History of Sex in Cinema:
The Greatest and Most Influential
Sexual Films and Scenes



The History of Sex in Cinema
Title Screens
Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description

Beau-Pere (1981, Fr.)

Director Bertrand Blier's affecting, well-acted (believable) controversial film, due to its intimations of pedophilia, was initially denied theatrical release by US distributors, and was given only a limited showing a year later.

To sensationalize the film, one of its French posters (see right) displayed a long-shot image of an entirely topless Marion, although the exact shot was not in the actual film.

It told about the love between:

  • Marion (Ariel Besse in her debut film and in her most prominent French-speaking performance, filmed at the age of 15), a 14 year-old girl
  • Remy (Patrick Dewaere, an actor who committed suicide in 1982), Marion's step-father, a nearly 30 year-old morose lounge-restaurant piano player and psychologically-wounded and unstable man, still recovering after the death of his wife Martine (Nicole Garcia) in a car crash

The compelling film, without moralizing, portrayed the overmature girl's sexual affection and confession of romantic feelings and love for her conscience-torn stepfather when she came to live with him instead of her biological father, alcoholic Charly (Maurice Ronet). She hesitantly admitted as she hugged him one evening before bed that she was physically smitten with him: "I wonder if I'm not a bit attracted to you...physically...I don't know, I have desires, strange feelings and I think about you all the time." She also asked: "Aren't you physically attracted to me?" When he denied having physical feelings for her, he added: "I'm not quite old enough to go for little girls." She asserted: "I'm not a little girl anymore...I'm a woman! It's fairly recent, but I am one now!" and stomped out of the room.

The next morning, she resumed the discussion about her physical infatuation with him: "There's absolutely no doubt. It is a physical attraction. There are signs which don't lie...Well, when I'm next to you like last night, really close, my heartbeat speeds up. My breathing-rate is faster. My throat gets dry. There's like a heat wave inside me. I feel all weak...It's a killer." She replied: "So what?" when he mentioned their 16 year age difference.

When he found her seductively naked in his bed and demanding to be there, she asked: "What exactly am I lacking that would make me a woman?" He responded: "You don't really think you and I are going to make love?" She replied: "Not necessarily." He asked: "So what do you want?" Dejected, she told him: "I don't know."

Reversing himself, he told her that she was a woman, but he had no intention of making love to her ("Anyway, not now"), when she retorted: "Then, when?" He answered: "Never...Probably never. Just because all at once, you're a woman, it doesn't mean I have to make love to you. There are lots of women I've never made love to." She assured him: "I'm in no hurry. We have plenty of time." She said she was naked in his bed because she wanted to sleep next to him ("feel your body against me, snuggle up to you - it's all I think about"). She invited: "Are you coming?" He worried: "What if I lose control?" She replied: "Do I get to you?...Can't you sleep with a little girl in your arms?" She confessed: "If you did feel the way I do, it'd be cruel not to tell me." He assured her: "Even if I wanted you, which I don't, I could never touch you. You're too young, too vulnerable."

The next night, she again boldly joined him in bed, saying she was 'available' if he wanted her: "The classic woman-as-object." He resisted her affections, even though she declared that she was a 14 year old woman - "in perfect working order, all systems go. If you had any curiosity at all, you'd notice I have breasts which despite their small size, react when touched. You'd also notice other things which might interest you." Because she had confided her love in him, she urged him to take her virginity: "I want to be broken in by someone who knows the score." She desired: "Kiss me, Remy. A real kiss. Why not?" But he rejected her and refused to succumb, until she left for a ski resort on a train, when he gave her a passionate goodbye kiss.

Missing each other terribly during the holidays, he hurriedly drove to rendez-vous with Marion in her chalet room - and boldly asked her to make love to him on Christmas. She left for a short while and later when she returned, she found him sleeping. The nubile Marion undressed and climbed into his bed barechested as he surrendered to her 'Lolita-like' seduction and struggled with his mixed emotions while making love to her.

Later he thought about how she was "so happy" and that he was "very gentle" with her, but felt that they should cover up their wrongful indiscretion - he called it a "caress that got out of hand a bit." She wanted to make love again, but he declined: "I've pulled enough boners in my life." He felt responsible for her and wanted her to live a normal life, with friends and dates her own age. She quipped, revealing her own distaste for peers: "Boys my own age will want to make out." He was a bit surprised and dismayed when she took him literally and searched for a male "substitute" - and made out ("groping and pawing") with other boys, although claimed she wouldn't go all the way: "Everything below that belt is private territory. The exclusive owner of that territory is you."

Sex with Underaged Marion (Ariel Besse)

When she disobediently returned from a birthday party the following morning, staying out past her curfew, he again succumbed to her charms. As she sat on his lap, he untied her purple party dress and stripped it off - admitting that he was again surrendering to her ("I'm tired of being a hero. He lightly touched her left breast as she asked: "Love me?" She willingly accepted his proposal to make love to her again (Marion: "Make love to me?...For a long time?...Often?...I'll make love to you, too") (their second love-making scene), before kissing him. She promised: "I'll make you forget the blues, all your troubles."

Afterwards, a surprise visit from her real father caused suspicion that Remy was sleeping with his step-daughter, when he caught them in an obvious lie, and saw them engaged in a steamy embrace and kiss while he was leaving. He turned and expressed his 'weird thought': "You wouldn't be sleeping together?" Remy feigned outrage and denied the accusation. Soon after, Remy struck up an acquaintance with divorced single-mother and accomplished solo pianist Charlotte (Nathalie Baye) and felt himself pulling away from young Marion. He worried about his departure as they laid naked in bed for the last time: "Hold me back, don't let me leave... I'll be so unhappy after I've lost you." Soon, she regretfully felt that she would become an "acceptable young lady" as she grew older and would no longer be "ashamed" to be accompanied by him. She even thought of having a baby with him, and tearfully told him how much she had learned from him.

