October is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “31 days of horror.” Don’t bother looking it up; it’s true. Most people take that to mean highlighting one horror movie a day, but here at FSR, we’ve taken that up a spooky notch or nine by celebrating each day with a top ten list. This article about the best erotic horror movies is part of our ongoing series 31 Days of Horror Lists.
Somehow, despite everyone’s best efforts, modern America is still firmly ensnared in a puritanical vice grip. We live in a pop culture landscape where everyone is beautiful and no one is horny, to quote RS Benedict’s incisive article in Blood Knife. And while there are an abundance of PG-13 ratings there is a profound lack of boobs and butts. Make it make sense, Hollywood.
Indeed, while Gen-Z is certainly finding new and rebellious ways to poke holes in the status quo, those pearl necklaces they love so much are mostly for clutching, it turns out. A vocal contingent of the youth seems hellbent on reinstating the Hays Code, which is a big loss for both perverts and folks who value artistic expression (often the same group). Maybe their protests that “sex scenes are cringe and unnecessary” are some deeply ironic bit that the rest of us aren’t in on. Then again, policing media is one of the Internet’s favorite games. So regrettably, the odds are quite good that these anti-sex scene moralists are earnest in their attempts to banish horniness from the big screen.
Obviously, no one should be forced to watch anything that makes them uncomfortable. But unless you’re being subjected to the Ludovico Technique, there’s no reason to harsh everyone else’s mellow. Especially (but not exclusively) when it comes to horror: a genre that is unilaterally interested in pushing buttons and boundaries, fleshy or otherwise. In that spirit, we’ve put our greatest (and horniest) minds together for this breakdown of the best horror films where eroticism is a feature, a bug, and a selling point. Enjoy and use protection for this list of horny horror movies as ranked by Rob Hunter, Chris Coffel, Brad Gullickson, Jacob Trussell, and yours truly.
10. Species (1995)
One of the underlying reasons why certain Gen-Z movie buffs despise eroticism in films is their belief that, frequently, sexual content is gratuitously inserted into scenes where it is unnecessary. This, frankly, isn’t an unfair assessment. Over sexualization, especially of female characters, is certainly a problem Hollywood is still reckoning with. Though, often, the progression of this idea quickly leads to cognitive dissonance around the inherent spectrum of sexuality. But if the youth are fine with sex so long as it fundamentally moves the plot forward, then they should have no problem with Species, a brutal little curio of late 90s sci-fi horror about a killer alien who wants to perpetuate its bloodline across the galaxy.
How else is the titular species going to do that if not with a little bit (ok, a lotta bit) of S-E-X? Unless you’re into the idea of banging an alien who’s likely to bite your head off praying mantis-style than cuddle you post-coitus, the copulation in Species is more scary than sexy (you can thank Master of Sex H.R. Giger for that) but the eroticism is still core to the film’s throughline, making it an intangible part of the story — exactly what puritanical zoomers want from sex in a movie, right? (Jacob Trussell)
9. Lifeforce (1985)
Ever since Bram Stoker got his sexually pent-up 19th-century stank all over the place, vampires have been erotically coded. What Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce proposes is what if the vampires were (1) naked and (2) from outer space. Genius. Lured by a fake distress signal, a battalion of well-intentioned astronauts inadvertently infect Earth with a deadly (sexy) parasite: three preternaturally hot “survivors” who are, in fact, shapeshifting life-suckers from beyond the stars. How do you fight an enemy genetically engineered to be sexual catnip? How do you curb an alien invasion when everyone keeps trying to fuck the aliens? Some wars just can’t be won. And who can say that being turned into a living dead husk after having your vitality slurped out of your pores wasn’t totally worth it? You can’t prove otherwise! (Meg Shields)
8. Possession (1981)
Some movies make you sweat. Maybe it’s their sensuality. Maybe they’re nauseating. Maybe they’re just a little too intense for a cozy afternoon at the cinema. Possession is all three. Andrzej Żuławski‘s cult classic pumps wildly through tone, but it’s balanced masterfully on the backs of its two central performers. Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani radiate sex and anxiety, stirring complicated feelings from their voyeurs, aka us perverts. Their chemistry is also infectious, and at times, we should probably look away, but the option becomes simply impossible. After Possession‘s climax, you’ll already be looking at the clock, considering when it’s safe to press play again. You want more. You need more. Possession‘s availability is blissfully stronger than ever, and another deliciously uncomfortable watch is at your fingertips. (Brad Gullickson)
7. Cemetery Man (1994)
Directed by the Where’s Waldo? of Italian Horror, Michele Soavi, Cemetery Man (a.k.a. Dellamorte Dellamore) tells the ridiculously horny tale of an impotent gravedigger with an unusual problem: the dead won’t stay dead. Played with frankly illegal amounts of charisma by Rupert Everett, Francesco Dellamorte’s life gets that much more complicated when the hottest woman who’s ever lived (Anna Falchi) enters his life and promptly dies. I really cannot stress enough how much of this movie is just Everett lying shirtless on the floor journaling while drinking wine straight from the bottle. Soavi, you dog, you’ve got my number. Suffice to say, Cemetery Man easily includes some of the most erotically-charged and visually stunning graveyard boink sessions ever put to film. In other words: if you’re a fan of this movie, you’re probably on a watchlist somewhere. At least you’re in good company? (Meg Shields)
6. From Beyond (1986)
I don’t know about you, but I find it highly titillating that noted prude H.P. Lovecraft is likely spinning in his grave with enough force to power the entire New England coastline. Listen, Howie, if you didn’t want 1980s filmmakers to go to town on your sexual hangups, then maybe you should have kept your tentacle porn to yourself. That’s all I’m saying!
