5 Terrifying Uses of Sexual Symbolism in Horror Films

#2. Evil Dead Vines

Bloody Disgusting

One of the most disturbing scenes in The Evil Dead was made somewhat more cringe-worthy thanks to the evolution of special effects in the recent remake, and that's the forest rape scene. If you're not familiar, allow me to cause you some discomfort -- there's a scene in both the original and the remake in which a woman flees dark forces in the woods, only to have vines come alive and bind her at the wrist and ankle while an extra vine then proceeds to sexually violate her. Last time I was in the woods, I was promised a hand job from a fir tree, but all it did was steal my wallet.

There are probably enough scholarly papers out there to fill a bottomless pit about how pretty much anything in a film longer than it is wide is a phallic symbol. I don't buy that at all. Everything can't be a phallic symbol; sometimes rectangles and tubes and rods just fuckin' happen, and we need to deal with that without presuming the world of shapes is trying to buttfuck us all the time. That said, when a vine literally rapes a person, it's a phallic symbol.

DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images

Yeah, you know what I mean.

The sexual symbolism is elevated beyond the mundane symbolism of gun as penis or car as penis. (Note: Every gun and car is a penis in movies. In any movie when a gun is mounted on a car, it's penises mounted on penises. If the car is driving around the parking lot of a high-rise building, it's penis cubed, and there's so much meta-cock on the screen, you just turned ever so slightly gay. Oddly, this applies even if you're a woman.)

If nature itself can be a penis, we're all doomed to be humped endlessly everywhere we go. Worse than this is the cold brutality of it -- a dried up, rough, and sliver-filled piece of wood entering your zone of no slivers.

If you're ranking off-putting sexual symbolism, the bottom rung is just unattractive symbolism, like a penis with a wart. The next level is violent, with any rape symbolism, because it makes us feel vulnerable, violated, and disgusted. Then there's the level populated by awful, non-sexual items penetrating our orifices against our will guided by the unseen forces of evil. That shit just ain't right.

#1. Dead Alive Rebirth


If you've never seen Dead Alive (aka Braindead), you're probably less attractive to the opposite sex than you think you are. Please see it immediately. It's an early effort by Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson and shows that, without a multimillion-dollar budget and a gaggle of digitally shrunken actors, his real passion was grotesque insanity. Such a good movie.

The basic story is about how a Sumatran rat monkey causes zombism (makes sense) and how our hero's atrociously overbearing and horrible mother becomes the victim of this creature and then becomes an undead monster, spreading her undead disease all willy-nilly while her son tries to contain the problem and also date a local girl. It's charming, and it culminates in a lawnmower massacre the likes of which you've never seen.

I'm about to spoil the end for you, so that's your fault for having never seen it if you haven't, but the final scene finds the hero's mother, now a giant-boobed, two-story monster, forcing her own son back into her undead womb in a way that never fails to make me laugh. This is followed shortly thereafter by him cutting his way out again and being reborn in a deluge of gore and guts. He births himself from his undead monster mother's insides, forcing a new birth canal with the help of a crucifix he uses to cut her apart. Should any of us ever have to actually see the creation of a man-size vagina cut from the inside of a giant, rotting mother-monster with a symbol of the Christian religion? Probably not, but it made for a hell of an ending.

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Felix Clay

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