A likely candidate for a Most Gruesome Set Design award, this is a grisly must-have for schlock horror movies that employ the I'm a Humanitarian
trope, and appears from time to time in the harsher To Serve Man
stories as well. Typically it'll feature bloody butchers' tools, red spatters on the walls, buzzing flies on the soundtrack, and possibly a Peek-A-Boo Corpse
of someone known to the hapless victim who stumbles into the place. Often, the mangled remains on display will be so decomposed that someone would have to be a raving psychotic with no vomit reflex to eat so much as a peanut-butter sandwich in the same room with them, never mind eat them.
The finding of a Cannibal Larder is usually staged as The Reveal
, although it frequently only confirms what the audience already suspected
was going on. Bonus points for this trope if the discoverer actually trips and falls onto/into the mounds of body parts.
To qualify as a Cannibal Larder:
- It must be played for visceral, gross-you-out horror. A spic-and-span futuristic Soylent Green factory where bodies disappear into a machine at one end and squares of finished product come out the other wouldn't qualify;
- The body parts are being stored for purposes of consumption, or are the accumulated residue of previous butchering for food. A room full of transplant organs wouldn't qualify. Neither would a carcass that's just left lying around at a kill site; and
- The body parts must either be from people (humans, or something that serves the same role as humans in the story), or from the part-collector's own species, or both.
If it's aliens or monsters
eating people, expect this trope to overlap with All Webbed Up
or People Jars
. See also Torture Cellar
for similar Fridge Logic
Anime & Manga
- In the second episode of Kino's Journey, after the three men Kino saved turn out to be slavers and Kino has to kill them all in self-defense, Kino takes a closer look inside their wagon: it's the second time it's seen, but this time, we get a better idea what the three men meant when they said they had to eat their cargo to survive...
- In Parasyte, horribly mangled body parts are found all over the world. Unusual in that the culprits are not cannibalistic humans, but alien bodysnatchers who eat people as a source for food.
- Transformers: Kiss Play: EDC Kiss Players who have failed are apparently stuffed into tubes somewhere below the base. Probably all of them were stripped naked first; Kiss Player Xiao Xiao woke in one such tube. When she looked around, the surrounding tubes contained partially eaten remains of other young women. Partially eaten by the phallic-tongued evil robots called Legion. One such was in Xiao Xiao's tube and ready to chow down.
- In Preacher, one psychopath is found out when another character discovers a human head in the fridge.
- One Punisher story (by the author of Preacher) has the same thing happen to Martin Soap.
- Marvel Comics' Wendigo has this when he has a base of operations.
- In Shaman's Tears, Joshua Brand and Jon Sable find a cannibal larder full of the remains of missing homeless people in the lair of the Nesting Ones in the sewers under New York City.
- The pretty grim Italian Fairy Tale "The King of the Beasts", the titular, apparently-human king is actually a cruel cannibal who turns people into large animals and occasionally turns them back into humans to eat them. At one point the protagonist enters in his private room and found it full of dismembered arms, legs and still living heads constantly lamenting their condition.
- Several of Grimm's fairy tales also features a female protagonist discovering that her new husband has a penchant for human flesh via stumbling on such a larder.
- In the My Little Pony fanfic "Cupcakes", Pinkie Pie adorns her room with painted skulls, disembodied pony heads and streamers made from dried- up intestines, among other things.
- The Trope Codifier would be the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
- In The Remake of The Crazies the hunters had commandeered a giant freezer in a truck stop and turned it into a larder full of corpses.
- In Pandorum, the Hunters' lair is full of half-eaten body parts, including scraps of skin that the human hero drapes over himself to disguise his scent.
- In The Descent, one woman falls into a blood-filled pit with gnawed human and animal bones scattered around it.
- In Dog Soldiers, there's a grisly mound of bones hidden under the werewolves' house.
- The Ghost and the Darkness is a story about two man-eating lions who preferentially hunted humans. The protagonists find the lions' den while tracking them down, and discover that it is littered with bones of the lions' human victims.
- In Deep Rising, the heroes at one point come across the creature's feeding grounds in the bowels of the ship. There are hundreds of gory, skeletal remains strewn across the giant storage room. The haunting final screams of the people can be heard as the camera pans over them.
- Invoked by the Creeper in Jeepers Creepers. After he's cannibalized his victims for body parts, he takes them to a hidden dungeon where he props up the corpses into a depraved piece of artwork by preserving them and mounting them on the walls. The protagonist is borderline catatonic after witnessing this.
- The first Emberverse book, Dies the Fire has several of these. Most of the cannibal bands that arose after the end of the world keep live prisoners in them as well (best way to keep the meat fresh).
