Trypanophobia in Horror: The Anatomy of the Needle Kill

Trypanophobia in Horror Movies: The Anatomy of the Needle Kill

Horror movies love to play on our real-life fears, because hey what’s the point then, am I right? Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns is a great example. Then there’s Gerontophobia, where you know as well as I do that the elderly can make Pennywise look like preschool nursery rhymes. But today, we’re gonna talk about good old-fashioned Trypanophobia, ya’ know the fear of needles, which seems to be more rampant among society now than in years prior and no one seems to know why. It’s estimated that a quarter of adults today have some sort of needle fear ranging from mild to extreme and the horror genre takes no prisoners in capitalizing on that phobia with viewers whether it’s intentional or not. As the saying goes, or at least I always throw it out there, “Horror is what you make of it,” and personally speaking here, I am goddamn terrified of medical needles so whenever I see a syringe being used as a weapon of death, much like how I view them now even though I realize it’s totally irrational, I cringe like a mother fucker.

The irony in all of this is that I’m a trained Phlebotomist and never had an issue with needles up until a few years ago- right around pandemic happenings. As someone with a bonified anxiety/panic disorder and also a person who loves to analyze everything to death, I concluded that all the fear, uncertainty, and various images of needles shown across the media board may have certainly contributed to it. Tattoo needles? No problem, and seeing as how my husband is a tattoo artist and we own our own shop, that would be a disastrous situation. However, you come at me with a medical syringe, I better be dying or you might just end up being crucified with those needles like this crooked-ass cop from Tales From The Hood who rightfully had this shit coming.

Anyway, the use of needles as an instrument of woe and murder in the horror genre is quite ironic as for the most part, this tool is used to save lives while in the horror world, they love to utilize it as a symbol of death. For people with needle phobias, these scenes can be both traumatizing and even more horrific than intended. Or for some, it can be a path of healing if they’re trying to conquer their fear. In any case, deaths by a syringe in horror films are some of the most terrifying and brutal unique kinds of deaths in horror history and I’m not just saying that because I myself, have a needle phobia, but because before I developed this fucked up fear, I would still agree with this statement. The art of the horror scare loves to exploit real-life fears and no one gets a pass.

One of the most obvious traumatizing examples of needles in horror is, of course, the needle pit in Saw II where ex-drug addict Amanda is thrashing about in a sea of hypodermic needles. No death here BUT this scene is just about as uncomfortable and painful to watch as it gets, with, or without a needle phobia. Even worse, is if you’re someone in recovery.


Speaking of hypodermic needles, arguably a more recognizable prick of death is that of Taryn’s in Dream Warriors where Freddy plunges not one, but eight syringes of lawd knows what into the recovering teen junkie. I don’t care who you are, if you didn’t cringe in the slightest upon seeing this, you might be a sociopath.

Then of course there’s Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan where Homes not only rapes Rennie of her virgin sobriety but also attempts the physical act. But not before Jason takes the druggie thug’s own needle and stabs his right through the chest before consummating the despicable act. Imagine being such a piece of shit you make Jason look like the good guy? That’s one needle death I gleefully enjoyed.

As cringy as those are, the ones seen in actual medical settings are the ones that make me squirm the most. Perhaps the biggest one for me that makes me want to literally get into a fetal position is Regan’s Arteriogram procedure in The Exorcist. This movie, with some that would consider containing some of the most fucked up scenes in horror history, doesn’t phase me a bit. As a matter of fact, I laugh every time Pazuzu Regan says vile and filthy things to the priests, much like Beetlejuice would.

But this, no thank you a million times.

As messed up as they all are, the very first needle death I ever saw was at the hand of Michael Myers taking down Candy Striper Alice and Dr. Mixter in Halloween II. Set in again, a hospital, this one is just all kinds of fucked up. Everytime I think of the use of needles in horror, Alice stumbling upon a dead Dr. Mixter in his chair with a syringe stuck in his eyeball while meeting the same fate as Myers plunges a squirt full of air into her skull is an image that stays tried and true inside my newly formed needle phobia brain.

The things I blog about because of my love for you nostalgic nuggets. Now that I’m stressed, you’ll have to excuse me as I go pop an Ativan for my anxiety.


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