During a final goodbye scene, Marion already knew he would be moving on and starting "a new life" with Charlotte, and only asked that he come to her when she requested it at any time in the future. She was the one to decide to pack her suitcases and leave Remy (and return to her real father), to his utter shock when it actually happened. He found comfort in the arms of Charlotte, who assured him: "I'll cure you" - and they made love (off-screen), watched from the doorway by Charlotte's 5-year old blonde daughter Nathalie - his potentially-new stepdaughter - would history repeat itself?

(Ariel Besse)

Body Heat (1981)

Lawrence Kasdan's crime drama Body Heat (1981), (a post-noir remake of the classic Double Indemnity (1944)) was one of the first of its kind - a neo-noir or erotic thriller. It had a twisting plot of murderous lust and 1980s eroticism.

It opened with the aftermath of a love scene in a humid southern city, in which a naked female partner dressed as she told horny Florida attorney Ned Racine (William Hurt):

"My God, it's hot. I stepped out of the shower and started sweating again."

The naive lawyer was soon ensnared by another sultry, alluring, cheating, husky-voiced femme fatale Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) upon their first meeting at an outdoor beachside concert. After she told him that she was married, he persisted - and she complimented him:

Matty: "You're not too smart, are you? I like that in a man."
Ned: "What else do you like? Lazy, ugly, horny, I've got 'em all."

Later when they met at the only bar in the small town of Pinehaven, she told him: "Some men, once they get a whiff of it, they trail you like a hound." He claimed: "I'm not that eager." When she said her temperature was normally high, he quipped: "Maybe you need a tune-up," to which she answered: "Don't tell me. You have just the right tool." She warned him: "You're going to be disappointed," but he didn't take the hint. He was enthralled by her mode of dress (a braless, open blouse and bright red skirt) but told her: "Maybe you shouldn't dress like that...Then you shouldn't wear that body."

The film had numerous highly-charged, sweaty sex scenes, beginning when he followed her home to see (or listen) to her balcony's wind chimes -- but then asked him to leave almost immediately: "I shouldn't have let you come." Although he began to leave, he returned and broke into her locked house through the porch bay window with a garden chair (to the sound of wind chimes) to the awaiting, horny and receptive Matty. After feeling her breasts and crotch through her clothing, she laid back on the floor. He removed her panties to make love to her, exclaiming: "It's so right!" She begged: "Please, Ned. Do it!"

Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner): "Please, Ned. Do it!"

They became obsessed with each other and made sweaty love in her bed, in the boathouse, in a large bathtub, etc, without pausing in-between, and he complained as she touched his limp penis: "Gimme a break here. It takes a little while." She joked: "It's your own fault. I never wanted it like this before. It throws everything else out of whack" - he told her it would take 30 seconds for him to recover. In a shared bath of ice cubes after more insatiable intercourse (she pleaded: "Don't stop!"), as he again observed, both physically and metaphorically: "You are killing me. I'm red, I'm sore...Look at it. It's about to fall off."

Also included in the film was the scene of Ned's mistaken delivery of a very forward proposition to Matty's visiting high school girlfriend Mary Ann Simpson (Kim Zimmer): "Hey lady, do you wanna f--k?" and the controversial scene in which Matty's young niece Heather (Carola McGuinness) caught the two in an oral sex act but couldn't identify the man with the erection.

Ultimately, Matty's amorous ploy was successful in convincing her duped lover Ned to kill her rich husband (Richard Crenna) - Ned was in fact charged with the murder and imprisoned in a Florida state penitentiary, while "Matty" escaped "to be rich and live in an exotic land."

Matty Walker
(Kathleen Turner)

Circle of Two (1981, Can.) (aka Obsession)

Hollywood blacklist survivor-director Jules Dassin helmed this Canadian romantic drama, his last film. There were two taglines: "Theirs was a love against all odds," and "Their lives would always be entwined."

It told of an unlikely obsessive romance (a "Circle of Two") between two mis-matched individuals who met at a soft-core film showing. :

  • Ashley St. Clair (great actor Richard Burton), an elderly, 60-ish painter
  • Sarah Norton (17 year-old Tatum O'Neal), an inspirational, adventurous teenaged 15 year-old schoolgirl, an aspiring writer of poems

[Note: Tatum O'Neal was fresh off her victory as Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon (1973), and had appeared in other family-oriented films since, such as The Bad News Bears (1976), Nickelodeon (1976), and International Velvet (1978). As she was making an attempt at more adult films, she had also starred the year before opposite Kristy McNichol in the R-rated Little Darlings (1980), a semi-sensitive teen comedy about a competition to lose one's virginity at a summer camp.]

In the film's most questioned scene, she stood naked in his studio in the woods behind a well-placed chair in order to seduce and encourage him to return to his life's work. She even defiantly smoked one of his cigars, announcing herself as a smoking muse: "Nude with cigar." He reacted with quiet anger and ordered her to clothe herself ("Get dressed!").

She objected, reminding him that he had painted Claudia Aldrich (Nuala Fitzgerald) in the nude: "You painted Claudia in the nude." He repeated himself, but she again argued: "My body's as good as Claudia's any day." He then vehemently shouted at her: "Get dressed!" She crossed her hands in front of her breasts. Unfortunately, her stalker-boyfriend Paul (Michael Wincott), who was watching from a hidden distance, misunderstood the scene.

