The Most Disturbing Moments From Cabinet Of Curiosities

Acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro unlocks his "Cabinet Of Curiosities" and invites the viewer to behold a nightmarish menagerie of terror. Across eight episodes, ghoulish monsters come to life and worm their way into your brain and inspire nightmares to last a lifetime. Each episode is directed by a different filmmaker, who brings their perspective to the screen. Directors Guillermo Navarro, Panos Cosmatos, Vincenzo Natali, Catherine Hardwicke, David Prior, Ana Lily Amirpour, Keith Thomas, and Jennifer Kent delight in the terrifying and showcase the marvels of horror storytelling.

Whether it's literal monsters or the decay of humanity, "Cabinet of Curiosities" savors the disturbing. It's not only that the series fuels our nightmares with alien invasions and lotion monsters. There are also razor-sharp discussions about our obsession with beauty, greed, and grief that curdle and chill the blood. Gather 'round Del Toro's cabinet and behold the many grotesque wonders kept therein.

Dottie the possessed

In "Lot 36," Tim Blake Nelson stars as Nick Appleton, a racist who purchases a dead guy's old storage unit. When he picks through the possessions, Nick discovers a host of Nazi photographs and other memorabilia as well as some occult items. A few of those witchy pieces include a seance table and a stack of spell books.

As the story goes, the old man (James Neely) once ran in occult circles during his time in Germany. There, he used one of the volumes to conjure and make a pact with a demon. The ritual went awry, and his sister disappeared. It turns out that his sister has been held hostage inside a secret room located in the back of his storage unit, her body bound within a pentacle made of red sand.

Upon having the items appraised, Nick enlists appraiser Roland (Sebastian Roché) to search for the missing fourth book in the storage unit. Always disregarding the rules, Nick unwittingly disturbs the pentacle and unleashes the demon that still resides in Dottie's deteriorating body. With tentacles for a torso (think Medusa on steroids), a possessed Dottie devours Roland alive and slurps down his body like a plate of spaghetti. It's magnificently graphic and disturbing.

Zombie torso

Bloodthirsty rats aren't the only deranged things in "Graveyard Rats." Grave robber Masson (David Hewlett) eyes the gold teeth of a dead rich man. When he goes to loot the coffin, Masson discovers that a horde of rats is dragging the body down into a series of intricate tunnels. Seeing only dollar signs, Masson sheds his jacket and dives in after the body.

His search takes him deep within the earth, and he soon comes across a giant, long-toothed rat queen, but that's not the most disturbing part. Masson scampers away, crawling further into the belly of the beast, so to speak. He then tumbles into a pit of human bones, where he finds a sparkling medallion hanging around the neck of a corpse.

In his greed, he attempts to remove the medallion, but the corpse's torso comes alive in true "The Walking Dead" fashion. "Mine, mine!" it shrieks. The zombie torso pounces on Masson's chest and chomps off his ear. The special effects from Michael Innanen and his team are top-notch and give the frightening moment a harrowing, realistic feel. It's a moment that worms its way into the back of your brain and lives there rent-free. You'll never be able to forget it.

Mischievous rats

"Graveyard Rats" concludes with one of the most disturbing moments in all of TV. Once Masson escapes the clutches of the rat monster and the zombie, he scurries further up a tunnel toward a shimmering light. He's close to breaking free, but his hopes are dashed once he realizes he's now inside a different coffin that's perfectly sealed and beneath layers of dirt.

He screams for help, but no one can hear him. A mischief of rats hears his cries and funnels into the coffin. Masson attempts to brush them away. It's all for naught, however, and rats continue climbing into the enclosed space until Masson is covered in the furry rodents. The camera pans away, as his cries crescendo into a blood-curdling cacophony.

Sometime later, a pair of fellow grave robbers dig up the grave and find his cold, dead body. When you think that's all there is, rats claw their way out of Masson's mouth. One by one, they slither out of his stomach and scamper away into the tunnels. You may have to pick your jaw off the floor after this one. It's a dreadful sight, indeed.

