Ask 20 people what they find “sexy” in a movie scene, and you’ll probably get 20 different answers.
Obviously, the answers from the men may differ from the women, as ample studies show we are wired differently when it comes to making us “tingle down there.” The stereotypes are that men are stimulated by visual cues, while women are more turned on by the emotions an erotic scene may trigger. We imagine ourselves in that setting, hearing that music (or thunder) and feeling those caresses.
Some of those stereotypes have a basis in fact, but it’s not that black and white when it comes to what turns us on in a darkened movie theater (or the comfort of your couch).
Here are the films that jumped to mind when asked for five “scary and sexy” horror titles. For ease in narrowing down the list we’ll choose one film per the last five decades.
The 1970s: I think the ’70s were the apex of erotic and sexual horror. A few years earlier the “sexual revolution,” the Pill, the Kinsey Report and “Joy of Sex’ (along with a shift in women’s roles) led to pushing the envelope in nudity and sexuality in both regular film as well as the horror genre.
There are a lot of great ’70s sexy horror movies, and it was difficult to narrow the list to one title. But I have decided on “Daughters of Darkness” (1971) directed by Harry Kumel, for both style and overall mood and tone.
Loosely based on the countess Bathory’s exploits, the plot follows a honeymooning couple in a deserted off-season town, in a gothic, seemingly empty, hotel. Add two mysterious guests, the beautiful and dominating Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Delphine Seyrig) and her sultry companion/accomplice Ilona (Andrea Rau), and the clothes come off and the bodies start popping up in a nearby village.
While I found the wife-beating scene to be a turnoff, even that can’t spoil the bizarre sexiness of this flick. Every frame is beautiful with an erotic fission that can’t be denied. For other sexy ’70s horror check out anything by director Jean Rollin such as “Fascination” and “The Shiver of the Vampires,” and for more hardcore pleasures track down some unedited titles by Jess Franco.
The 1980s: Since the ’80s were the apex of the slasher boom (and there is nothing sexy about a slasher movie if you’re not turned on by boobs), there aren’t many choices. But the one ’80s flick that got my heart thumping is “Lost Boys, The (BD) [Blu-ray]” (1987). A wailing sax (played by an oiled-up muscle man), a pulsating carnival setting, a great soundtrack and some well-placed fog helped set the tone.
The “money shot” comes early when we see vampire David (played by a young Kiefer Sutherland), rocking ’80s leather-badness, a wicked smirk and sexy sleepy eyes … walking in slow motion on a carousel in predator mode. Every girl with a secret bad-boy fetish swooned.
Then you have the “good guy” Jason Patrick saving the beautiful damsel in distress, and it makes this the perfect “chick” sexual fantasy. We can imagine that we are “Star” (played by Jami Gertz) … we’re bad but not totally evil, sexy but also tragic, and the center of a fight between two hot guys.
The 1990s: I couldn’t pinpoint a ’90s movie that was particularly sexy, so I’m splitting my choice into two movies with actors displaying great chemistry. While not overtly sexual, “Stir of Echoes [Blu-ray]” (1999) has a couple (Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Erbe), who feel 100 percent real and have hot sexual chemistry. They look great and interact with each other in such a natural and loving way that it’s a turn-on anytime they share the screen.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the relationship between Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg in “Fear [Blu-ray]” (1997) is certainly not considered loving. It perfectly captures that obsessive, insatiable lust and need for possession that can come with teenage hormones and immaturity. The roller coaster scene of the good girl succumbing to the bad boy is both titillating and disturbing.
The 2000s: “Jennifer’s Body [Blu-ray]” (2009). It’s obvious to all that Amanda Seyfried’s character “Needy” not only admires and covets “Jennifer’s Body”- but is sexually attracted to her as well. The scene with Jennifer (played to perfection by Megan Fox) toying with Needy in her bedroom was scorching enough to make many women question their own sexual preferences. This film smartly addresses the obsessive feel of some younger female friendships….their jealousies, loyalties, and competitiveness can lead to some horrific behavior.
The 2010s: I’m a sucker for a good bromance, and “John Dies At The End [Blu-ray]” (2012) is not only a fun, occasionally scary horror flick but a showcase for some amazingly hot male-on-male chemistry. But for us straight ladies, the eye-candy that is the charming and funny Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) ratchets this movie up to sexy in seconds flat.
Ask 20 women what makes a man sexy, and I guarantee over half will say, “he makes me laugh”.
Please check out the male perspective on sexy horror movies.
Dawn Brown started the Mile High Horrors Meetup group in 2008 and is on the screening committee of the Mile High Horror Film Festival. She invites Denver-area residents to join the meetup. If you don’t live in Colorado she highly recommends starting a horror meetup in your own town. People in the horror community are the nicest, smartest and coolest folks to hang out with.