Loosely adapting Lovecraft’s 1920 short story of the same name, Stuart Gordon’s immediate Re-Animator follow-up tells the tale of scientist/sensory astronaut Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel), who successfully creates a big tuning fork that can stimulate the pineal gland hard enough that you see into another dimension. Winky winky. When the hopelessly overstimulated doctor gets a bit too lost in the sauce, his assistant (Jeffrey Combs) is accused of his murder and institutionalized. When another too-curious doctor (Barbara Crampton) asks the shell-shocked assistant to lead her back to the lab, he reluctantly complies. Whips, bisexual lighting, clitoral antennae, and brain-sucking ensue. (Meg Shields)
5. Thirst (2009)
Ask a fan to name the sexiest of Park Chan-wook‘s films, and the most likely answer will probably be 2016’s The Handmaiden. It’s an understandable pick as it’s a highly satisfying revenge tale featuring two extremely attractive women with an affection for love, bells, and fleshy minglings. For my money, though, Park’s most erotic film is also one of the sexiest horror films. And that’s his 2009 vampiric masterpiece, Thirst.
Song Kang-ho plays a priest whose good deed is punished by a thirst for blood. But it’s Kim Ok-bin who turns up the heat when her own moral compass starts spinning uncontrollably after being turned herself. She’s a sexed-up vamp who eschews the gothic sexuality of films like Interview With the Vampire (1994) for a more skin and seduction-forward style that sees her using her bad girl guile to tempt the struggling man of god. The two make for a scorching hot couple, and I mean that in more ways than one. (Rob Hunter)
4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
While numerous Draculas of varying horny levels interceded over the years, no take on Stoker’s text made audiences more “down for the Count” than 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Sure, at certain points, Dracula is literally a pile of rats. But he’s a rom-an-tic pile of rats. He just wants to be reunited with the reincarnation of his one true love! While Gary Oldman isn’t exactly a sex symbol on paper, his, uh, enthusiasm bleeds through the screen and sells you on the venereal overtones of the cursed count’s affliction. Throw in a — hmm … my notes say “fuck room?” and one of the wildest garden trysts put to film, and you’ve got yourself one of the most unambiguously lusty portrayals of Vlad Dracul the screen has ever seen. (Meg Shields)
3. Hellraiser (1987)
It is said that when Clive Barker polled the production team for ideas on what to call his directorial debut, one 60-year-old crew member replied: “What a Woman Will Do For a Good Fuck.” Indeed, while Pinhead (Doug Bradley) would go on to steal the show (how could he not) and Kristy (Ashley Laurence) would prove an exceptionally tenacious final girl, Hellraiser is Julia’s story.
Portrayed with vicious indignation by Claire Higgins, Julia is willing to risk her mind, body, and spirit for the screw of the century. Sure, her former lover turned sensory occultist boyfriend/brother-in-law may have no skin. But that’s what happens when you escape your interdimensional BDSM-inspired captors. And, in order to put out, Frank needs flesh and fluids. And Julia is only too happy to supply them. The original Hellraiser says the quiet part out loud by proposing that pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin. Oh, right, and that pursuing said coin is worth being ripped apart indefinitely in the bowels of Hell. It’s an unmissable highlight of erotic horror movies and it can tear our souls apart anytime. (Meg Shields)
2. Cat People (1982)
Irena (Nastassja Kinski) flies to New Orleans to meet her brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell) whom she has not seen since they were little kids. Irena soon learns dark secrets about her family’s past. She also falls in love with a zoo curator named Oliver (John Heard). Look, there is no tip-toeing around it. Paul Schrader‘s take on Cat People takes some departures from the 1942 original. Most notably, the cat people in question turn into cats — in this case, leopards — when they get horny and can’t turn back until they kill a human. And the only way to break this cycle is for them to have sex with their siblings.
This sounds insane until you remember that it stars Malcolm McDowell. If you can get past the family love, there’s some great stuff here with Kinski and Heard, and McDowell acts like a cat and it’s as great as you think it is. If you’re looking for nods to the original, Schrader does a brilliant job recreating the 1942 film’s terrifying pool scene, with cat Kinski stalking Annette O’Toole. Cat People earns bonus points for having an original theme song courtesy of David Bowie and for possibly being the reason that Ed Begley Jr. went vegan. Watch it with your cats. They’ll love it, mine did! (Chris Coffel)
1. The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
I don’t know what makes me happier. The fact that noted cinematic deviant Ken Russell is at the top of this list? Or the fact that one of the greatest horror comedies of all time beat out all the straight-faced contenders?
Slithering out of its cave system in 1988, The Lair of the White Worm (winky winky) begins like all great stories do: with the discovery of a skull of mysterious origin. Adorable sweater-wearing archeology student Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) thinks the weird noggin might have something to do with a local legend: a long-forgotten pagan god that is said to reside in the bowels of a local hill.
Though, given the mounting pile of physical evidence, maybe the worm is more than just a myth. Probably a good idea to loop in the descendent (Hugh Grant) of the lord who slayed the beast, right? After all, you never know when a fashionable immortal priestess (Amanda Donohoe) might try and steal the skull and perform a ritual sacrifice to reinstate the power of her worm god. From succubus snake charming gags to some of the most obscenely attractive men’s costuming I’ve ever seen in my life, The Lair of the White Worm puts the fuck in folk horror. (Meg Shields)
Don’t let the anti-sex brigade get you down. We hope you enjoyed this list of great erotic horror movies. Why don’t you keep things hot under the collar with more 31 Days of Horror Lists!