A great horror film doesn’t have to have flowing blood and the splatter of guts, but it certainly helps. The twisted minds of screenwriters and directors have brought some memorable moments of bloodshed to the screen for our retinal pleasures. Sometimes, they carnage is spread over the entire film, and sometimes, in one glorious fountain of red. Sometimes, the body count is high. Sometimes, it’s just the horrifying manner in which our victims meet their demise. And so, I bring you my Top 10 Horror Film Bloodbaths.
Saw may not have had the most surprising ending in the history of horror (or the greatest sequels), but the original traps are some of the most primitive and shudder-inducing death scenes I have ever seen. One of the reasons that the sequels were so terrible is that they tried to go bigger. What made the traps in the original so excruciating was that anyone could build them, thereby making it all the more uncomfortable when we placed ourselves inside of them.
When it comes to bloodbaths, Hostel proves that variety is the spice of life. Pay your fee, choose your plaything. The brief moment during our protagonist’s escape in which we see shots of multiple people being tortured to death is just long enough to be sickening and make you want to spill a little bad guy blood of your own. Also, blow torch plus eyeball equals . . . yeeeeesh . . .
An electric fence seems like a great method of protection from the zombies that roam the land. Unless, of course, those zombies find another way inside. Now, that very same protection has you trapped. While we never see the initial attack, the image of hundreds of zombies slowly, but viciously, devouring hundreds of screaming humans is enough to beg for those rockets to come much faster.
Behold my guilty horror pleasure. Although the dialogue is lacking, and the story falls apart slightly, I still unashamedly love this film. The deaths of the primary plot are bloody fantastic in and of themselves, but I give special attention to the computer log. The sounds and imagery presented in this garbled computer recording are absolutely terrifying. Much is hidden from view, but we see all we need to. Self-mutilation, rape, laceration, and torture. What did the crew of the Event Horizon see on the other side of space? I never want to know.
This may be one of the few films to feature a literal bloodbath which also serves as one of the deepest metaphors in this smarter-than-it-appears horror flick. In addition to all the uncomfortable, claustrophobic slaying of the female spelunkers, we get to see our protagonist fall into and emerge reborn from a massive pool of blood. This transformation turns her into something halfway between a human trying to survive, and the monsters that call the darkness their home.
It could be the grainy footage, or the documentary-style shooting, but something about this film feels disturbingly real. Leatherface treats his victims like literal pieces of meat. When they run away, it’s like a chicken escaping the coop. When he can’t get around to butchering the meat, he places it on a meat hook. I mean, that’s what its there for, right? It’s all just work, but it must be known that Leatherface is a man who enjoys his work.
The chainsaw is a relatively recent invention, but there is something primal in our fear of it. It’s use makes us cringe. This tool turned weapon, and the manner of its use make The Texas Chainsaw Massacre a blood bath from which even the survivors may never recover.
When the French make a horror movie, they do not mess around. Martyrs is a slow-building, tension-driven horror drama, but the very beginning and the very end contain some of the most shocking acts of violence I’ve ever seen on screen. From the brutal shotgun murder of an entire family, to victims driven mad by extended, almost casual, torture, to an innocent girl being skinned alive . . . and surviving. Martyrs will not break any body count records, but it will test your gut and your nerve.
The French continue their assault on your psyche with Inside, a film about a intruder trying to steal a woman’s baby . . . while it is still inside of her. Inside has some of the most gruesome and difficult-to-watch scenes I have ever seen in a film of any genre. It succeeds in making we, the audience, feel the pain of the victims. Probably because the weapon of choice is such a common household item. We’ve always been told as kids to never run with scissors. This film will show you other things that should never be done with them.
The filming logistics alone involved in the boat party massacre sequence are worthy of absolute praise. The coordination involved with so many extras, large moving watercraft, and some of the most graphic, bloody, and detailed make-up effects I have ever seen. This movie made dismemberment and skeletonization almost too difficult to watch. And yet, I could not look away.
In a similar manner to Hostel, the film spent the first two thirds making us hate these irritating spring breakers. But when the slaughter begins, the panic sets in, and the lake runs red with the blood of hundreds of people, you can’t help but feel that sense of dread. It makes you want to bring your feet off the floor and up onto your couch, lest the carpet piranhas find you to be a meaty snack.
System purge. Enough said.