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Sickening Slaughterhouse

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An abhorrent abattoir. Butchering animals and processing them into meat products is a messy business. In fiction, however, this is often played up to even more disturbing levels; most meatpacking plants in fiction seem to be far less sanitary than one would hope for a place that prepares food, shockingly neglectful towards the workers, inhumane in their treatment of livestock, careless in disposing of waste products, or possibly all of the above.

This trope is usually used to illustrate that the people in charge of the place are not nice people - meat apparently being a close third to munitions and pharmaceuticals on the list of industries to which Corrupt Corporate Executives flock - along with promising plenty of Nausea Fuel. And if The Mafia or some other criminal syndicate is in charge of the joint, expect the place to be used as a gruesome means of Disposing of a Body.

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Expect plenty of Gorn when one of these places pops up.

This is at risk of becoming a Discredited Trope as modern slaughterhouses are required by both their very nature and by law to be as ridiculously clean as possible. It's not unheard of for a person to walk outside a slaughterhouse and smell nothing but bleach and cleaning agents. As for their wastewater runoff, that's a different story.

A piece of useless trivia: an open-air slaughterhouse is called shambles.

A sub-trope of Nightmarish Factory, and often found hand-in-hand with Mystery Meat. This place easily lends itself to a Slaughterhouse Fight. A Straw Vegetarian might well say all plants of this nature are like this.


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Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Preacher: Odin Quincannon runs the meatpacking plant that's a major source of income to the people of Salvation. We see little of how the plant's run day-to-day, but Quincannon is undoubtedly a depraved, corrupt little monster who buys off local politicians and is a card-carrying KKK member. And then there's what he's secretly doing with the meat in his private shed...
  • In Tintin book Tintin in America a slaughterhouse along the Upton Sinclair's The Jungle style...

    Films — Animation 
  • In A Close Shave, Preston's dog food facility.
  • In Chicken Run, the chicken pie factory. The poultry are surrounded by high fence that is meant to invoke prisons, and guarded by Angry Guard Dogs. The pie-making machine itself is the stuff of nightmares, with living chickens entering on one end and freshly baked pies coming out on the other.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
    • In the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Grandpa Sawyer used to work in a slaughterhouse, before changes in technology either made him obsolete or freaked him out too much to continue working (most of his family seems to be a bit high strung, possibly due to inbreeding). This drove his family into cannibalism.
    • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 has the family turning an abandoned theme park into a giant Cannibal Larder. A character notices blood dribbling from drywall in the funhouse, kicks the wall open, and we're treated to a lovely shot of lights spilling out onto the ground.
    • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). The Hewitts operate out of an abandoned (but, thanks to them, not disused) example.
  • The Naked Gun has a chase scene inside a hot dog factory, where the bad guy falls into one of the vats. This sets up a Brick Joke during the scenes at the baseball game later, where everyone keeps finding body parts inside their footlongs.
  • In Razorback, the Petpak facility, which doubles as a Nightmarish Factory.
  • Queenshithe Slaughterhouse in Sherlock Holmes (2009), one of several businesses owned by Big Bad Lord Blackwood, which causes Holmes to remark that he's "had a hand in every business ruinous to the soul". Blackwood attempts to kill Irene Adler by handcuffing her to a Conveyor Belt of Doom which will deliver her through several flamethrowers and into a band saw, and is using the bellies of his pigs to manufacture cyanide gas as part of his plan for a mass assassination of politicians.
  • The Midnight Meat Train features a serial killer who's a butcher at the local meatpacker's in his day job, and who applies his work technique to his murders. Clive Barker, who wrote the original short story it's based on, meant the disturbing imagery as a way of explaining why he's a vegetarian (and his queasiness towards big cities).

    Jokes 

    Literature 
  • Hannibal: Mason Verger is heir to a meatpacking industry in Baltimore, and it's made abundantly clear that he's a sadist and a child molester. The novel raises the possibility that the abysmal safety conditions in his factories led to the public being exposed to trace amounts of his workers' flesh (contrasting with Dr. Lecter, who takes care to prepare human meat exquisitely before he feeds it to people).
  • The Jungle: The plant Jurgis works at (with most of his family). The first half of the book consists mostly of showing how bad the conditions in the plant are. Workers who are wounded on the factory floor get no medical attention (or fired if they can't keep working), nothing is ever appropriately cleaned, and one kid gets locked in after hours and is found the next morning, dead and covered in rat bite marks. As this was the book that exposed the unsanitary conditions of the contemporary meat-processing industry to the public, it probably qualifies as the Trope Maker, or at least the Trope Codifier.
  • You don't want to know what really goes on in the slaughterhouse in Matthew Stokoe's Cows.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Most villains in Angel hang around in the obligatory Abandoned Warehouse, but the place where a possessed Cordelia goes to give birth to Jasmine is hung with sinister meat hooks.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). Our introduction to Vicious involves one of his minions being being marched through a storehouse with rows of giant tuna laid out on the floor. As the minion has messed up he nervously eyes the various hooks and other implements of the trade, but as it turns out Vicious uses a katana to off him.
  • One episode of Monk has Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer, and Disher searching for a missing councilwoman. Their search leads them to the warehouse headquarters of "Hot Dog Czar" George Gionopolis. While the building isn't a slaughterhouse, it is certainly gross enough to qualify for this trope. Most of the workers are smoking, the "meat" isn't beef or pork, just..."meat", and not even meat treated with care, as George approves a bag of dogs with a smell that makes him physically gag, and one worker uses hot dogs he had just dropped on the ground. The kicker is George's motive, and why the cops are even there. George hated the councilwoman to her core...just because she wanted them to induce common sense health concerns, like lids on the condiment trays and putting "meat" in quotation marks.
  • The Architects sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus, where John Cleese plays a hapless architect who has confused the purpose and intent of a luxury residential development — with an abattoir. Cleese describes, with pride, an apartment block that will seek to slaughter its occupants in the most humane way possible, emphasizing an awful lot of incidental Gorn. Brought to a halt by the consternation of the interview panel, he apologizes: "Oh. I hadn't fully divined your attitude towards the tenants. You see I mainly design slaughter houses." To be fair, he does make a point of mentioning how comfortable the tenants would be before reaching the rotating knives, and the measures he would take to ensure proper sanitation. If not for his misapprehension concerning the tenants, it could well have been an aversion.