- In the H.P. Lovecraft short story "The Picture in the House," the narrator realizes that his host's talk of historical cannibalism is not purely academic when blood soaks through the ceiling and drips onto the titular picture.
- In the first Odd Thomas novel, Thomas finds a very tidy such larder in the killer's refrigerator. It's unclear if they are truly intended for eating, or are just trophies.
- In Red Dragon it's implied that Hannibal Lecter had one in his basement, as the first officer who entered his basement ended up traumatized and took early retirement.
- In the Firefly episode "Bushwhacked", the Reavers left one of those in a spaceship they, well, bushwhacked.
- In the Torchwood episode "Countrycide", Toshiko and Ianto are captured and dumped in a cellar that contains human body parts and later taken to a kitchen filled with body parts and corpses.
- In the TV series of Hannibal, Dr. Lecter is shown to keep the organs of the people he kills stored in his freezer for later use. An unusually-tidy example.
- On Reno 911, Officer Weigel discovers a human foot in her boyfriend's, the Truckee Killer's fridge.
- In the last season of Dexter, Dexter is investigating a suspect's house and comes across a fridge full of tupperware containers neatly labelled as various body parts.
- On The Walking Dead, as Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Bob escape being butchered in Terminus (amidst an increasingly unsubtle string of hints that the people of Terminus were cannibals), they pass through a room with several bloody human torsos hanging from hooks.
- In the Tales from the Crypt episode "What's Cookin'," Gaston hangs Mr. Chumley from a meathook in Fred & Erma's restaurant freezer. By the end of the day's business, there's not much left of him (Chumley, that is).
- Call of Cthulhu supplement Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Worm That Walks". When the PCs explore the Woodie house they discover a kitchen which is the butcher shop of a den of cannibals. It has the gruesome remnants of an earlier meal spread around - hands, feet, and even more grisly bits of human debris.
- Traveller: "Double Adventure 1: Death Station". A chemical disaster occurred aboard an orbiting science ship, killing most of the crew and reducing the remainder to madness. The survivors stowed the remains of the dead crew in a locker and have been snacking on them.
- Associated with ogres in most settings. Taken to its logical extreme with Warhammer's ogre "butchers" who are both the tribal cooks and shamans, and often carry a stock of body parts (of various edibility) with them as snacks and spell components. One butcher special character drags along an enormous cauldron, which radiates an increasingly powerful buff as it is filled with enemy bodies.
- One illustration in the rulebook for the Underground RPG shows an unlucky teenager who's at work in the freezer at a fast food restaurant, and getting creeped out by the hanging meat. One of this particular game's Crapsack World features is a growing fad for cannibal fast food.
- In Seven Days a Skeptic, once the protagonist gains access to Taylor's room, he discovers that it's an abattoir filled with the mutilated parts of the other crewmembers. Not a straight example of this trope, as the other crewmembers haven't been butchered to be eaten: instead, Taylor is using them to construct a new body for John DeFoe.
- The Butcher's room in Diablo
- In Fallout 3, the settlement of Andale's Dark Secret (besides generations of Villainous Incest) is that the inhabitants are cannibals. The garden shed behind the Wilsons' house is their larder, with a fridge containing lots of "strange meat," and multiple skeletons from their prior victims.
- During the Winter segment in The Last of Us, Ellie finds herself locked in a cage, with James butchering a corpse on a nearby table, in a room full of bloodstains.
- Saya no Uta: Towards a later part of story Kouji, suspects something weird is going on with Fuminori, and sneaks into his home. He finds his fridge stuffed with human body parts and organs prepared to eat, and realizes he's too far gone to save. Fuminori however doesn't perceive his actions as cannibalism, since he has a condition that makes him hallucinate humans as horrifying Eldritch Abominations, and sees an Eldritch Abomination as the only human in the world, who brought him the food. He thought he was eating some sort of tasty, albeit slimy gruel.
- In a The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode the teachers at school are eating the kids, and they keep the kids locked in small cages - except for a few "free range children" which are in a pen outside.
- Crocodiles stash tough-skinned prey underwater until it starts decomposing, making the meat easier to rip off. This may include other crocodiles.
- The shrike, aka butcher bird, stores food by killing small vertebrates or bugs and impaling them on thorns. Occasionally they've been reported to do this to rival shrikes, as well.
- When police broke into the farmhouse of serial killer Ed Gein, who would serve as inspiration for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and other horror stories, they found a terrifying array of human remains. See for yourself over at The Other Wiki.
- Similarly, Jeffrey Dahmer was found to have an entire torso and bags of human organs in his freezer upon his arrest.