Follow TV Tropes


Cannibal Larder

Go To
Ugh... leftovers again?

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. The Cannibal Larder is, quite simply, where man-eaters keep their food. 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 soulless psychopath with no vomit reflex to eat so much as a peanut-butter sandwich in the same room with them, never mind eat them. On the flip-side, and possibly even more disturbingly, the meat will still be fresh... because the victims there are still alive, with the cannibals hacking parts off them right before eating.

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-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.
  • The body parts must either be from people (human or otherwise sapient), 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.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the finale of Chainsaw Man Part 1, Denji nullifies Makima's Resurrective Immortality by cutting their corpses into pieces, refrigerating them in tupperware containers, and Eating the Enemy over the course of several weeks.
  • 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.
  • Tokyo Ghoul is about humanoid beings that eat humans, so this trope crops up from time to time.
    • A prequel side story focuses on Rize. Early on, her land lady approaches her to discuss a complaint about a smell coming from her apartment, which Rize claims is from trash she allowed to accumulate. Later on, we see that it's actually because she's got a bath tub filled with blood and body parts.
    • Kaneki finds himself being forced to work in one during his time as a captive of Aogiri, given the task of dismantling human corpses for later consumption by the organization's forces. It's just as gruesome and disgusting as one would expect.
    • In the sequel, the Ghoul Serial Killer Torso has an apartment filled with the decapitated and limbless bodies of his victims. The Investigators going through the mess describe it as the worst case they've ever seen, horrifying even by the standards of most Ghouls.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: When Judge Death first met the Sisters of Death, he was in awe of their "temple of death", meaning a killing lair with freshly dismembered human corpses used for human sacrifice and cannibalism by the Sisters.
  • Marvel Comics' Wendigo has this when he has a base of operations.
  • In Preacher, one psychopath is found out when another character discovers a human head in the fridge.
    • One The Punisher story (by the author of Preacher) has the same thing happen to Martin Soap.
  • 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.

    Fairy Tales 
  • 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 The Brothers 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In the My Little Pony fanfic "Cupcakes (Sergeant Sprinkles)", Pinkie Pie adorns her room with painted skulls, disembodied pony heads and streamers made from dried-up intestines, among other things.
  • Subverted in Legal Crimes when Batman, Flash, and Kid Flash investigate a warehouse a super has taken up residence in which has an industrial freezer and is in an area that's seen an increase in missing children recently. Turns out, it's just a hermit of an author who buys in bulk so he doesn't have to go out shopping.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Colony (2013), Briggs's scouting party walk right into one while investigating what caused Colony 5 to lose radio contact. Unfortunately for them, the cannibals are actually in the Larder at the time, butchering and snacking on their victims.
  • In The Crazies (2010), the hunters have commandeered a giant freezer in a truck stop and turned it into a larder full of corpses.
  • One of the oldest film examples is Death Line, about cannibals in the London Underground. The other candidate is a 1972 US horror comedy called The Folks at Red Wolf Inn (a.k.a. Terror House and other, lesser-known titles).
  • 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. Earlier in the film, some of the passengers' excreted corpses are found in a corridor at the bottom of the elevator.
  • 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 kitchen in the cannibals' lair in Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain is filled with human bodies in various states of decomposition. The Teaser even ends with a shot of Mark's torso rotating slowly on a spit over the fire.
  • In Dying Breed, Matt and Jack search Rowan's shack in the bush and find a surprisingly neat and clean kitchen where meat is in varying stages of preparation. It is only when they discover Rebecca's body hanging from a tree out back being bled do they realize exactly what they have found.
  • In Fresh Meat, Paulie finds a trapdoor in the kitchen and opens it, and is instantly killed by a Booby Trap inside, after which his friends discover it leads to an underground butchery where Rina's parents and brother have been ritually killing, slicing up and preparing for consumption the bodies of other human beings.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Ravenous (1999), a ragged group of "soldiers" from a ramshackle 1840s fort investigate the story of a man who wandered up to their fort from the mountains, claiming he was part of a group of pioneers who became stranded in the mountains due to winter weather and had to eventually resort to eating other pioneers who died. When the man fled the cave where they'd taken refuge, only two other survivors were left, one of whom was their treacherous guide who had seemed to embrace cannibalism and may have murdered other members of the group to cook them and save his own life. The two soldiers who venture into the cave find a grisly scene as the cave has been turned into a larder, complete with human skeletons completely stripped of meat. Then the soldiers in the cave realize to their horror that there's one too many skeletons in the cave. The man who told them the story and led their small party to the cave must be the cannibal!
  • Subverted in Screamers: The Hunting. The rescue team is skeptical when told the more advanced Killer Robots can take human form. The survivors are a bit vague as to where they get food to survive, so when the team find a bloody dissection table and several people imprisoned behind Some Kind Of Forcefield, they naturally assume they're being used as food. Once freed however, the 'victims' quickly sprout cybernetic killing blades and attack their rescuers. The irony is the Screamers probably were being used as food and spare parts.
  • Mrs. Lovett's evil basement in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is where she turns the corpses that Sweeney produces into pies for her customers. Poor Toby winds up locked in there near the end and soon discovers what the pies are being made of when he sees the fingernail in one of the pies he's eating, and then sees the Beadle getting dropped down the chute and into the room.
  • The Trope Codifier would be the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Ubiquitous in Cannibal Clan movies.
  • In The Windmill Massacre, the mill contains the bodies of Miller Hendrik's victims, hanging upside down as he prepares to grind them into flour.
  • In Wrong Turn, Chris opens the fridge in the hillbillies' shack and discovers it is full of jars of human body parts. Then the cannibals arrive back and start butchering Francine's corpse.