    Video Games 
  • Rupture Farms from Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, Oddworld's largest meat factory and manufacturer of such products as paramite pies, scrab cakes and meech munchies (no longer available since the meeches were hunted to extinction). There's No OSHA Compliance, the Mudoken employees are treated like slaves and kept in line with beatings from the security guards, and the Bad Boss who runs it is secretly planning to butcher his employees and sell their meat as "Mudoken Pops" because the regular product lines just aren't appealing to customers as much as they used to.
  • "The Meat King's Party", the second mission of Hitman: Contracts. As if the meat plant itself wasn't disturbing enough, Agent 47 is sent there while the owners are hosting a freaking fetish party where everyone is smoking opium. And they're throwing the party in celebration of having just won a major lawsuit, where the owner's brother was put on trial on suspicion of having kidnapped a teenage girl. Your objective is to kill the Fat Bastard owner and his Amoral Attorney and either save the girl or fetch proof that she is dead. The "proof" would be her severed arm, as her mutilated corpse is hanging from the ceiling of a backroom complete with a shrine to the victim that implies she was stalked for a while before being kidnapped and killed. And the song that's playing in that room... The meat plant itself is filled with animal carcasses lying around in a very unhygienic fashion, and for some reason there's a flayed dead horse in a hallway near the entrance that implies the party people have been torturing animals For the Evulz. Even the dialogue is creepy, the mission is set in Romania but the guards use phrases that would sound butchered and awkward in Romanian (like the infamous "I now feel your flesh").
  • Warcraft: In Warcraft III, the Slaughterhouse is the Undead building that produces Abominations (reanimated giants made of multiple corpses sewn together) and Meat Wagons (siege weapons that catapult rotting corpses into buildings and units for huge damage).
  • The eponymous plant in Adult Swim Games Sausage Factory.
  • The titular machine in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Not only is it a filthy, bloody, kilometric slaughterhouse with a raving lunatic of a controller, but it's alive, it plotting to pull a Mercy Kill on the entirety of humanity, crafts Pig Men out of still living humans and intends to become a god by way of industrialized Human Sacrifice.
  • The Factory in Digital Devil Saga 2 is actually very clean. The disgusting part comes from how the meat is made from people. The basement is a prison full of people, still alive, including children, ready to be processed.
  • The demonic plane of Stygia in Nexus War games is dotted with these.
  • Rothwild Slaughterhouse, the first level of the Dishonored DLC "The Knife of Dunwall", qualifies. The classic slaughterhouse Gorn is accentuated by the fact that this slaughterhouse is for whales, and in order to extract the most value possible, parts are harvested while the animal is still alive. The proprietor is also brutally suppressing a labor dispute, and most of the employees still working are ruthless to the point of "accidentally" killing a co-worker they suspect of being pro-union.
  • Psychonauts has the Meat Circus, which combines this with Circus of Fear.
  • In Criminal Case: Grimsborough, the case "The Grim Butcher", Raoul Coletti's butcher shop is horrifically messy and unsanitary. There's dried blood caking the floors and walls, and there's junk all over the place. And all that's before you come across the corpse of a teenage girl that's been gutted.
    • Even worse, this is the third case of the series. Pretty Simple were not messing around.
      Jones: This place is COVERED with blood! How are we supposed to figure out which is pork and which is woman?!

    Webcomics 

    Web Video 
  • Exaggerated in the case of Happy Meat Farms from the Muse ARG, which performs grotesque genome experiments on farm animals to get more meat. This is before they start experimenting on humans (mostly unwitting volunteers and noncompliant employees) and using them for meat as well. Unsurprisingly, this has led to a number of people falling ill due to consumption of their goods. And then we find out that they think humans need to be subjugated and are now planning to bring about a New World Order.

 
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Going to the Slaughterhouse

Cow Girl takes her cows in for the night, reminding them that one of them is going to the slaughterhouse the next day.

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