Body horror is perhaps the truest representation of one of our most innate fears. Simply put it represents the deformation and often the destruction of our bodies through various methods: disease, parasitism, injury (both self-inflicted and inflicted by others), mutation, decay, and transformation.
Humans have been obsessed with their own mortality throughout civilisation and the exposure and investigation of our own biology is the most visceral way through which we have tried to understand our fragile state.
In terms of film, the theme has been present throughout its history and early horrors such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and later films of the ‘50s such as The Blob were great examples of the sub-genre. The real auteurs who took a magnifying glass to our innards and the nightmarish possibilities within were directors like David Lynch and David Cronenberg who took up the baton for body horror from the ‘70s onward.
The themes of body horror are also prevalent throughout literature in the writings of Poe and Lovecraft and in more contemporary works by authors like Poppy Z. Brite.
It seems that there will always be a place in our culture for this sub-genre of horror, as long as we remain so interested in the gory and gruesome possibilities present in the evolving understanding and potential destruction of our own bodies.