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Day of the Triffids

Posted on March 16, 2017

Why Are Plants So Horrifying?

Dawn Keetley

You wouldn’t think plants would be the stuff of horror. Or, maybe you would. After all, vegetation constitutes over ninety-nine percent of the earth’s biomass—that is, ninety-nine percent of what’s alive on the planet. Earth is indeed “an ecosystem inarguably dominated by plants.”[i] We are surrounded by vegetation; when humans falter, vegetation surges in to take our place—creeping over our buildings, pushing up through our roads, taking what we were forced to abandon.

In 1996, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen wrote a wonderful essay called “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),”[ii] and, emulating its structure, I’ve written my own piece offering six theses that suggest why plants—defined broadly as vegetation, flowers, bushes, trees—have figured as monstrous within horror fiction and film.** I’ve sketched them out below, along with some plant horror fiction and film you can’t miss.

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