If having the pants scared off you seems like a sexy proposition, get ready for your nightmarish dreams to come true. On Saturday Burlesque Nouveau will present The Dark Side of Burlesque, a terrifying tease show in which a bevy of talented performers pay tribute to the macabre with nods to Silence of the Lambs, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more horror classics that go “bump-bump” in the night.
“So often, people think of burlesque as feathers and sparkly rhinestones, and I wanted to show our audience a new and lesser-known aspect to the art of tease,” says shimmy master Deirdre Von Derriere, who is behind the haunting production. Dustin Bones and the Body Stealers will be playing tunes while the cast of spooky seductresses takes it all — maybe even their skin — off just for you.
In honor of this evening of fannies and frights, we put together a list of six horror films that will leave you both scared and turned on as you turn out the lights to watch them:
6) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
When you’re doing a remake of one of the certified classics of horror, you need to give the audience something that the original didn’t. Marcus Nispel’s decent take on Leatherface — cinema’s cannibalistic, power-tool wielding maniac and his family – added an element that Tobe Hooper’s 16mm camera failed to pick up: sex appeal. This take actually makes you feel like it's summertime in Texas, as every shot of its hot cast of potential victims — including Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Mike Vogel and Eric Balfour – has them covered in sweat droplets that make their already scant wardrobe stick to them in all the right places while they’re chased, dissected and run through with large pointy objects. Sometimes blood and sweat can be just as good a combo as chocolate and peanut butter.
Horror master Clive Barker was already writing horror with the hot breath of eroticism blowing through every page, so when his adaptation of his S&M-tinged The Hellbound Heart hit the big screen with the promise of pain so pleasurable it would “tear your soul apart," a new age of kink entered the horror lexicon: from the sleek grotesquery of the Cenobites – three patent leather- and chain-clad beasts looking to get their hooks in you – to the cold chill of their leader Pinhead, with his bald head filled with dozens of perfectly laid nails and his delicious accent promising you an exquisite death, to the hot blood of Uncle Frank, a man who took his pleasure so far with the hell gang that he’s not only undressed, even his skin is gone. After his lover Julia begins to rack up victims for their blood, Frank's taut, red musculature begins to take shape and look as mouth-watering as a fresh T-bone steak just asking to be thrown on the grill. After seeing Hellraiser, we're certain that clear human body models started disappearing from science classes all over the world, and the demand for beef went up — both for salacious reasons.
No one mixes the terror of humanity with the nasty sting of sex and desire like Canada’s David Cronenberg. This 1983 masterpiece continued his patented exploration of body-horror with the tale of a sleazy cable programmer (James Woods) who lets a sexy new channel, Videodrome, enter his lineup and his body. Once the channel gets its hands on his red hot girlfriend (Deborah Harry), things get even breathier and weird as we see Woods start to make out with his pulsing, throbbing television set and even accept a fleshy videotape into a new opening in his body. Cable TV hasn’t been this sexy since those nights you tried to watch scrambled porn.
3) Dressed To Kill
To director Brian DePalma’s credit, he had almost a self-masturbatory knack for pumping pure Hitchcock into every one of his films, but then he added a touch that ol’ Hitch was never allowed to portray on screen – straight-up lust, sex and nudity. DePalma’s early greats titillate just as much as they terrify, and that combo is played to the hilt in in this 1980 classic that follows smoking-hot Nancy Allen, a call girl doing her best to avoid meeting the wrong end of a razor held by crazed killer Bobbi, a trenchcoated figure that may be either a man or a woman. Allen’s many scenes of smoldering seduction aside, it’s Angie Dickinson’s role in the film’s homage to Psycho that really keeps things steamy. From a very intimate and scary opening-credits shower scene to Dickinson’s dalliance in a cab after a sexy cat-and-mouse chase in a museum, this film keeps you distracted with thrills while it sneaks up and grabs you from behind with the chills.
William Friedkin (The Exorcist) adapted a pulpy bestseller about a cop who goes undercover in the gay leather world to catch a serial killer targeting the men of that scene but gets in so deep himself that he causes two sets of trouble, both in the film and reality. First, the production attracted the ire of the gay community, who felt it was so violent and anti-gay that it overturned a decade’s worth of activism and created grave misunderstandings about homosexuals. And second, the sexual encounters between the men were so realistic and intense that the MPAA made Friedkin excise forty minutes from the film which, sadly, disappeared forever. The movie stars Al Pacino in the lead as the straight cop who finds his psyche unhinged as he hunts for a killer — only to lose himself in the process. Friedkin captures the sexuality of the moment so brazenly that you don’t blame Pacino’s character for starting to get turned on and curious about a side of himself he didn’t realize existed.
1) The Hunger
It’s a small wonder that hundreds of movie screens didn’t spontaneously combust in 1983 from the combined heat of Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon in this Tony Scott-directed tale of vampirism and eroticism taken to sumptuous new heights. As Bauhaus’s opening credit song tells us, “Bela Legosi’s Dead” and with it, the idea of a dark, cold monster that repels more than it attracts. Deneuve and Bowie are all light and white as they lure a timid yet sexually free Sarandon into their lair as a new partner to help them perpetuate their blood lust and desire for an eternal life force. No vampire movie has yet trumped The Hunger for putting such a scintillating spin on a centuries-old yarn and making a generation of filmgoers wash their necks in anticipation of a feeding.
Get your thrills — and chills — when Burlesque Nouveau presents The Dark Side Of Burlesque, starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway; tickets, $15, are available at viviennevavoom.com/tickets.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.