There are plenty of medical conditions that the general public may not be familiar with. They seem strange or shocking to the untrained eye and this is exactly what many horror movies have set their scripts around. A good horror movie is less likely to be sensitive. Instead, the producer is more likely to exploit such problems in the attempt to trigger fascination, fear and shock.


Epilepsy is quite common, but you are less likely to see an epileptic crisis in the middle of the road. Anneliese Michel was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1968, but she thought she was possessed by a demon. She stopped eating, slept on stone floors, ate coal and so on. After getting the authorization for an exorcism session, a couple of priests performed the rite for a few months, but nothing changed. Instead, Anneliese died in 1976. Her body was emaciated. There is some shocking footage from the exorcism session, while parents and priests involved were accused of negligent homicide.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is based on this story. Released in 2005, the movie leaves room for interpretations. It is up to you to decide what the cause of her death was.


Hydrophobia refers to the fear of water. The affection was widely used in the 2014 release The Drownsman. Young Madison develops hydrophobia after she almost dies in a lake. A few friends try to give her a hand by helping against this mysterious figure that keeps haunting her. However, they get dragged to this terrible place that leaves no room to turn around.

Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia

If you thought those monsters in The Hills Have Eyes (1977) were imaginary, you might want to think again. One of those killers – Pluto – was played by Michael Berryman. His appearance was quite unique due to a disease known as hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia. What does it mean? Simple – there are no sweat glands, teeth are malformed, hair is little, the nasal bridge is sunken, there is no pigmentation and aging is premature, among other issues.


Quasimodo – the hunchback from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) – suffered from a quite common condition known as kyphosis. It involves a forward rounding of the back. However, this problem is more common in women who suffer from osteoporosis. It can also affect children and may have multiple causes – birth defects, cancer treatments, disk degeneration and so on.


Paraplegia is introduced in Kongo (1932), a remake of the popular West of Zanzibar (1928). Basically, a white man in a wheelchair poses as a living god. He ends up ruling an African territory by taking advantage of local superstitions.

The affection is triggered by more severe types of injury below the first thoracic spinal nerve. As a direct consequence, the patient loses feelings. Skin problems and losses of bowel control can make it even more complicated.


Photosensitivity is portrayed in The Others (2001), where Grace Steward and her children hide in a mansion waiting for World War II to finish. The kids suffer from photosensitivity, meaning they are allergic to sunlight. Curtains must always stay drawn and they can barely go outside. While waiting for her husband to return, she hires a new team of servants and that is when the haunting begins.

All in all, photosensitivity is an immune system reaction. Symptoms are often mild – red rash on the neck V or the back of calves or arms. However, it can also be severe and cause blisters.

In the end, certain conditions that the public is not familiar with might make the best horror movies out there. They can be intriguing and interesting, but they are just as shocking.