  • 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 Heaven Official’s Blessing: Tian Guan Ci Fu, Qi Rong and his followers store humans whom they intend to eat hung upside down from trees with their throats slit. Qi Rong considers the blood dripping down onto unsuspecting passersby to be part of the appeal.
  • In Hellboy: Emerald Hell, the alligators of the swamps around Enigma, Georgia pull their human victims unto the muck below the water, drowning them and letting them rot to soften. The Ferris brothers are introduced by having a woman killed by a gator and in the end are sent to the same fate. At one time, Hellboy himself is nearly done in this way.
  • In Lady of the Lake, while travelling between worlds, Ciri is attacked by a lecherous old man called Gramps. After killing him, Ciri enters his house, finds the mutilated corpse of a child clearly cut up for consumption and realises she would have suffered the same fate had the guy not tried to rape her first instead of merely killing her.
  • H. P. Lovecraft:
    • In the 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. The picture itself is an in-universe example— and also a real life one!
    • The Rats in the Walls has this trope in a much larger version than normal. The Reveal at the end of the story is of an underground city beneath Exham Priory which not only served as a Cannibal Larder, kitchens and disposal grounds for the degenerate, cannibalistic De La Poer family, but also contained breeding pens where the family had raised generations of human "cattle", some so inbred that they had regressed to walking on all fours as shown by the bones remaining in the ruins.
  • In the first Odd Thomas novel, Odd 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 Road, the man and the boy stumble across a house in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. When they go into the basement, they find that it's full of still-living people who have parts of them chopped off to be eaten by cannibals.
  • Sepulchre: Surrey manor Neath's lodge house, for chauffeur Janusz Palusinksi, a concentration camp inmate who resorted and became addicted to cannibalism,stores the remains of Human Sacrifice victims.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the second episode of Blood Drive, the infamous Pixie Hollow diner is discovered to be a haven for cannibals by Arthur, where the guests are made into dinner. Apparently, the food is quite delicious.
  • One episode of CSI subverts it with a chest freezer full of pink flesh. It was actually poached bear meat.
  • 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.
  • In the Firefly episode "Bushwhacked", the Reavers leave one of these in a spaceship they have, well, bushwhacked.
  • One episode of Grimm features a race of wendigo who keep their leftovers hidden somewhere under their homes. Nick falls into a crawlspace filled with gnawed bones and scraps of decaying flesh.
  • In 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.
  • The very last episode of Lost Tapes has such a scene, set deep underneath New York in one of the city's many uncharted subterranean tunnels, featuring numerous missing persons wrapped up in plastic after having been asphyxiated. More of a To Serve Man example than literal cannibalism, since the culprits aren't actually human.
  • In Reno 911!, Officer Weigel discovers a human foot in her boyfriend's, the Truckee Killer's fridge.
  • Strangers From Hell: Moon-jo takes gross-looking red meat out of the fridge and gives it to Jong-woo and Seok-yoon. He tells them it's human meat. Both assume he's joking. He isn't; it's the remains of one of the people he and the other residents killed.
  • 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).
  • 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 Walking Dead (2010), 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.

