Most people have a natural fear, or at least apprehension, about going to the doctor. They will willfully avoid doing this, either to escape the bad news or simply to stay away from the sterile and uncomfortable environment. Hollywood understands this and has crafted a ton of medical themed films designed to capitalize on this fear.

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For this reason, people who have a scheduled doctor’s appointment may want to avoid certain movies until they get home healthy. Failure to do so can put undue stress on the person, especially if they are already hesitant about doctors and health care in general.

ten Hellraiser (1987)

Pinhead in a dark room of Hellraiser.

Clive Barker’s gory horror classic Hellraiser should absolutely be avoided before going to the doctor, mainly because of its main antagonists, the frightening Cenobites. These terrifying inhabitants of Hell are not what audiences expected, mainly due to their unique take on the concepts of pain and torment.

These grotesque, yet elegantly elegant demons take great pleasure in tearing people apart, with near-surgical precision. The entire exercise is carefully presented and performed, making these pain perfectionists the perfect nightmare fuel for those even considering a health exam.

9 Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

An eyeless surgeon with a syringe in Jacob's scale.

PTSD and psychological trauma are the main pillars of Jacob’s ladder, a classic psychedelic horror film, and the images inflicted on the main character are simply terrifying. Jacob is a Vietnamese veterinarian who returns home suffering from a dissociation disorder, which culminates in hallucinations and extreme experiences.

One particularly frightening scene shows Jacob being transported to a House of Horrors hospital on a stretcher, where he is subjected to a series of terrifying experiments administered by menacing hospital staff, many of them without eyes in their heads. The images persist long after the film ends.

8 Flat lines (1990)

Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland look out of their car window in Flatliners

The concept of death and the afterlife still fascinates doctors and scientists to this day, but Flatliners shows what happens when it becomes an obsession. This is one of Kevin Bacon’s best horror films, focusing on five medical students who begin to “kill” and resurrect themselves in an attempt to trigger near-death experiences.

Unbeknownst to them, their interference ends up bringing back a terrifying force linked to previous tragedies in their lives, which now manifest in life-threatening attacks. Anyone who is afraid of sinking to death on the operating table may wish they weren’t brought back after watching this movie. The nightmarish visions every survivor encounters, which includes a lothario encountering his former lovers in a disturbing way, are an effective deterrent for anyone wishing to visit a medical facility.

7 Contagion (2011)

Woman is caught by three strange men in Contagion

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Contagion suddenly became the poster for the Outbreak movies, even though the real-world virus is far less threatening than the movie variant. Even before the pandemic broke, people around the world were terribly concerned about viral pandemics, and this movie plays on those fears.

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Although touted for its realistic portrayal of the steps and measures that would be deployed in the event of a crisis, Contagion should only be watched on by understanding that the chances of such an outbreak are quite low. It should also be avoided if you go to the doctor in our modern times, even though the current pandemic is on the wane.

6 Re-host (1985)

A medical student working on a tissue resuscitation formula in The Re-Animator.

Everyone’s favorite eerie character actor Jeffrey Combs starred in this comedy / horror classic about a medical student who develops a serum capable of resuscitating dead tissue. As expected, he uses it for nefarious purposes, reviving corpses into zombie-like creatures.

The film goes way beyond the mad scientist trope and features everything from lobotomies to monstrous mutations. It’s kind of ironic, but it’s enough to have anyone give their doctor a double take … just to make sure.

5 Dr Giggles (1992)

Dr Giggles wielding a bone saw in a Dr Giggles operating room.

Larry Drake is known to play a multitude of villains and spooky characters, and Dr Laugh was no different. This film tells the story of a doctor who escapes from a mental asylum and goes on a bloody rampage in his quest to replace a young girl’s defective heart with a new one.

As a child, Dr Giggles and his father killed and removed the hearts of several victims in an attempt to bring back to life his deceased mother, who suffered from a similar illness. While essentially a slasher movie at heart, Dr. Giggles is probably not the best movie to watch before heading to the doctor. The film’s titular villain uses a variety of medical instruments to carry out his grisly plan, including a small circular saw and several sharp syringes.

4 Malice (1993)

Alec Baldwin watches Nicole Kidman in bathroom in Malice

Alec Baldwin and famous Oscar nominee Nicole Kidman star in this film about a happy married couple whose lives are turned upside down by a pompous, arrogant surgeon with a “god complex”. However, not all is what it seems, and it quickly becomes apparent that the doctor in question is part of a much larger plot.

The twist is rather shocking, given the established nature of the antagonist. It’s a tense, intelligently written thriller with a lot of twists and turns, but probably not the best movie to watch for those who are already wary of their doctor’s merits and education.

3 Body Parts (1991)

A man holding another man by the arm in body parts

Surgeries are now being extended to incorporate more and more transplants, which is a blessing for those with defective organs. However, Parts of the body addresses a very different premise – the amputation and transplantation of limbs from one subject to another, and the ramifications that follow.

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This film centers on a man who undergoes an arm transplant, only to discover that his new appendix appears to have a will of its own. As he becomes more violent, he quickly deduces that his new arm is to blame. The realization is terrifying, forcing him to confront the host, who was long believed to be dead. Not the best movie for those going to have a transplant to watch.

2 The Doctor and the Devils (1985)

Timothy Dalton operates on patient in The Doctor And The Devils

Underrated James Bond actor Timothy Dalton stars in this gothic horror film set in the 19th century. It focuses on Dr. Thomas Rock, an anatomist determined to expand his knowledge of the human body, in the interest of new treatments and life-saving techniques. Unfortunately, he has very few corpses to work on.

He inadvertently creates a market for fresh corpses when two locals start murdering people and selling the bodies to Rock. It’s a disturbing and deeply disturbing film about the nature of a doctor who mistakenly believes that the end justifies the means. The macabre techniques of the doctor in the name of science are troubling to anyone who has the slightest suspicion of their personal practitioner.

1 Awake (2007)

Hayden Christensen as Shirtless Medical Patient in Awake

This horror movie is based on a very, very real premise that anyone would be afraid of. The story centers on Clay Beresford, played by Star wars actor Hayden Christensen, a wealthy young man undergoing heart surgery who is put under anesthesia. Unfortunately, something is wrong and he stays awake during the procedure, with no way to call for help.

While the chances of this happening are extremely rare, it is hardly comforting to anyone who watches this movie before having their surgery, however minor. The thought of being able to feel every incision, let alone what goes on the rest of the procedure, is absolutely frightening.

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