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Human Architecture Horror

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A subtrope of Body Horror where recognizably human/humanoid bodies have become attached to a wall or other solid structure... permanently. Commonly involves extremities and even the torso of the body dissolving, disintegrating, or disappearing into the surroundings while the head or face remains visible. They're not just stuck to a wall with glue: victims of this trope have merged with an underlying structure in a manner that would make it impossible (or at least very, very painful) to remove them in one piece.

Extra horror points if the body is still alive when the process starts, extra-extra points if the victim maintains consciousness for any duration of the process. If they remain alive and conscious of their predicament for an extended length of time, this can lead to some serious And I Must Scream as the victim remains trapped and nigh helpless awaiting either death or rescue.

While there are a number of forces that can engender this sort of mutilation of the human form, Festering Fungus and Tele-Frag are common causes. If left unchecked, an initial instance of this can evolve into a bad case of Meat Moss. Bodies that have been anchored to out-of-the-way locations tend to serve the purpose of a Ceiling Corpse if they aren't spotted immediately.

If there's a villain who is purposefully doing this (either to corpses or still-living people), it's to show that Evil Is Visceral. Obviously, in such instances it also overlaps with Human Resources.

Compare to Buried Alive or Sand Necktie, where the victim is trapped in a confined space with the intention that their entrapment eventually kills them. Contrast with Genius Loci, where a location develops/ maintains cognizance (or a character fuses with a location or structure and considers it to be an extension of their body). Contrast with Flesh Golem, where human bodies are fused to other human bodies (and tend to maintain some degree of mobility).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Josuke uses his Stand's reconstructive abilities to fuse Starter Villain Angelo with a boulder because Angelo killed Josuke's grandfather. At first Angelo's head and hands are visible outside the boulder, playing this trope straight. But when Angelo uses his Stand "Aqua Necklace" to attempt to hurt an innocent child and insults Josuke's hair, Josuke retaliates by having Crazy Diamond rearrange the villain and stone. In this second form, the boulder vaguely resembles Angelo's face, with only the eyes unaffected — making it a Downplayed version of this trope. The "Angelo stone" is still conscious, alive, can be heard breathing and has become a local landmark for couples.
  • Saint Seiya: Cancer Deathmask's temple is ridden with the faces of the people murdered by the gold saint. Their souls trapped within the walls, they scream constantly wishing for someone to put them out of their misery. Only when Deathmask is killed by the heroes are the souls finally free from their eternal torment, and the temple returns to normal.