Sarah Norton
(Tatum O'Neal)

Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story (1981) (TV)

Director Gabrielle Beaumont's bio-drama told the tragic story of Playboy's August 1979 centerfold model/actress Dorothy Stratten, portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis in an early role, just one year after the real-life Stratten (actually Dorothy Hoogstraten) was brutally murdered by her sleazy con-man estranged husband Paul Snider (Bruce Weitz), who then committed suicide. The titillating film was rushed into production soon after her 1980 murder to exploit its story.

The opening scene (under the title credits) was a Playboy photo-shoot in which the nude Stratten tossed her hair back repeatedly. Curtis was obviously topless in this and some other scenes, and often scantily-clad, but NBC-TV viewing prohibited her from revealing herself fully.

At the Playboy Mansion

It would be Bob Fosse's Star 80 (1983) that would do complete justice to the tragic story of the ill-fated starlet.

Dorothy: "I'm a blonde with a chest and that's just about it"

The Evil Dead (1981)

Writer/director Sam Raimi's first film in the Evil Dead trilogy was a low-budget, non-humorous B-grade horror film. This was the ultimate "cabin in the woods" movie. Malevolent and demonic evil spirits were unleashed upon five Michigan State University students in a remote Michigan (some say Tennessee) mountain cabin (during a weekend retreat) after the reading of a forbidden book (the "Naturan Demanto" or the Necronomicon) found in the cellar.

It featured a Stephen King quoted tagline:

"The ultimate experience in grueling terror."

Due to the film's graphic violence, it was banned in several European countries. On-screen blood and gore would have given the film an NC-17 rating if Raimi had presented the film to the ratings board when it was first released. In the UK, the film was subject to obscenity trials and various censorship cuts - particularly regarding the tree-rape scene.

The infamous and controversial predatory (and gratuitous) 'tree rape' scene was accused of being misogynistic. University student Cheryl Williams (Ellen Sandweiss), main character Ash Williams' (Bruce Campbell) younger sister, was the first to be possessed. When she was walking in the woods outside the log cabin, she was attacked by tree branches and vines that wrapped around her neck and limbs ("It was the woods themselves, they're alive"). They stripped her of her clothes, caressed her and then spread her legs. One tree branch suddenly impaled her in her crotch.

Soon after she was chased back to the house (with quick POV tracking shots), she was transformed into a demon zombie with a greyish white face and superhuman strength (known as a Deadite or Shemp). .

The Rape of Cheryl Williams (Ellen Sandweiss)

Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1981)

The first franchise sequel, Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1981), was competing with the Halloween (1978) franchise for a substantial nudity quotient - and for displaying the nubile bodies of young adults who would end up as dead slasher victims, often after a display of nudity or sex.

One of the counselor trainees, Terry (Kirsten Baker) was first introduced with a close-up of her rear, walking in sexy tight short-shorts. Later, she took an evening stroll to the notorious Crystal Lake for a skinny-dip, after tantalizing one of the other handsome male counselor trainees Scott (Russell Todd) at dinner with her short, skin-tight, bra-less pink half-shirt top. When she entered the lake, Scott stole her clothes left on the shoreline -- but soon after, both ended up gruesomely murdered by the mysterious killer.

In a scene shortly later, Jeff (Bill Randolph) and busty girlfriend Sandra (Marta Kober) were doubly-impaled after copulating together, originally an X-rated scene that was edited for an R-rating. The nude lovers lying on each other were speared like a shish-kabob - the bloody spear-head struck the wood floor beneath their bed's mattress.

Friday the 13th, Part 2: Spearing Two Lovers - Originally X-Rated
Jeff (Bill Randolph) and Sandra (Marta Kober)

Another couple, sexually-assertive Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor) and wheelchair-bound Mark (Tom McBride), were also preparing for a night of sex, but neither one of them survived long enough.

(Kirsten Baker)

The Funhouse (1981)

Director Tobe Hooper's sleazy, low-budget slasher-horror film warned in a description in a trailer:

"Something is alive in the funhouse. Something not alive like its father, something better dead. Something that has the form of a human, but not the face. Something that feeds off the flesh and blood of young innocents. Something that tonight will turn the funhouse into a carnival of terror."

It also had a more humorous tagline: "Pay to Get In, Pray to Get Out." Hooper's earlier work The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was much more effective and scarier - and after this film, Hooper went on to direct Poltergeist (1982), produced by Steven Spielberg.

Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge)
Psycho-like Opening Shower Sequence

The opening tongue-in-cheek sequence was an homage to both Psycho (1960) and Halloween (1978) (filmed from the point of view of a heavy-breathing, masked intruder). In the bathroom scene, a killer approached a nude, teenaged showering female, main virginal heroine Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge), to stab her to death. As it turned out, the slasher was Amy's bratty younger brother Joey (Shawn Carson), a horror film aficionado, who was playing a prank on her with a long plastic retractable knife.

The main plot was about the traveling Fairfield County carnival/fair, featuring one of its main attractions - a funhouse. Two young couples on a double date attended the fair, although not with their parents' approval:

  • Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge)
  • Buzz Dawson (Cooper Huckabee), Amy's new boyfriend, a hunky gas station attendant
  • Liz Duncan (Largo Woodruff), Amy's best friend
  • Richie Atterbury (Miles Chapin), Liz's geeky boyfriend

After going on rides, smoking marijuana, viewing a 'freaks-of-nature' side show, attending a magic show, sneaking a look at a strip-show, and visiting fortune teller Madame Zena (Sylvia Miles), the foursome decided to spend the night inside one of the rides, known as the Funhouse - advertised by a loud barker Conrad Straker (Kevin Conway).

