These Erotic Thrillers Will Do Things To You

In the kingdom of movie genres, drama films are wrenching, tear-jerking, and eligible for Academy Awards. Action movies will get your heart rate up, and then exit your mind upon leaving the theater. Romances will make you swoon. But only one genre combines the thrill of heightened human emotions with the twisted core of a psychological thriller. And that, of course, is the erotic thriller.
A hallmark of the late '80s and early '90s, erotic thrillers are characterized by beautiful, manipulative women who crunch the bones of unsuspecting men, overly friendly neighbors with schemes in their back pockets, a reluctant submission to desire, and saxophone music that signals someone is about to be offed. While Basic Instinct will, and likely always will be, the most iconic erotic thriller of all time, more recent movies like Black Swan have given the genre an artful revival.
Think of Fifty Shades of Gray as an erotic thriller with training wheels. Now, forget about Jamie Dornan's doe eyes and get ready for some bondage, glinting knives, and loaded stares. Describing these films is the only appropriate time to use the adjective “titillating.”
Warning: Spoilers ahead
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Damage (1992)

Stephen Fleming's (Jeremy Irons) conventional life shatters when, suddenly, passion is introduced into the framework. He meets Anna (Juliette Binoche), and falls desperately into love (or obsession) with her. The catch? Anna is engaged to his son.
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Matador (1986)

Pedro Almodovar's movies always weave together sexual curiosity with strangeness. Matador, a movie about a retired matador is no exception. After suffering an injury during a bull fight, Diego (Nacho Martinez) retires and works as a teacher. He always equates sex with violence — and so does Maria (Assumpta Serna), a Madrid lawyer who kills her sex partners. They are made for each other. Matador is a dark comedy, wild ride, and features a young Antonio Banderas. Just go with it.
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Malice (1993)

Ah, 1993. Nicole Kidman's hair tumbled down in a red, curly mane. Alec Baldwin was more boss than he was Boss Baby. And together, they teamed up for an erotic thriller dream team in Malice. This movie is wild ride. It involved affairs with male strippers, heroic surgeons, con artists. We don't want to shed too much light on the web of lies and deceit in this movie. Trust us — it's more fun this way.
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Still of the Night (1982)

This Meryl Streep flick follows the typical format of an erotic thriller. A male authority figure falls in love with a woman who may or may not be a murderer. In this case, he's a therapist (Roy Schneider), and the woman (Meryl Streep) he shouldn't be lusting after is the lover of his murdered patient. He suspects she might be the killer, but goes ahead with the affair anyway.
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Angel Heart (1987)

We know you'd be lying if you said you didn't want to see Lisa Bonet as a voodoo priestess. In this classic '80s erotic thriller, Mickey Rooney plays Harry Angel, a private detective who's trying to track down Johnny Favorite, a man who disappeared in the years before WWII. Many people have seen Johnny Favorite – just all of them die as a result. One of the people Angel comes across in New Orleans is Lisa Bonet's priestess.
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Lust, Caution (2007)

Lust, Caution has a lot of spies, and a lot of sex — so of course it's going to be a titillating erotic thriller. Set during WWII, this movie is about a young secret agent (Wei Tang) sent to assassinate a Japanese politician (Tony Leung). And then comes the heart. The agent begins to fall in love with her target.
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Body Heat (1981)

This entire movie is set during a Florida heatwave, so not only are Ned Racine (William Hurt) and Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) dripping with sexual desire during their affair. They're also dripping with sweat. Matty wants to leave her husband Edmund (Richard Crenna), but also wants to have a share of his money. In order to bypass their restrictive prenup in place, Matty and Ned team up to kill Edmund. The web Matty weaves is far more intricate than the hapless Ned is prepared for, though.
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Stoker (2012)

India Stoker's (Mia Wasikowska) father has just died in a car accident, leaving her alone with her mentally unstable mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). When India's uncle, Charles (Matthew Goode), stops by on a trip home from Europe, India eagerly grasps onto a remnant of her father. The mother and daughter both gravitate toward this nee man in their lives, despite the fact that they still don't know his intentions at all.
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The Hunger (1983)

If you only watch one more vampire movie in your life, let it be The Hunger. We're not saying it's good, but it's certainl a trip. In this erotic thriller, David Bowie plays John, the lover of an alluring but cruel immortal vampire, Miriam (Catherine Deneuve). He hasn't aged in years, because Miriam was still interested in him. Now, though, Miriam's attention have moved onto Sarah (Susan Sarandon), so John begins to age rapidly. Just wait for the sex scene between Sarah and Miriam.
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Unfaithful (2002)

You just know, watching Unfaithful, that things for this previously idyllic Westchester couple just aren't going to end well. When Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) meets a handsome, foreign bookseller (Olivier Martinez), she submits to his cheesy seduction techniques and embarks upon a massively sexually satisfying affair. Meanwhile, her husband, Edward (Richard Gere), begins to suspect his wife is lying. Instead of talking to her, he hires a private investigator and becomes obsessed with tracking them down. Both Connie and Edward are slaves to their appetites — one of passion, the other, revenge.
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The Handmaiden (2016)

In Korea in the '30s, petty criminal Sookee (Kim Tae-ri) has been recruited to work as a handmaiden for Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee), a Japanese heiress who has lived in isolation with her strange uncle, Kouzuki (Cho Jin-woong). A con man comes to marry the heiress and cheat her out of her fortune, but Hideko and Sookee are already too deeply enmeshed in their own love affair to let that happen. The film's a smorgasbord of visual delights.
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Gone Girl (2014)