Invasion of the body snatcher

"The Autopsy" features some of the spookiest imagery in the entire anthology so far. An explosion that kills several miners leads investigators to order autopsies on all the bodies. There are suspicions that a bomb caused the explosion, but they aren't quite sure yet. Dr. Carl Winters (F. Murray Abraham) undertakes the autopsies and discovers that several bodies have been drained of blood. This raises concerns that something far more diabolical is at play.

During the night, the body of missing person Joe Allen (Luke Roberts) reanimates and lurches from his metal slab. Carl's inkling was correct, but he could never have predicted an alien life form had crashed to Earth in a meteor shower. The creature escapes through Joe's mouth, takes Carl hostage, and proceeds to cut himself open. Or rather, it performs surgery on Joe's body and begins the process of transferring its real form into Carl.

However, the creature forgot one crucial thing: It needs Carl's body fully intact. To essentially save the world, Carl punctures his eardrums and eyes and slits his own throat so he can bleed out. That way, the creature no longer has a viable host and will surely die. "The Autopsy" is as disturbing as they come.

Alo Glo

Alo Glo is the perfect lotion. It not only cleanses the body but transforms the user from top to bottom. "The Outside" follows an odd duck named Stacey (Kate Micucci), who finds it hard to connect to other people. Her husband, Keith (Martin Starr), adores her, but she wants (and needs) way more.

When she's invited to a Secret Santa party hosted by her co-worker Gina (Kylee Evans), she's gifted a box of Alo Glo. The other partygoers gush and lather on more of the product. Just to fit in, Stacey follows suit, but her face quickly turns a bright red, indicating she may be allergic to it. She laments to her husband that out of all the things for her to be allergic to, it had to be this one lotion.

However, Stacey continues to use the Alo Glo. Her face flakes and blisters, but she just can't stop. She's determined to see it through and undergo a complete body transformation. One afternoon, the boxes of lotion burst open, and Alo Glo flows onto the floor, eventually creating a life-sized goo monster. Stacey discovers the creature, but she's unfazed by it. She begins kissing and caressing the goo. Needless to say, she's reached the point of no return. Later, she bathes with the goo and allows it to enter her body. It's almost orgasmic. It's perfectly weird and wonderful in all the right ways.


In "The Outside," Stacey wants to be liked. She'd do almost anything to become friends with her co-workers, even slather her face with Alo Glo, the best skin care product on the market. She would go as far as covering her entire body and watching her skin bubble and burst. Against her husband Keith's desperate pleas, she continues using the lotion.

As her body devolves into a sickly, red-stained form, Stacey's obsession starts affecting her mind and ability to grasp reality. She imagines TV commercials talking to her and takes countless days off work to let the lotion do its magic. Soon, she discovers an oozing lotion monster in the basement. It seems she's crossed the point of no return. When she emerges, coated in a thick layer of lotion, her husband freaks out, so she stabs him in the head with a scalpel.

Keith removes the instrument, and blood pours down his bewildered face. Stacey darts away to grab a towel but returns with an ax. And she gives him 40 whacks, so to speak. She then goes upstairs to bathe in lotion. It seems Stacey takes her self-care quite literally.


"Pickman's Model" follows art student Richard Pickman (Crispin Glover), or Dickie to those close to him, who has a knack for the macabre in his work. His paintings resemble the darkest and most troubling nightmares, the kind that keep you awake at night. The creatures seem too real, too affecting, and appear to pop out of their frames.

Fellow art student Will Thurber (Ben Barnes) befriends him and expresses deep admiration for Pickman's portraits. There's something off about the whole thing, however. Upon learning that one of Pickman's ancestors, a supposed witch named Lavinia, was burned at the stake, Will becomes tortured by the paintings.