By film's end, it was revealed that Straker's deformed, mutant and deviant son Gunther (Wayne Doba), the ride's assistant, was the murderous "Frankenstein's Monster" who had violently killed Madame Zena in a rage. Gunther had approached prostitute Madame Zena for sex and then strangled her when she refused to give back his $100 when he prematurely ejaculated. When unmasked by his father, Gunther's hideous face revealed that he was an albino with a cleft forehead, long sharp teeth, white, scraggly hair and bright-red eyes.

Other murders followed in rapid succession, after the group of teens were witness to the killing and subsequent cover-up by Conrad:

  • Conrad killed Richie (who had stolen money from his strongbox) with a noose - strangulation
  • Gunther raped and murdered Liz in an air vent-shaft, where she attempted to entice him with an offer of sex, and then attempted to stab him in the back; he turned on her and stabbed her to death
  • Buzz killed Conrad, by impaling him back onto a prop sword
  • Gunther shot Buzz to death with Conrad's gun

"Final Girl" Amy was left to battle Gunther in a climactic showdown. The monstrous Gunther was caught on a track chain, electrocuted and crushed (and severed in two) between two giant machinery gears that were rotating. The animatronic fat lady that advertised the Funhouse ride was laughing, as the film concluded.

Barker Conrad Straker
(Kevin Conway)

Gunther Straker ("Frankenstein Monster") - Unmasked

Death by Electrocution and Bisection by Mechanical Gears

Amy's Horror

Halloween II (1981)

The second film in the long-running series, Halloween II (1981), proclaimed "More of The Night HE came Home" - this time with slightly more nudity than the legendary first film, especially in its notorious hot tub scene.

In the Haddonfield (Illinois) Memorial Hospital late one night where recuperating Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) was hospitalized, buxom Nurse Karen Bailey (Pamela Susan Shoop) agreed to make out with horny ambulance driver/paramedic Budd (Leo Rossi) in the therapy room's hydrotherapy whirlpool tub ("It's hot in here") before the two met their predictable fate after sex.

He was strangled and killed by brutal killer Michael Myers (Dick Warlock) while checking the temperature controls outside the room (without her knowledge).

Moments later, she also succumbed by having her face scalded to death in the 130 degree water.

[Note: A continuity error in her slow drowning/scalding had her towel move from under her arms (covering her breasts) to her waist in her final moments to reveal her gratuitous topless nudity. In contrast, Budd's death was very brief and unprolonged.]

Nurse Karen Bailey
(Pamela Susan Shoop)

Heavy Metal (1981, US/Can.)

The fantasy graphics of the adult-oriented, late 70s comic book Heavy Metal inspired this animated, exploitative pop-cult film of six sci-fi/erotica, inter-related episodic segments (interwoven and framed by another story). The tales were accompanied by heavy metal hard rock. The animation was rated R for violence, sex, nudity (animated!), profanity and vulgarity.

[Note: See further information on its sequel almost 20 years later, titled Heavy Metal 2000 (2000) (aka Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.).]

This was an 'adult' underground cartoon that was more adolescent and juvenile than anything else, with graphic, teen-oriented depictions of drugs, taboo-breaking sex, disrobing nude women (with large breasts) viewed as sex-objects, sex-toy robots, fantasy sword-and-scorcery, and gory violence. The entire film told of an evil, glowing sentient green orb or meteorite, called the Loc-Nar, in inter-related vignettes.

In the 5th segment, "So Beautiful, So Dangerous," red-headed Pentagon secretary Gloria (voice of Alice Playten) had sex with robot (voice of John Candy) after being kidnapped onto an alien ship. Nude, she laid back next to the robot smoking a cigarette, when she exclaimed:

Gloria: "That was incredible! I've never felt anything like it."
Robot: "Oh great. I've been programmed to be fully proficient in sexual activities. Do you want to go steady?"
Gloria: "Gee, I don't know. I already have a boyfriend."
Robot: "What he does not know will not hurt him."
Gloria: "But I feel so guilty."
Robot: "Of course you would. Earth women who experience sexual ecstasy with mechanical assistance always tend to feel guilty."
Gloria: "Really?"
Robot: (later) "But I don't understand. We laugh together, care for each other. We have highly proficient sex. Why can't we get married?"
Gloria: "Look, we're different, OK? Let's leave it at that."
Robot: "What do you mean, different?"
Gloria: "But mixed marriages just don't work. I'm afraid that I'll come home one day and find you screwing the toaster."
Robot: "You'll just have to trust me."
Gloria: "All right, all right, I'll marry you. But on one condition. I want a Jewish wedding."
Robot: "A Jewish wedding? Okay!"
Gloria: "Um, I forgot. Are you circumcised?"

The last episode was about a Defender named Taarna - a beautiful, sword-wielding, silver-haired Amazonian warrior maiden, the last of a warrior race called the Taarakians. She was costumed from complete nudity to a skimpy black outfit (and red shin-boots and gloves) with an electrified red sword, and riding on a giant yellow bird. She was summoned with a mission to defeat mutated barbarians on an alien planet (where the Loc-Nar had landed).

1st Segment - Harry Canyon
2nd Segment - Den
Girl (voice of Susan Roman)
Katherine Welles (voice of Jackie Burroughs)
5th Segment - So Beautiful, So Dangerous
6th Segment - Taarna
Gloria (voice of Alice Playten) After Having Sex with Robot (voice of John Candy)
Taarna, the Defender

5th Segment

Taarna in 6th Segment

Hospital Massacre (1981)

See below X-Ray (1981)


The Howling (1981)

Werewolf films were the rage in the early 1980s, and popularized by director Joe Dante's horror film, The Howling (1981), with state-of-the-art special effects, inspiring the making of An American Werewolf in London (1981). As additional homage to werewolf films of the past (there were seamlessly integrated clips from The Wolf Man (1941)), a number of the characters in the film were named after prominent horror film directors. Its tagline was:

"Imagine your worst fear a reality."

