Friday, January 22, 2010
Sex and Horror: It's all about the climax!
It begins with mood and atmosphere. It is ignited by tension. The body feels flushed, heart pounding, hands sweating, belly tickling, thoughts racing. The participant runs every scenario and worries about his ability to perform under stress. Soon, it closes in on him and there comes the moment where it all culminates in the great releasing reward.
Yes, sex and horror go hand-in-hand.
It amazes me how rarely moviemakers really get this concept. Oh yes, we have the sex-crazed teenagers in “Halloween” and other slashers, but there are few movies that know how to play the sexual tension with the horror to show how they complement one another.
When you think about, there is nothing more vulnerable than the intimacy and naked exposure of a sexual encounter and there is nothing more vulnerable and naked-feeling than something terrifying hunting you down. Both involve a certain amount of helplessness and handing oneself over to fate, trying to control that which is not controllable, and the desire to finally know—will it resolve my tension?
Look at the scene in “Legend of Hell House” when the psychic lies down in bed with the ghost, allowing him to make love to her as a show of being cared for, only to find he can now possess her. Now, that was more chilling, more potent than had she sat down and talked to him in a séance or perhaps been pursued by him in some dark and dreary hallway.
“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” with Keanu Reeves actually did a fair job of correlating the two genres. Vampire movies make it easier by creating a moment of exquisite pain intermingled with desire. The female characters and even the lead male character are helpless to the seductive powers of vampires. They portray the classic submissiveness of a successful conquest in domination and the mesmerizing of a person’s will with seduction.
Watching a truly well plotted horror movie is a lot like the sexual experience. The movie unfolds in a romantic setting, creating a mood. The characters come forth, filled with mystery and dark pasts that intrigue. Stimulating and unexpected moments interrupt their tasks, distracting their minds and drawing their attention with an obsession-like level as is find in new love. They contemplate it, brood about it; continually expose themselves to see if what they’re feeling is genuine and what they should do next. They come to believe this “thing” is the test of their mettle.
At the moment of climax, it’s about every moment of tension leading up to that point when the body is primed, the mind is wildly fluttering from thought to thought unable to stay on task, when desperation begins to give rise and the kinetic energy in the body needs release. The decision is made. There is no turning back. The person is no longer in control of the situation, but a victim to it, helpless, riding it out, unable to do more than gasp and scream, claw and hyperventilate, slowly coming down from the beast-like state to the gush of soothing relaxation after such exertion.
Perhaps sex and horror go together so perfectly in ways that romance and horror do not (ex.“Twilight”), because they are of equal intensity in different spectrums of the human experience, both create screaming and crazed behavior. They are not for the faint of heart (either genre), but when you find them blended together in a movie, it makes for a truly potent mix. Perhaps that's why "Twilight" was a watered down version of sex and a horror. It was neither one nor the other but a romantic mutt.
Note: I enjoyed "Twilight" as much as the other middle-aged women for the obvious reasons, but it served neither genre well. In a way, it was sort of the "Sleepless in Seattle" of horror movies.
p.s. I’m going on a ghost hunt with Julie from Above the Norm blog this weekend. I hope to have a post up about the experience on Sunday. No doubt, she will report on it, as well. I hope to show her a good and spooky time in the ghost hunting world.
at 7:09 PM