    Comic Books 
  • The universe of The DCU is surrounded on all sides by the Source Wall, separating the physical universe from the cosmic forces on the other side. As a defense mechanism against anyone trying to break through, anyone who touches the Source Wall becomes part of the wall, petrified and still conscious all the while. The wall is "decorated" with the countless bodies of lifeforms across creation.
  • Issue #9 of Global Frequency features drug-addled surgeons at an experimental medical facility constructing stem cell augmented flesh altars out of patients who are still alive, with dozens of bodies fused together across the site. One of the first officers on the scene went mad and killed themselves after seeing the carnage. When "Global Frequency" operative Takashi is sent in to examine the site, victims who still have mouths and vocal cords beg him to kill them.
    Takashi: The surgeons have permanent brain damage. The patients have been remade into a... a cathedral. A place to worship wounds and the inside of the human body. No one's coming back from this one, Aleph.
  • The plot of Hell Nebraska involves an Anti-Hero with Reality Warper abilities who condemns criminals to imprisonment in the City of the Damned, which is made from the prisoners' blood and flesh.
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • In "Dream a Little Dream of Me", Dream teams up with John Constantine to retrieve a pouch of magic sand from Constantine's junkie ex-girlfriend Rachel, who had mistaken it for a drug. Her abuse of the sand had warped reality around her house, including turning her father into Meat Moss on the walls and floor.
    • In "A Hope in Hell", the gate of Hell is set in a wall of fused, distorted human bodies. A head impaled on the gate itself announces Morpheus's arrival.
  • Transformers (2019) features a rare non-horror variant of this trope. Cybertronians who decide that they've tired of life will sometimes go find a spot on the planet where they'll just stay until their body starts merging with the terrain. The process apparently takes an extremely long time, possibly centuries, but it's painless and is treated as a respected means of ending one's life. The Cybertronians who do it maintain consciousness to some degree for a considerable part of the process, allowing younger Cybertronians to speak with them, and they might even answer if they deem it important enough.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Annihilation (2018): As Lena and her teammates explore an abandoned building within the mysterious reality warping "shimmer", they find the grotesque remains of a member of a previous expeditionary force in a drained swimming pool. The man's legs project from a mass of what looks like fungal material growing along the side of the pool, while his skull and torso are suspended from similar growths that have taken root further up.
  • Bright: As Ward and Jakoby are investigating the hideout of suspected magic-users, they encounter the "remains" of Larika, an elf woman whose torso, head, and arms have fused to a crater in the wall — the rest of her body having disintegrated in the magical blast that caused the crater. Her ribs and vertebrae have transformed into spindly, glowing struts that protrude from her torso to anchor it in place. Larika is later revealed to be alive in this state (albeit not for long). Her condition was cause by a rogue blast of magic from the wand she tried to use to assassinate Tikka.
  • Lord of Illusions: The Evil Sorcerer Nix punishes his cult for bringing him back from the grave by briefly turning the floor into quicksand and causing them all to suffocate. Afterwards, some of them are only partially buried, with torsos and arms sticking out of the solid floor. One of them is still alive and conscious enough to grab D'Amour.
  • The Philadelphia Experiment: As one of several thing that have Gone Horribly Wrong, several of the crewmen end up fused to the deckplates, while still alive after the titular ship accidentally time-travels.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: The ultimate fate of crewmen of the Flying Dutchman, a supernatural pirate ship captained by the mythical Davy Jones and staffed by drowned sailors who sold their souls to escape death. The undead crew members are all subject to horrifying marine-themed mutations (tentacle beards, growing a coral reef out of their spine, heads turning into hermit crabs, etc...) that come with the job; on top of that, there are some crewmen who have physically merged with the structure of the Dutchman. The crew who maintain their mobility also appear to retain a high degree autonomy, but the ones who have merged with the ship show signs of losing their memories and sense of self as their independence declines. "Bootstrap" Bill Turner (Will Turner's father) is one such example. Though he is capable of detaching himself from the ship's structure and holding a coherent (if rather brief) conversation with Elizabeth, he's clearly beginning to experience Loss of Identity after years spent integrating with the Dutchman. Another crewman has so thoroughly melded with the ship that when he detaches his head and shoulders from the wall to join a conversation, his brain and the back of his skull are left behind.
    Bootstrap Bill Turner: Part of the crew, part of the ship.
  • The Sword and the Sorcerer: Evil sorcerer Xusia's tomb is built from human faces, which come alive during his awakening ritual, shortly after the movie's opening credits. This can be seen in the video example "Wall of Faces".
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: At the beginning of the movie, villain En Sabah Nur uses his powers to cement a street vendor inside a wall after the vendor threatens a young Ororo. The vendor is conscious and terrified as it happens, with only his eyes able to dart back and forth frantically after he's been trapped.