Early on, the film featured a startling scene in the Pussycat, an adult video store's dark and seedy porno viewing room, where LA TV news-woman Karen White (Dee Wallace-Stone) was part of a police trap to catch serial killer Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). She was forced to watch a video of a young woman/hooker (Beverly Warren) in bondage being raped by Eddie - with lycanthropic overtones. When police arrived to save her from Eddie, the killer was shot and apparently dead.

Suffering from shock, nightmares, sexual dysfunction and partial amnesia, Karen was prescribed recovery time with her mustached husband Bill Neill (Christopher Stone) at a secluded Big Sur country "Colony" retreat locale up north, turning the film into a backwoods psychodrama. (She was unaware that her prescribing New Age therapist/doctor at the time was Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), a werewolf.)

Unbeknownst to them, ravenous, bizarre, sex-crazed werewolves were located there. One of the she-wolves at the resort was sex-starved, sultry, nymphomaniacal, raven-haired Marsha Quist (Elisabeth Brooks), Eddie's sister acting like a "bitch in heat."

Werewolf Seduction by Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks)
Near a Campfire

Marsha seduced newly-bitten Bill Neill by a campfire. As they made love, they both turned into howling werewolves through shapeshifting. Unfortunately, budgetary constraints forced cuts in some special effects - the silhouette of Bill and Marsha having sex as werewolves was obviously cartoonish animation.

Woman in Bondage
(Beverly Warren)

Looker (1981)

Writer/director Michael Crichton's prescient, PG-rated high-tech science-fiction medical thriller was a mediocre film with impressive visual effects. The way-ahead-of-its-time film was about plastic surgery, surgically-perfect models, and the replacement of models with CGI simulations.

It told about the murder of models, clients of Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Larry Roberts (Albert Finney), who were then replaced with virtual-reality imitations. It also included a political subplot regarding hypnotic suggestion to control TV viewers.

It featured the first CGI human character, model Cindy Fairmont (Susan Dey - famed for her teen role as Laurie in TV's The Partridge Family) - her full-body scan-digitization was visualized by a computer-generated animated simulation. As she disrobed and she stood naked, she mumbled to herself: "I hope you're satisfied, perverts!" She kneeled as the round platform on which she was standing sunk into the floor, then stood up and asked: "Now what?" She was slowly rotated as topographic scanners mapped out her body.

Looker Model Lisa Convey's (Terri Welles) Plastic Surgery

The film also began with a bit role for Playboy's 1981 Playmate of the Year Terri Welles as a gorgeous model named Lisa Convey who insisted on plastic surgery to fix minute defects (her narrow nose, high cheekbones, pointed chin, and uneven areolae).

There were also very minor roles for other Playboy Playmates (Jeana Tomasina, Pamela Jean Bryant, Ashley Cox, etc.) and even one for TV's Wheel of Fortune Vanna White.

Cindy Fairmont
(Susan Dey)

Ms. 45 (1981) (aka Angel of Vengeance)

One of director Abel Ferrara's earliest films (his second) was this low-budget exploitation cult classic of female vengeance (similar to 70s films about revenge, including: The Last House on the Left (1972), Thriller - A Cruel Picture (1973, Swed.), Death Wish (1974), and I Spit On Your Grave (1978)). The film's tagline was:

"It will never happen again!"

In the urban thriller's opening scenes, waifish, shy/mute seamstress Thana (Zoe Lund (aka Zoe Tamerlis)) was raped twice in the same evening, as she returned home from work in NYC's garment district. [Note: Her name was an oblique reference to Thanatos, meaning 'goddess of death'.]

In the first instance, she was attacked by a plastic cellophane -masked assailant (director Ferrara) with a gun, dragged to an alley, and raped from behind while draped over some garbage cans. In the second instance after she returned home to her apartment, she was raped there by a burglar (Peter Yellen) with a .45. She gained a thirst for revenge after knocking out and killing the second rapist with a blow to the head from an iron - and she kept his weapon. She dismembered his body in the bathtub, by sawing off limbs with a long knife, in a bloody and grisly scene. Then, she methodically dumped his body parts wrapped in newspaper and placed in garbage bags distributed throughout the city. Suddenly frightened by a man while disposing one of the bags, she impulsively shot the suspicious bystander dead with the .45.

She eventually dressed provocatively to seductively lure predatory males into being victims, and often had the opportunity to calmly shot and murder potential assailants, so she would never be exploited again. As she became more mentally unstable and misanthropic, the lethal shootings piled up.

Her iconic costume by film's end at a Halloween costume party consisted of a nun's outfit with suspenders, bright red lipstick, and a gun strapped to her thigh. There, she went indiscriminately on a violent, crazed shooting spree (resembling Sam Peckinpah's slow-motion concluding bloodbath in The Wild Bunch (1969)).

Lethal 'Angel of Vengeance'
In the Climactic Halloween Costume Party

Thana (Zoe Lund)

1st Rape

2nd Rape


Possession (1981, Fr./W. Ger.)

