The scent of horror, of fear, is no doubt a caustic combination of pungent fright-sweats, highlighted by the metallic tang of boiling blood and bitter adrenaline, underscored by a host of sharp, burning pheromones. An aggressively unpleasant, acrid bit of olfactory melodrama, to be sure.
Thankfully, the following fragrances inspired by myriad facets of the horror genre smell nothing like the noxious miasma described above. These unsettling scents range from mildly pleasing to devastatingly gorgeous, yet evoke a a vague stirring of horror, a delicious frisson of fear and a sickening plucking at the nerves.
Spanning film classics to cult favorites, bodacious late night tv hostesses to obscure texts regarding olde-timey vampyre ladies, these five horror-influenced scents are certain to thrill lovers of ghoulish delights and nightmarish phantasmagoria.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, is the inspiration for Demeter’s Elvira collection of supernatural scents showcasing dangerous flowers and plants such as red poppies, Belladonna, Nicotiana, and Davana. Demeter perfumes are not necessarily known for their complexity or their longevity – and yes, the packaging calls to mind the quote, “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap!” Or, in this case: “smell this cheap” – however, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that Vamp, Zombie, and Black Roses are every bit as sultry and sexy as the straining bosoms on the bottle would have us believe.
Room 237 by Bruno Mazzolari is a perfume inspired by the color and atmosphere in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Boasting, “supernatural green notes of flea bane and angelica haunt a base of oppoponax and costus root… Peculiar florals whisper together with soap and the scent of a vinyl shower curtain, laying a cold finger at the base of the spine,” this is a soft, reserved scent that is both highly wearable and slightly unnerving, and conjures a weird tension between the seemingly mundane and something monstrous lurking just beneath the surface.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s olfactory tribute to Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s tale of two fragile and sensitive vampires, who have been lovers for centuries, is a collection of sophisticated, sensual blends ranging from somber and savage, to voluptuous and brittle. Inspired by the film’s sensual photography, trance-like music, and droll humor, these perfume oils are a must-have for aficionados of fragrance, creatures of the night, and the mysteries of everlasting love. On a related note: genre fans will be thrilled to know that BPAL is releasing a line based on Guillermo del Toro’s highly anticipated ghost story and gothic romance, Crimson Peak, next month!
Paradise Lost by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, an otherworldly perfume – redolent of smoldering spice, candlewax, and faded flowers – was inspired by Clarimonde, a vampire courtesan in Theophile Gautier’s 1836 short story, La Morte Amoureuse. Classically structured, yet full of contradictions: warm amber/cold orris, buttery myrrh/astringent herbal florals, Paradise Lost is a stunning fragrance to bewitch your beloved and convince them that you are not, in fact, a blood-sucking fiend… even when the rotting stench of the tomb might tell another tale entirely.
The DevilScent Project, a blogging event launched by Olympic Orchids involving seven perfumers and eleven perfume bloggers, was inspired by Sheila Eggenberger’s Quantum Demonology. These perfumes represent the, “unique scent of the Devil and his ex-wife Lilith.” And why wouldn’t you want to sniff ol’ Beelz? Though I personally always thought the cumin note often used in perfumes is what the devil’s taint smells like so that might be a good reason not to smell him – but that’s another story for a different time. The five scents, ranging from cool and sharp to dense and murky, comprise a collection fraught with aromatic, diabolical passions. And thankfully, no cumin to be found.
Image: Cover art for Caroline Cooney’s The Perfume.
This article was originally posted in 2015 at Dirge. The site no longer exists.