Fear films are supposed to be titillating. A good horror movie is all about sharing popcorn with a significant other. You’re supposed to get close, then closer and closer until the fear throws you into each other’s arms. Whether you are in a cinema or your own home, horror movies are all about being intimate.
Some horror films give their audiences a slightly different form of “intimate” entertainment. Like fear, sexual desire gets blood pumping and sets pulses racing. Both a masked serial killer and a naked model produce jumping hearts. Put them together and you have a winning formula. Some horror maestros strike this balance perfectly, others give more weight to one or the other.
This list is about those scary movies that focus more on sex than death. From giggling co-eds frolicking in public showers to nude scenes that are beyond gratuitous, these fifteen films peddle flesh more than they peddle blood. Make sure that you watch them with the lights off.
15. The Return of The Living Dead (1985)
The classic The Return of the Living Dead is the quintessential zombie movie of the 1980s. It has all the requisite features: a gang of bad-mannered punks, a thrash metal and goth rock soundtrack, nuclear weapons, toxic ooze, and brain-chomping corpses. Indeed, The Return of the Living Dead is THE zombie film that established the tradition of brain eating. Unlike their predecessors in George A. Romero’s zombie canon, these zombies move quickly and are basically indestructible.
Writer-director Dan O’Bannon, who had earlier written the screenplay for 1979’s Alien, decided to add a little slapstick to the original story of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. This time around, acidic rain and fumes from the recently burnt body of a zombie keep the walking dead of Louisville’s Resurrection Cemetery going in perpetuity. Rather than scare you, The Return of the Living Dead is the type of movie you pump your fists to. A lot of this excitement owes a debt of gratitude to scream queen Linnea Quigley, who, as Trash, gets naked more than once in the film. Even when she goes all zombie, Trash still can’t find a stitch of clothing.
14. Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)
Thanks to the sexual revolution of the 1960s, directors across the globe felt obliged to amp up the skin content of their films. No country took the sexual revolution quite as seriously as Italy. The former homeland of fascism went gaga for highly sexual and very explicit horror-mystery films collectively known as giallo (Italian for “yellow”).
Taking its name from the cheap, lurid paperbacks of the prewar period, giallo films typically feature masked killers in black leather gloves and black ski masks. These killers are almost always driven to kill by some deep-seated sexual aberrancy. This is certainly true in Sergio Martino’s giallo classic, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have The Key. In this film, a pair of unhappy lovers (Luigi Pistilli and Anita Strindberg) plot to kill each other in between completely debauched parties. Pretty much every female in this film gets naked. The chief nudist is of course Edwige Fenech, the Algerian-born actress who became a household name thanks to her many undressed performances during the giallo era.
13. Species (1995)
For a brief time, actress Natasha Henstridge was considered one of the most desirable women on the planet. A lot of this was due to the Canadian actress’ role in Species, a 1995 sci-fi film that literally is about a gorgeous blond alien who is out to seduce the men of Earth.
In sum, Species is a highly erotic film that somehow managed to masquerade as a normal thriller. Screenwriter Dennis Feldman initially thought of the story way back in 1987 as a police procedural, but as the years went on, Species became an extraterrestrial musing on intergalactic weed (the kind that grows in your garden, not the kind that makes you love Doritos) and STDs. Sil (Henstridge) spends most of her on-screen time rocking back and forth with potential mates. When the male human does not meet her high criteria, Sil murders the horny gentleman. Tough luck.
12. What Have You Done To Solange? (1972)
Everything I said about Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key also applies to What Have You Done To Solange? The latter film, which was directed by Massimo Dallamano, takes the taboo topics of incest, rape, teenage pregnancy, and lust murder to new heights (or should we say depths?). Set in an all-girls Catholic school in London, What Have You Done To Solange? takes the basic plot of Edgar Wallace’s novel The Clue of the New Pin and adds in boatloads of exploitation.
After the young mistress of Italian professor Enrico Rossini (played by Fabio Testi) winds up murdered, the suave academic must find some way to clear his name from suspicion. He ultimately finds that several of the girls at the school are involved in a secret sex group that sees underaged girls bedding older men. This group can be identified by a small, green-tipped needle. As it turns out, the film’s murderer goes on his killing spree to extract vengeance in the name of his daughter, who was earlier killed by a botched abortion.
