13 Horrible Medical Experiments in Films You’ll Never Forget
When Beetlejuice was first released over 30 years ago, in the spring of 1988, it was met with a lukewarm reception from critics. However, like a fine vintage wine, the film mellowed over the years, taking huge advantage of the VHS boom that led the film into peoples homes and hearts. Whilst there’s a good chance that Beetlejuice never decorated your lunchboxes, school notebooks, and undies, the film and character was still very much a huge part of pop-culture during the twilight years of the 80’s. Whilst he never conjured up a sequel, Beetlejuice has lived on in many other forms, including a carton TV series, a Universal Studios attractions and a recent stage play, the ghost with the most has never been too far from our field of spiritual vision. What makes the film so appealing is its huge cast of quirky characters that manage to get our imaginations spinning. In this spooky little article, we look at our top pick of characters that are make the film go bump. Here are The 15 Best Characters from Beetlejuice.
Frankenstein has to be the great grandaddy of all medical experiments gone wrong, and it would be inappropriate of me not to include it in this list, even if it’s not the most shocking or horrific. The tale of Victor Frankenstein and his relentless pursuit of creating life is one that has been told many times over the years.
When Victor succeeds in giving life to a being of his own creation, he discovers that it is not the perfect specimen he imagines that it will be, but rather a hideous creature who is rejected by Victor and mankind in general. Filled with rage at his rejections, the Monster brings great pain upon his creator and eventually mourns the scientist’s death, lamenting that his life is now far more miserable and that he should die so one would learn what Victor created.
One of the most memorable adaptations of this story is the 1931 version starring Boris Karloff as The Monster, which changes many aspects of the novel, but keeps the basic idea that Frankenstein’s creation is misunderstood and feared leading to the creature’s tragic demise.
Flatliners is a 1990 American psychological horror film directed by Joel Schumacher, about a group of medical students seeking answers about the afterlife. Student Nelson (Kiefer Sutherland) persuades his fellow pupils to help him end his life, and then resuscitate him so he can have a near death experience.
Successfully surviving his NDE, the other students also go through with the procedure, with each experiments becoming more perilous as they go under for longer and longer. As they each experience their own NDE, the students suddenly find themselves forced to contend with the paranormal consequences of trespassing on the other side.
This dark film is a cautionary tale of science vs the unknow elements of the after-life. Whilst science may one day give us answers to what lies beyond this mortal coil, will the answers really be worth the price needed to experience them?
Day of the Dead (1985)
Day of the Dead is the third film in George A Romero’s zombie. Whilst Dawn of The Dead found a sweet spot between horror thrills and biting social observation, Day goes straight for the jugular of the question around science and government and the power they hold over our everyday lives.
The films key character is Dr Matthew “Frankenstein” Logan (Richard Liberty), who is the only person holding the precarious line between the resident scientists and the gun happy soldiers inside a bunker. However, Logan experiments seem to have gone to far, as he tries to understand the living dead by domesticating them. His crowning achievement is Bub, a passive zombie who shows signs of intelligence and curiosity. Ultimately, it’s the fight over Bub’s existence that crumbles this rad-tag society and has us asking ourselves who the real zombies are?
Starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chanéac, Splice follows two scientists running an illegal experiment to synthesize a miracle protein by creating a hybrid humanoid. The result is Dren, a creature with amazing intelligence and physical attributes, but as she grows and learns, the more dangerous she becomes. Ultimately, Dren grows out of control and the result is death, destruction and a chilling rape that is as sickening as it is morally reprehensible.
Splice is very much about our genetic future and the way science is catching up with much of the fiction out there. However, the films twisted story only goes to prove that messing with DNA will only ever end in horror, whether that be ethically, psychically, or mentally. Dren is the future fears of scientific meddling personified.
O Lucky Man! (1973)
Oh Lucky man is a mesmerizing tale about a young British man who encounters a series of bizarre events when he sets out as a coffee sales man. Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) sets his sights high as he joins Imperial Coffee but soon finds himself on a journey of hypocrisy, deceptions, and immoralities of 1970’s British society. From breast feeding, suicide and imprisonment, Travis grapples with many odd scenarios he finds himself in, mostly through his own good will and trust.
In a moment of ill-judgement and severe lack of cash, Travis volunteers for a series of experiments in exchange for a few pounds. Whilst in the hospital, Travis discovers another patient in great distress. Upon further inspection, he is horrified to discover that the man has had his head sown onto the body of a pig. It’s worth nothing that Oh Lucky man is a comedy drama film from 1973, and a fair few years away from the 80’s body horror years of David Cronenberg. Not a film in which you’d expect to see such a disgustingly nasty piece of horror. This half-man half-pig hybrid was about as shocking back then as The Human Centipede is today.
Tusk was a rare box office bomb from director Kevin Smith. Based on a story conceived on his own podcast, Tusk is a twisted story about a pod caster who is imprisoned and turned into a make-shift walrus by a crazy old seaman.
Taking the fad of body horrors that followed the success of films such as Hostel and The Human Centipede, Tusk takes the concept of dramatic body mutilation and dials the madness up to 11. Whilst the majority of the film is funny, the horrific and damn right sadistic transformation leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Looking at how other films give, at least, a small glimmer of hope for the survivors of their mutilations, Tusk leaves you cold and dejected at the fate of our Walrus-human hybrid.
