At the bloody, pulsating heart of most horror films is sex. Many gorefests revel in nudity and in killing couples mid or post-coitus, and it's such a trademark of the genre that it became one of the infamous "Rules for Surviving a Horror Movie." If you strap on a chastity belt and keep on your sweater set like Jamie Lee Curtis, chances are good that you'll dodge your own mortality. (The deeper implications of that are hotly debated even today, but that's a topic for another time and the Horror Squad.)
But horror has a sexy cousin in the psychological / psychosexual thriller. This genre revels in punishing people who get caught between the sheets just as much as true horror does, but it's like a set of Agent Provocateur lingerie versus Frederick's of Hollywood. They're doing the same thing to your senses, but one does it with a veneer of class and sophistication, and appeals to people who wouldn't be caught dead with a slasher. With that spirit, I've compiled a little list of movies to augment your usual October diet. You might be able to get one or more of them past a girlfriend or boyfriend who loathes horror -- but don't be surprised if both of you feel like wearing a suit of armor to bed just in case.
1. Dressed to Kill
One of Brian DePalma's many Hitchcock homages, Dressed to Kill manages to be both campy and terrifying as it veers from the sexual frustration of Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson), to a murder mystery, to a full blown slasher. Miller's museum seduction remains a thing of creepy beauty, but try not to laugh as the hammer of Puritanism comes down on her not once but twice. If that's not bad enough, cringe along with her son as he finds out just what his mom was up to at the art museum. Enjoy the predictable ride in all its sleazy glory, and then see if you can watch the final scenes without all the lights on.
2. Fatal Attraction
This one needs no introduction and no description. Dan might as well be in Camp Crystal Lake for all the havoc, knives, and bunnies that fall victim to Alex's wrath. While this has largely been touted as a horror film for men, I think it's equally terrifying for women. It's bad enough that your husband is tempted to have sex and salsa dance while you're away, but then you wind up physically battered, your daughter is kidnapped, and the household pet is boiled. Oh, and drowning the witch destroys the ceiling of your brand new house! I couldn't file divorce papers fast enough.
3. The Beguiled
Now this is the movie that'll scare the pants back on the men. Wounded Union soldier John McBurney (Clint Eastwood) thinks he's died and gone to heaven when he winds up in an all-girls Southern boarding school. He thinks his only problem is deciding which of the girls to sleep with first. But one randy Yankee is no match for a bunch of wartrapped Southern women, and McBurney spends the rest of the movie wishing he'd left his pants buttoned. This might be a good one to watch before going out to Halloween parties filled with Sexy Everythings.
4. A Perfect Murder
This Hitchcock remake went the extra mile in punishing a woman's wandering eye -- it put her between a psychotic husband and a sleazy, con-artist boyfriend. Apparently, the lesson here is to beware of a man with a sturdy cleft chin because it's just a facade for a man who wants to kill you -- and to just get a divorce, change your name, and flee to Spain if you find your husband to be a tad controlling.
There's so many contenders for #5 that I'm going to stoop to the obvious and pick the one Mondo Tees recently revived Internet interest in with their fabulous poster. I'm not sure what's scarier -- how Hollywood perceived the gay community, that awful little song the killer sings, or Al Pacino's hair. Whether your gay, straight, or bisexual, it's guaranteed to keep you out of dark clubs, away from kinky sex, and safe in front of your television with some cocoa watching TCM. Alone.
Now it's your turn to list some of the ones I didn't. Give us some October movies that'll send you scurrying for the unsexy pajamas while double checking the locks on the doors.