The coincidental conjunction of Time Out’s sex-themed issue, Valentine’s Day and an interview with ‘Colour of Night’ star Bruce Willis (what, you mean he’s made other movies?) naturally got us reminiscing about the heyday of the erotic thriller. In the late ’80s, the term was in no way pejorative. Thanks to classics like ‘Body Heat’, ‘Fatal Attraction’ and ‘Sea of Love’, the idea of a crafty crime flick with a spot of added sauciness actually made a lot of sense. But then, in 1992, Paul Verhoeven hove into view, ratcheting the whole thing up by several steaminess points and coming up with ‘Basic Instinct’. Thanks to a script that combined silliness, sleaziness and self-awareness in equal measure (not to mention rumoured sex-addict Michael Douglas’s high-end cardie collection and Sharon Stone’s… um… let’s go with ‘enthusiasm’), the film became a monumental smash. It wasn’t long before Hollywood was awash in aspirational shagging, celebrity nudity (male and female) and some jaw-droppingly ripe line readings. Here are 5 of the most memorably awful examples…
Body of Evidence (1993)
The culprits: Director Uli Edel, stars Madonna and Willem Dafoe
For some reason, everyone in the early ’90s was falling over themselves for a glimpse of Madonna naked, despite the fact that it was as easy to come across as a sex shop in Soho. Here, she hooked up with the owner of the creepiest mouth in showbiz, Willem Dafoe, for a forgettable slab of seedy celluloid slice ‘n’ dice. Six Golden Raspberry nominations followed.
Juiciest line: ‘I fucked you, I fucked Andrew, I fucked Frank. That’s what I do; I fuck. And it made me $8 million!’
Dangerous Game (1993)
The culprits: Director Abel Ferrara, stars Madonna (again!) and Harvey Keitel
Also known as a battle of the nudists. Unrepentant bum-flasher Keitel and coffee-table princess Madonna were a match made in eroto-thrills hell in this godawful backstage exposé from a director who really should have known better. You’ll never look at a lit candle the same way again.
Juiciest line: ‘You want to know why I’m like this? Because I’ve seen you suck the cock of your girlfriend’s husband and not even bat an eye.’
‘Basic Instinct’ alumni Stone and Eszterhas attempted to rekindle the flame with yet another tale of high-society sex ‘n’ death. The result is – somehow – stultifyingly dull, as Stone drags hunk-of-meat co-stars William Baldwin and Tom Berenger into a web of intrigue, deceit and serial masturbation. The Razzie judges had another field day…
Juiciest line: ‘You’ve been spending too much time with your vibrator?’
Colour of Night (1994)
The culprits: Director Richard Rush and stars Bruce Willis and Jane March
The indisputable nadir of the entire movement, ‘Colour of Night’ teams Willis – eager to piss away all the cache he’d earned with ‘Pulp Fiction’ – with strip-happy British actress March, the tabloid-crowned ‘Sinner from Pinner’. The result is a despicably hilarious trawl through all the genre’s worst excesses: sub-Hitchcock pop psychology, gender angst, beautifully designed offices and movie stars’ flabby bottoms.
Juiciest line: ‘You stick your dick in a barrel of barracudas once, maybe you won’t lose it. You leave it in there, it’s gonna get chewed off at the root.’
The culprits: Director William Friedkin, star David Caruso, writer Joe Eszterhas (again!)
Three years and a string of utter disasters in, the erotic thriller (which, by this point, was neither) was on its last legs when Eszterhas and Friedkin pumped out this wretched killer-thriller. The promising appearance of Linda Fiorentino – so good in the tangentially linked but infinitely superior ‘The Last Seduction’ – was undermined by the fact that the male lead was a pale, odd-looking ginger with a permanent sneer. The genre was dead, the fun was over, and the video shop bargain basement beckoned…
Juiciest line: ‘I do the fucking, I never get fucked!’
Feeling, ahem, romantic now? Check out our guide to Valentine’s Day in London.