Horror fiction and fucking are closely linked. Perhaps more closely linked than you'd like to think or admit to. Just what is it that draws people to vampires and monsters and slasher films? Why are these things categorized in our minds together? Is it perhaps the mystery of the unknown? No, porn and horror are pretty predictable. So what is it then?

Horror Fiction and Fucking:

Objects in Mirror are Closer than They Appear

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One of the really interesting things about Halloween is that it displays something we all know, but very rarely think about – the profound connection between fear (or at least horror) and sex. The terrifying and the erotic don't seem like they would go together, but there is a long tradition of putting the two side-by-side. It isn't just sexy Halloween monster costumes, either – look at the way that vampires are consistently sexualised, or the relationship between sex and getting hacked to death with an axe in slasher movies (the relationship is: we like to look at people with their shirts off, and then we make ourselves feel less guilty about it by looking at them get murdered, which is, if you think about it, pretty weird).

Sex sells... horror?

Or take a look at the covers of classic pulp magazines like Weird Tales. The scantily-clad ladies of Margaret Brundage's paintings don't always have a lot to do with the stories inside (Brundage tended to interpret scenes in the nudest possible light), but they do suggest a connection between the horrific or mysterious and the erotic that resonated with some readers. It also offended others – Brundage's art was highly controversial in its day, although it undoubtedly sold magazines.

Part of the connection may be that the pleasant anticipation of watching a horror movie is not unlike the pleasant anticipation of romance. Note that I'm not saying that being aroused and being terrified are similar – it's just that horror fiction isn't really terrifying. Not like being in a burning building or seeing a clown is terrifying. It's playfully terrifying, and it has a certain rhythm to it. Building anticipation, slacking off a bit, building again, always teasing, and then finally delivering an explosive climax.

Sounds like I'm saying a horror story is like a handjob, which it … kind of is?

More seriously, though, horror fiction has always, largely by dint of not being respectable, been a place where it was OK to talk about things people weren't supposed to talk about. That applies to fear and violence, but it applies equally to sex. It especially applies to the sexual thoughts and fantasies of groups whose sexual thoughts are considered taboo.

You aren't supposed to talk about that!

LGBT people, of course, and kinksters of all sorts, but also just ... women in general. Gothic fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries was condemned by respectable critics not only because it dealt in sexual themes – we'll get to that in a minute – but also because women liked it, and they really weren't supposed to. Critics scoff at things girls like in every age – you can apply that to Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight – but it was particularly puzzling to 19th-century critics. Young women were taking stories about things that were complicated, mysterious, thrilling and yet somehow frightening and drawing a connection between that and their sexuality. No one could quite figure out why.

Vampires in leather trousers? Yes please!

We could spend a lot of time talking about Dracula, in which the title character represents all kinds of bottled-up Victorian fears about female sexuality. Moral rightness is more-or-less restored by the end of the novel, but it's not the order-restoring vampire hunters we care about: it's Dracula himself. This became especially true once the film versions spread the character around the world. I'm sure there are people who find Peter Cushing's Van Helsing sexy, but I'm straight as hell and I think Christopher Lee is sexy as Dracula.

Ultimately, horror and sexiness are both about our desire to do or see things we're not necessarily “supposed” to, albeit for very different reasons. Both are transgressive, and when they're at their best they're transgressive in gut-level, personal, should-be-totally-unacceptable ways. Of course, what makes for effective horror, just like what makes for effective eroticism, is different for everyone, but for a significant number of people both seem to include vampires in leather trousers.

 

This article was contributed by one of our fucktastic guest writers! Wanna write for us? Got a hot topic that needs featuring right on the Fuck.com website? Then send a message to write@fuck.com and get fucking writing!


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