10 Strangely Sexy Horror Films That’ll Make You Feel Something
Horror should make you feel something. And while that predominant feeling is often assumed to be fear, horror films can be about more than just scaring you. Horror films can make you cry as you deeply empathize with the main characters’ horrific plights. Or they can make you feel warm as love blossoms in the face of horror. But perhaps my personal favorite type of horror is when it manages to balance sexy yet scary.
One such example is John Swab’s newest film Candy Land, an exploitation film for the modern age. The film follows a group of truckstop sex workers who have built a family of loveable misfits. They work during the day and at night they lounge in hotel beds together, playing music and sharing stories from the day. While they are sex workers, and part of the film’s sexuality comes from that, they also have their own sexual relationships that are tender and queer.
That doesn’t mean Candy Land is without its ultra-violence as bodies start to pile up when newcomer Remy joins their ranks. With subject matter that could easily fall into exploitation for exploitation’s sake, Swab instead creates a titillating and touching violent horror film that’ll take you by surprise.
In honor of the release of Candy Land on VOD, we’re sharing ten more horror films that, despite ultra-violence and twisted subject matter, still manage to cultivate a sexy vibe.
Don’t Look Now
Nicolas Roeg‘s 1973 horror film is a slow burn about two parents, played by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, struggling with grief after the death of their daughter. Roeg deftly weaves together horror, grief, and sexuality into one of the scariest films out there. The film’s sexuality is rooted in an incredibly honest and realistic sex scene between Christie and Sutherland as they rediscover their passion for each other in the face of grief. While the main focus is unraveling the mystery of what’s happening around them, sensuality is still a core to the emotional effectiveness of Don’t Look Now.
Unsurprisingly, this won’t be the only David Cronenberg film on this list because let’s face it, the man knows how to create sexy yet terrifying horror. In The Fly especially, he melds repulsive body horror with humanity to create one of horror’s most beautiful and tragic relationships. Even when Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is sprouting strange hairs on his back, his and Veronica’s (Geena Davis) sexual chemistry is electric. Not even Seth puking on his food to dissolve it can ruin that. Almost. But not quite.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man
No, the sexuality in Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man does not come from the drill penis sprouted by salaryman-turned-metal fetishist (Tomorô Taguchi). But that’s not to deny the disturbing sensuality on display as metal pieces sprout from his skin and he gasps in both pain and ecstasy. But then there’s a particular piece of dialogue uttered by the terrifying metal fetishist (Tsukamoto) to the salaryman.
He says, “Our love can destroy this whole fucking world” and it’s one of the sexiest lines ever uttered in horror. They’ve found each other in a world of flesh and metal. Sure the implications are dour and it’s spoken by a man who is made up of sharp metal parts. But that is beside the point. In the words of Rihanna, these metal fetishists found love in a hopeless place.
Like I said, Cronenberg gets multiple features on this list. This entry, his 1997 film Crash, can be seen as a take on Tetsuo: The Iron Man but even more erotic. After a car accident, James (James Spader) discovers an underground group who are turned on by car crashes. More specifically, they’re turned on by the concept of danger and death. The potential of warped metal melding with flesh gives this group a rush they’ve never experienced. Spader and Holly Hunter, in a career-best performance, begin a toxic sexual spiral as their desires for pleasure escalate no matter the stakes.
So Antonia Bird’s iconic cannibal film doesn’t feature any explicit sex or romance, but it is absolutely oozing with homoeroticism. Set in 1840s California, a stranger (Robert Carlyle) arrives at a remote military outpost and slowly reveals that he’s a cannibal and plans to eat all of the soldiers stationed there. As we’ve seen in modern cannibal films, eating human flesh can be strangely erotic and simultaneously disgusting. Something about violating that taboo while half-naked and covered in blood speaks to something deeply primal in the subconscious. Is that just me? Perhaps. But it may also ignite something in Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce). Think Hannibal and Will, but a little less obvious.
I am not the biggest fan of Lars von Trier, but there’s no denying the sick eroticism of his 2009 film Antichrist. I mean, it opens with a close-up of a penis penetrating a vagina. Brandon Cronenberg, eat your heart out. While the film skews incredibly anti-woman, it also still leans into a desperate sexuality to keep the tenuous connection between husband and wife (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, respectively). Plus, watching Dafoe’s bare ass as they have sex at the base of a terrifying tree is a bizarre little treat.
Trouble Every Day
Claire Denis delivers sexy horror with her sex-crazed cannibal film featuring an iconic Comic Sans title card, Trouble Every Day. Vincent Gallo stars as a man going on his honeymoon to Paris with secret intentions. Instead of celebrating with his new wife, he’s looking for an old colleague (Beatrice Dalle) who has the same affliction: when they get aroused, they lose control and literally consume their partner. Once again, this is a film that proves how cannibalism and sensuality go hand in hand. There’s one sex scene in particular where Dalle begins to eat her unsuspecting sexual partner and his screams are so realistic you think he’s actually being devoured.
Cosmic horrors having sex with humans is a brand of horror I never knew I really needed until I watched Andrzej Żuławski‘s 1983 horror classic Possession. While it’s a tragic film about the deeply sad experience of divorce, Zulawski imbues the tale with a bizarre sexuality as Isabelle Adjani is seduced by a strange tentacled monster in a rundown apartment. It’s a perfect example of horror that is terrifying, sad, upsetting, and sexy.
In a similar vein of Possession is Amat Escalante‘s 2016 Mexican horror film The Untamed. Here a couple’s marriage is falling apart and solace is found in the embrace of an otherworldly creature hidden in a shack. But instead of just the woman Alejandra (Ruth Ramos) finding pleasure, her husband Ángel (Jesús Meza) and his lover Fabian (Eden Villavicencio)—who is also his wife’s brother—also discover the sexy allure of the beast. Escalante creates a more queer vision of Possession while still operating inside toxic relationship dynamics.
Park Chan-wook is a master of sensual cinema. Films like The Handmaiden, Stoker, and Decision to Leave are full of sexually charged longing and desperation for authentic connection. But perhaps his most sensual film is his 2009 vampire film Thirst starring Song Kang-ho as a priest-turned-vampire who enters a tumultuous relationship with Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin) as he turns her into a creature like him. Their new powers are sexy and intoxicating, leading to some of Chan-wook’s more erotic scenes. But of course, that sexuality dissolves as the toxicity of their relationship consumes them.
Candy Land is out now on VOD.