The Fly (1986)
Whilst David Cronenberg was already a well know director by the 80’s, it was his 1986 hit The Fly that made him a house-hold name. Following brilliant but eccentric scientist Seth Brundle, the film shows the slow transformation of the young scientist when a teleportation experiment goes wrong and splices his DNA with a fly.
Cronenberg expertly uses his affinity for gore and horror to create this devastating tale of science gone wrong, played out with gun-wrenching special effects that will certainly haunt you for the rest of your life. When real life teleporters turn up, you may well think twice after watching The Fly.
The Kindred (1987)
Kindred is a twisted tale about a dying scientist who’s last wishes is for her son to end her secret experiment and to destroy all her notepads. Wishing to fulfil his mother’s last words, John, also a scientist, is surprised enough to find that he has a brother, a half human/half fish creations called Anthony. This hybrid monstrosity
but the real shock awaiting him is that Anthony is a hybrid monster – a cross between tissues John has donated to his mother’s work and some unidentified marine life form, all mixed up and given life in the lab Mom has set up in her son’s old room at home.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
Based on H. G. Wells’ book of the same name, The Island of Dr. Moreau is a morality tale about a mad scientist trying to turn animals into humans. However, much like the Frankenstein monsters fall into anger and destruction, these animal-human hybrids commonly fall back into their animal ways, despite Moreau experimentation. It is this regression back to wild animal behavior that is the downfall of Dr. Moreau and everyone on his island.
Wells’ book attempt to distinguish the fine line between animal and human, but ultimately concludes the nature vs nurture argument with the destruction of science by the power of instinct and nature.
In the 1996 film adaption, which closely follows the plot of the novel, Stan Winston’s was tasked with creating 150 realistic looking ‘beast people’, for the film. His team created everything from Hyena-Swine to mutant babies, all of which captured the essence of the films gruesome plot, that these poor creatures had been transformed into monsters.
Re-Animator (also known as H. P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator) is a 1985 American comedy horror film loosely based on the 1922 H. P. Lovecraft novel. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is a medical student who has created a chemical re-agent, a fluorescent green liquid, that can restore the dead to life.
At its base, the movie is a bizarre comedy about medicine and the endless struggle of Doctors against death. But here, in the hands of director Stuart Gordon, this sense of helplessness about death results in a splatter film filled with talking severed heads, animated disembodied limbs and zombie like corpse roaming the medical halls. Re-Animator’s medical endeavours are sure raise either a laugh or scream.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film, based on the novel by Anthony Burgess. The film follows Alex DeLarge and his gang of “droogs” whose horrific crime wave result in Alex being imprisoned for 12 years.
Given the opportunity to drastically reduce his sentence, he signs up to the new Ludovico technique, an experimental aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals within two weeks. Strapped down to a chair with his eyes clamped open, Alex is fed drugs and forced to watch footage of sex and violence, which makes him become nauseated.
The metaphorical meanings of the title represents the outcome of this medical experiment, where the conflict between individual freedom and social order are questioned. Alex exercises his freedom to be a vicious thug but through the Ludovico technique, he is no longer able to choose between good and evil, becoming like “a clockwork orange.”
Beyond the metaphors and deeper meanings of the film, the shocking and torturous scenes of Alex strapped down, eyes pried open, begging for the video footage to stop, is about as shocking as they come.
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Whilst being one of the worst Alien films in the original timeline, you have to respect the balls of the film filmmakers for trying to retcon Alien 3’s awful choice of killing off Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). In this sci-fi sequel, a team of scientists clone Ripley from her extracted DNA in order to extract the queen alien inside her quest. Yes, that’s right, Ripley gets cloned just like the dinos of Jurassic Park. In space no one can hear you rip off other peoples ideas.
The scientists remove the alien inside of her and start crossbreeding tests with humans. Of course this is a terrible idea! Much like the best laid plans of mice and men, things quickly turn to shit for this intrepid explores in alien biology. The aliens harvested form the queen quickly escape and lay waste to the scientific populace of the vessel, turning this experimental venture into a scientific nightmare.
The Human Centipede (2009)
Grotesque, visceral and hard to watch, The Human Centipede is as much an experiment on social acceptance and censorship tolerances, as it is a movie. This nasty little horror from Dutch film-maker Tom Six is deplorable and revolting, and yet it’s utterly mesmerising in its grotesque portrayal of a scientist gone mad. No matter how you look at it, The Human Centipede is damn fine film, and worth ever second of your attention, even if your instincts are crying for you to look away.
Dr Heiter (Dieter Laser) is a retired surgeon with a streak of sadism a mile wide. Twisted and psychotic, the doctor kidnaps three young people, in order to create his magnum opus, The Human Centipede, a three body long creature attached end to end. As you may guess, this is not a film for the faint of heart, but for fans of body horror, The Human Centipede is the ultimate film in body mutilation. As Jean-Paul Sartre once said “”hell is other people”!
Can you uncover all 31 of these horror titles hidden in this spooky scene?
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“Hello Horror fans. I sometimes wonder If I was a medical experiment gone wrong, but then I think of all the horror joy I spread on you good folks, and I start to realise that maybe I was a medical experiment gone right!! This nasty list of medical mutations and awful mistakes is certainly an eye opener and there’s a great selection of films here.
The Fly is certainly the slickest film here (And I said slick not sick…) as it has the best production value and well hell of a cast, but my heart sings for films like The Human Centipede and Tusk (which are SICK!), that push the boundaries of what we should and should not enjoy. What do you think? Hit us up on the comments below or start a deeper convo over at our forums. Until next time ….