A lot of horror movies just throw in the obligatory topless scene and consider that “sexy.” We’re raising the bar here. All the movies below (except one) receive fresh ratings on RottenTomatoes.com’s¬†’s Tomatometer and were seminal contributions to the horror genre in some way. Or else they just tickled our fright fancy. (There was some natural crossover with our recent “10 Most Romantic ‘Monster’ Movies” post, but we left off any of those to avoid repetition.) The sexy scary flicks are listed in chronological order (there’s only one real spoiler, which we’ve alerted you to below). Let us know in the comments which other titles we should have made the cut.
1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
The somnabulist that Dr. Caligari keeps in a coffin is tall, pale, dressed in¬†black, and wears lots of goth makeup — in other words, totally sexy! When¬†it comes to tormenting pretty ladies dressed in white, we’ll take him over¬†1922′s long-nosed Nosferatu any day. ¬†”Portlandia” did a whole sketch on¬†how¬†The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari¬†is one of those films you know you¬†should¬†watch (it’s a landmark, cinematic masterpiece of German Expressionism!) but you never do. Do it finally! (We’ve embedded the full movie above.)
2. Cat People (1942)
Not to be confused with the graphic cheese-fest that was the 1982 remake, this moody, suspenseful thriller subtly tackled big issues for the time: sexism,¬†sexual abuse,¬†the power of female sexuality, and the dangers of jealousy. The main character refuses to consummate her marriage for fear she’ll turn into a ferocious panther when aroused, a condition caused by her repressive and abusive childhood. One can imagine ISIS using it as a propagandistic cautionary tale; they’d be missing the point.
3. Horror of Dracula (1958)
Time Out London’s list of the top 100 horror films of all time put this film at #74. Here’s what they had to say:
The British horror boom¬†which ran from the late¬†‚Äô50s until the early ‚Äô70s¬†received short shrift on¬†this list ‚Äď which is¬†disappointing for great films like ‚ÄėCurse of Frankenstein‚Äô, ‚ÄėTheatre of Blood‚Äô and¬†‚ÄėDeath Line‚Äô, but perhaps inevitable given the fact that so many films of the period¬†have aged so poorly. But it‚Äôs no surprise to see a solid placing for the film which¬†started it all, Hammer‚Äôs (for the time) groundbreakingly savage and saucy take on¬†Stoker‚Äôs classic novel, and one of the key works in the modernisation of horror. All¬†those frilly frocks, heaving cleavages and creaky sets don‚Äôt look especially modern¬†now, but this was the film which clarified forever the link between vampires and¬†eroticism, as embodied by Lee‚Äôs stately, stalking presence as the ultimate¬†gentleman sex fiend.
4. Daughters of Darkness (1971)
The fabulous silver sequined dress Delphine Seyrig wears as the ageless Countess at an old grand seaside hotel is enough to get this Belgian movie on our list. But her and her¬†sapphic sidekick’s¬†sensually sadistic seduction of two sad honeymooners scream sexy with a capital S. (That’s a lot of esses.)
Bonus: ¬†DoD reminds us of another disturbing seventies flick: Andy Warhol’s Flesh for Frankenstein (1974), an over-the-top camp concoction that shamelessly mixes sex and gore until the two are indistinguishable.
5. Don’t Look Now (1973)
Super creepy movie about the tragic death of a daughter from the perspective of the two parents trying to keep reality from descending into horror (yeah, good luck with that!). It’s beautifully shot in Venice, which is sexy in and of itself, but what makes it stand out is the incredibly realistic sex scene between husband and wife intercut with post-sex shots of them getting ready for the evening. One of the most intimate sex scenes ever made. Just remember it was the 70s — hopefully you can get past the flute music and Donald Sutherland’s perm.
6.¬†Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
It’s about the sexual awakening — and then some — of a conservative, virginal couple (Susan Sarandon and Barry Boswick) ¬†in the hands of Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), the mad scientist who’s incredibly and inspiringly comfortable in his “transvestite” skin. Almost every song in this twisted cult classic send up of old sci-fi and B-horror is an ode to sensuality.¬†”Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” sung by Sarandon’s Janet is pretty obvious (“I wanna be dirty/Thrill me, chill me,¬†fulfill me”) but there’s no sexier line than the one from “Rose Tint My World” sung by the newly empowered Janet: “I¬†feel released/Bad times deceased/My confidence has increased/Reality is here.”
7. The Hunger (1983)
Another Susan Sarandon vehicle, The Hunger is¬†the only one on our list not to get a fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com. But come on, it’s got Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as vampire lovers! (Pictured above.) That’s the definition of sexy. Add to that the lesbian “love” scene between Deneuve and Sarandon, plus the kickass soundtrack (with Bach’s Cello Suite #1 alongside Bauhaus’s goth classic, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”), and we’re giving this a thumbs up.
8. Angel Heart (1987)
Spoiler alert: If you can get past the the fact that the sex scene involves an adult (played by Mickey Rourke) fucking a minor (played by Lisa “Cosby Show” Bonet)…who’s mother is his ex-lover…whom he murdered…and who, it turns out, is his daughter from that dead ex-lover…whom he will kill after they have sex…by shooting her in the freakin’ vajayjay, well then that scene is pretty damned hot (emphasis on the damned).
9. American Psycho (2000)
We realize that by including American Psycho in this list, we’re guilty of the same kind of sexually shallow, consumeristic, image-conscious obsession the movie (based on the Bret Easton Ellis book) is making fun of with its¬†sexually shallow, consumeristic, image-conscious obsessed, serial-killing main character. But it’s not often that movies gaze so lovingly and longingly (however ironically) at the idealized male form (yet another reason Hollywood needs more female directors like this one’s, Mary Harron). So Christian Bale’s chiseled pecs and glutes earn the film a spot on our list.
10. Thirst (2009)
In his 1996 essay “Hail the Returning Dragon, Clothed in New Fire,” David Foster Wallace argued that obstacles are what make sex meaningful and sexy (dragons got in the way of maidens, AIDS got in the way malaise-inducing free love). South Korea’s Thirst is a tale with some serious obstacles: he’s a Catholic priest, she’s a married woman; he’s a vampire, she’s not…not yet at least. It doesn’t get much more forbidden than that.
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