History of Sex in Cinema:
|Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description|
Angel Heart (1987)
Writer/director Alan Parker's supernatural-mystery film noir was set in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was immediately controversial for the nudity and sex scenes of one of its stars, Lisa Bonet in her film debut, who was a child star as Denise Huxtable in the family TV show The Cosby Show.
It offered the tagline:
The thrilling film told about seedy Brooklyn private detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) who was hired by mysterious Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) (noted for having long fingernails) to investigate a missing persons case - to locate a big-band crooner and WWII draftee named Johnny Favourite, who had been neurologically wounded during military action. As he tracked down Favorite, many of the individuals he questioned or came into contact with ended up dead. In the film's well-known plot twist, Favorite turned out to have sold his soul to the devil (Lu-cifer) for fame, then reneged on the contracted bargain, hid out, and took the alias of Harry Angel.
During the course of his work, he encountered an illegitimate, half-Creole, teenaged voodoo practitioner Epiphany Proudfoot, reportedly the daughter of Favourite and Evangeline Proudfoot. He witnessed Epiphany's participation in a voodoo ritual in which she was scantily-clad as she slit a chicken's throat and let the spurting blood drip down her face, neck and breasts. In another bloody scene, fortune teller and voodoo practitioner Margaret Krusemark (Charlotte Rampling) was found dead, with her heart cut out with a sacrificial knife.
The film included a notorious, steamy sex scene (originally NC-17-rated, but trimmed for an R-rating) of abandoned sexuality (with the theme of blood sacrifice) between them. They made love on a bed with raindrops (and chicken blood) dripping from the ceiling through the leaky hotel roof during a rainstorm, while listening to the radio playing the sultry tune "Soul on Fire" by Laverne Baker. He was unintentionally having incestuous sex with her. And then Harry 'woke up' and found himself strangling her. The film shockingly concluded with Epiphany bloodied and dead on the bed (with a gunshot to the groin), with Harry's military 'dog-tags' around her neck. Harry had probably killed his own daughter. Harry was then convicted of the murder and doomed to the electric chair.
Compiling the short works of ten different directors, this uneven and semi-indulgent film (originally unrated for sex and nudity, but re-rated as R) combined MTV-style images in brief vignettes to various operatic arias:
The Big Easy (1987)
Director Jim McBride's romantic, neo-noir crime mystery told its tale with two unlikely and uptight romantic partners investigating a case together in New Orleans:
McSwain was investigating the murder of a local mobster when he met the state's ADA Anne Osborne, with whom he experienced a love-hate relationship. He had a tough time convincing her that he was one of the "good guys."
The film was praised for their realistic, volatile love affair which included clumsy and awkward, but realistic sex scene. The detective let down Anne's blonde hair and caressed her under her clothes, as she nervously confessed: "I never did have much luck with sex anyway." After sex, the next morning, she half-draped her nakedness in a blue sheet and approached McSwain from behind, as he bent down in front of his refrigerator.
Over time, she gradually relaxed and surrendered to him, and they eventually married by the film's conclusion.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Director Emile Ardolino's popular, coming-of-age, sexual awakening tale, set at a Catskills resort in the summer of 1963, revolved around sexy dance scenes in the staff quarters or the dance studio (or outdoors at a bridge or in water).
It offered an introduction to 'dirty dancing' and forbidden love between:
The film's most sexual scene took place one night after Baby had been scolded by her repressive father and she visited Johnny to express her fear:
She then invited the shirtless Johnny to symbolically "dance with me." Incredulous, Johnny asked: "Here?" and she replied boldly: "Here."
To the tune of Solomon Burke singing "Cry to Me" in the light of his cabin-bungalow, they danced sensuously. She was reduced to her white bra when they kissed and he held her as she dipped backwards, before she again dipped back for a kiss as they began to make love.
Baby (Jennifer Grey)
with Johnny (Patrick Swayze)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Director Adrian Lyne's R-rated hit and popular cultural phenomenon was a wake-up warning about the consequences of careless cheating, with its mix of slasher violence and sex. However, it was also criticized as being misogynistic for treating the philandering husband as a victim and excusing his callous behavior.
