Are the sexy thrillers of the 90s so-bad-they're-good or just plain bad?
It's no surprise that sex sells, but 90s cinema commodified the R-rated, sexy (but not too sexy) thriller to the point where it became a cliché. How could something called a "sexy thriller" possibly be so boring as to be called a cliché? Well, you're about to find out as we take a little trip back to the 90s, where sexy bad girls luring men (and sometimes women) into their rarely-good schemes was a favorite plot element of the day.
And while some of these were fun -- and could even be called classics -- the early 90s was home to so many of them that the standard elements quickly became a paint-by-numbers routine, with a series sultry (and sometimes very young) femme fatales led the objects of their affections to bad ends. Mixing sex with scares offered just the right amount of titillation to fill theater seats during the early 90s, when you could expect a new movie in this genre playing at the local cinema year round -- but their popularity has faded since.
But with 2015's 50 Shades of Grey cut from the same cloth as these 90s thrillers, does that mean we're going to see a whole new generation of cliché sexy thrillers? Considering how many of these flicks the 90s spawned after the success of Basic Instinct -- and how awful most of them were -- let's hope not. Let's check out some of the best and/or worst of this 90s genre.
Basic Instinct (1992)
Though it wasn't the first of its kind, Basic Instinct was the big success -- grossing $352 million world-wide -- that kickstarted (pre-Kickstarter) a whole fleet of imitators. When a rock star is brutally murdered, Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) is sent to investigate. The prime suspect is the seductive Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), a novelist whose latest work features a murder much like the one Curran is investigating, and who coincidentally was the last person to see the victim alive.
The flick avoids falling into straightforward crime drama with as many stabbings and sex scenes -- and on one very notable occasion, a stabbing during a sex scene -- as could be included in an R-rated movie. Curran's detective strategy of sleeping with his prime suspect (when he's a homicide detective) might shed some light on why he doesn't show up in the (widely panned) sequel, even though he (somehow) manages to survive this movie.