Just like every other genre, horror has its tropes, commonly recurring themes or ideas that constantly seem to show up in every movie no matter what. The use of sex and sexuality in horror films is almost as expected as the obligatory love scene in every romantic comedy: we’re just used to it.
For the most part, we are bombarded by films that use nudity and blood as a backdrop for a poorly strung-together storyline, and in many ways, as bait that brings the audience into the theater. But that doesn’t mean horror movies can’t actually be sexy. A number of films in the horror genre managed to infuse sex into the story in a way that worked and created something that could turn audiences on while still giving them the heebie jeebies.
Crimson Peak, the latest horror film from Guillermo del Toro, will hopefully continue in this tradition, as the director promises it will be frightening as well as kinky. But what makes a horror movie, or any movie for that matter, sexy? Since it’s quite obvious that different strokes will always appeal to different folks, we complied a list of the 15 Sexiest Horror Movies of All Time, from the sexy slow burn to the downright explicit and the cerebral to the explosive.
THE HUNGER (1983)
“The timeless beauty of Catharine Deneuve… The cool elegance of David Bowie… The open sexuality of Susan Sarandon.”
The trailer pretty much says it all. The Hunger takes the blood and sex metaphor that runs through every vampire story to the highest level when beautiful vampire Miriam (Deneuve) starts looking for a new lover after her husband John (Bowie) begins to rapidly age.
The film itself, directed by a young Tony Scott, is ethereal and sexy, but the most memorable scene involves Miriam’s seduction of a doctor named Sarah (Sarandon). Though the drinking and transference of blood is still Miriam’s main goal, Scott’s film keeps sex at the forefront of the lives of its undead characters. The Hunger is clear about its portrayal of the dark eroticism that permeates this and nearly every vampire tale. No sparkling here.
BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the sexier adaptations of the classic vampire tale, and while it’s fairly clear that the story on its own has definite sex appeal – as can be expected from the , hedonist, aristocratic vampires of Bram Stoker – director Francis Ford Coppola played up the story with a more sensual vibe. Shots like those of Dracula’s (Gary Oldman) eyes looking in on Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) as he rides toward his castle evoke the mystery and romance of a much older film, and of course, there are a number of well-known scenes involving hot vampire lovin’ – Harker’s encounter with Dracula’s vampire brides being number one.
While most of the sexy moments in the film are meant for the male gaze, it’s easy to also get caught up in the over-the-top romance between Mina (Winona Ryder) and Drac. And, apparently, there was just as much steaminess going on behind the scenes. On a scene where Oldman was asked to whisper seductively to Lucy (Sadie Frost) off-screen, the actress stated that his words were “very unrepeatable.”
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
An American Werewolf in London is the story of David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), two BFFs who, on a backpacking trip across the Yorkshire Moors, are attacked by a werewolf that kills Jack and “turns” David.
Naughton spends most of the film in various states of undress, which has its benefits, but most memorably, he shares a sexy shower and love scene with Alex (Jenny Agutter), the nurse who cared for him while he was in the hospital, to the sounds of Van Morrison. Once he does finally transform into a werewolf, a sequence that is still iconic today for its groundbreaking special effects, David wakes up the next morning feeling great, even after murdering a ton of people. So being a werewolf has its benefits too. You know, until you die.
JENNIFER’S BODY (2009)
In Jennifer’s Body, mean girl Jennifer (Megan Fox) is offered as a virgin sacrifice by an indie-rock band in exchange for fame and glory, the ritual goes wrong and turns her into a succubus who must subsist on the flesh of men to stay alive and become stronger. Her friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) begins to discover what has happened to Jennifer and tries to stop her killing spree.
The film itself is mostly campy silliness (especially in moments like Jennifer’s assertion that she actually “goes both ways” when killing), but Megan Fox is the epitome of sex as the girl you know will kill you but you still want to get with anyway. And the movie itself does poke fun at the horror genre’s obsession with punishing promiscuous young girls, and instead turns the school “floozy” into a lean, mean killer. There’s also Jennifer and Needy’s kiss that, while many say it was thrown in for promotional purposes, writer Diablo Cody defended as a portrayal of the almost romantic type of relationship between teenage girls in serious friendships.
DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971)
Daughters of Darkness is the kind of vampire movie that favors dreamy lighting and gorgeous actors over extreme horror, but Delphine Seyrig’s performance as the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who killed virgins and bathed in their blood to stay youthful forever, provides all the sex appeal in this Belgian film.
