Factories made to look like one of the circles of Hell. This goes beyond the typical sweatshop aspects of long hours, slave wages, and No OSHA Compliance. Those things may happen through negligence, but this factory cranks all those aspects Up to Eleven on purpose, until the place is an enclosed Crapsack World.
People are walking zombies there, and may die at any moment, while the cold, lifeless (or are they) machines don't stop moving. For some people, death may be a release. Those at the top either live fat off their profits, or are suffering from the effects of the environment as well, likely going insane slowly, if they're not already dead. And expect various amounts of smog, smoke, and toxic waste being spewed outside.
This trope started when mainstream factories didn't have anything in the way of child labor laws or occupational safety standards, and then people were horrified by the meat factory descriptions given in the book The Jungle, and infamous Real Life incidents like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.
Not to be confused with the band Fear Factory.
- The Factory in stories about Yukkuris in the Touhou setting. Here, the horror is not in the working conditions, but in the horrific treatment of the yukkuris produced there.
- In FREAKIN GENSOKYO, instead of a Yukkuri factory we have the cyborg fairy foundry, complete with vats of glowing slime and hordes of bloodthirsty robots.
- Magical Girl Star Reverie/Akiko Yamaguchi's newest enemies, The Nightmare Factory, have these all over the world, pumping out Monsters of the Week.
- In the pony fanfiction Rainbow Factory, based on the song by WoodenToaster, the top levels of the factory are described as this, although it's more because they're rendering children down for their colors to manufacture rainbows.
- An entire city (at least) is like this in the Bad Future of Meet the Robinsons.
- The Chop Shop in Robots is this, both in appearance and in how it's seen in-world. The fact that the owner looks like a female robot Satan doesn't help one bit. Nor does Tom Waits' "Underground."
- Swedish animated movie Resan Till Melonia has orphans forced to work in a Nightmarish Factory that covers an entire island. Kid Hero Ferdinand has escaped from there.
- The characters in 9 make their way to a dilapidated version of this over the course of most of the movie. The villain is actually a magitek robot driven crazy by running the factory in the first place.
- The lower classes in Metropolis worked in a place like this, toiling like slaves to maintain the dangerous machinery that allowed those on the surface to live in luxury. To drive the point home, the movie explicitly compares the factories to Human Sacrifice by showing a giant machine turning into a shrine to Moloch and back again.
- The Petpak pet food factory in the Razorback certainly qualifies as one.
- Through its use of cinematography and lighting, The Machinist makes an ordinary machine shop seem this way.
- In a short segment in Head, The Monkees are being walked through a factory - as the guide extols the good life it brings, Davy keeps seeing unsettling scenes - an employee drinks blood from a spigot, a desk worker's head drops off - but the others impatiently tell him to keep up.
- The setting of the slasher film Hazmat.
- Elysium has the factory in which Max works.
- The phrase "dark satanic mills" was coined by poet William Blake in his poem Jerusalem (1808) to describe the factories of the industrial revolution.
- The meat packing industry in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle can be considered as the Trope Namer. That's more of a modern interpretation, which is, ironically, what the author intended. Sinclair, who was a committed socialist, originally wanted to showcase the flagrant abuse of workers, dangerous working conditions and owners' complete disregard of everything except their profits. Society of the day, however, latched on the (quite colorful, true) description of the industry's products, and unsanitary conditions in which they were made. The resulting outcry basically led to establishment of the Food and Drug Administration. As Sinclair himself said:
I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.
- The West German Steel Mill in Günther Wallraff's Ganz Unten (The Lowest of the Low) was described to be a true hell factory for the workers. Just wondering how it may have been in East Germany...
- 19th century Swedish writer Viktor Rydberg wrote the poem "Den nya grottesången" ("The New Grotti Song"; the title is a reference to a magical mill in Norse Mythology that could mill gold out of nothing) to draw attention to the horrors of the industry of his era. Even little children are forced to work at the Grotti Mill, and the workers don't get food or water but are simply worked until they drop dead.
- The narrator in Stephen King's story "Trucks" sees these in his imagination when he ponders how the eponymous machines can possibly reproduce:
....if I close my eyes I can see the production lines in Detroit and Dearborn and Youngstown and Mackinac, new trucks being put together by blue-collars who no longer even punch a clock but only drop and are replaced.
- The demon-run factory in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Anne".
- Chemical Worker's Song; AKA Process Man by Great Big Sea.
- The Animated Music Video for the aforementioned Rainbow Factory features a factory that resembles a Steel Mill, but with liquid rainbow instead of liquid metal.
