They are creepy, they are crawly, and in one of the grossest halls of Body Horror, you will find the subject of today's discussion: parasites. The idea of a parasite living off of you as a host is disgusting. Put it together with those parasites trying to take over your body and spread the horror to everyone on the planet, and you have the recipe for terror.

  • The Faculty (1998)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    "The Faculty" is a film that deserves rediscovery. It's directed by Robert Rodriguez, and one of the screenwriters was Kevin Williamson, who we all know from the fame of "Scream." The other two writers were David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel. The film uses the idea that you might have felt during high school, namely that the teachers and some students might be out to get you to significant effect. The movie is packed with stars like Elijah Wood, Clea DuVall, Josh Hartnett, Famke Janssen, Salma Hayek, and Robert Patrick and goes all out with horror and paranoia.

  • The Puppet Masters (1994)

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    "The Puppet Masters" is based on a science fiction horror novel of the same name written by Robert A. Heinlein, who wrote a host of books, including "Starship Troopers." The idea is that an extraterrestrial invasion of slug-like parasites who hijack humans by nesting on their spines has come to Earth, and members of the CIA must try and stop them. The film stars Donald Sutherland, Eric Thal, and Julie Warner. Keith David, Will Patton, Richard Belzer, and Yaphet Kotto. It was directed by Stuart Orme, and one of the writers is David S. Goyer. This is a lesser-known film that is quite good, and if you are a parasite horror fan who hasn't seen it, you should check it out.

  • PussyCake (2021)

    This Argentinian parasite horror film is much more than you think it is. Directed by Pablo Parés, it is about an all-female rock band trying to work on their career and instead walking into a bloody alien parasite invasion. It stars Maca Suárez, Anahi Politi, and Flor Moreno. It is colorful; it rocks and has some genuinely disturbing violence and gore. The reveal of the alien's site of operations stuck in my head for a while. This is an underrated gem from a Latino filmmaker with a little more on his mind than just parasites.

  • Splinter (2008)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    This parasite horror from 2008 is another lesser-known film that is starting to get noticed. It stars Jill Wagner, Paulo Costanzo, and Shea Whigham and is directed by Toby Wilkins. It's a solid entry into the parasite horror subgenre with a slightly different take on the parasitical menace. The characters Seth and Polly go from trying to have a romantic getaway to being trapped in a remote gas station fighting against a powerful force that can infect you with a splinter. With this parasite, even a splinter can infect you. It's insidious and has a great difficulty rating to avoid, which is what ratchets up the terror.

  • Shivers (1975)

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    This David Cronenberg classic is one of the high watermarks of parasite horror. Set in a luxurious high rise in Montreal, the occupants suddenly find themselves trapped with a growing army of parasite-infected sexualized maniacs chasing them. People who are infected don't become emotionless robots. Instead, their inner freak gets unleashed, and they want to get it on. The parasite is spread, like a venereal disease, through sexual contact. It stars Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, and the beautifully unnerving Lynn Lowry.

  • The Bay (2012)

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    One thing that we all weren't expecting was a found footage parasite horror film from Barry Levinson. If you think about it, it's not that far-fetched, though, judging by his horror chops in films like "The Addams Family" and specific aspects of "Men In Black." In the movie, the town of Claridge, Maryland, is suddenly attacked by isopods who infect the residents' bodies and start eating them from the inside due to environmental poisoning. The film starred Kether Donohue, Kristen Connolly, and Will Rogers and was written by Michael Wallach. It was based on the idea for a documentary that Levinson was to produce on pollution in the Chesapeake Bay but was repurposed once he realized that a documentary had already been made about it.

  • Dreamcatcher (2003)

    Image Credit: Warner Bros.

    Hear me out. This film was widely mocked when it came out, but it is part of the parasite subgenre and has a group of very talented people who created it. It was written by Stephen King, William Goldman, and Lawrence Kasdan, who also directed it. It stars Thomas Jane, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Jason Lee, Donnie Wahlberg, Morgan Freeman, and Tom Sizemore. That's a fascinating cast with some great actors who I think were undercut by some of the goofier aspects of the story and the fact that Kasdan, while considered a fine director, had never made a horror film before and didn't understand the material. I think it has its good points, but it is by no means a great film.

  • Trench 11 (2017)

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    "Trench 11" is a tale of a WWI-era German bunker in the Argonne Forest where a German scientist bred a type of parasitic worm meant to be used in biological warfare against Allied and French cattle. When he finds how well the worms destroy animals, he develops a type that will infect humans. A by-product of the worm infection is violent rage. The film was directed by Leo Scherman and stars Rossif Sutherland, Robert Stadlober, and Charlie Carrick.

  • The Stuff (1985)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    Larry Cohen's "The Stuff" is a horror comedy about a creamy white substance discovered in a quarry. The good news is that the substance is sweet, delicious, and has no calories. The bad news is that it is addictive and turns people into zombie-like creatures. Cohen's films are horror movies but always have a significant component of humorous satire. Whether presented that way or not, they are satirical horror comedies that still lean into horror and gore. It turns out that The Stuff is a parasite, and the greedy company that sells it didn't bother to warn anyone. The film stars Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris, and Paul Sorvino.

  • Slither (2006)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    "Slither" was the directorial debut of James Gunn, now very well known for his movies for Marvel and DC, but he started out in horror and wrote the "Dawn of the Dead" remake for Zach Snyder. His horror skills are well documented, but I don't know if "Slither" gets enough credit for being as gross, funny, and scary as it is. It stars Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, and genre stalwart Michael Rooker. In the film, an extraterrestrial invasion of slug parasites infects a rich man in a small town, and he immediately starts breeding more so that they can take over the town and the world. In a disturbing scene, a woman is shown as a vast and deformed ball of parasites as one of the breeders for the slugs. Gross.

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