To the outside world, Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) have an enviable marriage. Their gleaming perfection is what clues you in to the fact that this'll be an erotic, terrifying thriller. No one is that perfect. Before the secrets of their marriage come out, though, you'll be treated to some hot and heavy sex scenes — including one that almost earned Gone Girl an NC-17 rating.
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The Piano Teacher (2001)

On the surface, renowned pianist Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert) lives a cloistered, repressed life at home with her older mother. But she has a secret set of passions, which, up until the start of The Piano Teacher, had been satisfied by clandestine visits to peepshows and movie theaters. When her much younger piano student decides to seduce her, Erika has an opportunity to explore her sadomasochist streak in vivid ways, including, famously, on a public bathroom floor.
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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

There are a lot of reasons to watch Eyes Wide Shut, not limited to the fact that, lest you forget, its stars, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, were married at the time. But Eyes Wide Shut is better than its tabloid legacy. In this Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) learns that his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), fantasized about another man, and becomes determined to track the man down. The film follows his adventure over the course of an evening, as his hunt for the man leads him into a massive orgy in a secret society in a Greenwich Village brownstone. If only all secret societies could be this sexy.
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Stranger by the Lake (2013)

Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) arrives to this idyllic French lake with hopes of tanning, relaxation, and probably hooking up with one of the other men who frequent the naturalistic nudist hot spot. He begins an affair with the alluring Michel (Christophe Paou), and all seems to be going to plan for a perfect getaway.

Then, Franck catches Michel murdering another one of the beach-goers. So great is Franck’s attraction, though, that he chooses not to report the crime. Instead, he continues to fall deeper in love with Michel, and keeps his knowledge of Michel’s murderous ways a secret — to disastrous results.
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Fatal Attraction (1987)

Usually attraction isn't fatal; it just takes up all your brain space for a while. But in this Academy Award-winning film, a brief affair becomes life-threatening. Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a married lawyer with a happy family life. Still, he finds himself unable to turn down Alex's (Glenn Close) advances. They have a torrid love affair while his family is away. After Dan calls it off, Alex is unwilling to let go. Let the stalking games begin.
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Basic Instinct (1992)

We don’t blame you if you’ve gotten your Michael Douglas-starring erotic thrillers confused. In addition to Fatal Attraction, Douglas also stars in Basic Instinct, perhaps the most iconic erotic thriller of all time, thanks to Sharon Stone’s unforgettable and revealing leg cross. In the film, Douglas plays Nick Curran, a detective whose investigation of a rock star’s murder leads him right to the musician’s ex-girlfriend, a romance novelist named Catherine (Sharon Stone). This being an erotic thriller starring Michael Douglas, Catherine quickly seduces Nick and weaves him into her web of icepick murders, psychopathic narcissism, and sex.
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Bound (1996)

Before the Wachowskis redefined the sci-fi genre with The Matrix, they mastered the erotic thriller genre. In Bound, Violet (Jennifer Tilly) is trapped in a relationship with a mafioso, Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). But meeting Corky (Gina Gershon), a lesbian ex con, changes everything for Violet. Drawing on the the adrenaline of their intense love affair, Violet and Corky plan a scheme to sabotage Caesar’s forthcoming deal and run away with $2 million.
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Single White Female (1992)

Single White Female will make you pause before finding a roommate on Craigslist. After her new roommate, Hedra (Jennifer Jason Leigh), moves in, Allison (Bridget Fonda) is thrilled by their quick and easy friendship. According to Hedra, Allison is the twin she never had, since her own twin sister was born stillborn. But when Allison begins looking for housing with her boyfriend, Hedra's attachment issues emerge in their full glory. Hedra begins to act and dress like Allison, and sets out to sabotage any sense of individuality Allison has left.
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Black Swan (2010)

At last, the perfectionist ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) lands the role for which she'd been working her entire life: the White Swan. Her glory is tampered by the arrival of a Lily (Mila Kunis), a dancer cast to play the more sensual and emotional role of the Black Swan. As Nina succumbs to the pressure of the role, she descends into a version of reality that is part real, part nightmare. Mix in some intense sexual tension with Lily and ballet instructor Thomas (Vincent Cassel), and you have all the elements for a disturbing erotic thriller.
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Swimming Pool (2003)

Seeking relief for her crippling writer's block, murder mystery novelist Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) travels to her editor's villa in southern France. Much to her bewilderment, a beautiful, impulsive woman, who claims to be her editor's daughter, arrives soon after. Though at first Sarah considers Julie — and all of her scantily clad sunbathing — to be a distraction from work, Sarah soon finds herself pulled into Julie's orbit.
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Body Double (1984)

Nothing in Scully's (Craig Wasson) life is going to plan. A struggling actor, he recently lost his role as a vampire in a B-horror film, and his girlfriend just left him. Then, his new friend Sam (Gregg Henry) offers to let Scully house-sit his ultra-modern mansion for a while, where, as Sam explains enthusiastically, he can spy on the beautiful woman next door. One night, when looking through the window with Sam's telescope, Scully sees the woman next door brutally murdered. And the prime suspect? Scully.
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Blink (1994)

After 20 years of being blind, Emma (Madeleine Stowe) has a life-changing surgery that restores her eyesight. The only issue? Her brain is still adapting to visual overload, and it's hours before Emma can remember what she sees. Instead, she sees flashes of visions of what occurred in the recent past. Since this is a hallmark erotic thriller, one such such vision is the murder of her upstairs neighbor. After contacting the police, Emma becomes the key to solving the crime. She and Detective John Hallstrom (Aidan Quinn) have to find the murderer before he finds her.
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