Horror is a genre which most pregnant women are probably keen to avoid. Blood, guts and scares are enough to turn anyone’s delicate stomach, let alone someone who has life growing inside of them. However, as bad as the average horror film is for producing stomach-churning side effects, there are some which take particular pleasure in preying on the worst fears of pregnant women.
10. Grace (2009)
Following a grisly car crash which killed her husband and the baby she is carrying, young mother-to-be Madeline vows to carry the fetus to term. It’s tough watching the water birth scene as Madeline knowingly delivers a stillborn baby, but everything changes when the baby miraculously starts feeding from her mother’s breast. However, this being a horror film all is not as it seems and it’s not long before little Grace develops an appetite for more than simple breast milk. Grace is a surprisingly effective low key horror, and it definitely has an unsettling premise which will terrify any mother-to-be.
9. Prometheus (2012)
Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien franchise didn’t turn out to be the sequel fans had been waiting decades for. The spiritual prequel was a jumbled retelling of xenomorph mythology, but the director did manage to prove he still had a knack for alien pregnancy scares. When Noomi Rapace’s archaeologist character discovers that she has been impregnated with alien DNA, she seeks out the ship’s med pod machine for an impromptu abortion. Trouble is, the machine is set to male and the thing inside her isn’t human. Opting for what is best described as a robotic cesarean, her abdomen is sliced open with a laser before being opened up with two small robotic arms. Then a claw-like device pulls out a bloody sac which explodes open to reveal a writhing, bloody squid-like abomination.
8. Braindead (1992)
Canadian horror movie Deadgirl raised some controversy thanks to its central premise about teenage boys having sex with a zombie, but Braindead (titled Dead Alive in North America) had already taken the taboo subject to extreme lengths years earlier. Way before he headed to Middle Earth, director Peter Jackson made a name for himself making off-the-wall, gross horror comedies films in his native New Zealand. In Braindead, Mummy’s boy Lionel tries to keep a zombie outbreak from spiralling out of control in his sleepy small town after his domineering mother is bitten by a ‘rat monkey’. As more and more residents get bitten and infected, he tries to keep them contained in the basement. However, it turns out that zombies retain most of their primal urges when the local vicar and nurse have enthusiastic zombie sex. This results in a disturbing, rubber-faced zombie baby running around causing havoc. Braindead also ends with Lionel being absorbed back into the womb by a 30 ft tall, rat-like version of his zombie mother before he cuts himself back out from the inside.
7. Devil’s Due (2014)
Filmmaking collective Radio Silence helped prove that the found footage genre still had some bite thanks to their contribution to the horror anthology movie V/H/S, but Devil’s Due was a poor follow-up from one half of the directing quartet. Best described as “Rosemary Baby meets Paranormal Activity”, the movie feels like a slog through all too familiar territory with its mix of demonic goings on and shaky cam footage. However, it does have one scene that is legitimately freaky. As expectant mother Samantha sleeps on the couch for a nap, the baby starts moving around in the womb. Unsurprisingly, these are no normal movements and the conveniently placed video camera just happens to catch her stomach grotesquely pushing up out of shape courtesy of her devilish offspring.
6. The Fly (1986)
Pregnant women should generally avoid any movie from the ‘body horror’ subgenre, especially if David Cronenberg is listed as the director. The Canadian filmmaker made a name for himself thanks to his pretty twisted ability of making the human body seem as gross as possible, and he really set a benchmark for himself with his remake of 1958 B-movie horror staple The Fly. Most viewers will remember the gory sight of Jeff Goldblum’s scientist character Seth Brundle gradually becoming more and more disfigured after he accidentally splices his own DNA with a fly, but one of the remake’s most disturbing scenes comes in the form of a dream sequence. Paranoid that the child she is expecting with Brundle will be affected by his altered genetics, Geena Davis’ character Veronica has a terrifying nightmare where she is an operating room suffering through painful labour. The doctors gather round as they pull out a disgusting, bloated maggot from between her legs. Veronica’s worst fears actually come true in the Fly II when she (although Davis, along with everyone else involved in the original, didn’t come back for the sequel) is shown giving birth to a larvae sac in the opening scene.
5. ABCs of Death: Part 2 (2014)
This hit and miss horror anthology sequel saved the best short for last with ‘Z is for Zygote’. A heavily pregnant woman is left alone in her secluded home by her husband, who leaves her with a huge supply of a herb root called portlock which he says will delay the birth until he come back with the midwife. Cut to thirteen years later, the still pregnant woman is living in the now-dilapidated home crawling around on the floor dragging her huge, distended stomach around with her. The seriously disturbing visual gets even worse when the talking child inside says that she needs to “make room” and does so by pushing mother’s organs and bones out through her mouth and then takes her place inside her skin.
4. Human Centipede II (2011)
Human Centipede II tries so hard to be more shocking and controversial than its predecessor that it’s pretty hard to take any of the relentless onscreen torture porn seriously. However, that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. One of the movie’s most shocking scenes sees a heavily pregnant woman, one of the 12 victim’s from the ‘full sequence’ centipede, escape from the hellish horror experiment. She manages to get in a car and start the engine but the apparent stress from the ordeal sees her going into labour. She delivers the baby as her insane captor bangs on the car windows and, apparently traumatised from everything she’s been through and desperate to escape, it slips straight through her fingers onto the car floor. She steps on the newborn when she puts her foot down hard on the accelerator as she drives off. Unsurprisingly, the UK movie classification board the BFFC heavily edited the cruel scene (as well as imposing many other cuts), but even without this shocking visual the constant barrage of torture and body fluids throughout Human Centipede II makes it a tough watch.
3. Three…Extremes (2004)
Three…Extremes is a collaboration project from from three East Asian directors with reputations for not holding back when it comes to shocking subject matter. The anthology opens with Dumplings, a short film courtesy of Hong Kong director Fruit Chan (which was later expanded into a feature length movie). Aging actress Mrs. Li is desperate to try anything that can help her hold onto her fading beauty so that she can keep her philandering husband interested in her once more. She turns to chef Aunt Mei who has a secret dumplings recipe which promises startling rejuvenation results for any woman who eats the delicacy. It’s revealed that the primary ingredient is from newborn fetuses which Mei ‘acquires’ from local clinics and by performing black market abortions. The matter-of-fact discussions the women have about dumplings is pretty queasy (one revelation is that “cursed” inbred children are more potent), but the sight of them chewing on the gloopy, translucent food is absolutely stomach-churning.
2. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Roman Polanski’s seminal 1968 horror is an unsettling psychological slow burner which set the gold standard for antichrist movies. Mia farrow plays the pregnant titular character who suspects not all is how it should be when she starts suffering from intense stomach pains, disturbing visions and a craving for raw meat. Worst still, she suspects her new neighbours are satanic cultists and her husband is in on it. A masterpiece of the genre, Rosemary’s Baby is one of the creepiest takes on expectant mother paranoia.
1. Inside (2007)
Inside begins with a shot of a baby in utero harshly recoiling against the inside of the womb wall after a nasty car crash – and it only gets worse from there on out. Switching up the traditional horror slasher model, Inside features a heavily pregnant protagonist who is being stalked and targeted by a scissor-wielding female killer who is determined to get her baby at any cost. Often credited as being one of the most extreme movies from the ‘New French Extremity’ filmmaking movement, Inside is a seriously bloody and brutal horror which should be avoided by pregnant women. Seriously.