The erotic thriller told about how a happily-married family man (of nine years) and Manhattan attorney Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) engaged in an illicit, casual and dangerous, trysting affair with terrorizing, stalking, obsessed, unbalanced psychopathic literary book editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close).
The cheating couple had two libidinous sexual encounters, in a kitchen and in an elevator:
Afterwards, the next day when they met together for sex, there was the first hint of her possessiveness when he was leaving after love-making and she objected:
Afterwards she sought vengeance against him and his family for being slighted and ignored, by claiming she was pregnant, by terrorizing him, by temporarily kidnapping his six year-old daughter, by boiling the family pet rabbit, and by turning into a half-drowned bathroom slasher (who was only subdued for good by a gunshot from Dan's wife Beth (Anne Archer)).
The Law of Desire (1987, Sp.) (aka La Ley Del Deseo)
Writer/director Pedro Almodovar's serious melodrama was censored in the US for its explicit scenes of gay sex and its complexity of characters.
It told about a love triangle, which concluded with tragic consequences, between three unusual male characters (all gay and trans-gendered):
There was also a fourth involved character named Tina (Carmen Maura), Pablo's sister and a male-to-female trans-sexual who was incestuously involved with her father and subsequently hated men. She was strongly rumored to be a lesbian, but she eventually took a lover - Antonio.
The film included masturbation, gay sex, and anal sex - all presented realistically, and a scene in which Tina reveled in her femininity while being hosed down and soaked to the skin by a cleaning man on a hot Madrid street.
Pablo with Antonio
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Lethal Weapon (1987) was the first in a long-running series of buddy films to star Mel Gibson as suicidal cop Martin Riggs.
The film opened (after the credits) with the drug-induced homicidal suicide of scantily-clad 22 year-old prostitute and drug-user Amanda Hunsaker (Jackie Swanson). She climbed up onto the railing of her LA high-rise apartment's balcony and did a somesaulting swan dive to her death.
To provide equal time in this action film for female viewers, Sgt. Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) emerged from his parked camper-shell bed to strut bare-assed into his kitchen for a cold beer and greet his collie at the door, while a day-time game show played on his television.
A Man in Love (1987) (aka Un Homme Amoureux)
French director/writer Diane Kurys (with her first English language film) told a tale of infidelity in a passionate and erotic art film (a film about film-making itself). It was about the life of the Italian poet Cesare Pavese (who committed suicide) and his last love, Gabriella. Its tagline was:
The two lovers who were having an extra-marital affair while on an Italian set during film-making were:
Their first sexual encounter was while they were dancing together to a scratchy phonograph record, and he impulsively touched her breast through her red dress. He suggested, "Let's go" and they went to his room. She unbuttoned the front of her dress and unhooked her bra to reveal her breasts to him. As he hugged her body to himself, he then let out a terrifying series of primal screams, causing her to beg: "Don't hurt me." (It was revealed to be part of a film scene - when the crews and camera were shown from another angle).
During dinner that evening, Steve bluntly asked Jane: "Will you stay with me tonight?" but they didn't become intimate, because she was too paranoid after smoking too much marijuana. Their secretive romance was threatened by the unexpected arrival of Elliott's neglected and estranged wife Susan (Jamie Lee Curtis), Jane's own French boyfriend, and the lingering illness of Jane's dying mother Julia (Claudia Cardinale). However, they had another chance later on, when he began slowly touching her under her blouse, and they purposely hesitated to kiss each other until their erotic tension was so great that they couldn't resist each other. He dropped his pants and they began to make love against the wall, as they continued to nibble at each other with love bites - the camera tracked in for close-ups of their faces.
They had many other opportunities to make love, and in one instance, he bought her a black piece of lingerie that she put on to model for him. However, it was fairly clear that Steve would never leave his wife for her, and they were almost discovered together when Jane was showering. The character of Jane was self-awakened and transformed by film's end, and typing a manuscript titled "A Man in Love."
