Stories of Vagina Dentata with and agenda?
January 12, 2011 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for myths, stories, or actual histories of female seductresses who sexually lure men (or women) to them for malevolent purposes.

I'm looking for examples in the vein of the Sirens in Greek mythology. Ideally, the story would have the general arc of a woman seducing a man and then, having had sex with him or not first, kills him (or some other punishment - takes his money, casts a spell on him, whatever).

Mythology or history would be best, but I'll take anything: books, movies, songs, personal stories, etc.

Thanks all!
posted by Lutoslawski to Grab Bag (65 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

Jenifer. It was quite disturbing to me.
posted by dobie at 12:05 PM on January 12, 2011

Delilah is the archetypical temptress from Judeo-Christian mythology.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:07 PM on January 12, 2011

Leanan sidhe
posted by _cave at 12:10 PM on January 12, 2011

Circe, also from Greek mythology.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:11 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

The various evil women in Spenser's Faerie Queene: Duessa, Acrasia, Ate.
posted by pised at 12:12 PM on January 12, 2011

La Malinche
posted by wansac at 12:14 PM on January 12, 2011

Typhoid Mary, or her contemporary urban folklore equivalent, AIDS Mary.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:14 PM on January 12, 2011

Bilquis in Gaiman's American Gods.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:14 PM on January 12, 2011

The femme fatale.
posted by muddgirl at 12:15 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Chinese Huli Jing is usually depicted as a seductress who feeds on men's energy by seducing them. There is also the tale of Baishe Zhuan, or the man who fell in love with the white snake. For the Japanese tale, there is the Yuki-onna, but really she just kills them without much in the way of seduction.
posted by Sallysings at 12:16 PM on January 12, 2011

Response by poster: This is fantastic! Please, keep them coming.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:18 PM on January 12, 2011

Succubi. (Succubuses? Succubes?)
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:21 PM on January 12, 2011

Don't forget Carmilla!
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:23 PM on January 12, 2011

Obvious, but: succubus. Here are some examples of succubi in fiction.

You may be interested in Teeth, a teen horror film about a girl with a vagina dentata. Ginger Snaps and Jennifer's Body are two more horror films featuring supernatural teenaged girls who kill or devour their sexual conquests.
posted by hot soup girl at 12:25 PM on January 12, 2011

There's a minor character called Bilquis in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods who does this in particularly memorable fashion...
posted by Sublimity at 12:26 PM on January 12, 2011

TV Tropes will have a ton of examples. I believe the closest character template is The Vamp, although the Black Widow may be a more specific version of what you are talking about.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:27 PM on January 12, 2011

Lilith particularly in the Alphabet of ben Sirah and the Zohar, though in a dozen other incarnations as well....
posted by Sophie1 at 12:29 PM on January 12, 2011

Wikipedia has this (maybe) useful list of Honeypots in Espionage Fiction:
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:29 PM on January 12, 2011

Coincidentally, I just watched Body Heat again the other night. It's hot in this movie.
posted by nickjadlowe at 12:29 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Judith and Yael/Jael are two more examples from the Bible.
posted by norm at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You may be interested in Teeth.

I saw Teeth. Shudder.

Bilquis! Good one.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2011

The Last Seduction.
posted by bukvich at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Yellow Rose of Texas, Emily West, according to legend, was a slave who was "seized by Mexican forces during the looting of Galveston [and] seduced General Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico and commander of the Mexican forces. Her seduction is credited "with lowering the guard of the Mexican army and facilitating the Texan victory in the Battle of San Jacinto waged in 1836 near present-day Houston. Santa Anna's opponent was General Sam Houston, who won the battle literally in minutes, and with almost no casualties."
posted by *s at 12:36 PM on January 12, 2011

Piers Anthony's "Pornucopia"
posted by alchemist at 12:37 PM on January 12, 2011

There's a story along those lines in the anthology Dark Forces, but I can't remember which one. "Dark Angel" by Edward Bryant, I think, but I'm not 100% positive.

