Never one to shy away from sexual controversy, in her latest video, Bitch Better Have my Money, Rihanna poses as a kinky gangster. She kidnaps a woman and subjects her to all kinds of fetish abuse, before taking her onboard as part of her girl gang. Sexualized violence is present everywhere. From see-through bondage wear to a naked torture scenes and rubber gloved hands softly stroking a selection of knives. It’s kinky and dirty from start to finish, but Rihanna isn’t alone in blending erotic imagery with violence, BDSM horror movies have been doing it for a long time.

Are they vanilla flicks or BDSM horror movies?


Early slasher films like Friday 13th (1980), are rammed with naked couples getting it on around the campfire before being sliced up in gory Technicolor. In Halloween (1978), the only survivor is virginal Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who lives to see her slutty friends die horribly. One of them lies in bed after having sex. The killer enters wearing a sheet - pretending to be her (freshly dead) boyfriend dressed as a ghost. She sits up topless and asks him 'see anything you like?’ This bit of erotic contemplation is neatly sandwiched between her boyfriend’s gruesome death, where he’s pinned to the wall with a knife, and hers, where she is strangled.

The iconic Hellraiser (1987) brews up a heady mix of pain and pleasure. This very British film looks at power play in a relationship, exploring how sadomasochistic desire pushes sleazy Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) to the ultimate limits of sensuality. When he opens an oriental box, he releases the coenobites, a bunch of bondage freaks with a vicious streak that goes way beyond oversized strap-ons and cock torture. Hellraiser is extremely graphic and although the special effects might look dated to a contemporary audience, it’s an incredible ride. In one scene those kinky demons chase Frank down and pull him apart with chains and hooks, but he’s all over that. Licking his lips and smiling till the end, he mutters ‘Jesus wept’.

The coenobites revel in their extreme appearance and application of pain, telling Frank they are ‘devils to some, angels to others’. The female coenobite has her throat permanently prized open with wire, the slit representing a vagina, as we can tell by the way she strokes it. Another, Pinhead, has a skull prickled with nails, and a tight, patent leather bodysuit. In the context of the film they come straight from hell, but their outfits owe more to House of Harlot.

So why do we see so much BDSM imagery and scenes of sexual violence in horror movies?


horror movies and bdsmIn mainstream movie making, this genre beyond all others seems to revel in continually bringing together sexy, naked, bodies and shocking violence. Psychologists believe it all comes down to adrenaline; sexual arousal and fear are both primal emotions, putting them together for visual pleasure is like offering the audience two for the price of one. It can be argued that the same holds true for BDSM horror movies.

As far as our happy hormones are concerned, it’s all the same. We get same rush of excitement and elation from watching horror as we do from a stimulating kinky session. Moreover, in the same way as we can go back to our normal lives after a full-on S&M session, we know that what’s happening on the screen is fleeting and distinct from reality.

No one gets hurt during the making of BDSM horror movies, just as no one should get hurt when they’re into sadomasochism.


We know the abused and screaming characters shackled in the killer’s secret lair were soon let loose by the film crew, just like we know our play partner isn’t really going to spank us till we bleed – however bad we’ve been. It’s a disconnection from the worries and responsibilities of life, escapism with benefits.

Even though we use kinky toys and tools of torture in S&M play, these are our props and they enable us to get into character. Not everyone who’s into rubber gear and fetish play has an interest in horror, but for kinky fans of the genre, it holds raw and familiar thrills. Relishing the point of overwhelming fear during a scary movie is like entering the BDSM scene-zone. The response you have to the emotional ordeal is overwhelmingly pleasurable, reality soon goes out of the window and then the post-session come down provides an amazing sense of relief.
© filipobr / Dollar Photo Club and Hannes Engebrecht via Flickr with CC BY 2.0 licence

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