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Erotic Cinema

Forgotten EROTIC MOVIES from the 80s

The 1980s are the golden age of erotic cinema.

Michalina Peruga

30 April 2023

The 1980s are the golden age of erotic cinema. It was then that such classics of the genre as Blue Velvet, Fatal Attraction, Body Heat and 9 1/2 Weeks were created. On the wave of huge popularity of these films in the 1980s, many other productions were created that put the erotic relationship of the main characters at the center of the plot, most often also combined with a criminal intrigue or a moral and dramatic thread. Many of them we no longer remember, although often wrongly. Here are 6 forgotten sex movies from the 80s.

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Known to a wide audience mainly from the horror film Carrie (1976) and the gangster films Scarface (1983) and The Untouchables (1987), Brian de Palma is a versatile director who has also made an erotic thriller in his career. In Dressed to Kill, Angie Dickinson stars as Kate Miller, a frustrated and sexually unfulfilled wife. He attends psychotherapy sessions where he tries to seduce his psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Elliott (Michael Caine), though unsuccessfully. After one of the sessions, she goes to a museum, where she meets a man with whom she decides to go to bed. Soon after, a random woman, prostitute Liz Blake (Nancy Allen), finds her body. In its aesthetics, Brian de Palma’s film is basically an American giallo, strongly referring to the popular trend in Italian horror cinema.

At the time of its premiere, the film met with considerable indignation from feminist and LGBT+ circles, mainly for depicting graphic violence against women on the screen, as well as creating a negative image of trans people. However, as with many films, the passage of time gave it a new meaning. In 2015, Armand White in “Out”, an LGBT+ magazine, called de Palma’s film a gay cinematic milestone.

American Gigolo (1980)

American Gigolo is rather one of the lesser known films by Paul Schrader, the director known as the screenwriter of Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). The film tells the story of Julian Kaye (Richard Gere), who is involved in prostitution – he works as a male escort. Julian derives satisfaction from his ability to sexually satisfy women. His clients are wealthy ladies, and with the money he earns, he finances his luxurious lifestyle. One night, he renders services to a senator’s wife under the watchful eye of her husband. When he later learns that the woman is dead, he becomes the first suspect in a murder case. The film established Richard Gere as a leading actor.

Crimes of Passion (1984)

Bobby (John Laughlin) is hired to spy on fashion designer Joanna Crane (Kathleen Turner) at night, suspected of cheating on her employer. The accusations turn out to be untrue, but Bobby discovers that Joanna becomes a prostitute at night under the name of China Blue, who specializes in various fetishes. However, he is not the only one following Joanna. This is also done by Peter Shayne (Anthony Perkins), a devout priest who uses the services of the woman and at the same time tries hard to convert her. Due to censorship (Crimes of Passion was initially rated X), Ken Russell had to edit the film several times, which affected its final shape.

The Bedroom Window (1987)

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Before Curtis Hanson made L.A. Confidential (1997) or 8 Mile (2002), he directed an erotic, psychological thriller with a neonoir vibe. The director himself openly admitted to his fascination with the works of Alfred Hitchcock or Nicholas Ray, and these Hitchcock-noir inspirations can be clearly seen in The Bedroom Window. The protagonist of the film is a young architect, Terry (Steve Guttenberg), who has an affair with Sylvia (Isabelle Huppert), the wife of his boss. After the company party, he arranges an evening with her at his apartment, where they have sex. While Terry is in the bathroom, Sylvia hears loud screams coming from outside and naked, covered only by a sheet, she goes to the window to see what is going on. She spots a man attacking a woman (Elizabeth McGovern) but luckily manages to scare him away. When Terry and Sylvia later learn that there was a murder nearby that same night, they decide to call the police about the attack Sylvia witnessed. To protect his lover and their secret affair, Terry turns himself in to the police. With this seemingly innocent gesture, he gets entangled in serious danger.

Wild Orchid (1989)

Wild Orchid was nominated for two Razzies Awards, and received rather mediocre reviews, which does not change the fact that the screening of this film is simply the quintessence of a guilty pleasure. The film’s main character, Emily Reed (CarrĂ© Otis), attends a job interview at a New York law firm. He will get a job on the condition that he flies to Rio De Janeiro the next day. Emily readily agrees. She will work with Claudia (Jacqueline Bisset), a director at the firm. In Brazil, they are to finalize the purchase of a hotel complex. When Claudia suddenly has to leave for Buenos Aires, Emily replaces her for a meeting with the intriguing James Wheeler (Mickey Rourke). It is worth mentioning that the director of the film, Zalman King, co-wrote the screenplay for another erotic film with Mickey Rourke – 9 1/2 Weeks (1986).

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)

This is my favorite film by Peter Greenaway, a master of painting metaphors and visual masterpieces. The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover is a perfectly made film, thought out to the smallest detail, sensual and bursting with tension, including the erotic one. Greenaway tells the story of the titular thief, the sadistic Albert (Michael Gambon), who pushes everyone around and rules with an iron fist in his own restaurant where Richard (Richard Bohringer) cooks. His suffocated and intimidated wife, Georgina (Helen Mirren), craves true love and intimacy, which she cannot find in her toxic relationship with abusive Albert. She finds solace in the arms of Michael (Alan Howard), whom she met in a restaurant, and begins an affair behind the thief’s husband’s back.

Michalina Peruga

Michalina Peruga

Film scholar, art historian and lover of contemporary horror cinema and classic Hollywood cinema, especially film noir and the work of Alfred Hitchcock. In cinema, she loves mixing genres, breaking patterns and looking closely at characters.

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