John Keats' "La Belle Dame sans Merci".
posted by Anephim at 12:42 PM on January 12, 2011

Mata Hari
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:45 PM on January 12, 2011

Oh, and the deer woman
posted by _cave at 12:52 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might be interested in the new biography of Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff-- both as a biography and a study of how her story became progressively more a "seductress" story as time passed (though even her early historians were not her particular friends.)
posted by endless_forms at 12:53 PM on January 12, 2011

posted by Lebannen at 12:59 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Double Indemnity.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:03 PM on January 12, 2011

Anne Boleyn, a very complex historical character.

Jael, if you interpret "cream in a lordly dish" metaphorically.

Salome, who danced for Herod and asked for the head of John the Baptist.
posted by motsque at 1:05 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Brides of Dracula

But really, almost any horror story with a female monster is likely to contain an element of this.
posted by milk white peacock at 1:06 PM on January 12, 2011

OH! And Carmilla.
posted by motsque at 1:10 PM on January 12, 2011

The "Our Mrs. Reynolds" episode of Firefly.
posted by procrastination at 1:11 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

If I remember correctly, there is a succubus like creature in the Gunslinger the first book of the Dark Tower series. Also a woman later who seduces the gunslinger and later turns on him I think. Little foggy on that. Gunslinger on Wiki According to the wiki the succubus comes first and is called an 'oracle'.
posted by WickedPissah at 1:14 PM on January 12, 2011

Morgana le Fay
posted by notned at 1:16 PM on January 12, 2011

Pamela Smart
posted by Joe Beese at 1:20 PM on January 12, 2011

Sandy in The Love War
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:21 PM on January 12, 2011

Lorelei, the Siren of the Rhine river.

Undine or Ondine, a water spirit who married happily, but cursed her husband when he became unfaithful. She decreed that if ever he fell asleep, he would stop breathing.

Useful rundown of water spirits here, with links to other sources.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:26 PM on January 12, 2011

Aisha Qandisha
posted by zadcat at 1:32 PM on January 12, 2011

Nick Cave's John Finn's Wife: e.g.

Well, midnight came and clock did strike
And in she came did John Finn's wife
With legs like scissors and butcher's knives
A tattooed breast and flaming eyes
And a crimson carnation in her teeth
Carving her way through the dance floor
And I'm standing over by the bandstand
Every eye gaping on John Finn's wife
Yeah, every eye gaping on John Finn's wife

Though, to be fair, it's not actually John Finn's wife who commits the violence...
posted by kestrel251 at 1:36 PM on January 12, 2011

This is a common theme in the incredibly NSFW comic (previously on MetaFilter)

There's also this great spoof (also nsfw).
posted by grammar corrections at 2:49 PM on January 12, 2011

Cheryl Bentov. I wouldn't call her motives nefarious, but her catch certainly would.
posted by holterbarbour at 3:28 PM on January 12, 2011

Helium's Pirate Prude E.P. is sort of a storytelling concept album about a woman's awakening from sexist oppression/brainwashing wherein ultimately she becomes a monster (the transformation maps in reverse chronological order song by song). The most well known song (it was on Beavis & Butthead!) is in the middle; it's called "XXX" and is narrated from the point of view of a vengeful feminist man-destroying hooker. Mary Timony's persona that era was mostly from that song, and though it's somewhat tongue in cheek playful there is an undercurrent of genuine feminist rage.

