The 15 Sexiest Erotic Thrillers

Sexy and scary, in equal measure

If movies from the '80s and '90s taught us anything, it's that sex could be dangerous. It was during those two decades that the erotic thriller genre hit its peak, offering movies that were seductive and thrilling in equal measure. When erotic thrillers go bad, they're a bust—trashy, shlocky messes. But when they're good, they're titillating and unnerving, picking up the flashes of films noir and offering a contemporary, hypersexual spin on the classic thriller. Here are some of the sexiest erotic thrillers ever made.

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Cruel Intentions (1999)

Ryan Phillippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar play two bored, horny, super-rich step-siblings who shamelessly flirt with each other while scheming to destroy the morality of a prim and proper classmate played by Reese Witherspoon. This teen-centred adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses isn't as deep as its source material, but hey: you don't need Cliffs Notes for this one.

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Angel Heart (1987)

Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is a small-time private detective in New York City who takes an assignment from a mysterious man named Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to find a missing singer called Johnny Favorite, who disappeared before World War II. Angel's investigation takes him to New Orleans, where he encounters plenty of people who have seen Favourite—but all of whom wind up dead. Meanwhile, he meets a voodoo priestess played by Lisa Bonet, and learns that Cyphre might be hiding a shadowy secret himself.

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Wild Things (1998)

Wild Things is notorious for two things: Kevin Bacon's exposed penis and a threesome between Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, and Matt Dillon. The latter is mostly an excuse to feature then-unknown Richards topless. Despite its mainstream soft-core nature, the movie is an otherwise overwrought, trashy neo-noir.

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The Handmaiden (2016)

Sarah Waters's Fingersmith gets a South Korean adaptation in Park Chan-wook's psychological thriller. At the height of the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930s, the young Sook-hee is hired as a handmaiden for Lady Hideko, a Japanese heiress. What Hideko doesn't know, however, is that Sook-hee is in cahoots with Count Fujiwara, who plans on seducing Hideko and stealing her fortune—but Hideko has dark motives of her own. 

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Cat People (1982)

Paul Schrader directs this remake of Jacques Tourneur's 1942 thriller. Nastassja Kinski stars as Irena, a young woman who is visiting her brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell) in New Orleans. After Irena falls in love with a zoologist named Oliver (John Heard), Paul reveals to his sister that they are, in fact, werecats—and she must mate with another of their species to prevent her ultimate transformation. Thus begins a deadly game of cat-and-human as Irena and Oliver must outsmart Paul—and prevent Irena's evolution into a deadly leopard. 

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Femme Fatale (2002)

Brian De Palma often turned to Hitchcock for inspiration, paying homage to one of cinema's greatest auteurs with splash an flair—and plenty of seductive and sexy plot twists. Femme Fatale is no exception. The film stars Rebecca Romijn has a jewel thief who double-crosses her partner and assumes a new identity after a major heist during the Cannes Film Festival. Years later, her quiet life is turned upside down when her partners in crime track her down. 

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Sea of Love (1989)

Al Pacino plays New York City detective Frank Keller, who is investigating a string of murders—the victims of which are men who wrote lonely hearts columns in a local weekly magazine. When Keller writes his own column in order to nab the killer, he meets an alluring and beautiful suspect played by Ellen Barkin. Naturally, Keller falls for the woman—despite the fact that she may indeed be the killer he's looking for. 

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The Last Seduction (1994)

A smouldering Linda Fiorentino plays Bridget, the beautiful wife to a handsome and successful doctor (played by Bill Pullman). When she convinces her husband to sell a batch of medicinal cocaine to some drug dealers, Bridget takes off with the cash—revealing herself to be a manipulative crook who targets men to fund her peripatetic lifestyle. Soon she meets another man while hiding out in a small town, who she plans to convince to protect her against her ex-husband.

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In the Cut (2003)

Meg Ryan sheds her America's Sweetheart status for this psychological thriller from Oscar-winning writer-director Jane Campion. Ryan plays a New York City schoolteacher named Frannie who embarks on a sexual awakening with a cop (Mark Ruffalo), who's attempting to solve the murder of a young woman whose body turned up outside Frannie's apartment. Soon, Frannie's sexual journey turns dark and unnerving as she questions her lover's motives—and her own.

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Fatal Attraction (1987)

Here's a sexy parable for you. Dan (Michael Douglas) has brief weekend affair with a stranger named Alex (Glenn Close) when his wife and daughter are out of town. Dan thinks it's a one-time fling. Alex, on the other hand, will stop at nothing until Dan's hers and hers alone, and she stalks the family man until their relationship meets violent ends.

From: Esquire