And he has the most frightening dreams. First, he dreams that he's surrounded by Lavinia and her occult comrades as they're seated for a feast. Later, Will has an altogether more horrifying dream. He's bound to his bed, and Lavinia leaps onto his chest and whips out a hacksaw. She guffaws and proceeds to sever his head. Blood spurts across the sheets. It feels way too real. When he awakens with a start, the nightmare seems to bleed into reality. The viewer has been warned.

The Feast

Years later, Will has married Rebecca (Oriana Leman), and the two have an adoring son named James (Remy Flint). It's the perfect family living the perfect life, or so they think. Time has a way of regurgitating the past. Pickman first sends Will one of his latest works, and then, he shows up at the local art gallery to display a series of paintings and portraits, much to Will's dissatisfaction.

During a personal meeting, Pickman shows off more of his work to Will. The paintings worm their way deep inside Will's mind, and he draws a pistol and fires a shot into Pickman's chest. In his final moments, he invites the real-life creatures that have inspired his work to reveal themselves, one of which is a mutant beast that emerges from a well and drags Pickman's body down below.

Sometime later, Pickman's work has been hung in the gallery, and Rebecca has the misfortune of peeping at a few paintings. Will frantically asks her to leave and shows her the door. When he returns that evening, Will discovers the most gruesome sight. Rebecca's eyes have been gouged out and blood flows from her wounds. "Soon, we will feast," she says before suggesting that she has cooked up their son like pot roast. Will goes to the oven, opens the door, and beholds his son's broiling head. As far as the show's boldest moment goes, this takes the cake.

Jenkins the rat

"Dreams in Witch House" is the tragic tale of a young girl named Epperley (Daphne Hoskins) who dies from a mysterious illness. Her brother, Walter (Rupert Grint), spends his life searching for a way to bridge existence and the afterlife. Along with his buddy, Frank (Ismael Cruz Cordova), he joins a spiritualist society to study and document paranormal activity.

At the end of his rope, Walter befriends two unsavory types at a local pub who tip him off to a drug called "liquid gold" that can transport its user to the forest of lost souls. It's the most likely location of Walter's dead sister. He takes the potion and immediately experiences a distortion of reality and finds his sister in the forest. Throughout the episode, Walter's research takes him to the former home of a witch named Keziah Mason, who was hanged for practicing witchcraft.

Keziah isn't the only creature to be feared, though. She has a companion, a rat named Jenkins Brown. Jenkins has his own motives for attacking Walter. He wants his body. In the terrifying conclusion, Jenkins climbs inside Walter's body and tears through the poor kid's chest (ala "Alien") and then, takes complete control of his motor functions. Walter's identity fades into dust, and Jenkins goes about life as though nothing has happened. Down to the creature design, Jenkins is just a deranged specimen.

Face melting

In "The Viewing," wealthy recluse Lionel Lassiter (Peter Weller) invites four strangers to view a rare item. The guests are none the wiser about what's going on, yet their curiosity can't keep them away. The guests include acclaimed author Guy Landon (Steve Agee) and spiritual guru Targ Reinhhard (Michael Therriault). The episode is largely dialogue-driven, as the audience gets a glimpse into each character and what makes them tick. The group discusses life, morality, and other such topics while partaking in some recreational drug use.

Once Lassiter takes his guests into an inner chamber, the group beholds a magnificent rock that seems to radiate a hypnotic glow. Lassiter places his hands on the rock's craggy surface, its deep indentations part of its allure. What happens next, no one could have anticipated. The rock first emits a high-pitched shriek before it casts the group into a trance-like state.

The rock shatters into a thousand pieces, revealing an alien creature throbbing in the center. A series of unfortunate events soon afflict the guests. Guy's head explodes, and Targ and Dr. Zahra's (Sofia Boutella) faces melt like candle wax. While Charlotte and Randall Roth (Eric André) bolt, Lassiter is left behind. The creature turns into goo and merges its form with Lassiter's body, creating a wholly terrifying monster with gnashing teeth. "Help me," Lassiter manages to whisper. File this one under "nightmare fuel."