But after all the mania and histrionics, rooting for Alex isn't out of the question because Michael Douglas’ character is such a jerk. Glenn’s portrayal of Alex is one of Hollywood’s most misunderstood yet relatable characters; haven’t we all been spurned by lovers and spent the evening in a catatonic state, flicking the lights on and off with a visage of desperation?
Since we’re on the topic of Michael Douglas’ greatest hits, let's talk about Basic Instinct, perhaps the finest of all erotic thrillers. It's a story of murder, seduction and mystery that'll make you want to jump into a time-traveling convertible to experience San Francisco's '90s nightlife scene. Basic Instinct is full of so many uncomfortable and grunt-filled Michael Douglas sex scenes that, for me, it borders on horror, the saving grace being Stone’s portrayal of the arrestingly charismatic Catherine Tramell. Stone captures this character so well that, as a viewer, you begin to wonder if she is indeed the icepick murderess the police allege her to be. The next time you’re flustered during a job interview and need a burst of confidence, just try and think to yourself, “What would Catherine Tramell do?”
And to finish off the Michael Douglas erotic thriller trifecta, there's the 1994 HR-violation-gone-awry film, Disclosure, starring Demi Moore as the ultra-sexed CEO of a software company in Seattle. When Demi is hired as Michael Douglas’ boss, and he, again, falls victim to feminine wiles in the form of after-hours office sex, a nasty sexual harassment lawsuit ensues -- where at one point, Douglas’ character exclaims, “She harassed me!”
Produced during a time in which the national dialogue around sexual harassment in the workplace was just starting, you can’t help but wonder if this film was underwritten by a group of men who cheated on their wives and subsequently used it as cinematic proof that it was indeed the female who purposefully led them astray.
In order to describe the sheer level of ridiculousness found in the next movie on this list, there will be spoiler alerts.
Body Double, released in 1984, centers around an actor, Jake Scully (who looks an awful lot like Bill Maher), who's struggling with claustrophobia. He breaks up with his girlfriend after he catches her cheating on him, and takes a friend up on his offer to stay at his place while he’s away on business. His friend’s apartment could best be described as a masturbatorium, including a circular, rotating bed, and a telescope for peeping on the wealthy neighbor as she seductively dances around with jewelry every night.
Jake then stalks the sexy neighbor, witnesses her vicious murder, and immediately returns to the masturbatorium to watch porn (the same night of the murder!), only to realize that the dancing-woman-across-the-way and the porn star dancing on his television is none other than Holly Body (played by a young and pert Melanie Griffith). It’s like an erotic thriller within an erotic thriller! Confused yet? Things only get seedier from there, so it's obviously a must-see.
To lend a bit more credibility to erotic thrillers as a bona-fide genre, I caught up with Ian Wolfley, a local filmmaker whose short film, Bugchaser, won Best Short Film Male at the 2012 FilmOut San Diego. Bugchaser just so happens to be an erotic thriller, albeit with a touch of grotesqueness (NSFW!). Here's what he had to say about his personal favorite film of the genre:
Color of Night. The Plan 9 from Outer Space of erotic thrillers. So contrived, campy, and over-the-top, with a who's-who of character actors in extremely problematic roles (Lesley Ann Warren, Brad Dourif, Lance Heriksen). Roger Ebert opened his review by saying, "Color of Night approaches badness from so many directions that one really must admire its imagination. Combining all the worst ingredients of an Agatha Christie whodunit and a sex-crazed slasher film, it ends in a frenzy of recycled thriller elements." It was the highest-earning video rental of that year, largely, I'm sure—it was the main reason I rented it over and over—due to the swimming pool sex scene that had Bruce Willis going full frontal. There are rumors online it wasn't actually Willis' willie because his was deemed too small.
While on the subject of men going full frontal, I’ll end this list here with a film I wanted to see so badly in middle school that I had to sneak downstairs after midnight and watch it on Cinemax: Wild Things. From Kevin Bacon’s penis to champagne being poured on Denise Richards’ breasts, there's something for everyone. Not only is the film pure erotic thriller gold, the soundtrack is hands down the most underrated of the '90s.