  • In Deltora Quest, the Glus, the eponymous beast of the Maze of the Beast, traps anyone unlucky enough to get lost in the maze in a calcified shell of "silk" that it secretes. If you stop to rest and lean against the walls, they will solidify around you, leaving you trapped until the Glus comes and eats you. The walls are full of the skeletons of people who couldn't get free.
  • Empty Memories and Cold Graves: The Consultant notes the two-hundred innocents it fuses into a living room of flesh are all still alive in the awful state and will be for as long as it's amusing to her.
  • A Master of Djinn: Overlaps with Taken for Granite — the ornery Marid that Fatma had convinced to return to his bottle and "wait out the demise of humanity" in the opening chapters is less than pleased to be awoken a just handful of days after their bargain is struck. Though Fatma and Hadia take precautions by releasing him in a holding cell specially warded to contain Djinn (hoping to contain the worst of the Marid's wrath), he lashes out and turns Hadia into a statue halfway embedded in the stone walls. Fatma manages to win his co-operation and get Hadia un-statued by pointing out that there's a bigger threat to all of them.
  • The Miracle Curl Of Ampara: At the climax, the protagonist uses his newly-awakened superpowers to send two terrorists who threatened his friend flying through a window... except that as a side effect of his powers, the windows don't break and the terrorists instead get fused with the glass half-way, still fully conscious and otherwise perfectly healthy. Despite the far future setting of the novel, the medics are as flabbergasted by this as one would expect.
  • Nightside: Sinister Albion is an Elseworld where Merlin accepted his role as The Antichrist and corrupted King Arthur. Camelot is extensively decorated with undying human remainsimpaled, splayed out over the walls, or simply immured — to drive the locals to despair and to satisfy Merlin's love of screaming.
  • Point Horror Unleashed does this in House of Bones. People are dragged into the walls of homes on Britain's ley lines and die once they are fully absorbed, leaving nothing but their skeleton behind. The opening chapter shows some of the bones end up somehow trapped within the bricks themselves. The only way to prevent being absorbed completely is to wear a cross and have someone else drag you out.
  • In Revelation Space, the Melding Plague has fused Captain John Brannigan to his ship, Nostalgia for Infinity. It's all very eldritch.
  • Shades of Grey: This trope is the ultimate fate of creatures that die atop (or get stuck in) pavement made of "Perpetulite". Perpetulite was designed by the Previous to absorb organic material from its surroundings to repair and renew itself, usually in the form of fallen leaves or errant wild giraffes. Sitting on or brushing up against a Perpetulite surface can be dangerous, as it will start to absorb unprotected flesh in a matter of seconds. When Eddie, Jane, and Courtland make it to High Saffron, they see the remains of hundreds of people being dissolved in the floor of a Perpetulite pavilion made of a deadly green-ish redd-ish shade that triggers the body to start shutting down, and find their spoons littering the sides of the road in massive piles.
    "Lying beneath the surface of the Perpetulite, like a drowned man under ice, was a blank face staring back up at me. His mouth was wide open and his hands palms up. His bones were all perfectly visible within the gentle overlay of soft tissue, and even the herringbone pattern of his jacket was discernible. Like the giraffe I had seen outside East Carmine, the indiscriminate organoplastoid had simply absorbed him as if he were nothing more than rainwater or leaf litter. But as I stared at the apparition in the smooth surface, I noticed that another, more fully digested body was just discernible to his left. And beyond that there was another. And another. As I looked around, I saw that the swirling pattern I had assumed was as random as that in linoleum was actually a jumble of semi-digested people, lying in haphazard profusion. The Perpetulite had consumed their tissue, bones, teeth, clothes—and left behind only the indigestible parts, which were simply moved tidily to the side."
  • In The Sick Land, David becomes merged with the wall of the facility after committing suicide and grabbing a mutant mushroom. ...In That Order. The mushroom grows into the wall, cementing David into it.
  • Thin Air is a paranormal thriller based on the conspiracy theory about the "Philadelphia Experiment". As a result of a scientific experiment carried out on a U.S. Navy ship, some of the crew dematerialized and ended up embedded in the hull of the ship.
  • The Xeelee Sequence has this in multitudes. From a sub-planetoid made up of human skin, to a colony ship decorated with the remains of eaten infants, to posthumans evolving to live through an ocean of their own shit and piss. Given the genre of the Sequence, is anyone surprise?

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Love & Monsters", a woman called Ursula is absorbed by an alien, which leaves her face sticking out of the alien's skin. After the alien is defeated it is absorbed by the earth, taking Ursula with it. Ursula's face floats briefly on a paving slab and says some last words before disappearing. The Doctor grants her a semblance of continued life as an animated lump of concrete, causing her face to reappear on the paving slab (alive and conscious)… maybe.
    • "Knock Knock" is set in a spooky old house whose tenants start disappearing. One of them, Pavel, is discovered halfway through the process of being absorbed into a wall.
  • Farscape: A variation occurs when the Jerkass Interon archaeologist Vella is murdered with a Serax excavating device — not only is she Taken for Granite, but her body is partially embedded in the wall behind her.
  • Game of Thrones: The Three-Eyed Raven is depicted (as of season 4) as a very old man whose body is fused to the roots of a weirwood tree. It's not played very much for horror, until the viewer realizes that he won't be able to escape the White Walker forces tracking Bran.
  • The Sandman (2022): Episode 4, "A Hope in Hell", shows that Lucifer's domain is chock full of this trope:
    • The wall around Hell is constructed out of the merged bodies of some of the damned, who are still conscious and twitch and cry out when Morpheus strikes the gong to announce his arrival (using a striker handed to him by part of the wall).
    • As Squatterbloat leads Morpheus through Hell, they pass through a forest where more groaning and twitching bodies are merged horrifyingly with the trees.
  • Stargate Atlantis: A particularly Meat Moss-y example can be found in "The Seed", where Dr. Keller is infected with a Wraith pathogen that begins mutating her into a Hive Ship. The process starts with techno-organic tendrils growing out of her body, which grow to cover much of the tower she's confined to and begin to attack those who come to rescue her. This constitutes one of the few examples where a victim heals from their transformation, as a cure is found that kills off the pathogen and saves Dr. Keller from becoming a Hive Ship.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Enterprise travels through a dark matter nebula that causes anomalies in the structure of the ship in "In Theory". One such anomaly is a subspace deformation that causes an ensign to fall through the floor as it vanishes and become trapped when it reappears. She dies.