Jane (Greta Scacchi) and
Steve (Peter Coyote)
Pre-dating Lars and the Real Girl (2007) by 20 years, this PG-rated fantasy romance/comedy told about another guy who fell in love with a life-sized doll.
TV's Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall starred as the department store mannequin Ema 'Emmy' Hesire who came to life for young artist Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy).
Maurice (1987, UK)
This semi-autobiographical film was the second of E. M. Forster's novels, published in 1971 (after A Room with a View) to be adapted for the screen by Merchant Ivory.
It was about the problem of coming of age of a homosexual in a restrictive Edwardian society in pre-WWI 1910 between two Cambridge undergraduates:
In one of the film's sexier scenes, Clive rested his head on the white flannel-trousered knee of Maurice as they stroked each other's hair before embracing.
Later in the film, Clive gave up his 'forbidden' or illegal love (referred to as 'the unspeakable vice of the Greeks', but never consummated), leaving Maurice to "share" himself with lower-class gamekeeper Alec Scudder (Rupert Graves). The scene included both rear and frontal male nudity.
Maurice (James Wilby)
and Clive (Hugh Grant)
Alec (Rupert Graves)
Nekromantik (1987, W. Germ.)
Director Jorg Buttgereit's first time feature film was this low-budget, cultish and controversial German gross-out, depraved horror film. It opened with a disclaimer:
WARNING: Some of this film may be seen as "grossly" offensive and should not be shown to minors!!!
It also started with a quote from V.L. Compton: "What lives that does not live from the death of someone else?" The sex-horror movie was reviled and banned in many countries for its depiction of necrophilia, sex with corpses, rabbit cruelty (killing and skinning), cat disembowelment, graveyard sex, and decapitation by a shovel.
The two main characters exhibited extremely unusual behavior:
During a threesome with a rotting corpse, Betty found pleasure in making love to it with a sawed-off piece of broom handle (outfitted with a condom) stuck in its groin as a makeshift penis. The decomposing body also served as a wall decoration in their apartment.
Everything took a downturn when Rob was fired from his job and Betty fled (with the corpse). To reach new heights of degradation, Rob resorted to watching horror movies, animal torture, prostitute sex, and kinky graveyard copulation. He also partially decomposed after placing himself in a garbage bag.
In the film's final sequence, Robert simultaneously masturbated and committed disembowelment (hari-kiri) with a knife - culminating in an orgasmic semen-blood mixed expiration, a sexualized suicide. The last shot - a freeze frame - was his grave plot (marked with a wooden cross bearing his name) being dug up by an unidentified woman (wearing high heels).
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
In the third film in the long-running horror-film franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), a group of suicidal teens, all children of the vigilante parents in Springwood who had burned and killed child murderer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), were experiencing a group hypnosis therapy session during their treatment at Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital.
One of the teens, mute and infatuated Joey Crusel (Rodney Eastman) followed cute candy-striper Marcie (Stacey Alden) down the hallway to an unoccupied room, where she confided how she was attracted to him. In the empty dorm room, the sexy Marcie enticed Joey by inviting him to "unzip me" - and she soon stood bare-breasted before him, asking:
Wearing only a skimpy white thong, she urged him to lie back, crawled on top of him, and then kissed him. The probing and deep kiss gagged Joey as Marcie's tongue grew supernaturally and burrowed deep into his mouth. Two elongated tongues burst from her mouth and twisted around Joey's wrists on the headboard, and two more tongues lashed his feet to the footboard bedposts. Her face and body were transformed into the grotesque Freddy Krueger, who quipped:
No Way Out (1987)
Roger Donaldson's twisting political action-thriller included the side story of a hot love affair between:
Farrell met her wearing a low-cut evening gown at a Presidential Inaugural Ball in Washington DC, and after some small talk, suggested: "Let's get outta here." She replied: "My date's not gonna like that very much" to which he replied: "But, what the hell? His wife'll be delighted." Farrell seduced her into having sexual intercourse with him in the back seat of a moving stretch limousine (chauffeured by an inquisitive driver named Bill) on the way to a Georgetown apartment. He kissed her, unzipped her dress to reveal a black bra, touched her breast's nipple with two fingers, and then pulled off her dress. She offered him her panties. From the car, a phallic-related view of the erect and tall Washington Monument passed by.
