The sight of men and women changing into something new, different, and — albeit rarely — better has transfixed audiences for decades. Usually gory, frequently scary, and occasionally hilarious, here are some of cinema's greatest moments of mutant transformation.


SCANNERS
The first time David Cronenberg blew minds — his characters' and ours. Featuring some astonishing lip-acting by Michael Ironside.

ROBOCOP
You know when a hobo tries to scam change by offering to clean your window with a rag he's been wiping his ass with for weeks? This is, like, a billion times worse.

THE FLY
Hey, it's Cronenberg again, putting really gross shit on screen in a way that always feels like more than gore for gore's sake. (But that whole fingernail business still creeps me out.)

THE TOXIC AVENGER
Well, yeah. He's here, too.

CLASH OF THE TITANS
This mutation isn't science's fault, and given that it's all about Greek gods, maybe this is pre-human. But I don't really care. It's kinda old-school cool.

ALTERED STATES
I only saw this once, as a kid, and I remember being freaked out at this whole "Take On Me"-like drug trip. Oh, and there were nipples. Now I know that it was a Ken Russell movie, and they all have nipples. So I win.

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
This looks a little quaint now, in this era of CG wizardry, but this is one of the first times such elaborate effects were placed under such a spotlight. No shadows to hide in: just two minutes of make-up and prosthetic brilliance.

AKIRA
Who do you do when animating a nasty-huge rampaging mutation? Refuse to be constrained by budget or feasibility of fabrication, for one thing (yay, cartoons!). And that's how you end up with a crazy mountain of Tetsuo tech-meat.

Great Moments in Crazy Human Mutation

THE INCREDIBLE HULK
It's almost as if with every generation of CG technology, filmmakers have to take another stab at this jolly green giant. This is, naturally, the best iteration of the Bruce Banner-to-Hulk transformation to date. But give it time...

THE THING
THAT DUDE'S HEAD IS TOTALLY WALKING ALL OVER THE FLOOR!

MIMIC
Guillermo del Toro has a way of reaching into your subconscious, pulling out what you didn't know really freaked you out, sprinkling a little Adobo on it, and then putting it up on screen. I mean, roaches that evolve into giant human-mimicking subway hunters? Come on, man. That's not fair to a New Yorker.

TOKYO GORE POLICE
When all else fails, one can always count on the Japanese to be literal. Yes, this film is set in Tokyo. Holy shit, is there gore. And there's someone with a badge, so I guess that qualifies as "police." Oh, and wantonly, unreservedly bloody: Japanese pulp filmmakers are always good for that, too.