Polish director Andrzej Zulawski's experimental and avant-garde work was a very surrealistic and bizarre occult horror film, similar to elements of:

  • Polanski's Repulsion (1965)
  • Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958)
  • David Cronenberg's The Brood (1979)
  • James Polakof's Demon Rage (1982)
  • Sidney J. Furie's The Entity (1982)
  • Lars von Trier's Antichrist (2009)
  • Amat Escalante's The Untamed (2016, Mex.) (aka La Región Salvaje)

It was released in a heavily-edited 81 minute American version that was derived from the original 127 minute long cut. The film's tagline asked:

Is it desire?
Or violation?
Or bondage?
Your hidden fears will be aroused.
Inhuman ecstasy fulfilled.

The symbolically-told story was about a young woman in a self-destructive and disintegrating romance and marriage (on the brink of divorce), and the grotesque, allegorical or metaphorical results that were produced. The main love triangle was between:

  • Anna (French Cesar Award-winning actress Isabelle Adjani), a tormented, erratic, sexually-psychotic young French femme, a ballet instructor
  • Mark (Sam Neill), Anna's husband, a secret service worker
  • Heinrich (Heinz Bennett), Anna's self-possessed lover, a self-help guru

[Note: Adjani also played a dual look-alike role as an idealized Helen, a schoolteacher who tutored the couple's young son Bob, and with whom Mark started an affair.]

She had a strained relationship with her husband, and they both suffered frequent arguments, shouting matches, and physical beatings of each other. From her tortured id, she had created a supernatural, wormy-tentacled, lizardy creature (modeled by SFX master Carlo (E.T.) Rambaldi) and became possessed by it. The monstrous being was kept in her sparse and rundown Berlin apartment for sexual fulfillment, and for the purpose of protective consumption. In the film's most infamous scene, a naked Anna had sex with her monstrous offspring in the missionary position.

Anna/Helen's (Isabelle Adjani) Monstrous and Possessed Sex

The notorious film included a five-minute hysterically-screaming miscarriage-birthing flashback sequence in a deserted, echoing subway tunnel in which she writhed, convulsed and tossed a netted bag of groceries against the wall, and let the consequences of her unhappy marriage overtake her.

(Isabelle Adjani)

Miscarriage in Subway

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

Director Bob Rafelson's film (from a script by David Mamet) was a more explicit R-rated version of the classic film noir, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), with Lana Turner and John Garfield, both of which were based upon James M. Cain's 1934 novel of the same name.

The weak remake featured the same torrid, adulterous love affair between:

  • Frank Chambers (Jack Nicholson), a drifter
  • Cora Smith/Papadakis (Jessica Lange), an unfulfilled, sexy wife of diner-cafe owner Nick Papadakis (John Colicos)

The romantic drama was most notorious for the intense, mostly-clothed, uninhibited sex scene performed in the cafe's kitchen. Its tagline was a play on a famous expression: "You Will Feel The Heat."

At first she vigorously resisted him inside the cafe, as they wrestled with each other and she succumbed to a forced kiss. Frank laid Cora onto a table, when she shouted, "Wait a minute, wait, get off" and then swiped away the cutlery and freshly baked loaves of bread to clear space for them. She encouraged him further, "Come on," and he continued to grope and fondle her between her legs and on her breasts, and to kiss her.

They began intercourse as she rolled around to be on top, after which the scene implied that she received oral sex.

Cora Smith
(Jessica Lange)

Private Lessons (1981)

The first in a series of Private... films, by producer R. Ben Efraim, featured Emmanuelle's Sylvia Kristel as a 30-ish sexy tutor with the 'hots' for a teenaged boy. The morally-questionable, controversial and clumsily-made teen fantasy sex comedy with Sylvia Kristel (of Emmanuelle fame, although sometimes represented by body double Judy Helden) was not to be confused with the sordid Italian comedy The Private Lesson (1975) starring Carroll Baker. Even a remake or sequel followed, Private Lessons II (1993, Jp.).

The teen sex comedy The Big Bet (1985) also starred Sylvia Kristel as an older fashion designer who tutored a 17 year-old male in the art of love-making.

A surprising box-office hit (although popular mostly because of Kristel's reputation as Emmanuelle), it was advertised with the tagline:

"The bedroom is a fun classroom - EMMANUELLE's star is the teacher."

In this wish-fulfillment (actually child-molestation) film, there were a number of debauched and unnerving seduction scenes between:

  • Phillip ("Philly") Fillmore (16 year-old Eric Brown), a wealthy under-aged 15 year-old teenager
  • Nicole Mallow (Sylvia Kristel), Philly's lovely new alluring French housekeeper/maid
Private Lessons with Nicole (Sylvia Kristel):
The Stripping Scene

In her bedroom, she invited him to watch her undress after she caught him peeping on her. She slowly and seductively gave him a private strip show, although halfway, she first asked the "growing" boy: "Do you still want me to continue?" and he enthusiastically consented. When she removed her bra, she asked: "What do you think of?...My breasts. How do you like them?" He could only respond: "Nice, very nice." She moved closer and asked: "Would you like to touch them?" with one of her nipples directly in front of his face. He declined and said: "Maybe later." She continued until she was fully nude. When she handed him her panties, he nervously left while telling her: "I really enjoyed it." She promised: "We should do this again sometime."

Private Lessons: The Bath Scene

In another similar scene, she invited him into his father's bathroom to watch her bathe in the tub. She enticed him again: "Would you like to wash my back?" She guided his hand onto her soapy breast, and then innocently coaxed: "Would you like to join me?...Take a bath with me...Why don't you try it? Maybe you like it....Come on, it will be an adventure." Embarrassed, he joined her but wore green bathing trunks. As she soaped him from behind and spooned with him, she also kissed him, and he turned and kissed her back. He agreed to remove his boxer shorts under the condition that the lights were turned off. He panicked when she touched his privates and quickly ran off - he accepted her apology, but to prove his forgiveness, she suggested that he sleep with her overnight. When he declined, she said: "Just to show that there's no hard feelings, would you kiss me goodnight?" She gave him a much more intimate kiss than the peck he offered, before he fled from her.

