ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

Note: This article contains pictures and videos of eyeballs doing things that eyeballs aren't meant to do. It's pretty messy.

Horror movies love to include scenes where weird things happen to eyeballs. Usually, the eyeball ends up somewhere besides in the head, where it belongs.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to really remove an eyeball? I know I have! Probably the most important thing for horror movies to keep in mind to attain any sense of realism is the optic nerve. So, let's take a look at how the optic nerve works in real life versus how it works in horror movies.

The Anatomy

The optic nerve is like a cable of nerve fibers that carry light impulses from the eyeball to a deep part of the brain, which turns the light impulses into what we see. In a way, the eyeball is part of the brain — the part of the brain that sticks out of your head to sense the environment.

So, any realistic eyeball scene in a horror movie must include the optic nerve. Eyeballs don't just pop out of their sockets like marbles. They're connected to the rest of the brain.

The Length Of The Optic Nerve

Even if you're a kid that can pop out your own eyeball, it will only go so far:

The optic nerve is not long, so — as you can see from the weird kid above — even if you could pop your eye out, it wouldn't just hang down on your cheek or go flying across the room. Probably not even if you were possessed.

Eyeball Removal: Movies Vs. Reality

So, as you can guess, horror movies don't care a whole lot about scientific accuracy when somebody or something is trying to damage or remove someone's eyeballs. The goal of the movie is to get you to squirm and shut your eyes, not to learn anything. But incredibly, we do have a couple of actual examples where we can compare the movies to real life.

Guinea Pig

The notorious Japanese Guinea Pig series likes eyeballs. Guinea Pig 2: Flowers of Flesh and Blood contains a scene where a guy scoops out a woman's eyeballs with a spoon:

If you are an extremely dumb guy with no common sense, you can actually use a spoon to scoop out your own eyeball. But as you can see below, you still can't get it to come out very far. Compare the two scenes and see for yourself.

The Green Inferno

This scene from The Green Inferno is a good example of how horror movies play it fast and loose when trying to separate an eye from its head. If you watch closely, it looks like the eyeball itself is punctured, but then it's plucked out quickly with fingers. It's a matter of really quick editing. At least the filmmakers showed the optic nerve, even if it doesn't actually come out like that.

The real-life process of removing an eyeball is a much longer, more delicate affair. Luckily for us, the internet can bring us medical videos. For those with strong stomachs and medical curiosity, you can watch this video of an eyeball being surgically removed, and then compare it again to the scene from The Green Inferno.

So, the next time you're watching a horror movie and a monster or a killer or a spoon takes out somebody's eye, pay attention. Compare it to what you know now and decide for yourself how realistic it is.

Oh, by the way, you know how I said that you can't just pop your eye out? Well, there is one exception to that rule. You can do it if your eye is fake.

You've made it through this post, but how will you fare with this one, or this one, or this one?


Do "eyeball scenes" in horror movies upset you?

Sources: Passaic County Community College, Discovery Eye Foundation


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