He then unfastened her lacy garter straps as she reached to help undress him before having sex. Post-coitus, he introduced himself: "My name's Tom," and she replied: "I'm Susan." At her party girl friend Nina Beka's (Iman) apartment door, she stood naked after removing her fur coat as she waved goodbye, laughed, and borrowed Nina's apartment's bed for the evening.
When an enraged Brice suspected Atwell of having a love affair with another man: "Who were you with this weekend?" and she replied: "Why worry? There's plenty left," he slapped her. When she accused him of being a "pig," he accidentally killed her by striking her - causing her to crash backwards off her second-story balcony and break her neck from the fall on a glass dining room table. To cover up, Brice then assigned Farrell to investigate and discover Atwell's lover and supposed murderer (a fictional and rumored KGB spy named 'Yuri' who was seen leaving Atwell's house) -- himself!
Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner)
and Susan Atwell
This plot-twisting and odd film with the title Siesta ("the time of day when mystery and eroticism become one") - was the first time directorial effort of Mary Lambert. It was nominated for two Razzie Awards in the Worst Supporting Actress category: (Grace Jones and Isabella Rossellini).
The mystery-drama opened with the intriguing scene of an unidentified female (Ellen Barkin) awakening at the edge of an airport runway near Madrid - on the Fourth of July.
She was clothed in a bright red dress (without underwear) and she noticed that her body was covered in someone else's blood. She screamed, ran down a roadway (avoiding an oncoming truck) to a nearby stream. She mumbled to herself that she might be involved in a murder: "It's not my blood, must be somebody else's. I must have really hurt him. I must have hurt him pretty bad."
There, she stripped off the dress, rinsed out the blood, and then dried herself by the sun's rays on the muddy bank of the water before reclothing herself. Afterwards, she hailed a taxi, and in voice-over exclaimed: "I'm in Spain! Aw, jeez. What the f--k am I doing here?" Her passport, money and everything else were in her bag - which she didn't have: "My god, what's happening to me?...I remember coming here, and I don't remember anything else." The remainder of the film reminded the viewer of the film Memento (2000). In Spain, she was pursued by local police who believed that she had murdered someone.
Suffering from amnesia and not knowing her past, the film then flashbacked to five days earlier. She was a professional daredevil stuntwoman at Death Valley, CA named Claire. She learned, revealed in mixed-up flashbacks, that she was planning a free-fall stunt (without a parachute) into a giant safety net stretched over an artificial, man-made volcano. Before the event, she had traveled to Spain to see her old boyfriend - Spanish acrobat Augustine (Gabriel Byrne, whom Barkin married in 1988 and then divorced in 1993), and reignited a love affair with him despite the fact that he was married to Marie (Isabella Rossellini). There were deadly consequences.
The film's gimmicky plot twist at the end was that Claire had been murdered and her experiences were only the jumbled, fantasy thoughts of her final moments.
End of Film
History Overview | Reference Intro | Pre-1920s | 1920-26 | 1927-29 | 1930-1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934-37 | 1938-39
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2000-1 | 2000-2 | 2001-1 | 2001-2 | 2002-1 | 2002-2 | 2003-1 | 2003-2 | 2004-1 | 2004-2 | 2005-1 | 2005-2 | 2006-1 | 2006-2
2007-1 | 2007-2 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013
Index to All Decades, Years and Features
- History of Sex in CinemaA year-by-year look at the films, scandals and changing laws.
- History of Erotic FilmsEverything you ever wanted to know from the first sex symbol to the birth of porn.
- Movies That Challenged RatingsA ranked movie list of 10 milestone sexy films that challenged the ratings.
- Sexy Hollywood BombshellsA brief history of Hollywood's sirens including Monroe, Mansfield, and Mamie.
- Top 100 Controversial MoviesMany of these included controversial sex and violence.
- Sexiest Films of All-TimeOver 75 of the hottest films in movie history.