For more than 40 years, David Cronenberg has been directing films that cause his audience to cringe and retract into the back of their seats. Whether it’s the body horror of Videodrome or the realistic violence of Eastern Promises, there is always something in a Cronenberg movie that is going to make you squirm. Some of these gross scenes depict some of the worst moments from David Cronenberg's films, while others highlight some of the most mind-blowing, and creepy, scenes from some of the best body-horror films ever made.
Like any artist, David Cronenberg has changed over time. The disgusting scenes from Cronenberg's '70s films are nothing like his most repulsive scenes from the '90s, an era that saw the director moving away from science fiction while still doing everything in his power to make our collective skin crawl.
Birth is a beautiful, if not mostly gruesome affair, and a birth filmed by David Cronenberg is going to be especially disturbing. When you add a giant fly larvae to the mix, all bets are off. The scene where Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) gives birth to a maggot is one of the few scenes in a horror film that's more affecting after you've already seen it.
The scene looks familiar. Veronica is nervous, she's surrounded by doctors, and she's worried as she goes into labor. But then the sound of something squirming comes in from off screen. You know what you're about to see and you can't stop it. When the doctor helps a giant maggot slither out of Veronica, it's hard to look away.
If there's one scene in particular in David Cronenberg's filmography that makes you truly want to avert your eyes, it's a specific sex scene from his 1996 adaptation of JG Ballard's Crash. The film follows a group of people who fetishize car accidents. James Ballard (James Spader), is a film producer who meets Gabrielle (Rosanna Arquette) who can only walk using steel braces.
Gabrielle has a vulva shaped wound on the back of one of her legs, and at one point while she and Ballard are having sex in a car, he removes her braces, rips open her stockings, and has sex with her leg.
If the head explosion in Scanners is a 400 meter dash of gore, Shivers is a decathlon. Throughout the film, worm-like parasites crawl into a woman's vagina, they burst out of wounds, and they attack old people. The grossest moment in Shivers occurs when Nicholas Tudor (Alan Migicovski) lies in bed and rubs his torso while a mass of parasites bubble under his skin.
The most disgusting part of the scene is when Nicholas says to the worms under his skin, "You and me are going to be good friends."
There's something disgusting for everyone in this scene from The Fly. When you combine copious amounts of pus with the concept of teeth falling out, it quickly escalates into an unnerving, and almost unwatchable scene.
These harrowing few minutes show Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) tearing off his fingernails. Cronenberg doesn't hold on the the shot of Seth's hands for very long, but the tearing of nail from flesh feels like an eternity.