More kisses and affection followed as they started to fall in love and go on dates (and he even asked her to marry him) - their kissing was often witnessed by the chauffeur, Lester Lewis (Howard Hesseman). Philly's chubby friend Sherman (Patrick Piccininni) was suspicious about how easy the housekeeper was: "If she's that easy, she's probably a whore!" After a fancy restaurant dinner date, the two returned to her bedroom where they slowly undressed each other (to the tune of Air Supply's "Lost in Love") before having sex together.

Private Lessons: A Blackmailing Ransom Scheme

And then the very contrived subplot became apparent when Miss Mallow died from a heart attack before actual intercourse. It was part of a contrived subplot blackmailing scheme of the chauffeur to have her seduce the young boy, make love and then fake her death (with blood dripping from her mouth). A ransom note would then demand $10,000 from Philly (his father's safe) to keep everything hushed. The chauffeur held two things over Nicole's head: the fact that she was an illegal alien, and a felon for criminally seducing a minor. The tables were turned on the scheming and treacherous chauffeur, however, whose plans were stopped when Nicole revealed her true love (or "crush") for Philly. Before she left permanently - knowing that they could never keep their affair a secret from Philly's returning father, the couple did consummate love-making (to the tune of Rod Stewart's "You're In My Heart") before the film concluded.

Private Lessons: Love-Making Before the Final Goodbye

In the last scene at Frederick Douglass High School in the fall, Philly thanked pretty young teacher Miss Phipps (Meridith Baer) for advice given to him the previous June (in the beginning of the film): "Find girls whose age is more appropriate for me." And then he asked her out for a chauffeured dinner date to provide more details about his adventurous summer.

[See other entries: "Raunchy Teen-Sex Comedies of the 1980s"]

Kisses: Philly & Nicole
(Sylvia Kristel)

S.O.B. (1981)

Director Blake Edwards and his real-life wife Julie Andrews took it upon themselves to skewer Hollywood, and at the same time spoof Andrews' family-friendly image. It was a major about-face from Julie Andrews' wholesome, squeaky-clean public image in Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965). The film tauted its director's bravado:

The man who painted the panther pink, and taught you how to count to '10' now gives you Hollywood bull... at its funniest and sexiest.

In the film, the initials in the title stood for: " Standard Operational Bullshit."

There was a daring breast-baring, topless scene performed by Sally Miles (Julie Andrews), an Oscar-winning film star and the wife of suicidal film producer Felix Farmer (Richard Mulligan). In a film-within-a-film scene for the transformed, soft-core pornographic musical Night Wind, Sally had agreed to appear naked-chested - "show my boobies."

There was stunned silence from the onlookers, a pregnant pause, and then uproarious applause for her. She looked down at her bare breasts, smiled, and then discreetly covered up.

Topless Sally Miles (Julie Andrews)

In the next year, Andrews portrayed a singing transvestite in Edwards' Victor/Victoria (1982).

Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981, It/Fr.) (aka Storie di Ordinaria Follia, or Conte De La Folie Ordinaire)

Italian director Marco Ferreri's erotic drama and compelling love story was adapted from German/American beat poet Charles Bukowski's 1972 fictional work Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness.

The semi-autobiographical film starred two lovers who found a sexual connection together:

  • Charles Serking (Ben Gazzara), a re-named, self-destructive, alcoholic writer/poet on LA's seedy skid row living in a flophouse, and verging on sexual depravity
  • Cass (Ornella Muti), a glamorous barfly-prostitute, sado-masochistic, melancholic, and suicidal

The outcast and misfit Charles spoke the word "Love" when reaching orgasm with her for the first time while taking her from behind as she was bent over and bottomless at a window.

Later, she revealed that she had stitched her vagina shut with a large safety pin (she had earlier impaled her facial cheeks) - she told him about her genital self-mutilation when she feared that she'd lose him (due to a job offer that would take him away to New York):

"I've closed it. For you and for everybody. Forever."

He fled, but later returned to Los Angeles, where he found that she had killed herself. He spiraled downward with a drinking bout.

In the film's conclusion, he attained some catharsis and peace when he returned to a beachhouse where he had experienced some idyllic moments with Cass. He also spouted bits of poetry while touching a young admiring "Girl on the Beach" (Katya Berger):

With painters paint, dipping their reds and greens and yellows, poets rhyme their loneliness. Musicians starve as always and novelists miss the mark. But not the pelican, the gull. Pelicans dip and dive.

(Ornella Muti)

Girl on the Beach
(Katya Berger)

Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)

At the height of sex star-goddess Bo Derek's popularity after her hit success in Blake Edwards' comedy 10 (1979) - and its subsequent A Change of Seasons (1980), the star's Svengali husband John Derek (30 years her elder) chose to direct her in this completely tasteless, sophomoric, modernized nude (and sexless) version of the classic jungle tale from the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs of the early 1930s. The two stars were:

  • Jane Parker (Bo Derek)
  • Tarzan (Miles O'Keeffe), the legendary "white ape" man (without any lines of dialogue)

Its tagline rightly declared: "Unlike any other Tarzan you've ever seen!" - in fact, the Burroughs' estate was incensed at the softcore treatment of the material and tried to sue to stop the film's release - and forced MGM to agree to four editorial cuts in sequences displaying Bo's Jane Parker in various stages of undress.