I feel like there must be P.J. Harvey songs too...
posted by ifjuly at 4:30 PM on January 12, 2011

Huldra and Lamia
posted by galadriel at 4:31 PM on January 12, 2011

Ohohoh, and how could I forget--Mizoguchi's Ugetsu. You might argue for In the Realm of the Senses and the true story it was based on too. It's not really cut and dry and I'd argue not about man-woman at all, but possibly Woman in the Dunes if you want to take that approach. Lots of Tanizaki has elements of "she's a maneater in disguise!!!"--so much so I find him a little suspect at times to be honest.
posted by ifjuly at 4:35 PM on January 12, 2011

Ruby has songs kind of alluding to this archetype too, come to think of it. And there's that silly Poe song, the angry Johnny one.
posted by ifjuly at 4:38 PM on January 12, 2011

And La Femme Nikita (the movie's way better but there was that show too) is sort of like this. Pretty much any standard female spy/assassin story will have that element.
posted by ifjuly at 4:40 PM on January 12, 2011

G'ah, keep remembering more. Variety Lights, That Obscure Object of Desire, Of Human Bondage.
posted by ifjuly at 4:45 PM on January 12, 2011

And Lou Reed wrote "Femme Fatale" about Nico.
posted by ifjuly at 4:48 PM on January 12, 2011

Well, Jezebel convinced Ahab to convert to worshipping Ba'al, but eventually Ahab pitched her out a window and reverted. The name sticks around to describe sexually enticing false prophets, though.
posted by gingerest at 5:14 PM on January 12, 2011

The Hunger stars Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, and David Bowie, all of them so beautiful and stylish, a dated movie (1983) for sure but it's a good flick, it'd stand on it's star power alone.

spoiler alert! spoiler alert! spoiler alert! -->
Deneuve seducing Sarandon is pretty goddamn hot, Deneuve handles Sarandon with complete ease, so goddamned knowing, completely confident in her beauty and in herself -- wow.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:38 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

argh -- stand on its star power alone.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:39 PM on January 12, 2011

posted by Iris Gambol at 7:46 PM on January 12, 2011

There is a Woman in Black who Robert Redford meets in that movie The Natural.
posted by Sully at 12:16 AM on January 13, 2011

Years ago I read a news story about women in Mexico or somewhere who daubed a sedative on their nipples and seduced vacationers and when they got a man back to his hotel room and he sucked on her breasts he would black out and wake up without his wallet alone.
posted by Sully at 12:21 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Slowly reading through all of these (fantastic) links, I feel silly that I had never recognized the femme fatale as such a ubiquitous and archetypal figure in our culture.

You guys are really outdoing yourselves. Thanks again!
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2011

The recent Chinese ghost movie "Painted Skin" is a retelling of an old folktale of a female ghoul who puts on a facial mask to look attractive (after "painting" it daily) to seduce young scholars. (Actually the 1993 version is a minor classic too.)
posted by of strange foe at 10:35 AM on January 13, 2011

Re: P.J. Harvey, duh of course--"Rub 'til it Bleeds"
posted by ifjuly at 11:07 AM on January 13, 2011

Oh yeah, Basic Instinct too of course.
posted by ifjuly at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2011

I used to love collecting Hawaii-based ghost stories and know a few that fit your description. Our local brand of supernatural temptresses were generically labeled "Calling Spirits" that would lure men to their death in various ways.

One particular story that I particularly enjoyed (I cannot attribute right now, though I heard it from Glen Grant and I believe its in one of his books), went like this (storytelling liberties obviously taken):

A young Hawaiian man was visiting his grandparents on the Big Island of Hawaii and was out exploring the area surrounding their home on a warm, sunny day. The area was fairly remote, far from town and consisted of rugged volcanic terrain. As such he was a bit surprised when he heard someone calling his name from somewhere behind him. Especially because it was the voice of an apparently young female. Piqued by curiosity, he went to look for who was calling to him and after a short search he was pleasantly surprised to find the most beautiful young woman upon which he'd ever laid eyes. She was smiling coyly and beckoning to him. He was sure he'd never seen her in his life; he would definitely remember a woman like this! But she seemed to know his name, and to his utter surprise she wanted to know him a lot better - she told him that she wanted him right then, Discovery Channel-style (back when it was about animals), but not right here... "Come, follow me!"

