The Horror Honeys: Psychosexual Horror: The 'It Girl' of Horror

Psychosexual Horror: The 'It Girl' of Horror

A Guest Honey Review by Lux Canary

The layman hears "psychosexual horror"(PSH) and they thing you're Patrick goddamn Bateman.  And okay, yeah, maybe some of us psychosexual horrorphiles cross a bizarre line.  But like any Hollywood "It Girl", PSH is quickly moving up the ranks as a respectable, thought-provoking horror sub-genre.

Let me make something very clear: PSH is nothing like sexual horror.  The psychodynamic elements in PSH transform any given sexual horror from a busty broad - tits out - running from a machete -wielding maniac into a philosophical dilemma.   There's sex - and I don't mean fucking - well, yes, fucking, but sex is so much broader.  It's a look, a touch, a comment, yearning, desire, obsession, love, hate, passion, fury loathing...  And here's where it gets real: sexual anything comes with a fuck load of emotions.

Enter horror.  Because what's more horrifying than having your sexual fantasies fucked with?
Or even more terrifying, having fucked up fantasies...

Sexuality runs the gambit. And when it's horrific, it's bloody goddamn horrific.  Can I give you some examples?  Can we all get on board with that?  Wonderful.

Dithering Psychosexual Horror:

The recent brilliant as hell film by the Soska Sisters, American Mary, is what I like to call Dithering PSH. This is always fun because it’s more realistic, you can relate to the characters. Billy is terrified of Mary, who has quit med school to perform extreme underground body modification, but yet… he wants her; on a visceral, primal level. The type of level only achieved through fear and/or hatred. In one scene, he fantasizes about Mary strip teasing while pouring a glass of blood all over her nearly naked body. Yet in another scene, he wakes up from a nightmare in which Mary gets ready to fuck him and them stabs him with a scalpel. Like I said, he’s frightened; Mary is stoic, a bit sociopathic, and dangerous as hell. But the lust Billy feels doesn’t dissipate with his fear, it simply amplifies

For the viewer, this is exhilarating. Fear releases adrenaline, right? Moms lifting cars and all that bullshit… and being turned-on releases endorphins. So you’re watching an objectively sexy woman pour blood down the middle of her scantily clad body (in slow motion, I might add) and you don’t know whether to be horrified or turned on, but what you do know, is that you’re starting to feel high from those chemicals in your body. 

Here is the crux of PSH: The fear remains, but the adrenaline and endorphins kick up the desire and BAM! You’ve got horror, sex, and emotionally screwed up fantasies: A Walter White-worthy formula for pure as hell Psychosexual Horror.   

Slow Burn Psychosexual Horror:

This sub-sub-genre of horror is usually done very artistically and intelligently. The subtle nature screws with your mind; dropping hints… making you constantly wonder and genuinely analyze—Did that just happen? The perfect example of this is the new-ish television show, Bates Motel. It’s a prequel to the iconic horror film, Psycho. The really unique thing about subtle, slow-burn PSH is that you have to pay close attention to see the horror of it all. The horror elements tend to take the form of average, every day things. In Bates’ case, Norman Bates will do anything, anything, to please his mother Norma Bates. Norma knows this. And she manipulates her son, uses him like a cheap toy, and often puts the responsibility of her happiness on his shoulders—essentially treating him like a husband in many respects. Their relationship is so enmeshed. You don’t know where his thoughts end and hers begin. This is a subtle, but bizarre and disturbing incestuous relationship. The psychological horror hits strong in Bates Motel. That’s some serious Freudian shit right there. 

When I say that the horror takes the form of every day things, I’m talking about things like Norma wanting to sleep in the same bed with her high school age son, cuddling up to him all night. These aren’t overt horror techniques, they’re indirect, and it’s the type of PSH moment that sticks with you much longer than other types of horror. Head chopped off? Big deal. Mom sleeping in the same bed and snuggling with her grown son? Eeeek. 

Genuinely Terrifying Psychosexual Horror:

American Horror Story is just that, a true American horror story. (Ryan Murphy didn’t waste any time with titles.) There are gruesome murders, ghosts, high school shoot-ups, creatures that are barely human, home invasions… fuck, that show has every aspect of horror. And it’s genuinely spooky. BUT…it’s as much about sex as it is horror. A common thread in this sub sub-genre of horror is that the sex and terror tend to be separate from each other. (Except when young Moira bites off that dude’s dick…)
While other forms of PSH tend to combine the elements of horror and sex, American Horror Story has one sexy scene that leads right into a horrific scene. But it has a similar affect—your mind is still breathing in Moira and The Black Dahlia getting randy with each other while people are getting cut up all over the place! Your mind blends the sex and horror together—if done right, the show simply doesn’t have to do it for you. And that’s fucking dazzling. 

Fucked Up Psychosexual Horror:

Excision is a rare gem in the horror film genre. The main character is obsessed with anything violent, disgusting, sexual, and disturbing. And we get to see into her very unusual fantasies, including having sex in oodles of blood, having men in diapers crawl all over her, and ultimately performing surgery on her sister, inadvertently killing her.

This is a film that leaves you absolutely horrified, yet makes you wonder… opens your eyes a bit. I think films like Excision are complete horror game changers. They’re not like Bates Motel. You’re not going to finish watching it and think; maybe I should fuck my mom. But with Excision, you DO leave the film thinking, Holy shit that was disturbing and also, let’s go home and fuck in some blood! 

You may think I’m kidding but I am SO not. Your inner demons surface because of media like this, and that’s not always a bad thing. Whatever stimulates you, whether it’s horror, sex, or horror combined with sex, the PSH genre has redefined what is appropriate to be aroused by… and that answer is horror. 


During a time in which moms have changed their reading habits from Nicholas Sparks to… you know the, “Don’t worry, love. We’ll ease you into that butt plug, first let me cane you” type of literature, and horror has become so mainstream in every facet of society; PSH has finally found its home and a willing audience. 

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