In a particularly unforgettable scene, she wears a skin-tight silver dress as she manipulates and seduces a young couple who were traveling through Belgium while on their honeymoon. When Elizabeth decides that Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) is the lover she’s looking for, the two women eventually kill and drink the blood of Valerie’s abusive husband Stefan (John Karlen). Originally titled Les Lévres Rouges or The Red Lips, the film is a classic lesbian vampire tale that is still just as erotic and enticing today as it was in 1971.
SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)
Shy Angela goes to live with her cousin and eccentric aunt after a boating accident kills her father and brother. But it’s when she attends Camp Arawak and the people who tease her start turning up dead that the film really gets interesting. Sleepaway Camp is a basic 80s slasher flick set at a summer camp – or so it seems. The film promises the kind of explicit sex that other movies of this type deliver, which probably packed the theatre with more than a few fourteen-year-old boys, but it ends up turning the genre on its head somewhat by showing more guys than girls in short shorts and crop tops.
Camp is inherently exciting for most teens, especially because they’re away from their parents and unsupervised, and the movie makes this clear. There is definitely a vibe of sexiness throughout, but it is subverted at every turn, making for a ride that will have viewers nervous before too long. Be forewarned though, Sleepaway Camp’s ending is one of the creepiest in horror movie history, so better watch this one with the lights on.
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (1994)
Ah, Interview with the Vampire. It’s hard to deny the overt sensuality of this film, whether it comes from the hunkiest stars 1994 had to offer (Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise), the lush backgrounds of New Orleans and Paris, or the dramatic, painfully romantic dialogue. “Drink from me and live forever,” reads the tagline, and yeah, it makes the life Louis (Pitt) is always whining about actually sound pretty appealing. Bummed as they often are, vampires are always doing their best to bring sexy back.
In the standout role, Cruise’s performance as Lestat managed to surprise nearly everyone, including Anne Rice, who wrote the screenplay based on her own novel, and the character would go on to influence dozens of bratty, entitled, but downright arousing vamps in films to come. The sex appeal is there, although the movie wasn’t quite as erotic as the book – and definitely left quite a bit of the relationship between Louis and Lestat up to the imagination.
CAT PEOPLE (1982)
Say what you want about the original Cat People released in 1942, it’s easy to concede that the 1982 remake shows a lot more skin. But the nudity in director Paul Schrader’s version is only part of the reason it’s considered to be so provocative. Irena (Natassja Kinski) is a young woman who visits her brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell) in New Orleans only to find out that he is a werecat who turns into a murderous black panther after having sex – and so is she.
In both versions of the film, the theme of sexuality and how it affects a young woman is very present, but Kinski’s performance in this version may be one of the sexiest in any horror film. When she walks up the stairs undressing as she leads Oliver (John Heard) to bed, her predatory look and movements blur the lines between animal and woman even before her eventual transformation.
The Korean film Thirst, from director Chan-wook Park (Oldboy), follows in the tradition of many other erotic stories where a priest cannot help falling in love. Unfortunately, Priest Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho Song) was also accidentally infected during a blood transfusion, causing him to become a vampire. Very soon, he can no longer fight his desire for the beautiful and married Tae-ju (Ok-bin Kim), and events transpire that lead him to commit one sin after another.
Blood and sex all create one big pleasure fest in this film for a man who has tried to avoid the sins of the flesh in his desire to help others. But while the romance between the leads is captivating, the movie doesn’t quite have the happiest of endings, which, when you think about it, you can pretty much expect.
THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987)
Based on the novel by John Updike, The Witches of Eastwick stars Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer as three lonely women who unwittingly bring the Devil (Jack Nicholson) to their sleepy, New England town as they discuss their desire to meet the perfect man. One by one, Daryl Van Horne (aka The Devil, aka Jack) seduces each woman by appealing to her unique personality and feeding the development of her latent witch powers.
This scenario sees them all eventually living together in ecstasy in his giant mansion… until they begin to fear what both they and Daryl are capable of. Though the film is a bit more comedy than horror, a number of racy moments stand out – like Susan Sarandon’s sexy cello lesson – and the fact that Jack Nicholson seems to so totally satisfy each of these beautiful women manages to even make him seem pretty sexy.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013)
Another vampire flick (yes, vampires are sexy, what’re ya gonna do), Only Lovers Left Alive focuses mostly on the minutiae of immortal life and how love just may be the only thing worth living for. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) share a devotion that has endured countless lifetimes, and while there are several nude scenes in which they sleep tangled in one another’s embrace, the true eroticism of the film is in their glances and their whispered words to one another.