- Patti Smith's Piss Factory is about her early manual job on an industrial production line. On top of the physical discomfort and repetitive manual labour, it becomes nightmarish in a very mundane sort of way. The everyday mundanity is the nightmare.
- The Cog Is Dead have Burn it Down, set in a small town where the only work is in the factory. The conditions are deplorable, so one night when the boss is at home, they burn the place down. Subverted when it turns out the factory was literally necessary for their very survival...
- Certain hive-cities and Forge Worlds in Warhammer 40,000. It's not certain how bad any given Forge World or Hive Factory actually is, but given the techno-gothic construction techniques and the Imperium's propensity for slave labor and cyborg mind-control, it can't be very nice.
- Just to illustrate, one of the Ciaphas Cain novels (which tend to paint the Imperium in nicer tones), has Cain find himself on a Forge World. An announcement for workers is heard at one point, reminding them that in just a few decades of labour they might afford themselves a cybernetic body upgrade that would render the ambient air more or less breathable.
- Their Chaotic counterparts, Hell Forges, even more so. For added fun, since many of the factories of Chaos reside inside The Warp, they can manufacture actual nightmares, or at least turn them into guns and tanks.
- The entirety of Autochthonia, Realm of Brass and Shadow, in Exalted. It's the interior of a machine-god, and it's large enough to be a self-contained world.
- The Quiet Furnace from Magic: The Gathering is an interesting case. While the factory is run by the Phyrexians, and its purpose is to burn the dead and reforge their metallic bodies into more Phyrexians, its leader Urabrask allows Mirran Resistance to take refuge there.
- Classical Phyrexia was a much straighter example, since it lacked the benevolent traits infused by the inclusion of significant non-black mana, especially red.
- Iron Kingdoms: Ever wonder what a factory that makes combat units out of machine parts and large chunks of dead bodies looks like? Presumably the workforce doesn't care because the Cryx presumably use those same cyborg zombies for a workforce.
- The Umbral Realm of The Scar is made up of a whole bunch of these in Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Legend has it was once a realm devoted to the promise of cities; then the Wyrm got in, and it slowly turned into an eternal paean to the worst excesses and horrors of the Industrial Revolution.
- Hadestown has the Underworld reimagined as a mining town where the dead slowly lose all sense of self and memory as they toil endlessly in the factories and mines while building an endless wall for Hades. The set is designed to resemble a massive, rusty oil drum that everyone is trapped in.
- Every Glukkon factory in Oddworld.
- The Fallout 3 DLC The Pitt is set in the industrial ruins of Pittsburgh, PA, which are ruled by ruthless Slavers up top and infested with pollution-mutated Trogs below.
- The infamous factory level in Kirby 64.
- Kirby's Return to Dream Land's Egg Engines would count too.
- Sunless Skies has the Brabazon Workworld. Imagine the worst excesses of Victorian industry, and then imagine them with the power to ensure that for every hour that passes outside the factory, an entire year passes for its workers.
- In Alice: Madness Returns, the Hatter's Domain is this after being taken over by the March Hare and Dormy.
- The penultimate stage in Half-Life 2, The Factory, is an alien version of this.
- There's also the antiquated waste processing area in the original Half-Life, which has pounding crusher pistons and glowing tanks of acid.
- Stage 5 of Hard Corps: Uprising can be this. After sneaking in through what appears to be an ordinary (and poorly lit) base, the heroes are attacked by mechanical monsters that are constantly being dumped out onto conveyor belts. When defeated, they fall backwards and explode into pieces that can damage a character. The boss is a flying alien-looking fetus thing inside a case with mechanical arms and weapons attached to it. Bahamut experiences the real 'Nightmare' part of this trope. Playing as Krystal (and reading her storyline loading screen after this stage) reveals that those mechanical monsters used to be people, and that she could see Bahamut was visibly disturbed about gunning down what may have been be his ex-comrades.
- The second half of Stage 3 of Contra: Shattered Soldier also fits this. After you have destroyed the small Helicopter Blender, you enter the factory, facing the grinding machine and the chubby alien thing that produces inanimate molds. Defeat it and it gets into grinding machine along with the molds, getting grinded into the grinding machine. Next, you will see an alien snake (looks like Devil Dragon Emperor Java) that spits the hazardous bubbles as well as poisonous acids. Beat the alien snake, and two rolling turrets following it, and you will face a giant robot that breaks the wall and chases you.
