6 body horror films as feminist as they are stomach-churning

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You know something is right with the universe when Chloë Sevigny and Natasha Lyonne turn out to have been best friends for more than two decades. You know that something is even better when these two close friends collaborate on a crazy trippy body horror pregnancy flick straight out of some acid cheese dreams. That’s right, this dream team is starring in Antibirth, an American-Canadian indie film which appears to be the bastard child of Rosemary’s Baby and an episode of Teletubbies.


Lyonne and Sevigny play best friends Lou and Sadie (huh, I wonder if they did that on purpose) who live and party in a small desolate Michigan town debilitated by drugs. After blacking out after a particularly intense rager, Lou wakes up feeling real woozy, only to find that she's pregnant, which is strange because she hasn't gotten laid in a while. But as her mystery pregnancy progresses, some freaky and supernatural shit starts to go down, and the two women uncover the messed-up secrets of the town. Watch the trailer at your own risk:

Antibirth is not only a dope collaboration between two dope women, but it’s body horror cinema—films that evoke fear through the deterioration, mutilation, or modification of the human body—that, despite being directed by a man, jettisons the male gaze. In some respects, body horror doesn’t discriminate between the sexes—many of the genre’s iconic films subject the male form to some disgusting, skin-crawling shit. But that doesn’t mean the genre’s treatment of women has been stellar, and finding films that don’t merely discard the female form after mining its sexuality for the sake of disgust is rare. So here’s a few body horror films that, while certainly not very fun to watch unless you’ve got a strong stomach for gore, are feminist and pretty fucking badass.

In My Skin (2002)

In this 2002 French flick directed by Marina de Van, a woman who is living a perfect life delves into self-mutilation after accidentally injuring herself. The more Esther harms herself, the more distant her friends and boyfriend become, and her new obsession takes over.

Teeth (2007)

Teeth is probably the most well-known modern feminist body horror movie (a specific category if there ever was one). High schooler Dawn is as pure as they get, a poster child for abstinence. But after a boy she likes takes advantage of her and rapes her, she soon discovers that her vagina is armed. With teeth. And boy, do they bite.


When Animals Dream (2014)

Another horror take on the womanly coming-of-age story, the Danish When Animals Dream follows Marie, a girl trying to make sense of strange symptoms like hair growing on her chest, while attempting to figure out why her mother is constantly sedated and nearly catatonic. Turns out Marie hails from generations of werewolves, taking the idea of a “strong female character” to the next level.


Grace (2009)

If you think a pregnancy-themed horror movie is a fucked-up idea, try a breastfeeding-themed one. Madeline Matheson delivers a stillborn baby after being involved in a serious car accident that kills her husband. But soon, the baby “comes back to life” bringing with her a horrible smell, relentless flies, and a thirst for blood.


Alien (1979)

Not only is this sci-fi classic a feminist war cry and a deep dive into male insecurity, it technically counts as body horror, seeing as, um, a baby alien bursts through a chest cavity during birth. Spoiler alert?


American Mary (2012)

When bright and talented med school student Mary finds she doesn’t have the funds to pay for tuition, she takes her skills underground, performing surgeries for criminals before stumbling across a community of women seeking extreme cosmetic body modifications. As she gains respect and business for her abilities, she also uses her craft to take revenge on those who have done her wrong.