19 of the Best Horror Movies About Cannibalism

Delving into the dark and often taboo corners of terror, horror movies about cannibalism are a subgenre that chills to the core. These films confront us with a primal fear, exploring the horrifying thought of humans consuming other humans. This grotesque theme has captivated audiences for decades, manifesting in stories that range from survivalist nightmares to macabre tales of dietary deviance.

In this list, we’ll sink our teeth into 15 of the best cannibal horror movies to showcase the most stomach-churning examples cinema has to offer.

1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

When it comes to horror movies about cannibalism, few have made as big of an impact as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This film, released in 1974, not only scared audiences with its gruesome portrayal of a cannibal family, but also changed the way horror stories were told. Rather than relying on fancy effects or elaborate sets, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre opted for a more realistic and gritty approach that made it all the more terrifying.

The story revolves around a group of friends who find themselves at the mercy of Leatherface and his insane relatives. What follows is a desperate fight for survival in the desolate countryside of Texas. As Leatherface, with his horrifying mask made from human flesh, hunts down each victim one by one, tension builds and fear takes hold.

Even after all these years, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre remains a benchmark for horror films. Its impact can be seen in the way filmmakers continue to explore the depths of human evil and the boundaries of fear. The character of Leatherface has become a timeless icon, and certain scenes from the movie have become iconic in their own right.

2. Wrong Turn (2003)

The Wrong Turn movie, released in 2003, immediately carved its name into the annals of horror with its controversial nature and shocking content. This film took a gritty approach by incorporating found footage style elements, which created an unsettling level of realism that resonated with viewers.

At the heart of this movie lies a group of friends who find themselves hunted by cannibalistic mountain-dwellers in the backwoods of West Virginia. The raw and unpolished feel to the visuals had some critics dismissing the film as just another low-budget slasher, yet it is this very rawness that heightened the terror for audiences.

3. Ravenous (1999)

Ravenous is a standout in the horror genre because it combines terror with dark comedy in unexpected ways. This 1999 film goes beyond just shocking and gory moments by using cannibalism as a metaphor to explore the darker side of human nature and our most basic desires. It’s a movie that makes you think while also making you squirm.

What sets Ravenous apart from other horror movies is its ability to balance scares with laughs. The sharp wit displayed throughout the film adds an extra layer of entertainment, even in the midst of gruesome scenes. It’s this combination of comedy and horror that creates a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

4. Raw (2016)

Raw, a 2016 French-Belgian horror drama, is as much a coming-of-age story as it is about cannibalism. The film was was written and directed by Julia Ducournau, and stars Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, and Rabah Nait Oufella. It follows the journey of Justine, a life-long vegetarian who develops a macabre craving for flesh after being forced to consume raw meat during a hazing ritual at her veterinary school. It masterfully intertwines themes of cannibalism with sexuality and identity formation, demonstrating how these elements can be equally horrifying and transformative.

Ducournau pulls no punches in her visceral portrayal of cannibalism. Graphic, unflinching images of flesh-eating pair with the shockingly mundane student life, creating a unique blend of everyday horror that has garnered both critical acclaim and controversy.

5. Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Jennifer’s Body, a 2009 teen horror flick starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, delves into the macabre realm where cannibalism intersects with the complexities of high school life and friendships pushed to their breaking point. The film presents a twisted take on the effects of possession as it leads to a gruesome series of events, with cannibalism serving as a peculiar vehicle to unravel tangled family dynamics and ancestral traditions.

In this darkly comedic narrative, the demonic transformation of Jennifer forces viewers to face the horrors that can arise from familial pressures and societal expectations.

Director Karyn Kusama expertly crafts an atmospheric tension throughout “Jennifer’s Body,” which goes beyond mere jump scares. The movie’s moody cinematography and carefully curated soundtrack contribute immensely to an overall sense of dread that lingers even in its quieter moments.

6. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 psychological thriller that introduced us to one of cinema’s most chilling cannibals, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Anthony Hopkins masterfully portrays this intelligent yet terrifying character, who is as likely to engage in a sophisticated conversation about art and philosophy as he is to feast upon human flesh. The film showcases an intense cat-and-mouse game between Lecter and FBI trainee Clarice Starling, brilliantly played by Jodie Foster.

