I was really dreading this week’s movies going into it. Now that the week is done, I can say that I was fully justified in that feeling. Only one of them managed to get above a 2 out of 5 and one of them got the dubious honor of being the most mindbogglingly terrible movie ever. However, it did at least spur me to look at the genre and why it is that sex and nudity end up being such a key element even in horror movies that aren’t focused on that aspect in particular.
It’s interesting that horror seems to be one of the few genres outside of porn that has a plethora of movies based around sex. The only other that gets away with that is generally comedy (i.e. Porky’s or National Lampoon’s Sex Havers). However, with comedy, that type of focus is generally not incorporated into the genre as a whole. If you’re watching a slasher film, you expect there to be at least one nude and/or sex scene in the film so the killer can “punish” them for it. It’s become so ingrained as part of the genre that more recent films will even mention or parody it like in Jason X.
The combination of nudity and horror I think can be linked in a couple of ways. The first goes back to that classic shower scene in Psycho. It wasn’t just scary because of the murder but because of the vulnerability of being in a shower. When we are naked we become vulnerable and exposed. The killer taking advantage of that exposure is a way to compound the feeling of horror and to make it stick with us. How many people after seeing that scene went home and became afraid of their shower curtains?
The other thing that makes it pair up so often with horror is that both are done for the thrill. Especially in America where we have such a strong taboo regarding sex and nudity, it makes sense that it would be combined with one of the other genres where the point is to break taboos. The audience is invited to be titillated by the terror that plays out on the screen that would normally be viewed as something awful. It is a way to make the audience interested and yet uncomfortable. Probably the one of the best uses of the nudity within horror to make the audience go from excited to disgusted is in Final Destination 3’s tanning bed scene. I invite you to look that one up yourselves.
While it is often overused and poorly used, I think that nudity and sex definitely has a useful place in the world of horror. Unfortunately, the actual T&A sub-genre is pretty much not worth it. With the creation of the internet, there is no shortage of porn you can find if you really want to see that. Where before a young teen might have rented one of these types of movies because seeing some tits would be an amazing highlight; now that same teen can just google up a cornucopia of whatever they’re into.