  • The Magnus Archives has minor character John Amherst, an Avatar of the Corruption, who utilizes his Power's domain of disease to inflict horrific supernatural plagues on the unsuspecting. He is responsible for the plague of Klanxbüll that caused the residents' flesh and muscles to grow progressively looser until they sagged off their bodies, leaving bones and organs exposed and causing the rotting flesh to fuse to the ground. Amherst compelled many residents to drag themselves through the town so he could meld them together to in a throne. His victims were alive and conscious throughout, unable to do anything but attempt to scream.
  • One villain-of-the-episode in SPINES is a depraved artist who can mold flesh like clay and uses his power to craft human bodies into public art installations by building them into existing arches and gates.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Crew/passengers becoming fused with bulkheads while still alive is a possible but thankfully rare effect of Jumpship suffering a missjump.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the AD&D supplement Oriental Adventures, high Character Level ninjas had the ability to walk through walls for up to one minute. If time runs out before they get through the wall, they end up merged with the wall — and die as a result.
    • The "Wall of the Faithless" from Forgotten Realms is studded with the petrified souls of those who claimed no patron god. Descriptor text says that "the faithless were absorbed into the Wall of Souls and wholly became a part of it", while other text says that "the faithless were [initially] cemented into the wall with a green, supernatural mold".
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: The Tzimisce vampire variety are fond of using their signature "Vicissitude" power to reshape humans into furniture and architectural features, often while still self-aware.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay notes that this was the fate of many of the citizens of Praag, in the northern kingdom of Kislev, as a result of its conquest by the forces of Chaos.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Konrad Curze, the traitor primarch of the Night Lords, ruled a planet from his palace made of still-living humans. His throne room had a carpet made of still alive human faces stiched together that were constantly screaming. Unsurprisingly it's called the Screaming Gallery. Konrad Curze, everybody!
    • One time, a Schola Progenium on the planet Brellex had an entire year of students rebel against their masters due to a faulty batch of brainwashing chemicals. The army came in to put down the revolt and they killed the students by pouring mortar over them. This mortar was used to build the hallways of the Schola, with the bones of the students sticking out to Make an Example of Them for future students who think of rising up.