11. Piranha 3D (2010)
The makers of Piranha 3D never intended to frighten their audience. This film is sexy schlock served up on a steamy tray of adolescent fantasy. A loose remake of the 1978 exploitation film Piranha, Piranha 3D is ostensibly about how an earthquake turns loose a veritable army of piranhas that hunger for human flesh.
In truth, Piranha 3D is all about showing excessive gore and even more excessive ta-tas. The advertisements for the film made this all too clear. The attractive and buxom Jessica Szohr, Kelly Brook, and Riley Steele got more publicity than either Richard Dreyfuss or Christopher Lloyd. That should tell you all you need to know about this example of 21st century camp.
10. Demoniacs (1974)
The Italians got a lot of competition in the sleaze department from the UK and the USA. However, thanks to director Jean Rollin, France came the closest on unseating Italy as the king of the cinematic dung heap. Rollin, who is widely regarded as one of the best auteurs of the fantastique genre, essentially combined soft-core pornography with artistic violence in his many 1970s productions. Films like The Nude Vampire, The Rape of the Vampire, and Lips of Blood leave little to the imagination. Unsurprisingly, when mainstream work dried up, Rollin took to directing pornos.
A supposed homage to the adventure films of Rollin’s youth, Demoniacs is a revenge tale about a cast of pirates on the coast of northern Europe who abduct and rape two girls. In order to get their just revenge, the girls make a pact with Satan and beginning picking off the sailors one-by-one. This film is rather infamous for the masturbation scene performed by actress Joëlle Cœur.
9. Tenebre (1982)
Director Dario Argento is rightfully considered one of the greatest film directors that the horror genre has ever produced. His most notable films, including Suspiria and Inferno, are gorgeous, if not a little psychedelic explorations of dread. However, Argento’s biggest failures have always been his incomprehensible plots and his shoddy dialog. The films which avoid these mistakes the most are his giallo masterpieces, including Deep Red and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
Argento’s last great giallo is 1982’s Tenebre. When Peter Neal (played by Anthony Franciosa) travels to Rome in order to promote his latest paperback thriller, a deranged killer starts recreating the murders that can be found in the book. Most, if not all of these murders are lovingly shot and provide a slice of beauty in the midst of all the bloodletting. These death scenes are also very erotic. In one scene, a nude woman is hacked up right after coitus. In another, the killer is transported back to his painful childhood in Rhode Island, where a sexually promiscuous teacher sends her gangbang partners after the sexually awkward adolescent. With a genuinely shocking and gory ending, Tenebre comes highly recommended from yours truly.
8. Embrace of the Vampire (1995)
The film Embrace of the Vampire is best known as the cheap B-movie that got Alyssa Milano to disrobe for the first time. Within the first four minutes, two nude concubines stretch across the screen. Similarly, the entire film’s plot swirls around Charlotte (Milano) and her highly erotic dreams.
In these dreams, Charlotte makes love to a handsome vampire (played by Martin Kemp). When this vampire begins appearing in the real world, Charlotte is forced to choose between her bland boyfriend Chris (played by Abdel Nasri) or the vampire’s endless nightworld of lust and blood.
If Embrace of the Vampire sounds tawdry, that’s because it is. The only thing this film is notable for is Milano’s nudity, which comes during a scene involving a lesbian photographer. The fact that this film was remade in 2013 calls into question the mental health of all filmmakers involved.
7. Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf
While 1981’s The Howling is a certified classic and arguably one of the best werewolf movies ever made, the sequel, 1985’s Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf, is pretty much garbage on celluloid. Of course, that is the film’s appeal. Starring the great Christopher Lee and the Austrian sexpot Sybil Danning, Howling II takes lyncanthropy from Los Angeles to Transylvania (which is actually Prague in what was then Czechoslovakia). In short, after the on-air killing of Karen White, Karen’s brother Ben (played by Red Brown) and Karen’s co-worker Jenny (played by Annie McEnroe) are informed that there is a worldwide werewolf conspiracy. Under the tutelage of Stefan Crosscoe (Lee), the werewolf hunters journey to Transylvania in order to kill Stirba, an immortal werewolf queen (Danning).
This gothic-erotic disasterpiece is cult cinema to the max. As such, Danning and other werewolves get naked quite a bit. For example, during the end credits, the filmmakers repeat over and over again a scene in which Danning rips off her top. This sequence is repeated a shocking 17 times.
6. Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)
So Count Yorga, Vampire looks like a porno. It has the same faded, washed-out coloring that usually comes with a couple of Xs next to the sign that says “Rated.” Originally entitled The Loves of Count Yorga, this vampire flick was intended to be a soft-core flesh film. However, with the inclusion of actor Robert Quarry as the Bulgarian bloodsucker transported to Los Angeles, the filmmakers had to go mainstream. The only holdout from the film’s pornographic past is actress Marsha Jordan, a well-known soft-core performer of the 1960s.
Count Yorga, Vampire is more or less your standard vampire film. The decadent, yet well-mannered Count Yorga lusts after the women of LA. It takes a gang of men to bring him down. However, despite being derivative, Count Yorga, Vampire is actually a good film. Its sequel, 1971’s The Return of Count Yorga, is actually a much better film.
5. What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974)
Here’s another visit from our old pal Massimo Dallamano. What Have They Done to Your Daughters? is a hybrid film that incorporates elements of police procedural, mystery, thriller, and giallo. Beneath of the facade of respectable and middle class Rome, police investigators discover that one teen’s suicide is connected to a prostitution ring that specializes in underaged girls. Worse still, the “johns” of this racket are wealthy men who have a habit of either impregnating these girls or sharing an STD with them.
Once the police begin to understand the sex ring, a machete-wielding killer on a motorcycle is set loose in the city. His job is to keep as much secret as possible. He does not succeed, but he at least looks badass.
4. Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975)
Strip Nude For Your Killer returns to one of the favorite plot devices of the giallo genre –the abortion gone wrong. This film begins with a bloody abortion scene that ends with the death of the mother. In a deeply Catholic Italy, such actions are worth killing over.
Directed by Andrea Bianchi, Strip Nude For Your Killer also includes other giallo trademarks, including the killer in the motorcycle helmet and the revenge motive. As is the case in What Have You Done to Solange?, the killer in Strip Nude For Your Killer targets those models and photographers who were involved or connected to the opening scene’s abortion.
3. Nekromantik (1987)
One of the most controversial films ever made, Jorg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik is basement sleaze that is more disgusting than terrifying. As can be surmised by the title, the film is mostly about the sexual transgression called necrophilia. The film’s protagonist, Rob Schmadtke, works for Joe’s Cleaning Agency, a company that removes dead bodies from public places. This allows Rob to indulge in his favorite pastime: sleeping with corpses.
Banned outright in numerous countries, Nekromantik has all the romance of a real snuff film. Rob and his wife Betty are the sickest of freaks, and Nekromantik bares so much flesh that it’s mostly bones. Be forewarned: you don’t want to know what Betty decides to do with a steel pipe.
2. Hostel: Part II (2007)
Admittedly, I never have never liked Eli Roth or his Hostel franchise. Blood for the sake of blood, which is the entire reason for “torture porn,” is not exactly my thing. However, I will readily admit that the first Hostel was scary. Yes, there certainly was a lot of exposed skin in Hostel, but the film wasn’t all T and A.
Hostel: Part II on the other hand is mostly just T and A. As with the first film, Hostel: Part II is set in Slovakia at the same torture center that advertises murder as a recreational sport. This time, American girls are on the menu at the Elite Hunting Club.
The moments of nudity in this film come courtesy of beautiful models and actresses like Vera Jordanova, Heather Matarazzo, and a whole flock of unnamed extras. The moments of horror are overdone and nowhere near as gruesome as the first go-round.
1. Nude For Satan (1974)
Hell of a title, right? Well, Luigi Batzella’s film bills itself as a psychological chiller, but it is really just a porno with a catchy title. Do not watch this film for its plot, which involves a moldering castle and the interior lives of two perverts. You also should not care about the film’s dialogue, which is downright horrendous. Nude For Satan is basically eighty minutes of lengthy sex scenes interspersed by cheesy depictions of terror.
The only film comparable to Nude For Satan is 1979’s Caligula, an epic period piece featuring unsimulated sex scenes. Whereas Caligula tries to be artsy, Nude For Satan is openly raunchy. Keep the kids away from this one unless you want to have “the talk” at a very early age. This film leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination.