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Dancing on the erotic thriller’s grave.

Dancing on the erotic thriller’s grave. (photo)

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See what I did there? I put the word “erotic” in the headline, exciting the diligent robots of Google to no end. On the internet, sex still sells — but if you’re at work, what’s even better than sex is at least reading about sex, because it’s technically not a violation and you can still get mildly titillating details. The folks at The Wrap, who understand this well, have cooked up a list of ten “erotic duds” for your slideshow enjoyment. The implicit premise is that the erotic thriller is dead, a ’90s punchline no longer in flux.

It’s true that the number of movies that could be labeled “erotic thrillers” have died down. In Tatiana Siegel’s benchmark article on the subject in the Hollywood Reporter (from five years ago, which tells you something right there), everything from American puritanism to the internet is blamed for the genre’s decline. (The then-upcoming “The Number 23” is cited as a rare new entry in the genre. There’s little less arousing to anyone, I’d imagine, than Jim Carrey ranting about numbers.)

But how valid are those explanations? Yes, we’re conflicted and confused about how we talk about and respond to sex in public, but that’s true of, like, global warming. And the rise of internet porn has siphoned off the people who would watch any old direct-to-video sleaze for a few minutes of soft-core action.

04072010_femme.jpgBut if porn is huge (thereby taking care of the sex/nudity question), perhaps a better question might be what’s specifically enticing about the combination of sex and danger — or why it once was and now isn’t. If “Fatal Attraction” touched a nerve largely watered down by subsequent copycats, what’s changed?

The answer’s quite possibly sex tapes. Forget rabbits being boiled: there’s nothing quite like the endlessly repeatable spectacle of some celebrity or other doing damage control to their image/marriage in the wake of evidence not just of a sex life/adultery, but of actually being able to watch the evidence itself. (I’m not even going to say what’s on the internet: it’s being over-analyzed enough as we speak.

This is something for which, I suppose, we must all thank Pam Anderson and her spiritual descendants. But really, what would be more compelling — watching someone in an “erotic thriller,” or the real-world equivalent? The answer isn’t a nice one, but it’s kind of obvious.

Incidentally, the best movie in this genre recently is clearly 2002’s Brian De Palma’s “Femme Fatale.” Rebecca Romijn-Stamos lesbian make-out in ten minutes or your money back — but also a “Vertigo” tribute and treatise on Catholic redemption symbolism. It’s one of the few that got the self-mocking titillation/non-sexual setpiece balance exactly right.

[Photos: “Fatal Attraction,” Paramount, 1987; “Femme Fatale,” Warner Bros., 2002]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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