Classic horror: The most macabre meals of all time, in film and TV
Whether on TV or film, Mads Mikkelsen or Sir Anthony Hopkins, there’s no denying Dr. Hannibal Lecter is the classiest cannibal in world history. A penchant for psychology, classical music, and creating culinary delights out of human offal, he transforms the act of brutal murder into something of a fine art.
In NBC’s Silence of the Lambs prequel, we saw a younger Hannibal really exhibit his talents in the kitchen. Each episode delivered a tableau of food porn that made us as viewers both deeply unsettled and aggressively ravenous. The dishes he produced were so breathtaking, we’d often forget he was treating his guests to lung flambé.
So enthralled were viewers by Hannibal’s cooking skills, the show’s food stylist Janice Poon even launched a Hannibal-inspired cookbook entitled Hannibal: A Connoisseurs Cookbook, filled with delectable recipes accompanied by stunning artwork that evokes the visuals from the show.
To salute this book, Dr. Lecter, and the theme of food porn with a sinister twist, here are some of the most macabre meals ever served in film and TV history that’ll make you feel sick and hungry all at once.
The forbidden fruit: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo del Toro‘s fantastical war drama birthed one of the most horrific scenes in movie history after Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) munched on the forbidden fruit at the Pale Man’s banquet. You’d think people would’ve learned by now that if someone says don’t eat the fruit if you’re told not to. Adam and Eve anyone?
The moral of the story is: don’t eat the grapes when you’re told not too, no matter how plump and juicy they look. It’ll only end in tears – and so much bloodshed. We’re still dealing with nightmares.
Shrimp and save: Beetlejuice (1988)
Tim Burton’s supernatural comedy horror saw one of the most iconic dinner party scenes in movie history, making a Calypso anthem its unexpected centerpiece and culminating in one of the most bizarre and memorable scenes in the filmmaker’s oeuvre. But it’s those shrimp cocktails that really grabbed our attention and bowled the guests over. Puns definitely intended.
Sea spread: Hannibal (2013 – 2015)
Some of the most sinister side dishes to Hannibal’s main courses are the one-liners he drops that are only subtle when you don’t know of his anthropophagist preferences. In SSE1, we see Jack (Laurence Fishburne) sit down with Hannibal for a delectable spread of fish cuts and sea urchin.
“I almost feel guilty eating it,” Jack says.
“I never feel guilty about eating anything,” Lecture replies.
Chatty lamb: Hannibal (2013 – 2015)
Speaking of not-so-subtle hints, in S1E5 Hannibal serves up the tongue of what he describes as a “chatty lamb”. Oh doctor, you do crack us up!
If this French cult classic somehow missed your table, the film is a delightfully morbid comedy about a butcher (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) who owns a run-down apartment building in post-apocalyptic France. Where meat just happens to be scarce – you see where this is going?
This film brings a helping of humor to the storyline of “when there’s nothing to eat, eat people” and gives a whole new meaning to the term “meat is murder”. The most macabre meal? Dominique Pinon’s head on a platter. Circus clown cold cuts is not a dish we’d ever wish to see on the menu.
Back bubbles: Ichi the Killer (2001)
There’s nothing like the sound & smell of tempura oil bubbling away on the stove. While most would agree these sensations evoke a sense of comfort and anticipation of the delicacies to come, for the poor soul Suzuki (Susumu Terajima) in Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer it marks the start of a world of tortuous pain. Yeowch!
Funny feet: Santa Clarita Diet (2017 – )
There are many mealtimes we can’t unsee from Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet, a show in which the lives of a regular suburban family take a sinister turn when one of them unwittingly develops a penchant for human flesh.
But the most rancid has to be the decomposing foot Sheila (Drew Barrymore) is forced to feast from when their people platter supply starts to deplete. Feet are arguably the least appetising part of a body – plus it’s filled with formaldehyde and is so not organic. Desperate times.
“You’re eating maggots”: The Lost Boys (1987)
It’s been over 30 years since Joel Schumacher’s iconic vampire flick hit theaters and we still can’t get the image of Michael (Jason Patric) looking down at his food to the horrific realization he’s been eating bugs out of our heads. Seriously, it’ll put you off ordering takeout (for at least a day).
Squiddly diddly: Oldboy (2001)
Arguably one of the most controversial scenes in movie history, nothing will prepare you for the scene in Park Chan-wook‘s Oldboy in which Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) walks into a sushi restaurant, orders a live octopus, and proceeds to chow down on the thing like a drunk dude on a Big Mac.
While you’d think this scene would’ve been a good opportunity for some visual trickery, actor Min-sik actually ate the live octopus. For reals. Not once, but four times in order to get the right shot. And the dude’s a vegetarian buddhist in real life. If that’s not dedication to the role, we don’t know what is.
The girl’s loopy: Get Out
It’s not so much the dish itself in this scene that’s macabre, but more the person who’s eating it.
What’s become known as “the Froot Loops scene” in the final act of Jordan Peele’s satirical horror Get Out, we see Rose wearing all white with her hair pulled back in a ponytail listening to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” while eating Froot Loops and sipping milk. It’s sinister and unsettling air is not an accident, as actress Allison Williams revealed Peele wrote the scene to drive home just how disturbed and terrifying Rose really is.
“This is our chance to see what it’s like to be Rose everyday,” explained Williams.
“It drives home the point that she has stalled developmentally at the age that she started doing the job. She still dresses somewhat androgynous, she’s totally meticulous, total control freak. She has her teddy bear and Froot Loops and milk. And the idea of her going upstairs and immediately putting all her photos back in frames and putting them up on the wall is also really chilling.”
*Ed. note: Honorable mention must of course go to The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, which features the most beautifully repulsive meal scene ever shot on celluloid.