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Why Is Being Eaten Alive Considered Such a Horrible Way to Go?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
You hear, see and read about this all the time. Being eaten alive by anything - shark, giant or otherwise; horde of zombies; rampaging grizzly bear; toothy alien; blob; whatever - is touted by authors and filmmakers as the most horrible way to die ever. Or one of them at least.

I have no doubt it's terrible. But what is it about this method of dying that MAKES it so terrible? Why is it any worse than being stabbed, or shot, or beheaded? Personally, I kind of think ALL ways of punching your card the final time that involve violence or a great deal of pain are about equally terrifying. I might give a slight nod (no pun intended) to being beheaded, if there's any truth to the theory that your head can survive a few minutes after being removed from your body. How absolutely horrifying would it be to look up at your decapitated body, and realize what's just hapened, and that it means certain, irrevocable and very quick (but not instantaneous) death?

My guess is that fear of being eaten alive is a primal fear, that can be traced back to a time when our ancestors actually had to fear being eaten by large predators ona daily basis. We're hard wired to want to avoid being eaten, so it's imprinted on many of our minds as a supremely horrifying thing. Perhaps its rarity in this modern era, when contending with predators large enough to kill you and eat you is a rarity by and large (exceptions can be made for things like sharks, for those who choose to swim or surf in the ocean). It's just so WRONG to our modern sensibilities to be made so powerless over one's own environment. We ARE the top of the food chain, after all.

Anyone else have any theories on why this scares us so? And just for grins, opine whether you think being eaten by a large predator or a swarm of tiny ones (like bugs) is more peronally terrifying to you. I guess I'd pick the latter, as I have a touch of arachnaphobia, and a swarm of spiders chowing down on me would really hit me where I live.

What say you?
post #2 of 25
I think you already nailed it.

And hell yes to bugs and stuff being a worse eaten-alive fate. You'd die a lot slower than a shark biting you in half I imagine.. and you'd have to feel hundreds of the little suckers crawling all over you, possibly burrowing into your flesh, crawling into your orifices, your eyes.. it would be horrible x 10
post #3 of 25
Getting blobbed. Because I would equate to being blobbed as dropping into a vat of acid. Also I would drop being burned alive in the same category because a large majority of nerves are hit at once.

I would second this to getting infected with a parasite or flesh eating virus.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Getting blobbed always terrified me as a kid. I'm not sure if it was so much the concept of the death itself as the fact that there was no real way to kill the blob; best you could do was subdue it by freezing. I HATED all blob movies as a youngster, but now the 1988 remake is one of my favorite horror movies. My favorite part? Where the quarterback gets eaten alive, still trying to scream inside it as he melts. Horrifying, but in the good way, now.
post #5 of 25
Because you get turned into poop.
post #6 of 25
as a kid, I read a short story by uruguayan writer Horacio Quiroga about a guy who gets paralyzed eating wild bee's hoeny, and is eaten alive by ants...so, yeah, that kind of death scares the crap out of me.
post #7 of 25
It's always the fucking morons who poke bears with sticks or get out of their cars and try to feed the lions who end up getting eaten. Nobody wants to be lumped in with that group of winners.
post #8 of 25
Stabbing shooting etc usually means someone is trying to kill you so there's more of a sense of a quick death. Eating, whatever animal/monster/canibal it is just wants meat, and doesn't care if you're alive and in agony watching yourself slowly being devoured. It's also more inevitable, with a guy with a gun or knife there's possibility that you can talk your way out of it, dodge the bullet, but you can't reason with something that wants to eat you, and if it's a lion or a monster or something there's no chance of defeating it either.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Detonathor
Getting eaten alive from the inside of your body must feel a thousand times more worse.
Or dissolving from the inside, which is why I never drink anything from a dusty liquor bottle.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryoken
as a kid, I read a short story by uruguayan writer Horacio Quiroga about a guy who gets paralyzed eating wild bee's hoeny, and is eaten alive by ants...so, yeah, that kind of death scares the crap out of me.
I listened to that short story being read on NPR as I was falling asleep one night a few years back and it scared the holy living fuck out of me. I was asleep to the point where I couldn't move but awake enough that I could hear the story, which informed my waking dream.

