Erotic horror

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Dracula by Bram Stoker has been considered an early example of erotic horror[1][2]

Erotic horror, alternately called horror erotica or dark erotica, is a term applied to works of fiction in which sensual or sexual imagery are blended with horrific overtones or story elements for the sake of sexual titillation.[3] Horror fiction of this type is most common in literature and film. Erotic horror films are a cornerstone of Spanish[4] and French[5] horror.

Ero guro[edit]

Ero guro (エログロ), also known as guro, is a Japanese genre of erotic art that focuses on a mix of eroticism with grotesque and horror elements. Originating from the ero guro nansensu subculture of the Shōwa era,[6] it first gained prominence in the popular literature of Japan in the 1920s and 1930s,[7] and regularly features violent scenes such as dismemberment, disembowelment, eyeball gore, and exploding wombs.[8] Following the Sada Abe Incident of 1936, in which a woman strangled and castrated her lover for sexual pleasure, ero guro media faced censorship.[7][9] Such erotica made a reemergence in the postwar period, especially in manga.[10] Later subgenres of hentai would be influenced by ero guro, including tentacle hentai.[11] In the 21st century, guro hentai has gained popularity in the United States.[8]

Women's erotic horror[edit]

Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu is an example of lesbian erotic horror[12][13]

Feminists have been hesitant to accept erotic horror, as both the erotic and horror have been primarily locations for the male gaze.[14] Pornography and the erotic, through a non-feminist gaze, are often about the coercion of women to performing sexual acts that they do not consent to.[14] Furthermore, erotic horror media written with rape, monstrous sex scenes, or the exchange of heterosexual power dynamics are not condoned by feminist scholars and activists; these forms of erotic horror are not deemed transgressive, empowering or feminist.[14] Contemporary women's horror, however, celebrates the erotic and encourages combining horror with eroticism in order to express what terrifies and titillates women without penalty, while still centering self-determination and sexual choice.[14]

Writers and readers of feminist erotic horror works use them to express themselves as both a subject and object within a fantasy context.[14] Many feminist erotic horror pieces involve romantic relationships with a monster, such as vampires or werewolves, and/or the reworking of existing fairytales in order for female protagonists to take control of their own sexual fate.[14] These romantic relationships act as a lens for a transgression of these different monsters and a celebration of rich difference.[14]

Although the vampire is traditionally understood as a masculine devourer of women,[15]: 158  modern erotic stories featuring women vampires are often transgressive in nature – women in these stories do not conform to expectations about marriage, sexual freedom, or heterosexual desire – and may be understood as altogether feminist.[16] Several of these stories feature the lesbian vampire, a trope in which vampirism and lesbian identity are connected.[16] In the 1970s, erotic vampire lesbian films (like Twins of Evil by John Hough, 1971) projected lesbian identity and vampirism as intertwined, and audiences viewed both as horrifying elements.[16] Erotic vampire lesbian horror is a diverse genre, and lesbian identities are constructed in several different ways: As members of a shared sisterhood, sexually violent, sadomasochistic, or supporting butch and femme distinctions.[16] More generally, although early works were limiting, modern lesbian erotic horror transgresses popular conceptions of what appropriate sexual desire can look like and celebrates difference.[16]

Monster erotica[edit]

François Sagat on the set of L.A. Zombie, an example of zombie pornography

Monster erotica, also known as monster porn,[17] is a genre of erotic art or pornography that features sexual encounters between humans and monsters. Typical monsters in the genre include dinosaurs[18] and zombies,[19] as well as folkloric or mythical creatures such as cryptids,[17] vampires, or werewolves.[14]

Monster erotica is generally depicted as different than bestiality, as the monsters present are often intelligent and sapient; that being said, rape often takes place against humans in the genre.[17] Following media reports in 2013 that such books often contained scenes of rape, incest, and bestiality, various online retailers removed hundreds of self-published monster erotica books from their websites.[17] Monster erotica also appears in Japanese media, with examples such as tentacle hentai being popular.[11] Monster erotica sometimes features comedic or ironic themes, such as the works of Chuck Tingle.[20]


Vampires have been known to be icons of erotic horror since conception, especially Bram Stoker’s Dracula which includes overt female sexuality and voyeurism.[2] In different iterations of vampire stories, the vampire is constantly described as attractive and sexually alluring to humans.[21] Vampire bites and feeding are often described as pleasurable and sexual, as Violet Fenn notes in her analysis of vampire feeding within Dracula: “blood and lust are as one.”[21] Killing a vampire has also been analyzed as being sexually charged as it requires impalement or penetration by a stake to the heart.[2] Andrew Green notes in his analysis that the language used by Stoker for the death of the vampire Lucy Westenra is reminiscent of the language used to describe orgasms.[2]

In film[edit]

The design of the Xenomorph in Alien intentionally evokes horrific erotic imagery

Erotic horror has had influences on Spanish,[4] French,[5] and American horror films. The works of Jean Rollin, such as Le Viol du Vampire and Fascination, are considered quintessential erotic horror films, blending deeply sexual imagery with gore.[5] American cinema has also featured notable erotic horror film franchises, such as Candyman.[22] An example of a British erotic horror film series is Hellraiser.[23] Alien features heavy erotic imagery, with the design of the Xenomorph by H. R. Giger featuring both phallic and vaginal imagery, intended to symbolize patriarchal guilt[24] as well as sex, rape, and pregnancy.[25]

