Walter, B. S. G. 2017. The Fungus among Us: Zoosemiotics and Fuzzy Bodily Boundaries in Science Fiction Horror Cinema. Tresspassing Bodies: Issue 6, Winter 2017.
The invasion and transformation of the human body by a hostile alien “other” is a salient theme in sci-fi horror cinema. The alien invaders in many films are readily identified as bipedal or insectoid; in several films from the mid-twentieth and the early twenty-first century, however, the invasive “other” begins as a microscopic spore and blooms into a horrifying and amorphous fungus. In films such as Mutiny in Outer Space (1965) and The Green Slime (1968), human beings land on the moon and an asteroid, respectively, and unwittingly bring foreign fungal spores back into the human environment where they multiply uncontrollably. The Unknown Terror (1957) and Matango (1963) feature earthly fungi modified by irresponsible scientists who have manipulated nature either through mycological experimentation or nuclear radiation. In the 2008 film, Splinter, the aggressive fungus is a product of the earth itself, a force of nature that counts humans among its favorite hosts. Whether extraterrestrial or terrestrial, the fungal entities in these films function by penetrating human bodies and buildings, using them both as loci for consumption and geometric reproduction, and transforming human structures into fungal “others” in the process.
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