In fact, sex and horror coincide with such regularity in contemporary horror fiction that the two concepts appear to be at least partially intertwined. This is not to suggest that the sex—horror confluence is an exclusively contemporary phenomenon. Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs It is unsurprising, then, that the horror genre boasts a bounty of sexual themes and sexually driven plots. The sex—horror relationship is sometimes connotative rather than overt; examples of this relationship range from the seduction overtones of Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens , dir.
Murnau and the juxtaposition of nudity and horror promised by European exploitation filmmakers see Shipka, Clive Barker sadomasochistic iconography. Daisuke Yamanouchi and Quad X: The Porn Movie Massacre , dir. Many mainstream pornographic films have also explored horrific themes and utilised horror tropes.
For instance, in The Devil in Miss Jones , dir. Gerard Damiano , the eponymous protagonist is damned to a purgatory that is defined by her unfulfilled sexual desires; rape is a prevalent mode of sexual expression within violent Japanese pinku eiga see Weisser and Weisser, A Hardcore Parody , dir. Joanna Angel incorporate gore and archetypal horror characters here, zombies not just in the settings, but also within pornographic sex sequences see Marks, In other cases, sex and horror are balanced in a manner that thoroughly blurs the distinction between porn and horror.
Such subject-matter makes the film hard to classify in generic terms, but it also highlights that the two elements somehow fit together. Most Disturbed Person on Planet Earth , dir. Thomas Extreme Cinemagore juxtaposes real death footage with mainly scatological porn in a manner that blurs the boundaries between desire and disgust.
The sustained presence of sex-horror in film suggests that these two elements fit together and the combination is a source of pleasure entertainment, fascination, intellectual stimulation and so forth for many. Yet sex-horror is broadly perceived to be disturbing see Hester, Despite the evident interest many individuals have in sex-horror, these negative reactions indicate that sex-horror is a source of trepidation, moral disdain or disgust for others.
Thus, it appears that sex-horror inspires directly competing responses. One might conclude that sex-horror itself is paradoxical; that it holds two directly oppositional meanings simultaneously.
However, as I will illustrate in this chapter, these dual responses are not as contradictory as they might first appear to be. To begin, let us consider negative responses to sex-horror. In their bluntest form, these manifest as calls for censorship see Hills, ; Petley, Sex-horror need not be explicit to incite censorship; even the juxtaposition rather than merging of sex and horror has been met with protest see Caputi, Many such complaints have led to the outright banning of films that incorporate sex-horror.
Srdjan Spasojevic is a notorious recent example; the film was banned in its uncut form in numerous countries including Australia, Norway and Malaysia because it contains: For instance, the landmark ruling Miller v. This same strategy for suppressing obscene images is echoed internationally. The case is further confused by blurring the core elements of sex-horror as well as the line between fictional representation and reality.
As Feona Attwood In this way of thinking, the sex- horror amalgamation confuses generic boundaries, but that confusion is made to stand in for an abstract problem regarding the distinction between reality and fantasy.
Those who seek to suppress sex-horror imagery typically garner support for their position by negating these complexities. Although the media-effects model has been widely refuted see Cameron and Frazer, ; Segal, , the paradigm has numerous advantages for those who wish to suppress sex-horror. Second, the vagueness about how sex-horror could cause social and moral deterioration is transmuted into a practical concern.
This line of reasoning rose to prominence before the advent of horror or porn studies, both of which were ignited by scholars seeking alternatives to effects-based condemnation. Effects-based reasoning evidently influenced foundational work in these areas. These presumptions are limited in two crucial ways. However, given that sex-horror is presented as Originally published in: The ostensible sex-horror paradox stems from this unnecessarily limited vision of sexuality.
Put bluntly, the moralistic position presents sex as being antithetical to horror, but this view fundamentally oversimplifies and misrepresents what sex is. Bodies can be sources of disgust, and because sex commonly entails the exchange of various bodily fluids such as saliva, sweat, vaginal juices, semen , sex can provoke fears about interpersonal pollution and pathogenic infection see Chapman and Anderson, The moralistic characterisation of sex-horror severely underplays the importance of disgust to human sexuality.
Acknowledging the affinities between sex and horror is imperative in developing sophisticated understandings of sex-horror. Creed focuses on genitals, gestation and castration within the horror-film context, acknowledging the connections between sex and corporeal horror.
In fact, in the time that has elapsed since The Monstrous-Feminine was first published, many horror filmmakers have moved towards overt and literal depictions of sexual horror that render psychoanalytic interpretative methods redundant. Films such as Teeth , dir. Mitchell Lichtenstein , Bad Biology , dir. Frank Henenlotter , Kiseichuu: Killer Pussy , dir. Takao Nakano , She Kills , dir. Ron Bonk and One-Eyed Monster , dir. Adam Fields present genitalia as a source of disgust and monstrosity, while It Follows , dir.
David Robert Mitchell , Contracted , dir. Eric England , Night of Something Strange , dir. Jonathan Straiton and Kanno Byoto: Takaaki Hashiguchi are concerned with sexually transmitted infections. Sex and horror overlap because they evoke some of the same phenomenal experiences and emotions pleasure, disgust and so forth to various degrees.
Sex-horror is not an unholy union of opposites, in which horror is synonymous with harm and disgust while sex equates to pleasure and lust. Rather, their edges blur and merge. They are entangled, and so — at least sometimes — they belong together. Sex is not always a site of shared intimate pleasure; it is at least sometimes awkward, uncomfortable, Originally published in: Yet representations of such conditions do not exclude pleasure or preclude pleasurable responses. The moralistic quest to censure representations of sex-horror entails denying these complexities in favour of over-simplified models such as the media-effects paradigm.
Although sex-horror is condemned, the argument betrays an inability to sufficiently explain what is wrong with sex, horror or the sex-horror combination. Indeed, calls to censure sex-horror are typically marked by both conceptual confusion and a lack of detailed engagement with the films under scrutiny.
The same euphemistic projection of sex onto an asexual horror scenario is evident elsewhere in criticism of horror movies, and slasher films in particular. Critics commonly presume that for slasher-killers, murder replaces sex see Heba, Without a more nuanced understanding of the sex—horror confluence, the delegitimisation of such representations is nothing more than hollow rhetoric used to support taste judgements. It is particularly concerning that such insubstantial, subjective verdicts can become enshrined in law see Carline, Those who rally against sex-horror do not just limit the range of representations available; such censure also stigmatises sex-horror, and consequently territorialises even private contemplation of those perfectly natural elements.
Perversely, suppression of sex-horror stifles our Originally published in: To illustrate, I will briefly consider a case study: A Serbian Film, a horror movie that has been widely censored as a result of flouting sexual taboos including necrophilia, paedophilia and rape. For instance, the most heavily censored sequence in the UK release involves a woman Lejla being suffocated by having a penis forced into her mouth, yet a scene in which a man Tasa is lobotomised by having a penis inserted into his eye-socket was left untouched.
These parallel choices indicate that sexual violence perpetrated by men against women is less acceptable than male-on-male sexual violence. Indeed, by removing the former and not the latter, the BBFC perpetuates that norm.
A Serbian Film seeks to broaden the narrow vision of sex implied by such norms, demonstrating that sexual expression takes on a diverse array of non-normative forms. The video then abruptly switches to a porn film starring Milos. That transference underscores how psychologically complex sexuality is. Consequently, the censored version portrays Marko as a one-dimensional monster; he is reduced only to the atrocity he commits because relevant information about his character is missing.