Sex and Horror

In Feona Attwood, Clarissa Smith & Brian McNair (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality. New York: Routledge. pp. 290-299 (2018)
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The combination of sex and horror may be disquieting to many, but the two are natural (if perhaps gruesome) bedfellows. In fact, sex and horror coincide with such regularity in contemporary horror fiction that the two concepts appear to be at least partially intertwined. The sex–horror relationship is sometimes connotative rather than overt; examples of this relationship range from the seduction overtones of 'Nosferatu' and the juxtaposition of nudity and horror promised by European exploitation filmmakers to the sadomasochistic iconography of 'Hellraiser'. In other cases, sex and horror are balanced in a manner that thoroughly blurs the distinction between porn and horror. 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 and these negative reactions indicate that sex-horror is a source of trepidation, moral disdain or disgust for some. 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.
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