters in order to build up the scare factor. The swampy setting played its part too, yet the real MVP was Mr. Campbell. The agonizing fight-for-your-life effort was captured with incredible authenticity and intensity – it’s no surprise that Campbell returned years later to play Ash once again.
100 Bloody Acres (2012)
What could go wrong in a film about half-wit farmers in Australia who sell organically sourced fertilizer that includes minced human body parts?
Probably a lot.
100 Blood Acres (2012) mixes comedy with gore quite well, with farming equipment not falling behind any other torture-bringing tools.
In fact, it’s a great mockery of an Australian podunk town, with actors Damon Herriman and Angus Sampson nailing the fully-mumbled accent and the rural simplemindedness.
Although 100 Blood Acres (2012) favors comedy mostly, the gore scenes delve into bloody details of the production process, and boy, does it look ugly.
Piranha 3D (2010)
David Hasselhoff, women in bikinis, blood-thirsty piranhas, tanned bodies.
Piranha 3D (2010) is pure gold – cringeworthy to an absurd level, campy, and just ridiculously entertaining.
Every Wrong Turn movie
Wrong Turn is probably the dumbest horror series ever made, with each consecutive installment topping the moronity of its predecessor.
However, setting aside its values and script, the entire series is filled with gore that’s beautifully exaggerated. The mutant rednecks are quite creative executioners – archers and ax-wielding henchmen make a bloody mess out of the clueless hikers who cross the wrong roads and forest paths.
Hilarious Gore Horror Movies – Honorable Mentions
The above list could be extended with dozens of films.
Our shortlist included, among others:
- Zombeavers (2014)
- Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
- Re-Animator (1985)
- Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
- Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever (2002)
- Terror Vision (1986)
What are your favorite gore horror movies?
Share your favorites in the comments!