Their dynamic takes center stage, creating a fascinating study of predator and prey dynamics. Starling’s determination to catch a serial killer leads her into the lair of Lecter, resulting in some of the most iconic scenes in horror cinema. Their interactions are filled with psychological tension as they navigate their complex relationship, making The Silence of the Lambs a standout in the cannibal subgenre.

7. Fresh (2022)

A newcomer to the cannibal horror genre, Fresh (2022) released on Hulu, has quickly become a solid addition to the landscape. Though it’s a bit of a slow burner, once it ramps up, the film does not shy away from showcasing its gore and quirks.

The storyline centers around Noa (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones), a woman looking for love in the modern world of dating apps. She finally hits it off with Steve (played by Sebastian Stan), but soon discovers his disturbing secret; he’s a cannibal who hunts for his food.

8. Bone Tomahawk (2015)

When you saddle up for Bone Tomahawk, prepare for an unexpected trail ride through the wild frontier of horror and Western fusion. This 2015 film lassoes viewers with its gritty narrative, where the serenity of a quaint frontier town is ruptured by the abduction of settlers by a mysterious cannibalistic tribe. Director S. Craig Zahler crafts a harrowing tale that tramples over the classic Western tropes, steering them into the shadowy valleys of primal fear.

The film’s unique vision of cannibalism isn’t just for shock value; it peels back layers of civilization to reveal the barbarism lurking beneath. The cannibalistic tribes are not depicted as mere monsters but are shrouded in their own lore and brutality, making Bone Tomahawk an intriguing specimen in the cannibal horror subgenre—an artifact that is both brutal and eerily beautiful in its execution.

9. The Green Inferno (2013)

Directed by Eli Roth, The Green Inferno is a visceral experience that catapults viewers into the depths of the Amazon rainforest. This 2013 horror film captures the harrowing ordeal of a group of activists whose good intentions take a nightmarish turn when they are captured by an indigenous tribe with a deeply ingrained tradition of cannibalism.

Eli Roth’s craftsmanship pays tribute to the controversial Italian cannibal films that sent shivers down the spines of viewers in the 1970s and 1980s. He embraces this niche legacy with scenes that are unflinchingly graphic, showcasing his commitment to an authentic, albeit disturbing, portrayal of survival and primitive instincts.

10. Hannibal (2001)

Hannibal, the 2001 sequel that continues the chilling narrative of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, elevates the story introduced in The Silence of the Lambs with a distinct style and elegance. Director Ridley Scott, known for his visual storytelling, brings a polished and sophisticated look to the film, a stark contrast to the raw intensity of its predecessor. His use of rich color palettes and opulent European settings lends an air of grandeur to the otherwise macabre tale of cannibalism and psychological manipulation.

In this sequel, we follow Lecter, now on the loose in Europe, as he engages in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse with FBI agent Clarice Starling and one of his surviving victims seeking revenge. The film’s portrayal of Lecter is undeniably charismatic; his cultured demeanor intertwined with his brutal nature creates an intriguing antihero that audiences can’t help but be drawn to.

11. The Grim Reaper (a.k.a. Antropophagus) (1980)

Directed by Joe D’Amato, this grisly tale unfolds on a remote Greek island where a group of tourists encounter a monstrous figure with a gruesome appetite. The film’s portrayal of cannibalism is unflinching, contributing to an atmosphere teeming with dread and unease.

Despite its controversial nature, Antropophagus has garnered a dedicated cult following over the years. Critics initially lambasted it for what some deemed as tasteless shock tactics; however, fans praise its ability to evoke visceral reactions and its contribution to the notorious subgenre of Italian exploitation cinema. The atmospheric tension woven throughout the film resonates with audiences seeking thrills in the dimly lit corners of horror.

12. Alive (1993)

Alive (1993) is a remarkable film in the thriller genre because it is based on a true story. It tells the harrowing tale of a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashes in the Andes Mountains. What sets this movie apart from fictional horror stories is its grounding in reality, which adds an extra layer of fear as viewers confront the actual choices made by people desperate to survive.

The heart of Alive revolves around the moral dilemmas and ethical judgements faced by the characters. With limited food and little hope of rescue, the survivors are forced to consider cannibalism—a shocking testament to human resilience and determination.

13. We Are What We Are (2013)

We Are What We Are (2013) is a chilling tale that brings a modern spin to the cannibalism horror genre. The plot revolves around a family with an unsettling secret – a tradition of cannibalism passed down through generations. This film dives deep into the complexities of family dynamics, highlighting what individuals may choose to do in order to safeguard their inherited way of life. The story unfolds as the Parker family, gripped by their dark secret, grapples with loss and the fear of exposure.

We Are What We Are is made even more compelling by its atmospheric setting. Set in a small town constantly under the threat of torrential rain, it adds an extra layer of tension and dread to the narrative. For horror fans seeking something unique within the cannibalistic sub-genre, We Are What We Are offers a thought-provoking narrative that will linger long after the credits roll.

14. The Bad Batch (2016)

Set against a sun-scorched dystopian wasteland, The Bad Batch throws viewers into a world where society’s outcasts must survive on their own. In this harsh environment, some resort to cannibalism in order to stay alive, showcasing the extremes of human behavior. The film explores this dark concept with a mix of style and substance that challenges how we see civilization and savagery.

Director Ana Lily Amirpour’s vision for The Bad Batch is visually stunning. She combines the barrenness of the desert with a trippy aesthetic, making the movie not just a story but also a feast for the eyes. Each shot is carefully crafted to create an immersive experience, plunging the audience into this lawless land where any interaction with another person could mean danger. This unique visual approach not only grabs your attention but also enhances the unsettling nature of the story, leaving a lasting impression on your mind.

15. Some Like It Rare (2021)

Some Like It Rare is a French comedy horror movie released in 2021, adds a bit of dark humor to the cannibal horror subgenre. It follows a struggling butcher who, after accidentally killing a Vegan activist, chops up the body and sells the meat to his customers. With business now booming, he and his wife search for more victims to satisfy their customers’ growing demand.

With this fresh take on cannibalistic horror, Some Like It Rare has successfully managed to carve out its own space within the genre. The film’s distinct approach towards its theme is bound to leave audiences both terrified and intrigued, making it an absolute must-watch for horror enthusiasts.

16. Bones and All (2022)

Set in 1980s America, Bones and All revolves around a young woman who has an unusual and terrifying condition – she’s compelled to eat the people closest to her. This results in a chilling exploration of love, fear, self-discovery, and of course, cannibalism. The film stars Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet, and was directed by Luca Guadagnino.

Bones and All stands out for its unique take on a taboo subject. It uses cannibalism not just for shock value but also as a vehicle to explore deeper themes of human nature. The movie’s ability to balance terror with deep-seated emotion makes it a worthy addition to the canon of cannibal horror films.

17. Society of the Snow (2023)

Another film based on the tragic true story of the Uruguayan 1972 Andes flight disaster, Society of the Snow is not for the faint of heart. Just like Alive (1993), it follows the group of survivors as they struggle with the harsh, unforgiving terrain and a lack of food.

With its gripping storyline and thought-provoking themes, Society of the Snow (2023) offers an experience that goes beyond typical thriller movies, making it an enduring entry in the genre.

18. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

“The Hills Have Eyes” is a classic horror movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Directed by Wes Craven, the story follows the Carter family as they travel across the California desert. They soon find themselves stranded and hunted by a family of cannibals living in the nearby hills. Starring Susan Lanier and Michael Berryman, this movie is perfect for fans who love intense, survival horror flicks.

19. Lowlifes (2024)

Lowlifes is a new addition to the cannibal genre and a surprisingly decent Tubi original, released in 2024. I don’t want to give too much away, since I recommend you go into this movie with as little info as possible…but the basic plot follows a family on a road trip who are forced to spend the night at a remote homestead with a family of strangers. Directed by Tesh Guttikonda and Mitch Oliver, Lowlifes has plenty of twists and turns with dark humor to keep you entertained.

Diving into the cannibal subgenre can be a thrilling yet stomach-churning experience. Each film deals with the taboo of cannibalism, often pairing it with other elements of horror to create a truly unforgettable viewing experience.

This subgenre is definitely not for everyone. The movies are shocking and generally pretty gross, but if you’re a horror fan who likes gore and dark themes, they’re also very interesting and fun to watch. What are some of your favorites?

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