Wasn't the paralyzed guy an exterminator on a golf course?
post #11 of 25
I think it's worse because of the humiliation factor. Humans are the dominant lifeform on the planet, top of the food chain, and somehow you wound up being eaten by a giant snake. Way to represent the species, loser.
post #12 of 25
Besides it being extremely painful, I think it kind of strips us of our humanity as we see it. People see themselves as the greatest thing on the planet. Indestructible. And yet here we are, probably alone, watching as our body is used as nothing more than a source of sustenance for something we're supposed to be greater than. Nothing you've accomplished in your life matters to this completely unresponsive beast that's tearing your guts out as you watch. You're just some food. You are part of this animal's well balanced breakfast. Nothing more. Which is why I always carry my trusty glaive by my side when I go into the forest for my bi-monthly bestiality retreat.
post #13 of 25
I think it's simply just Pain as the primary motivator on why this isn't a pleasant way to die. Being eaten isn't attempting to kill you, it just happens as a result, so theres a good chance of it taking a certain amount of time before you pass out/expire. Obviously, survival instincts ingrain death avoidance into all of our mental states, but knowing you are going to die, most prefer for it to happen quickly.

That being said, being eaten alive by a 5 or 6 naked Playboy Playmates is how I want to leave the planet.
post #14 of 25
People haven't been used to being considered food for millennia. Outside of cannibalism, we don't look at ourselves as potential food. So being used that way is pretty horrifying.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Death Surge
That being said, being eaten alive by a 5 or 6 naked Playboy Playmates is how I want to leave the planet.
I have been a huge fan of Playboy and its Playmates for years, ever since I found my Dad's stash at age 11 or so.

Still, I'm not sure I can agree with this. . . .
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dross
Because you get turned into poop.
YIPPEEEEE!

post #17 of 25
My ultimate nightmare is to be thrown into a hot oven. Not killed by fire, but just singed to death by hot metal, like a big pizza oven.

And similarly, I had this horrid daydream of what it might be like to be thrust into a room with high, shear walls, and with a metal floor that's basically a giant hot grill. There would be an open roof so the air wouldn't be hot enough to asphyxiate you, and you would just have to writhe around on the floor until you passed out from the pain, and cooked to death. I imagined some evil Nazi-like person above the pit, watching.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hill
My ultimate nightmare is to be thrown into a hot oven. Not killed by fire, but just singed to death by hot metal, like a big pizza oven.
You'll LOVE the end of Sweeney Todd.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrybeanbag
Having your goddamn head munched like the guy who falls prey to Grendel in Beowulf 3D.
Or the victims from ABOMINABLE or CREEPSHOW ("The Crate").

Personally, I think having a slew of zombies feeding on your guts while you struggle and watch is pretty damn horrible. Being infested by millions of feeding bugs is skeevy as well.

The "being swallowed whole only to be regurgitated later" (ala the HOST) or finding an exit route (ala BEOWULF or MIB or BARBARIANS) has gotta be a bizarre sensation.
post #20 of 25
Getting eaten by a shark is probably my worst nightmare ever. May have to do with the fact that it nearly happened once.
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrybeanbag
Worst part? Having your goddamn head munched like the guy who falls prey to Grendel in Beowulf 3D. I know the guy was probably dead the moment that his nugget was separated from his body, but dear God.
Same thing in "From Beyond". Getting your head twisted off has gotta suck big time.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by billylove
Same thing in "From Beyond". Getting your head twisted off has gotta suck big time.
Speaking of FROM BEYOND and sucking, having your eye sucked out has gotta suuuuuuuck.
post #23 of 25
As much as I hate the Saw franchise, the guy strapped to that machine in the third one that twisted his limbs, then his head around had me squirming more than I've squirmed in a long time. But yeah. Being eaten alive is, like, teh ghey.
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by bendrix
I listened to that short story being read on NPR as I was falling asleep one night a few years back and it scared the holy living fuck out of me. I was asleep to the point where I couldn't move but awake enough that I could hear the story, which informed my waking dream.

Wasn't the paralyzed guy an exterminator on a golf course?
Nah, the original story by Quirogais from 1918, and the protagonist was this city man that comes to the amazonian jungle, only to end up paralized and eaten alive because of his lack of knowledge about the wild and the law of the jungle.
I made a mistake, the book is called "Tales of love, madness and death", and the original story is called "The wild honey"....shit most of the stories in that book could make Cronenberg and Paluniuhk wince a couple of times.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horacio_Quiroga
post #25 of 25
Getting eaten by a bear would suck, but it's the shark that's the worst... I was never afraid of zombies, you get the feeling it wouldn't be too hard to just start eating the zombie back. Fight fire with fire.

A shark though has the biggest mouth, is probably nearly invisible, and about 50 times faster than you're capable of. It's teeth are also designed to saw your flesh as it jerks its head around... Plus you just might drown at the same time... Twofer. But the biggest reason to fear sharks is...

"And those eyes, those black eyes, like a dolls eyes... Just roll back white. And they tear you to pieces...."
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