I was asked by Robyn Lass of HorrorBlips.com to contribute to another opinion article on the Achilles heel of horror bloggers--the one thing...

Horror Freak Outs: Vivisection

I was asked by Robyn Lass of HorrorBlips.com to contribute to another opinion article on the Achilles heel of horror bloggers--the one thing that freaks us out in horror movies no matter what. That said, my one true freak out would have to be vivisection.

This fear has a long and tortured history with me. It started when my best friend dragged me to a showing of House of a Thousand Corpses . I watched the entire movie from between the fingers of one hand and clapped the other firmly over my mouth to keep from screaming uncontrollably as Dr. Satan performed surgery on his teenage victims. I don’t remember getting home or crawling into bed as I lay awake half the night petrified that Dr. Satan was going to strap me to his operating table.

But the fear of Dr. Satan’s scalpel soon receded into my subconscious and didn’t surface again until college. I taught a Biology II lab at the university where the students had to cut open frogs, worms, crustaceans. Dissection didn’t bother me, and I actually preferred it since it was more hands on compared to the more chemistry based Biology I.

But things took a turn for the worse when I ate a bad yogurt parfait from a fast food restaurant that shall remain nameless. After a long day of studying, I scarfed my yummy fruit treat and went to bed, never realizing the horrible visions that would haunt me most of the night.

My head hit the pillow and I fell into a vivid nightmare about someone cutting me open and
removing my organs with toothpicks. One by one, my pancreas, lungs and heart were plucked out of the empty cavity of my torso until I was nothing but a hollowed out shell. I woke up in a sweat at 6 am, called my boyfriend and sobbed out the whole nightmare over the phone. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that and the fear was so bad that I was unable to get a full night’s sleep for the next couple of days.

Ever since, I have steered clear of films that incorporate this theme. One of those movies is 2007's Awake in which Hayden Christensen plays Clay Beresford, a man who experiences "anesthetic awareness" when he's put under for heart surgery. He is awake and aware of what is happening to him but completely paralyzed. To make matters worse, his surgeon friends are planning to kill him to collect on his life insurance.

But films like Repo the Genetic Opera provide a kind of feel good therapy on the subject. In the Repo Man's ballad "Thankless Job" he guts a delinquint client then uses his body cavity as a puppet. Click the picture for the video.

For more on other horror freak outs, check out Tenebrous Kate's fear of necrophilia at Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire.


  1. Pretty grim, but not a fear of mine. I don't enjoy watching it though.

    My fear would have to be wanting to look away but not being able to. Not exactly easy to translate onto film - in fact, this is mostly something I have nightmares about, and then have minor panic attacks when it feels like it's happening in real life.

    In movies, I get most freaked out by figures that you/the protagonist thinks is their friend or someone they know, but something just seems "wrong" - re: Psycho, Don't Look Now, the end of Blair Witch. Eesh. Scares the shit out of me.

  2. I have two fears, claustrophobia and agoraphobia - so any movie with a buried alive sequence (Kill Bill II) makes me very queasy.

    The early zombie films, you know when zombies were really scary, freaked me out, because of the sheer amount of them - played well into my fear of crowds.