From Oldboy director Park Chan-wook, Stoker follows the twisted relationships between a girl, her mother, and her estranged uncle. India is grappling with the sudden death of her beloved father when said, long-lost uncle Charlie turns up at the funeral. Soon, Charlie is showing India how different he is from other people. India is undoubtedly drawn to him but harbors suspicions about his intentions towards both her and her mother, in a spectacular supporting performance by Nicole Kidman. The sexual tension between India, played by Mia Wasikowska, and Charlie, played by Matthew Goode, could pretty much light ice on fire.
British crime writer Sarah Morton, played by legendary French actress Charlotte Rampling, is hoping for a relaxing retreat at the house of her publisher to get over her writer’s block. But when a buxom young woman named Julie, played by Ludivine Sagnier, shows up claiming to be the publisher’s daughter, a game of flirtation and competition between the two women goes very wrong … or, depending on your tastes, very right.
Inspired by Raymond Chandler’s noir novel Double Indemnity, 1981’s Body Heat, starring Kathleen Turner and William Hurt still goes down in history, for some, as the sexiest movie ever made. Ned and Matty embark on an affair powered by lust and greed. Matty is married to a wealthy businessman, and the two plot his murder so that they might inherit his estate. Things may not go exactly as planned for Ned, but lord knows he has some fun sexual escapades with Matty along the way.
Stranger by the Lake
This French thriller uses the anonymity of hookup spots to play with sex, romance, and murder. Franck and friend Henri have been visiting a wooded lake loved by nudists and exhibitionists. When Frank meets Michel, he falls madly in lust. And Michel seems to return the feelings. But then Franck sees Michel drowning another man. Will knowing that his lover is a murderer end the burgeoning relationship? Or will it propel Frank further into his irrefutable desire?
This sumptuous vampire romance starring the impeccable Catherine Deneuve as Miriam, a vampire who cannot die, is rich with 1980s gorgeousness. First of all, David Bowie plays a key role as Miriam’s lover, John. John and Miriam seek out the help of Dr. Sarah Roberts, played by Susan Sarandon, an expert in aging. Though Miriam at first sees Sarah as a potential victim, she begins to groom her as her next companion. It doesn’t get much sexier than a vampire love triangle, especially when one of those vampires is David Bowie circa 1983.
Sharon Stone’s arresting performance as crime novelist Catherine Tramell made her an overnight sensation and solidified her status as one of the hottest movie stars of all time. One doesn’t have to do much more than mention the infamous interrogation scene of this film to get pulses racing, not to mention the off-the-charts chemistry between Stone and her co-star, Michael Douglas, the undisputed king of erotic thrillers. Director Paul Verhoeven plays with the tropes of the noir genre, taking them to new levels with overt sensuality and violence. Nearly 30 years after its release, Basic Instinct remains a controversial modern classic. And it’s still so much fun.
Eyes Wide Shut
The ravages of jealousy are at the heart of Stanley Kubrick’s last completed film. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, still married in real life at the time, star as Bill and Alice, living the bourgeois married life in New York City. But Bill’s conception of their idyllic life is shattered when Alice tells Bill of a sexual fantasy involving another man. The discussion prompts Bill to go on a sexual odyssey of sorts, where he finds an underground society filled with sex, prostitution, and murder. Kubrick died six days after he delivered his final cut to the studio, and Cruise and Kidman divorced less than two years later.
Another electric masterpiece from Park Chan-wook, 2016’s The Handmaiden blends genres with its unexpected mix of horror, manipulation, sex, and romance. Adapted from Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith, The Handmaiden transposes a Victorian England tale into a Korean colonial era thriller with ease. In Japanese occupied Korea, Sook-hee, a pickpocket, is hired by a count. He asks her to work as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, Lady Hideko, with a secondary goal: Convince the heiress to marry him. But Sook-hee finds herself drawn to Lady Hideko, who lives a tortured existence under the control of her depraved uncle. The two women form an alliance–an overtly sexual one–making The Handmaiden a thrilling and erotic take on the perils of performance.
Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven returned to theaters with one of the most controversial movies of 2016, starring Isabelle Huppert, perhaps France’s most beloved actress. Huppert plays Michèle, the owner of a video game company, who is raped one night in her home. Rather than change her life to avoid another encounter, Michèle continues to go to work, flirt with the men in her life, and avoid her mother. As Michèle discovers who raped her, the film become intensely more twisted. Calling Elle an erotic thriller may be a bit of a misnomer, but it’s the closest genre this audacious thriller falls into.
Before The Matrix, the Wachowskis turned the noir thriller on its head with their 1996 debut. Bound stars Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon as two women who fall in love and decide to steal an enormous amount of mafia cash. The sizzling connection between Gershon and Tilly makes Bound undeniably hot. To ensure that the sex between the two women did not feel exploitative, the Wachowskis hired feminist writer and sex educator Susie Bright to choreograph the love scenes, making Bound one of the most “woke” erotic thrillers out there.
Cult classic Fatal Attraction solidified Michael Douglas’s appeal as one of the sexiest leading men of the 1980s and 1990s as Dan Gallagher, a successful lawyer with a beautiful family who simply picks the wrong gal to have random casual sex with one afternoon. Bad move, Dan. The sex scenes between Douglas and Glenn Close, who plays the unhinged Alex, are tantalizingly sexy in their realism, and so the fallout from their affair is all the more terrifying.
Featured still from "Bound" via Dino De Laurentiis Company