- The pipe factory in Beneath a Steel Sky, where the Corrupt Corporate Executive in charge doesn't even bother to provide a radiation suit for the employee working with the nuclear reactor. Unsurprisingly, the employee in question is later found dead from radiation poisoning.
- Grunty Industries of Banjo-Tooie. To make matters worse for Banjo and Kazooie, the parts, factory workers, and drones all want to kill them.
- Quake I: The runic-themed levels have this feel to them. They feel like a cross between a molten-steel plant and a steel-based castle with runes, skulls, and crucifixion emblems adorning the walls and doors. The hot liquid behaves like lava, and the motif has the feel of an underworld villain's lair.
- Quake II: The Processing Plant in, where you get to watch your comrades get turned into Strogg chow. The main objective of the level is to hit the shutdown button for every single one of the processing machines. This concept was expanded in QuakeIV into the Stroyent Production Facility, explaining that victims are liquefied into essential nutrients for the Strogg.
- The Strogg Medical Facility is one of these, despite the name. Captured human soldiers are put through Unwilling Roboticization where they're doped with steroids with massive, dirty needles, dismembered, and fused with cybernetic limbs and tools to make them into Strogg soldiers. You get to see this in First-Person, too (although for the PC Kain, it's a Mid-Season Upgrade and level in Badass that gives him 25% more of everything since the mind-control implant in his skull was never fully activated). The really unfortunate prisoners are subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture as intense as having their organs removed to see how long they survive.
- The aforementioned Stroyent factory arc in the same act continues the factory theme with corpses being liquefied into essential nutrients. There's a room with giant cogs and discarded piles of human bones to really emphasize the point. Subpar cyborgs also get discarded here in the basement acting like Zombies.
- Smithy's Weapons Factory from Super Mario RPG is a cross between this and Ominous Floating Castle.
- Cruella De Vil's toy factory at the penultimate level of 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue, which manufactures the evil robotic toys you've been fighting throughout the game. The place is replete with several types of dangerous crushing devices and unprotected conveyor belts. And let's not forget that giant "super-gloop" cannon that Cruella uses on you in the level after that.
- Obsidian has a powerless factory holding a massive robotic spider, a level that IS a character's nightmare, which you get to experience firsthand thanks to nanobots who built it. The goal of the area is to repair said spider by solving puzzles based on an alternate version of the four elements, and by extension bring the spider to life. The person who first had this nightmare said that it ended horribly for him, and you get a front row seat to this ending as the spider crushes everything in its path and decides to eat you alive. But, being a dream, you are simply sent to the next realm.
- In Donkey Kong 64, there's Frantic Factory. It's set inside K. Rool's island fortress and is inhabited by killer robots, toys that attack the Kongs, and dangerous machines. Oh, and Chunky Kong's held captive there and the boss is a massive Jack in the Box thrown in the "rejected toys" bin.
- In Super Mario World: Piranha Island, Blood Muncher takes place in a hellish factory owned by the Piranha Plants and Munchers. Mario has to ride upon the gears and avoid falling into the deadly lava. However, catchy remixes of Bloodlines and Beginning play in this level and invigorate the player with their catchy beats.
- The Magitek Factory in Final Fantasy VI is a sprawling factory producing Mini-Mecha and killer robots out of machine parts and magic forcibly (and improperly) drained from Espers.
- The fifth Palace in Persona 5 is a mix between this trope and a space station. Robotic drones (representing how Palace owner Kunikazu Okumura views his employees) are forced into endless mind-numbing work with only a few seconds of break time. Whenever one of them breaks down from the stress, their body is molten down and turned into fuel. His actual factory in the real world is a less extreme version, having harsh work conditions and poor safety practices.
- The Family Guy episode "The Road to the North Pole" had Santa's workshop turn into this after being unable to keep up with presents to a world with such a huge population.
- The Futurama episode "Attack of the Killer App" starts with them going to an entire planet that's like this. Also, Santa's workshop. (Of course, in Futurama, we have a Bad Santa.)
- The Simpsons: The arts and crafts workshop at Kamp Krusty in the eponymously-titled Season 4 premiere is literally this: Nothing more than a sweatshop where Mr. Black and his stooges (Dolph, Jimbo and Kearney) abuse and torture the kids, make them work long hours and far beyond exhaustion, threaten them with bodily harm and rake them across the coals for even tiny, otherwise unnoticeable mistakes in their work as they make cheap goods to sell on the black market.
- Parodied in The Venture Bros.: in Dean's hallucination in the Season 2 finale, he frees enslaved orphans forced to turn a mill so that their misery can fuel the power of the Insect King (a robot/insect version of the Monarch)