Bo Derek won the Razzie Award for "Worst Actress" - and the film received five other Razzie nominations. [Note: Another even more controversial version of the Tarzan tale was called Tarzan X: Shame of Jane (aka Jungle Heat) (1994), an X-rated version by director Joe D'Amato.]

The film opened with the familiar Tarzan yell replacing the MGM's lion roar in the logo. There were numerous bathing scenes (both clothed and unclothed) to show off Jane's figure. The ape-man was introduced to her, about halfway through the film, when she was swimming in an inland sea and a fearsome lion approached the beach.

Later after being semi-reluctantly kidnapped by Tarzan, she was saved from an attacking giant python. In an infamous banana scene, she phallically peeled open the fruit as she admitted: "I'm still a virgin. Now, I don't know whether that's good or bad." She asked the mute ape-man: "What are you? You'd have to be, I mean, there's no one. You'd have to be, wouldn't you? It's a strange problem."

Again swimming with him, she marveled at his body by babbling this awful line of dialogue: "Do you know you're more beautiful than any girl I know? Oh, you're a lot more!" After she taught the uncivilized Tarzan how to smile, she could only react: "God!...It's wicked, I know," and then closed her eyes when the curious ape man touched her breasts through her wet shirt.

Then, after she and her estranged father James Parker (Richard Harris) and explorer Harry Holt (John Phillip Law) were captured by natives, Jane was ceremonially scrubbed while naked (on her hands and knees) and then painted white in preparation for marrying the brutish, Mohawk-haired native leader. Her father was lethally impaled in the abdomen with a giant elephant's tusk, and Jane leaned over him as he perished and vowed: "I love you too, I always have, and I always, always will."

Tarzan's Jane (Bo Derek)
Ceremonially Scrubbed by Natives and Painted White

After being predictably rescued by Tarzan, she followed him into the jungle and the two were seen frolicking in the water with a chimpanzee, with Jane continuing to be topless. The film ended with one of the more controversial aspects of the film - the chimpanzee kissed Jane's right nipple - and she giggled.

Final images were of love-making on the beach at sunset, Jane sunbathing topless (with a butterfly fluttering nearby), and her fun romp and tussle with Tarzan and an orangutan (C.J.) (under the closing credits).

Jane Parker
(Bo Derek)

X-Ray (1981) (aka Hospital Massacre)

This low-brow slasher/horror thriller (an obscure straight-to-video release by the Golan-Globus) by writer/director Boaz Davidson told of the haunting of a brunette since her past as a young girl. The main attraction was Barbi Benton (a country music TV HeeHaw cast member, and one of Playboy Hugh Hefner's early girlfriends, plus a frequent Playboy cover girl and nude layout feature subject).

When the story began on Valentine's Day in 1961, young Susan Jeremy (Elizabeth Hoy as child) rejected and mocked young Harold's (Billy Jayne/Jacoby) Valentine's Day card, prompting the spurned admirer to murder her playfriend David (Mikael Romano) by impaling him on a hat/coat rack.

19 years later as brunette divorcee Susan Jeremy (Barbi Benton as adult), she went to the LA county hospital for test results after a checkup. In the hospital, heavy-breathing maniac Harold (Charles "Chip" Lucia) had reappeared, impersonating a surgical doctor, to seek revenge. He had brutally killed off various hospital personnel (using medical instruments), switched her X-ray test results with those of a terminally-ill patient, and forced her to stay overnight - coinciding with another Valentine's Day.

In an unrealistic, exploitative and gratuitous sex scene (a five minute segment!), she was asked to undress for a physical exam. The demented impersonating doctor watched her sexy silhouette as she stripped behind a curtain. She emerged with a white gown and sat down on the exam table. He removed her gown to reveal her nudity except for skimpy panties. For a few moments, he ordered her to breathe in and out as he listened to her lungs. She intently stared back at him during the entire time.

The unprofessonal doctor quickly tested her blood pressure on her left arm and then had her lie down on her back, where she was subjected to a very slow, humiliating body exam from her feet to her head.

The Full-Body Breast Exam

The examination scene was filmed in lingering, extreme close-up from a side-view - and probably the most memorable segment of the entire film! The unprofessional doctor first lingered over her pelvic area and then around her orb-shaped nipples and breasts as he slowly worked his way up her body, asking her to breathe in and out as he applied his stethoscope to her bare flesh. He then put his hands around her neck as she gazed up at him.

The withdrawal of blood from her left arm was filmed as if it was an invasive rape scene.

(Barbi Benton)

Bo Derek's Other Films:

Bo Derek attempted to capitalize on her soft-core sexuality in three more films (usually about her sexual awakening and featuring her as a sex object) that were also directed by her husband-producer John Derek. Derek retained creative control of her career as a Hollywood outsider, although all failed for their weak plots and wooden performances since all were basically designed to be amateurish vehicles to display Bo's nude and semi-nude shape in as many different poses as possible:

  • Fantasies (1981) (aka And Once Upon a Love) - Bo's debut film at age 16, shot in 1973, in the role of Anastasia. The film was unseen until its release 8 years later after her success in 10 (1979). During a bathtub scene, she exclaimed (obviously): "I have bosoms."
  • Bolero (1984) (see separate entry in year 1984)
  • Ghosts Can't Do It (1989) (see separate entry in year 1989)
Fantasies (1981) - a young and dark-haired Bo Derek

Sex in Cinematic History
History Overview | Reference Intro | Pre-1920s | 1920-26 | 1927-29 | 1930-1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934-37 | 1938-39
1940-44 | 1945-49 | 1950-54 | 1955-56 | 1957-59 | 1960-61 | 1962-63 | 1964 | 1965-66 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969

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Index to All Decades, Years and Features

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