    Print Media 
  • A very Black Comedy MAD article listed "Everyday Annoyances of Serial Killers". One of them was "Your doctor has advised you to cut back on cholesterol — and you still have twelve farmhands stacked in your freezer."

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • The Magic: The Gathering card The Meathook Massacre depicts one of these, with a severed hand hanging from a hook while a serial killer works in the background. No other information about the event is given.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


    Video Games 
  • The Diablo series:
    • The Butcher's room in Diablo I.
    • Bastion Keep's Larder in Diablo III becomes this after Ghom invades.
  • The Fallout series:
    • A downplayed example in Fallout: the player can stumble upon a fridge full of strange meat in Doc Morbid's basement (Junktown). Said example is downplayed because neither Doc nor his goons are going to eat the flesh, which is sold to the sleazy Iguana Bob as secret ingredient for his Iguana-on-a-Stick.
    • 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. There are other locations around the game that seem to suggest a similar location, and "strange meat" can be found throughout the game.
    • The basement of the marked men guard outpost in the Lonesome Road add-on for Fallout: New Vegas is full of butchered human corpses on tables and skeletons hanging on meat hooks.
  • 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.
  • In the Spring chapter of Metro Exodus, Artyom and the Rangers find themselves trapped in the Yamantau Bunker with a horrifying Cannibal Clan formed by the staff of the facility who descended into cannibalism when food stores ran short. The entire bunker is festooned with grotesque human remains in various states of "preparation"; pickled heads in jars, dressed-out bodies hanging from meat hooks, flayed flesh pinned to walls, cages packed with desiccated, gnawed-upon corpses, and everything in between.
  • 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.
  • Near the end of Until Dawn, the protagonists discover where the wendigoes have been storing their victims. This includes the Flamethrower Guy and anyone who optionally died.
  • In Dead by Daylight, the Hag's backstory had her be abducted by cannibals, who would keep living victims chained up in their basement so they could have fresh meat on demand. While she managed to escape her shackles, her starved, mutilated state prevented her from getting to safety, so she instead used the last of her strength to carve a symbol of revenge that would allow her to come back from the dead to haunt her killers, before she was recruited by the Entity.

    Visual Novels 
  • Saya no Uta: Towards a later part of the 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.

    Web Animation 
  • Two player characters in an episode of Puffin Forest mistakenly think that they have found a cannibal larder when they enter a kitchen in a bad guy's fortress with pieces of dead bodies stuffed everywhere. Actually what had happened was that two other players characters had hidden in the kitchen and killed all of the guards that entered and then did their best to hide the bodies.

    Western Animation 
  • In Disenchantment, Hansel and Gretel are revealed to be the real cannibals. Shortly after the reveal, we see human heads hanging from the ceiling apparently to dry and cure alongside unidentified "meat", various candies and desserts made of human flesh, and at one point mummified corpses in cotton candy.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • Jeffrey Dahmer was found to have an entire torso and bags of human organs in his freezer upon his arrest, as well as a "fucking head" in his fridge that one unfortunate officer found.
  • According to Spanish records, the Aztec had butcher shops to process people (sacrificial victims) much like sheep or cows. There is naturally some controversy about this; while cannibalism might have been a thing in ancient Mesoamerican peoples, isotope studies show that most Aztec would rather eat deer or turkey over other humans, and there is no evidence of specialised butcher shops for that matter.