The movie Dressed to Kill by Brian De Palma in 1980 started a new genre, erotic thrillers. The genre was highly popular in that period and started declining in the 2000s. These movies were erotic with a thriller angle added to them. Brutal murders, steamy erotic scenes, and the risks made erotic thrillers one of the best genres to ever exist. But the advent of the internet, TV viewing, and change in viewership patterns led to the decline of the genre’s popularity and production.
Basic Instinct came out in 1992
It has been 30 years now since Basic Instincts came out. It was directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas. With Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone in the lead role. The movie was a box-office hit and gave a new angle to the genre. The movie explores different angles like it allowed a woman to talk about their pleasure, and even choose a life where she could have sex but not children. Not only did she punished for it but also kills for it. A scholar called it, “a neo-film noir masterpiece that plays with, and transgresses, the narrative rules of film noir”. Also, the movie was considered a groundbreaking depiction of sexuality in mainstream Hollywood.
The decline of Erotic Thrillers
One of the main reasons there was a decline in the making of erotic thrillers and their popularity was the internet. With the easy availability of pornographic films and DVDs. Plus the budget of erotic thrillers was cut down and due to this the film quality also declined. The actors got lesser paychecks and so bigger names left the genre. This led to the loss of a great genre. Erotic thrillers were not just about the steamy sex scenes and graphic nudity. But also had great stories with great directors like De Palma, Verhoeven, Lawrence Kasdan, and Alan Parker working on them. The rise in so-called family films being produced made it harder for the genre to survive too.
Erotic thrillers need to come back
Even today, there are some movies and series being made that are on similar lines of the genre, like the recent work Deep Waters. But they do not work out as they used to in the past. The reason behind it could be that it missed a mark. The old erotic thrillers allowed people to see that sex is not just a physical act but has a lot of psychological force driving it too. They can also show the changes in power dynamics during and after sex. It also lets people understand sex can be something both parties want and not a struggle between couples. It represented sexuality well along with great stories that could make you sit on the edge of the seat wondering what would happen next.
Erotic thrillers are a genre that can sink into psychology. Also, have some thrill and comment on the societal hypocrisy. It can also be somewhat horror and can develop new ideas with every movie. The genre also has helped present strong women characters who talk about their sexual desires freely. It is not a limiting genre and for these reasons, both filmmakers and audience must bring back erotic thrillers. With movies like Basic Instincts getting a modern-day revival would be a nice way to bring back the genre from the dead.