And so his under-seat pilot took the reins and he trailed her through the thicket, curious as to where she intended to go, so deep into the brush, but he was too awash in hormones to ask questions. He probably would have climbed up Kilauea after her except that, all of a sudden, the air turned to ice. The sun was still blazing above him but the temperature was arctic. Strangely the woman showed no sign of noticing the unusual atmospheric conditions and finally came to a stop a few yards ahead of him, beckoning as if to say "right here, loverboy." But as he tried to continue the air got increasingly colder with each step until he could hardly bear it, and at last he started to get unnerved.

"Maybe we could just, you know, do it back there?" he appealed, pointing behind him, where there was warmth. To which her response was completely unexpected: she flew into a rage, demanding that he come to her, right now, hurling insults and casting aspersions upon his gender identity. At this point he understood that something was indeed wrong with this scenario and started to back away, as her fury seemed to grow and her language more vulgar. When he turned to run, it got worse... she began to laugh. A cruel, mocking laughter that seemed to somehow envelop and chase right behind him, suggesting "You think you've escaped? Next time...!"

He nearly outran his slippers as he hightailed it back to his grandparents house and found his grandfather sitting on the porch. It took a few minutes before he could get his breath and brain aligned, but at last he sputtered out the story in the hopes that his grandfather would know what to do. The elderly man had hardly changed his expression throughout the tale, and after considering the information he instructed his grandson to go fetch a long branch, around 3-4 feet long, from a nearby tree. When he returned with this special stick, his grandfather told him to remove his pants, then turn and face the yard; unusual, yes, but he figured this was all part of some ritual to exorcise -- WHACK! The young man's hindquarters were suddenly on fire as the old man gave him the beating of his life with the special lesson stick.

"Stupid fool! Never go looking for someone who calls from behind you!" Once his grandfather was satisfied that this lesson had been properly emphasized, he demanded that he be shown where the woman had led him. This was a fairly simple task, as the young man had left a trail of broken brush during his frenzied getaway. "And this is where I started to feel cold," the young man showed his grandfather. It wasn't cold anymore. "And that's where she was standing when she went ballistic." His grandfather carefully stepped towards the area where the woman last stood, brushing aside some tall grass, then shook his head. "Come here and look, boy."

The young man joined his grandfather and saw where he was pointing - straight down. They were standing at the sudden precipice of a large crater; what had once been an immense bubble of lava had cooled and at some point, collapsed. Where the woman had "stood" was 20 feet in the air above a floor covered in jagged volcanic shards that would have shredded anyone (human) who had unwittingly kept walking and fallen in.
posted by krippledkonscious at 1:08 PM on January 13, 2011

An offbeat suggestion: I always thought Lady Gaga's Bad Romance video was a femme fatale story told from the femme's perspective.
posted by muddgirl at 2:01 PM on January 13, 2011

I just watched Kwaidan last weekend for the first time and had massive reawakening of memories of those Lafcadio Hearn stories, which like many fairy tales and myths are chock full of this archetype or at least hints of it. "The Woman in the Snow" is the most obvious one, I guess, though it's not lethal but bittersweet, but the hints and threat, sinister nature of the thing are female-attraction-based, I think.

There have been movies about Irish selkies too. The Secret of Roan Innish was pretty good. And there's that new one, right, Ondine or whatever (?) (looks kinda silly to me, but then most things these days do... /old)
posted by ifjuly at 7:44 AM on January 20, 2011

God, I really get into this I guess. Japanese ghost stories got me thinking of the white lady, a legend in my hometown. She isn't sexual/succubus-y, but there's an element of sexual politics to her story--she supposedly haunts the local park (where pretty awful shit has happened, which I guess isn't uncommon or anything) to protect young women from would-be predatory men and attacks said men to get revenge from the man who attacked and murdered her daughter. Every kid who grows up in that town knows the story.
posted by ifjuly at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2011

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