Director Jim Jarmusch (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and Stranger Than Paradise) uses understated sensuality to hint at the depth of the relationship between the two leads, as well as the relationship between vampires and blood. In addition, these are the kind of vampires who actually make being one look cool again, and it’s hard not to appreciate this fact. Though it may not be the most original horror movie involving the undead, it’s definitely appealing and totally sexy.
PIRANHA 3D (2010)
When you’re looking for a movie that’ll serve up sex and gore with equal frequency and fun, Piranha 3D should be right up your alley. A remake of the cheesy 1978 film Piranha, the 2010 version revolves around a group of locals and tourists trying to escape the flesh-eating, prehistoric fish that suddenly begin swarming Lake Victoria during spring break.
The movie includes a number of sexy actors (Kelly Brook, Elizabeth Shue, and… Adam Scott?) as well as body shots, porn stars, bikini dance parties, skinny-dipping, and an epic we’re-probably-going-to-die-so-let’s-just-go-for-it kiss. Piranha 3D received mostly positive reviews from critics, and it’s hard not to enjoy this film for being exactly what it was meant to be, as well as considerably funnier and sexier than most horror movies about totally unlikely natural events that end in the maiming of a lot of hot people.
In 1993, a transmission is picked up by the SETI program, detailing how alien DNA can be spliced with human DNA. Clearly ill-advised, this does not stop the scientists from immediately doing it, and the result is Sil (Natasha Henstridge), a young girl who rapidly ages into a beautiful twentysomething woman with only one thing on her mind. As she has the innate desire to procreate, Sil has sex with and/or murders pretty much everyone in her way and transforms from her gorgeous model body into a warrior alien, designed by H.R. Giger, whenever necessary. The movie still has a definite cult following, despite mostly underwhelming reviews at the time of its release, and it eventually spawned three sequels, pun intended. Most of its success is largely due to the fact that the original film centers around people getting killed by a ruthless, beautiful woman, which if you’re ever interested in checking the YouTube comments, is apparently the way a lot of viewers want to go.
DON’T LOOK NOW (1973)
No sexy horror movie list would be complete without this disquieting thriller starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. The two play a married couple who, after the death of their daughter, take a trip to Venice and encounter a clairvoyant who says she has a message for them from the beyond.
The film is more of a frank depiction of grief than anything else, but a particular scene in which the couple are seen making love is so explicit and erotic that it caused audiences to wonder if the actors were doing it “for real.” As the film has come to be celebrated for its artistic merit, the scene itself can also be appreciated for being sexy, not exploitative, when most horror movies can’t seem to figure out the difference.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
Co-written and directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods has its arousing moments: a girl (Anna Hutchinson) dancing provocatively in front of the fireplace, the same girl flashing her breasts in a dark forest… But as a result of the meta-storyline the film has become famous for, it also delves into the reasons why sex and horror go together, why we actually have to see Hutchinson naked, and why the virgin always dies last, if at all.
Its sexy moments are just as awkward and creepy as they are erotic (that weird kissing scene with the wolf’s head?), and the film impresses in its ability to elicit all three reactions during every sexy moment. The Cabin in the Woods subverts the genre even as it embraces it, making the sex scenes cerebral while still being stimulating. And if that’s not your cup of tea, it also has Chris Hemsworth biting Hutchinson’s panties, which is hot in any universe.
HONORABLE MENTION: FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)
The first film in the From Dusk Till Dawn makes our list for one reason only, and her name is Salma Hayek. Though George Clooney in his prime (and with a badass neck tattoo) definitely isn’t bad to look at, Hayek portrays the beautiful dancer Santánico Pandemónium in the film, who puts on a show most moviegoers still haven’t forgotten.
In a Mexican bar, Hayek dances provocatively with a snake and leans down to lick beer off her leg to “After Dark” by Tito & Tarantula. Eventually, though, she transforms into a horrific vampire with reptilian features whom Seth (Clooney) kills after she vows to make him her slave. All in all, the movie itself may not be the sexiest horror flick out there, but the scene certainly deserves a mention.
That about does it for our list of truly erotic scare flicks. Undoubtedly, there are a number of other horror films out there that someone may have found sexy, so if we forgot your favorite, please let us know in the comments.