    Video Games 
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine features tons of animation studio employees turned into monsters. The architect Bertrum Piedmont fell victim to this too, as when players encounter him they discover he has fused with an octopus carnival ride, with his head trapped inside the center column.
  • Bloodborne’s Old Hunter DLC features mountains of human remains that writhe around weakly, the remnants of the titular Hunters’ rampages. A few of them are cognizant enough to take visible action or even speak.
  • Castlevania:
    • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, the chamber in which Legion is fought is made entirely of human bodies. The surrounding rooms are all made of stone — or carved in the rock, since they're underground.
    • In Curse of Darkness, Legion returns as an Optional Boss, and the room follows suit. The chamber beneath Garibaldi Temple is wallpapered with a flesh-y texture, and the floor is made up of piles and piles of corpses. The graphics make it hard to tell, but it would appear that the bodies that make up the floor have been immured into the ground to produce a flat, walkable surface.
  • Dead Space: A regular occurrence throughout the franchise:
    • Some hallways have walls covered in The Corruption (a Meat Moss made of the Necromorphs' victims).
    • One type of enemy, the Guardian, is a human encased within a Corruption biomass wailing in agony. Their intestines burst from their chest and lash out at players who get too close.
  • The architecture of Hell in the Doom series, in addition to its green marble and red brick structures, is often composed of walls of skulls and screaming faces.
  • Final Fantasy V: At first, Exdeath's castle seems to be a normal such building, but this is an illusion. After Kelgar gives his life to break the illusion, the party discovers that the castle is built out of the Warlock Exdeath's many victims. The walls are made of grotesque skeletons and such, but they are very clearly shown to be breathing, so it's not certain whether or not the unfortunate beings are fully aware of their predicament or if they really are dead. Considering that Exdeath's true form is a giant tree made evil by numerous demons being bound to it, he seems to think that making buildings out of living things other than wood is perfectly acceptable.
  • The Knight Isma from Hollow Knight is grown into a great tree in a mossy area of the Royal Waterways, her enshrined body guarded by her lover Ogrim, the Dung Defender (most of the characters of the game are humanized insects). It's not really treated as horrifying, however. It seems more that nature just happened to reclaim her resting place. The foliage merged with the Single Tear she shed upon defeat, growing a one-of-a-kind fruit called "Isma’s Tear" that grants immunity to Acid Pools.
  • The Last of Us: "Spore cadavers" are the last stage of the Cordyceps infection that turns humans into mindless zombies. The cadavers can be found in dark, damp places like basements and abandoned subways. At this stage, the fungal infection develops into large growths that anchor the remains of the infected in place. Limbs and bones are sometimes visible in the overgrown patches of fungus, reaffirming the horror of the cordyceps "zombies" and reminding players that the corpses are still dangerous (even in this sessile form, they release spores that can infect vulnerable humans).
  • Mega Man Zero 4: In the Final Boss battle, for his One-Winged Angel, Dr. Weil merges himself with the entirety of the Kill Sat he's in, turning him into neither completely human nor machine, with only his head sticking out as the part of him that's still visibly human. The process of it is especially painful, consisting of cables and other parts jamming into his body, spraying copious amounts of blood all the while.
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King plays with this trope in a rather horrific fashion. Considering this is a world made entirely of arts and crafts, paper characters are considered living beings. So when King Olly refolds Princess Peach's castle into his own Origami Castle, this includes turning Peach into a massive, silent, lifeless mural on the wall of his throne room! To put this into perspective, it'd be like if someone embedded an entire human body on a wall display for everyone to see. Fortunately it gets undone by Olivia using the 1000 Origami Cranes technique to undo all of Olly's work, restoring Peach to normal, but this is a pretty disturbing fate once the Fridge Horror kicks in.
  • Pilgrim (RPG Maker): Alice's victims become melted faces that she sticks on her castle walls, and they are shown as fully aware of it.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Digital Devil Saga 2 sees this trope played out in the E.G.G. Facility after Heat took over and God corrupted its data. Anyone who did not go insane ended up literally fused with the plastic, glass and metal ceiling due to how unstable the whole structure has become, and from various malfunctioning teleportation portals around the facility. Players can converse with the unfortunate victims, who will laugh hysterically or beg players to get away.
    • The Final Boss chamber in Persona is a thing of nightmares. The walls and floors of the room are made of giant human mouths with outstretched tongues, ribcages, and several undiscernible but definitely humanoid and organic things, all covered with old darkened skin. That said, the player probably won't even notice what the room looks like because the boss is so much worse.
  • Silent Hill series usually plays with this by having walls and even entire constructions made of human flesh when the town becomes evil. The first (and most notable) version of this happens in Silent Hill 4: The Room when the building where Henry Townshend is trapped becomes enterely made of human flesh, and even with monsters emerging from these "walls". This is also seen in some scenes of The Movie when some rooms with concrete walls become into flesh walls.
  • Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: The entire Carnage level. Carnage is an alien symbiote with a taste for human blood, which was held by SHIELD until they noticed that it and the resident mystical artifact had an interesting reaction, and decided to keep testing. What they got was the entire Triskelion - SHIELD's headquarters - being covered with pulsating veins running through the walls and the doors, all made from the blood drained by every single human present.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: As in the tabletop game, Tzimisce vampires have the power to reshape flesh. Andrei the Tzimisce elder uses it to wallpaper his California mansion with still-bleeding human skin and decorate it with living flesh-and-bone furniture, but mentions that it's a pale echo of his homeland's estates.

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: "Trolls" are the mutated, nigh-mindless undead remains of humans who contracted an illness known as the "Rash." Some trolls have the misfortune to fuse with the architecture of wherever it is that they died of the Rash. One gruesome example can be found in Chapter 5, where the body of a victim of the Rash can be seen strapped to a gurney. Its limbs are grossly distorted and frozen as if in a spasm of agony. The neck has grown several feet and rooted to the ceiling overhead, and the face is still stretched in a mummified grimace of pain 90 years after death.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • Critical Role: The ruins of the elven city of Molaesmyr are described in Campaign 3 as being strewn with the bodies of those who could not escape the sudden surge of magical corruption that caused the destruction of the city. The party encounters trees growing in the shape of twisted faces and reaching hands (implied to be the stretched and transmogrified corpses of unfortunate individuals). In several places the skeletons of both people and animals are propped up by the cursed greenery or firmly affixed to the walls with magically blighted vines.
    Matt Mercer: ...the branches extend. You can see where they extend, there's bits of bone protruding in places and the branches almost form a hand. You can see as it pulls up, this elongated, stretched mouth and these eye sockets that wind upward into where the canopy extends. It is mimicking a corpse or it may have once been.


Video Example(s):


Folded Peach

Peach has been folded by Olly to make up part of a wall of his Origami Castle.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / HumanArchitectureHorror

Media sources: