There are many real-life horrors that we cannot escape. One of those first true horrors is the puberty experience. This begins when the gonadotropin releasing hormone hits your pituitary gland, possesses it, and turns your world into a horrific landscape. Those “changes” happen. The world is a dumpster fire. Absolutely no one understands you. Hair! Everywhere! Acne takes over your pores. It’s a literal body horror to a young self.
Despite those awful, embarrassing changes, these “mutations” are normal, run of the mill troubles. Per the norm, we don’t experience anything like we see in the movies. Yeah, at times we all wish that we could live a truly cinematic life, but would you really want to have a cinematic puberty? To further that question; would you really want to have a puberty straight out of a Body Horror movie??
The following film characters all experience events linear with their puberty years that I’m not sure any of us would want to experience.
10. Scott Howard – Teen Wolf (1985)
Scott (Michael J. Fox) lives in the realm of comedy so his horror is quite easy to deal with, but it still gets him into hairy (har har) situations. For his family has a gene that turns them into a werewolf. This hairy change doesn’t come about Scott until his teenage years when his hormones are raging which is the cause of the initial transformation.
Scott’s werewolfism doesn’t cause him to maim or murder though. His werewolf form makes his basketball and lady skills higher than average. His story ends with learning to accept himself as who he is, and not as the wolf, which is a true lesson that we all struggle with during puberty. We just don’t learn that lesson as quickly as werewolf Scott.
9. Jennifer Check – Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Perhaps Jennifer’s (Megan Fox) story is one you would be okay with living? She’s sexy. She’s cute. And she’s popular, to boot. But she mistakenly gets identified as a virgin by a band who wants to sacrifice her to a demon so that they gain popularity. Sacrifice happens. Jennifer isn’t a virgin. Sacrifice gets screwy, and she emerges as a bloodthirsty succubus.
It’s not so much that Jennifer’s body that goes through the changes as it is Jennifer’s soul that gets the transformation. She no longer has to worry about those late stages of puberty, and how they’re going to affect her mind and body. All she wants to do is tear every male apart, limb by limb.
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8. Bill Whitney – Society (1989)
Family issues always arise during puberty. After all, your hormones are not going to agree with any of your parents’ dumb rules. Bill (Billy Warlock) seemingly got along great with his parents. They give him anything he wants. But in Bill’s story, it’s what his parents want from him that leads us to body horror.
His parents are a part of a species (alien? creatures?) that must feed off of the poor in order to continue their lavish ways. Those parents are actually not his parents. Gasp! They’ve raised Billy to be a sacrifice to feed upon. Not only that, but this species has the ability to morph and combine their bodies so that all of them can be nourished from this poorness that their targets apparently hold inside their bodies. This results in all sorts of body parts rearranging themselves, and the film brings visual life to the term “butthead”.
7. Marie – When Animals Dream (2014)
Marie’s (Sonia Suhl) story is sort of like Scott Howard’s werewolf story, except the gene that she carries is from her mom’s side, and the creature that Marie turns into isn’t exactly looking to score some hoops and ladies. Unlike Scott, Marie’s transformation begins slowly, coinciding with her sexual drive awakening. She’s completely unaware of what is happening to her until rumors about her mother’s “sickness” reach her ear.
Hair grows in places that aren’t normal hairgrowing places. The intense fits of rage that a teenager feels are actual physical, fits of rage. A series of events leads to Marie to her final creature form in which a little pubescent rage goes a long way.
6. Mina & Toby – The Dark (2018)
Mina (Nadia Alexander) and Toby (Alex) meet under circumstances that were way out of their control in their pubescent years. Mina is of the undead thanks to her alcoholic mother’s boyfriend wanting to keep the things that he did to her unknown. Alex is of the living, but has been kidnapped by a man whose intentions are hinted at but go unsaid. When their paths cross, Mina has slowly driven herself as far away from her human self as she possibly could. She does what the undead do. She eats people.
It’s her connection with Alex (whose eyes have been burnt shut, thus he cannot judge what she is) that…on second thought- watch the film. It’s deep. It’s dark. It’s a metaphor that what we all really need during those types of times (and during the time of puberty) is a close friend.
5. Mia – Blue My Mind (2018)
We all think of hair sprouting when we think of puberty. But what about scales? Gill slits? Webbed toes? Mia (Luna Wedler) experiences this amidst her journey to evolving into an adult. It’s not as if being the new girl at school, trying to fit in with the cool kids, the peer pressures of alcohol, drugs, and shoplifting, starting her period, and losing her virginity is enough to put her in a crazy place. The addition of the previously mentioned fish parts definitely drives her over the edge. That is until she comes to the quaint realization of where these fish parts are taking her.
4. Dawn O’Keefe – Teeth (2007)
Dawn (Jess Weixler) is a good, Christian teen who teaches others the importance of keeping your body pure. No sex is good until sex is marriage sex. No digs at those who pursue that route, but Dawn learns a lesson or two when it comes to sex. At the beginning stages of puberty, she learns that her vagina has gone through a certain change that girls do not experience. That change goes by the term “vagina dentata”. Her vagina has teeth.
Dawn’s new discovery is written in the film as a protective mechanism against those who engage in sex with her that is not consensual, and is rightfully used against those who attack her. She discovers that any sexual act that is consensual does not result in the castration of her male partner. I say, more power to Dawn as she learns to wield that power amidst all of the confusion that it causes her.
3. Jesse Walsh – A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Jesse’s (Mark Patton) story with Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is one that we all know. If not from firsthand experience then from all the articles and obvious rendering of the film. Jesse‘s possession by Krueger is a metaphor for Jesse’s sexuality. Puberty is the time where we find ourselves. We discover what excites us, and where we stand with our own sexual identity. Krueger shows us through Jesse’s nightmares where his heart lies. Unfortunately for those surrounding Jesse, Krueger’s glove ends up slicing the bodies with which Jesse’s desires reside. Unfortunately for Jesse, he begins to take on the shape and form of Krueger whether it be his tongue or being ripped open from the inside, as Krueger makes his way into the real world.
2. Claudia – Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) was on the verge of death and of puberty when the vampire, Lestat, turned her into a vampire at the age of 10. Forever stuck in the body of a ten-year-old, she aged in every way aside from physically. Imagine being stuck at that age, and never fully going through the course of puberty, yet having the mind and soul continuously age. It takes her quite a while to realize this, and when she does, her rage builds until she decides to take the matter into her own hands…
1. Ginger Fitzgerald – Ginger Snaps (2000)
Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) is a goth teen going on sixteen who hasn’t experienced her period. On the night of her first, she is sniffed out by a werewolf, attacked, and bitten. Having been saved by her sister, Brigitte (Emily Perkins), she lives. Ginger lives only to slowly find her body transforming into a werewolf. What starts small as increased pubescent urges turns into something more as she grows a tail. Her nails become elongated. What she thought was the urge sex is realized as the urge to tear every living thing apart.
Ginger’s story has been the penultimate tale that relates horror, body horror, and puberty all together. Not only is her story about that, but it’s about the bond that family members around the same age can have as they can share in the turmoil that puberty can bring.
So you may not have become a werewolf, a mermaid, or a succubus during your pubescent years. But I’ll be damned if – at times – we didn’t feel like we were becoming some otherworldy creature by the means of our bodies taking shape. Yet, if you could become one of those, would you have? Or was puberty enough of a change? Let us know the answer to the former over on Twitter, Reddit, or at The Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!