Touch of the Monster

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"Surely this is a book about robot tentacles and hot girls and not wimpy alien computers. Surely!"

Back before Video Games and all those newfangled, high budget horror films had completely desensitized viewers and ruined it for everybody! ... (cough) ... horror movies would attract audiences by doing the visual equivalent of foreplay in a Film's Poster, in this case presenting one of the following visual variations on an implied rape scene:

  • Rape of the Sabine Woman, in which the monster holds an unconscious woman in his arms in a manner evoking the old-fashioned custom of a groom carrying his bride over the threshold of his house—or, more ominously, Cradling Your Kill.
  • Supine Struggling, in which a monster crouches over or attempts to pin down a woman lying on her back while she tries to escape.
  • Death Ray Vision, involving a woman who screams and/or backs into a corner at the mere sight of the monster glancing at her. (Perhaps she is Genre Savvy.)
  • Playing with Its Food, in which a giant monster either has obvious intent to eat a woman or is clutching her in its fist with the possible implication of anthropophagy.
  • Touch of Evil, in which the monster embraces or otherwise touches the woman in a way that would be almost innocuous if she weren't visibly disgusted and/or horrified—though he is just as often touching her in a predatory manner. Another variant of this involves the monster almost touching the woman, to which she cowers expressively.
  • From the Pages of Bettie, which makes conspicuous use of Bound and Gagged (e.g., strapped to a Mad Scientist's laboratory table) and may be combined with any of the above styles.
  • Calamari Surprise, a variant of the immediately preceding item, but with tentacles as the restraining devices instead of standard bondage equipment.
  • Angels' Envy, a less commonly seen type wherein the monster gloats over or cradles a woman's corpse. This variant differs from Rape of the Sabine Woman in that this woman is obviously dead. Note that this variant alone displays the aftermath rather than the setup.
  • Children in Heat, named for the Misfits song, depicts a consensual encounter. This one is rare because it's much less effective at inciting horror than its sibling subtropes are.

Sometimes the menacing party is a man instead of a monster, which is even more disturbing for making the undertones (or overtones, depending on your viewpoint) more obvious.

A five-way chimaera of I Have You Now, My Pretty, Mars Needs Women, Monster Misogyny, Damsel in Distress, and Fetish Fuel, though it may also engender Squick in those who see it. The trope was by no means limited to movie posters; it started with pulp magazine covers and extended to comic books and video boxes, where it was a leading offense to Media Watchdogs and Moral Guardians. Of course, not all of the criticism was well-founded, since this trope was used even when monster-on-human action was not a plot point.

Though we've Seen It a Million Times, this has become a Discredited Trope in recent years, at least in the mainstream. See also Freud Was Right.

Examples of Touch of the Monster include:

Rape of the Sabine Woman[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • Tobor the Great goes for this variant, and the tagline assures us that yes, he has "every human emotion," except apparently shame.
  • Robot Monster
  • One of the Invaders from Mars, on the film's poster.
  • The poster for Creature from the Black Lagoon fits this, through his intentions were quite honorable; he was the last of his kind and wanted a companion. However, that didn't stop him from being highly territorial and mistrusting humans.
    • There's a pinball machine under the premise of all the classic Universal Studios monsters playing in a rock band. The machine's art depicts the Creature somehow holding both his Sabine Woman and a trombone.
  • The Crimson Cult, featured off to the side rather than in the center.
  • The poster for Forbidden Planet had Robbie the Robot carrying the female lead [dead link], even though Robbie wasn't a villain in this movie.
  • In The Movie of Hannibal, Hannibal Lector carries an unconscious Clarice this way.
    • Bit of a subversion here; he's actually saving her life, keeping her held up away from the man-eating pigs who, for whatever reason, don't seem to register him as human, food, or someone they can take in a fight.
  • In Candyman, Candyman carries the heroine, Helen, like this. Just to underline the sexual element, this takes place after she has agreed to 'surrender' to him, and before he lies her down on a table/bed, slides his hook up her skirt - and kisses her.
  • Apparently the Fire Maidens from Outer Space weren't alien enough, since the poster shows a grotesque monster and one of the titular maidens in a Sabine Woman-style pose.
  • Satan's Satellites: human (or humanoid)-on-human...and Satan is not present in the poster.
  • The poster for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a very early, probably Trope Making example of the Sabine Women one, combined with Pietà Plagiarism.
  • Bride of the Monster
  • One of the posters [dead link] for This Island Earth.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Tarantula
  • On the original poster for Swamp Thing.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Spoofed in Red Dwarf. The Captain is watching an old B&W B-Movie showing a screaming female explorer being carried in the arms of a swamp creature. When they travel to a Mirror Universe, the movie has the screaming swamp creature being carried off by the female explorer.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Add RPG module covers, particularly those dating from the 80s, to the list of media where this trope got used a lot. There are princesses and/or scantily-clad female adventurers being pawed and/or carried by a lizard man, a vampire, and a ridiculous hybrid of octopus and bear trap.
    • Inverted in the module Weirder Tales for Tales from the Floating Vagabond, featuring a wholesome Doris Day-esque 50's American housewife carrying away a horrified robot. That's the plot of the module.

Video Games[edit | hide]

Supine Struggling[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • The Wasp Woman (Inverted: the monster is female, crouching over a frightened human male. The caption strongly implies that she's going to rape him.)
  • The Dunwich Horror's use may make it the most obviously sexualized example of all time. As if that weren't enough, the poster's caption all but states outright that the woman and the monster are having sex.

Death Ray Vision[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

Playing with Its Food[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

Touch of Evil[edit | hide]

From the Pages of Bettie[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

Magazines[edit | hide]

  • Weird Tales [dead link] was and largely still is inordinately fond of all of this page's subtropes, as you can see.

Calamari Surprise[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • Monster from the Ocean Floor

Magazines[edit | hide]

  • This was the cover of a comparatively recent issue of Weird Tales.

Angels' Envy[edit | hide]

Children in Heat[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

Multiple[edit | hide]

Art[edit | hide]

  • Erotic-fantasy artist Luis Royo paints lot and lots of these, notably of the "consensual" type...

Collectible Cards[edit | hide]

  • A couple of cards in the 1962 card series Mars Attacks! use the Touch of Evil version, though one of the unreleased cards has a rather graphic (and very obviously sexualized) depiction of Playing with Its Food/Angels' Envy. Another unreleased card is From the Pages of Bettie-style, but with more gore than obvious bondage, and, again, obviously sexualized.

Magazines[edit | hide]

  • The now-defunct Weird Tales web site contained depictions of From the Pages of Bettie (including a male example), Death Ray Vision, and a surprising amount of Children in Heat.