Body horror films, such as Crimes of the Future[26] and Titane,[27] have been likened to erotic horror.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Craft, Christopher (1984-10-01). ""Kiss Me with those Red Lips": Gender and Inversion in Bram Stoker's Dracula". Representations. 8 (8): 107–133. doi:10.2307/2928560. ISSN 0734-6018. JSTOR 2928560.
  2. ^ a b c d Green, Andrew (September 2003). "Voyeurs and vampires: sex and sexuality in Bram Stoker's Dracula: Dracula is remarkable for the frankness with which it explores the murkier areas of Victorian attitudes to sex and sexuality. Andrew Green discusses some of the issues raised by Stoker's classic horror tale". The English Review. 14 (1): 24–28 – via Gale Literature Resource Center.
  3. ^ Sipos, Thomas M. (2014). Horror Film Aesthetics: Creating the Visual Language of Fear. McFarland. p. 27. ISBN 9780786458349.
  4. ^ a b Benshoff, Harry M. (2014). A Companion to the Horror Film. John Wiley & Sons. p. 380. ISBN 9781118883495.
  5. ^ a b c "Kinoeye | French horror: Jean Rollin - an introduction". Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  6. ^ Ranpo, Edogawa; Reichert, Jim (Winter 2001). "Deviance and Social Darwinism in Edogawa Ranpo's Erotic-Grotesque Thriller "Kotō no oni"". Journal of Japanese Studies. 27 (1): 113–141. doi:10.2307/3591938. JSTOR 3591938. PMID 20039478.
  7. ^ a b Dazed (2016-08-31). "The erotic Japanese art movement born out of decadence". Dazed. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  8. ^ a b kotakuinternational (2017-10-07). "Japanese 'Gore Erotica' Is Slowly Catching On In The West [NSFW]". Kotaku Australia. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  9. ^ Johnston, William (2005). Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star: A Woman, Sex, and Morality in Modern Japan. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 11, 114, 160. ISBN 978-0-231-13052-3.
  10. ^ McLelland, Mark (2006). "A Short History of Hentai". Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context. 12. ISSN 1440-9151. Archived from the original on 2017-06-22.
  11. ^ a b Kimi, Rito (2021). The History of Hentai Manga: An Expressionist Examination of Eromanga. FAKKU. pp. 141, 142. ISBN 978-1-63442-253-6.
  12. ^ Burton, Alice (2019-05-07). "Lesbian Representation in the Vampire Classic Carmilla". Book Riot. Retrieved 2023-10-21.
  13. ^ "From 'Dracula's Daughter' to 'Carmilla,' lesbian vampire depictions prove immortal". NBC News. 2021-10-30. Retrieved 2023-10-21.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Wisker, Gina (December 2001). "Women's Horror as Erotic Transgression". Femspec. 3 (1): 44–63. ProQuest 200049383 – via ProQuest.
  15. ^ Wisker, Gina (2016). Contemporary women's Gothic fiction: Carnival, hauntings, and vampire kisses. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137303493.
  16. ^ a b c d e Wisker, Gina (2009). "Devouring desires: Lesbian Gothic horror". In Hughes, William; Smith, Andrew (eds.). Queering the Gothic. Manchester University Press. pp. 123–141. ISBN 9780719086434.
  17. ^ a b c d Spitznagel, Eric. "Monster Porn: Amazon Cracks Down On America's Latest Sex Fantasy". Business Insider. Retrieved 2023-10-21.
  18. ^ Beck, Laura (2013-10-02). "Dinosaur Erotica Exists and It's Just as Amazing as You'd Imagine". Jezebel. Retrieved 2023-10-21.
  19. ^ McGlotten, Shaka; VanGundy, Sarah (2013-12-01). "Zombie Porn 1.0". Qui Parle. 21 (2): 101–125. doi:10.5250/quiparle.21.2.0101. ISSN 1041-8385. S2CID 142877483.
  20. ^ Romano, Aja (2016-10-18). "The secret behind internet erotica icon Chuck Tingle: his own life may be the best story he's ever written". Vox. Retrieved 2023-10-21.
  21. ^ a b Fenn, Violet (2021). A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture : Love at First Bite. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword History. pp. 94–116. ISBN 9781526776631.
  22. ^ Hobbs, Thomas (2021-10-31). "'A living mirror to white brutality': Tony Todd on Candyman's violent (and erotic) horror". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  23. ^ "The sexual undertones of Clive Barker's 'Hellraiser'". 2022-10-01. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  24. ^ Topel, Fred (2019-01-29). "What 'Memory: The Origins of Alien' Reveals About the Sexual Metaphors in the 1979 Film [Interview]". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  25. ^ "What's the Meaning Behind the Sexual Imagery in 'Alien'?". The Take. 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  26. ^ Kaufman, Sophie Monks (2022-06-05). "David Cronenberg Creates a World Where 'Surgery is the New Sex'". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  27. ^ Haddad, Natalie; G’Sell, Eileen (2021-11-04). "The Automotive-Erotic Body Horror of Titane". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  28. ^ Walker, Billie (2023-01-09). "Is Body Horror the New Intimacy?". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2023-10-22.

Further reading[edit]