Food is something that brings people together, a universal comfort. In films like Chef and Big, food is a driving force for the story; in Studio Ghibli films, food is portrayed with reverence and beauty. When used in horror films, it’s often a different story altogether, often used to disquiet, disturb and divide.
In horror, food is more often a disgusting experience. From maggoty meat to unsavory custard to misfortune cookies, horror films like to get creative in the ways that they use food to disturb audiences. These instances are examples of the most unsettling food-centric moments in horror movie history.
Stephen King’s IT He was first brought to the screen in a two-part miniseries in 1990. Played by legendary actor Tim Curry, Pennywise the Dancing Clown terrorizes the town of Derry every 27 years, but comes up against more than he bargained for in the Losers Club. After thinking they had defeated the cosmic clown 27 years before, it becomes clear Pennywise has returned to Derry — and thus so must the Losers Club.
Once the now-adult Losers return to Derry, they get together at a local restaurant to catch up. At the end of the meal, the waitress brings over fortune cookies, and things get very weird, very quickly. Beverley cracks hers open only to be sprayed in blood, Eddie’s contains a cockroach, Richie’s has an eye looking back at him, Ben’s has a weird crab creature in it, and Mike’s births a horrible half-alive baby bird. No one else can see what is happening at the table and the Losers escape, shaken and looking over their shoulders for a lurking clown.
In Seven, A serial killer is terrorizing the city, and ultimately Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, by murdering people in ways related to the seven deadly sins. The killer is not just murdering his victims; he is torturing them in inventive and horrific ways. The murder that begins the whole story is the gluttony-based murder of an unnamed victim.
Pitt and Freeman’s detectives are called to the scene where a morbidly obese man has been found face down in a plate of spaghetti. As they investigate, it becomes apparent that the man was force-fed until his stomach burst. The scene is gruesome, featuring the man’s esophagus still stuffed with spaghetti and his bloated corpse covered with cockroaches. However, it’s merely a preview of what is to follow.
Peter Jackson’s early films are a far cry from the sprawling Tolkien epics that he is known for today. His early works are an exercise in gross-out splatter comedy that is almost unrivaled. In Brain Dead (alternate title Dead Alive), New Zealand mama’s boy Lionel suddenly has a lot more to deal with than his mother Vera’s obsessive controlling nature, after she is bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey and falls ill. Eventually, she succumbs to sickness and becomes a zombie, but not before creating some chaos and serving some custard.
In one scene, some local dignitaries are over for dinner. They notice something is wrong, but carry on regardless. When it’s time for dessert, the custard is served, and one of the guests gets a little extra sauce. Vera scratches the bite on her arm, which shoots bloody pus into the guest’s bowl without him noticing. He then consumes the custard, raving about how good it is as his wife and Lionel look on disgusted. Shortly afterward, Vera’s ear falls off and lands in her bowl. She promptly eats it, soliciting much screaming from the assembled guests.
David Lynch’s Eraserhead is famous for being an incredible work of surrealism. Set in a kind of industrial wasteland, the story follows Henry Spencer, a man dealing with the fear of being a father and being stuck in mundane life. The film features a plethora of strange symbolism and imagery, including floating heads, giant sperm, horrible alien babies, and grotesque man-made chickens.
In the world of Eraserhead, The hot new food on the market is man-made chickens, which are just like the real thing. Henry is urged just to cut the chicken up as though it were a regular chicken, and as he does, it begins to bleed profusely. The chicken twitches and bubbles as Henry’s girlfriend’s mother moans and becomes agitated, eventually running out of the room. The entire scene is an uncomfortable situation symbolic of Henry’s fear of being tied down, made worse by the horrible twitching and squelching of the tiny chicken.
Tobe Hooper’s classic haunted house film Poltergeist is densely packed with iconic moments and enough lore to spawn talk of curses for decades. From Carol-Anne exclaiming that “They’re here!” to the terrifying clown doll that comes to life with murderous intent, there are a lot of moments that made a huge impact on audiences, including one food-centric scene.
As activity ramps up at the house, the Freeling family recruits paranormal investigators to help them discover what is causing their problems. In the middle of the night, one of the investigators gets hungry and raids the fridge, throwing a raw steak onto the kitchen counter for some reason and sticking a chicken drumstick in his mouth. As he chows down on the chicken, the steak begins to crawl its way across the counter, before bubbling and turning itself inside out as the investigator watches. He drops the chicken in surprise and looks to find it crawling with maggots. He then runs to the bathroom and proceeds to peel his face off in the mirror before the hallucination ends. The scene is memorable for multiple reasons, all of them gross.
MORE: Underappreciated Horror Movies About Food
Guardians Of The Galaxy: Dave Bautista Bids Farewell To The Role Of Drax In Instagram Post
About The Author