First things first: what is erotic horror? The simple definition of erotic horror is any work of fiction which employs both horrific and sexual overtones or story elements. But what does that mean, really?
I know half of you are wondering. The other half are just waiting for recommendations. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.
#1 Erotic Horror is a Genre Mash-Up
Stories that fall under this umbrella are combinations of two seemingly dissimilar genres that actually have a lot in common. Horror is meant to disturb and unsettle you. Erotica is meant to titillate. Erotic horror is a mash-up of these two ideas. Two great tastes that taste great together, isn’t that the old slogan?
Erotica and horror writers both seek to provoke strong feelings in their readers using deep characterization and descriptions. They want to make your heart pound, your blood run quicker, your breath catch. In fact,both authors are seeking to arouse something in you — fear or sexual pleasure.
Some would argue that there is erotic horror — that is, horror that contains erotic elements but is ultimately meant to horrify the reader — and horror (or dark) erotica — which is a story with dark or horror elements that is intended to arouse the reader sexually. Truthfully, there’s a fine line between the two and there are many stories that bridge the narrow gap between the two genres.
#2 The Four F’s
Our bodies have natural reactions to outside stimuli. Whenever we’re greeted with a predator, for example, the scientific community often talks about the first two F’s: the “Fight or Flight” response. Faced with something we’re unfamiliar with, most people seek to either overpower (fight) or run away from (flight) the thing.
Many add a third F: Freeze. Like a bunny rabbit, or the people in the first Jurassic Park movie when they saw a t-rex, we hunker down and hope the Bad Thing doesn’t see us. I would add a fourth, less common and little studied F to this list: Fuck.
That’s right, some of us see the Bad Thing and try to seduce it.
What I’m saying is, this scene could have gone a LOT differently. 😉
#3 You Are Not Alone
Some of you might have checked over your shoulder before clicking on this post, but don’t worry. That’s not what I meant. There are plenty of people that read erotic horror. Horror is an immensely popular genre. So is romance, which is the kissing cousin of erotica. Both are billion dollar industries. It should be no wonder that the two sometimes consort on the page (or screen).
Horror is especially popular right now with younger people, 25 and under. The audience not only tends to skew younger and more diverse, but also almost equally male and female. This upcoming generation is also the most openly queer yet, so sex and sexuality are finally becoming less taboo topics, which is great for the erotic horror genre.
#4 It is Empowering
Erotic horror often touches nerves, inciting both fear and pleasure as we explore the things that terrify and arouse us. It makes us think about the nature of our world and the beings in it and the bodies we inhabit. An excellent example of this is V. Castro’s erotic horror novel Goddess of Filth, which I just recently reviewed on the blog.
Now, Google erotic horror and a lot of the images are of naked women. Not that there’s anything wrong with women being naked, but most of the images are meant to appeal to the male gaze. And there is the often-cited and not-entirely-wrong argument that horror exploits women. It has in the past and sometimes still does. However, horror is one of the few genres which has always been and continues to be a mainstay of representation and agency.
The audience for erotica, on the other hand, is predominantly women. While there are some men who read for sexual pleasure, they are in the minority. At least for now.
#5 Bad Boys and Ghoulish Girls
Science speculates on a lot of different reasons women are so often attracted to bad boys. Generally, it breaks down to something-something-pheromones. Not that we’re controlled by our ovaries and hormones! But hey, everyone is a little. As a society, we tend to accept that when it comes to men, but the “fairer” sex is supposedly immune to such thoughts.
Yeah, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face. Luckily, I’m bisexual, so I didn’t have to! 🤣
It’s a fact, whether we know the science or psychology behind it, that people of all genders are often attracted to people who might be classified in fiction as villains. They do things considered outside the norm or against society and they generally do it in a brash way that makes them sexy.
See? It’s a whole thing.
Whether you’re searching on AO3 (that’s https://archiveofourown.org/ ), Tumblr, TikTok, or just doing a Google search, you’re bound to find story after story and article upon article talking about why we love villains. So just embrace it. There’s a whole world of entertainment out there that is dying to be read.
What do you think? Have I piqued your interest? Comment below!
Check out some of these articles to find some erotic horror: