Let’s get this out of the way, right off the bat: there will be mild spoilers here—but these spoilers have already been posted online and not by us. Got that? I mean, we all read the Internetz, so… Anyhow, Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor” opens in theaters this weekend. Written by venerable American author Cormac McCarthy, “The Counselor” stars Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt as its principal cast. The picture is a morality drama about a greedy lawyer (Fassbender), who finds himself in over his head when he decides to delve into the dark world of drug trafficking. Shit backfires and things go way south for said attorney.
Before the film plumbs these sordid depths, however, there is a scene in the movie that has everyone talking. So much so that embargo be damned, people have felt compelled to discuss it. It’s what can best be described as a sex scene (if it technically qualifies as such), and to paraphrase IGN heavily, who spoiled this moment first (and to be completely fair, we understand the temptation): Cameron Diaz plays Malkina, the opportunistic and venomous girlfriend of underworld figure Reiner (Bardem). In one scene that’s simultaneously hilarious, ridiculous and horrific, Diaz’s Malkina spread eagles across the hood of a fancy sports car and proceeds to grind panty-less against the windshield until she climaxes, to the astonishment of its occupant. Why and in what context she does so, we’ll leave you to find out.
Suffice to say it’s disturbing, funny, all kinds of wrong and it etches itself forever into the mind of the viewer. So kinda with the same logic that the only way you can stop singing that really annoying song is to think of an even more annoying one, we thought we’d run down some other weird, horrific and horribly awesome, or awesomely horrible sex scenes. Some are comical. Some are twisted, transgressive and fucked up, and some are downright loathsome and we really don’t want to watch them again. All, however, once seen can’t be unseen, so you have been warned. So with our NSFW, Parental Advisory tags plastered all over the place, here we go.
“In The Realm Of The Senses” (1976)
What’s that? Lars von Trier is making a soft-core pornography drama where the lead actors will have unsimulated sex—though of course any real penetration or sex will be performed by body doubling porn actors? That’s cute. Especially next to Japanese enfant terrible Nagisa Oshima’s 1976 erotic sex drama (read arty pornography) “In the Realm of the Senses” (though its direct, more appropriate translation is “Bullfight of Love,” American distributors apparently feeling it necessary to make it sound a bit more sensual). A fictionalized account of a real event—a 1930s brothel servant’s affair with the madam’s husband which leads to hubby’s penis being severed with a knife—that’s actually not so much the most disturbing part (though yes, this pre-Lorena Bobbit stuff is fucked up). A sensual and very primal look at carnal desire, “In the Realm of the Senses” is pretty much constant sex, penetration, bj’s, you name it (and it’s also an examination of when love and sexual possession curdles into something rather psychotic). And yes, it’s all “real,” which also makes it often uncomfortable, funny, and yes, sometimes erotic. Perhaps the strangest element of the various mutually obsessive experimenting-with-sex acts in the film—including lots of erotic asphyxiation—is the part when the male lead played by Tatsuya Fuji places a hardboiled egg into the vagina of his partner (played by Eiko Matsuda). Though, to be fair, she was feeding him mushrooms that were, shall we say, “lady flavored” just moments before. Not a film to see with your parents, or on a first date, or a second, third or 50th date, “In the Realm of the Senses” is admittedly pretty twisted and not for the faint of heart. But while it’s amusing to poke fun at the movie as pornography-made-as-art (which in many ways it is), Oshima’s filmmaking mastery is fully on display too. And while it’s impossible not to giggle and act like a four year old when discussing or writing about it, it’s actually quite terrific once you get past how strange, obsessive, and even maniacal the jackrabbit-like sex can be.
“Last Tango In Paris” (1972)
Is there a more notorious sex scene in cinema history? If there is, Bernardo Bertolucci’s infamous “Last Tango In Paris” at least held the record for the better part of two decades unchallenged. Starring Marlon Brando as a lost, forsaken and recently widowed American who begins an anonymous sexual relationship with a young, betrothed Parisian woman (Maria Schneider), “Last Tango In Paris” is notorious for scandalizing audiences with its “butter” scene, a sequence so outrageous it’s very likely you heard about it years before you actually saw the movie. Let’s cut to the chase: butter is used as a lubricant for anal sex. But that’s hardly the film’s worst offender in the horrific/outrageous/unintentionally funny sex scene sweepstakes. Highly improvised and exploratory in nature—engendered by the director’s own sexual fantasies of making it with a broad without really knowing who she was—Bertolucci was basically trying to use Brando as a conduit to explore the wild possibilities of sexual abandon. Brando, brought so close to the brink of raw and utterly naked vulnerability, often times humiliated and embarrassed, never forgave Bertolucci, calling his direction a type of manipulative betrayal. He barely spoke to him again after the movie was done. Other depraved/ridiculous moments of the sex in ‘Last Tango’ include when Brando demands Schneider insert her fingers in his anus, and later on when he challenges her to prove her devotion by promising she’ll have sex with a pig (among other ludicrous and disgusting requests). Pauline Kael was one of the film’s biggest supporters lauding its “thrusting, jabbing eroticism,” and while it’s true Bertolucci made an unforgettable movie about desire, longing, inveterate isolation, control, emotional violence and more, there’s no question it’s still a divisive film to this day, that leaves many viewers feeling they’ve watched a pretentious art porno with characters spouting philosophical gibberish. Either way, good luck having those scenes erased from your memory.
“Body of Evidence” (1993)/”Dangerous Game” (1993)
The Dino De Laurentiis-produced erotic thriller was probably supposed to be to the ‘90s what “Last Tango In Paris” was to the ‘70s, but “Body of Evidence” wasn’t fooling anyone. There’s likely no other film on this list that more aptly fits the notion of unintentionally funny sex scenes. Directed by Uli Edel (who helmed the David Bowie film “Christiane F.,” “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “The Baader Meinhof Complex”—this is one of his darkest shames), the movie centers on a woman (Madonna) who is accused of killing a man to inherit his millions by having sex with him to death. The district attorney (Joe Mantegna) wants her to go down (in the jail sense) while her lawyer (Willem Dafoe) is a seemingly happily married man who lusts after his client before the two of them eventually embark on a sadomasochistic affair together. As you can probably tell, the film is hardly ever sexy and mostly just funny and awful. Madonna simply can’t act and while Dafoe dives in head first, he can’t help but end up a casualty as well. Pretty tame by most sadomasochistic standards, the movie is notorious for its candle wax sequences where Madonna ties up Dafoe and pours hot candle wax on his body including his penis to much sexual arousal on both their parts. That’s not the only time Madonna walked that awkward line between would-be sensuality and outright comedy during sex. The flip side to this is Abel Ferrara’s mostly forgotten 1993 film starring Madonna, Harvey Keitel and James Russo, which is not unlike a “Bad Lieutenant,” only this time among filmmakers. Keitel stars a cocaine-addicted truth-seeking film director not afraid to push his actors to any depths (humiliation, all sorts of manipulative games) to achieve “true emotion” and Madge and Russo are his thespian pawns. A type of psychotic chamber drama with Keitel pushing everyone’s limits, it’s not a particularly great film, but it is memorably bad and often ridiculous, and yet another film where Madonna can’t catch a break (and while she got decent reviews, she trashed the film afterwards which vexed the always-irritable Ferrara no end).
“Requiem For A Dream” (2000)
Darren Aronofsky is an incredibly gifted filmmaker and maybe one day, if he’s fortunate enough, he’ll be able to boast that he’s the only Academy Award director on earth who was able to shoot an “ass to ass” scene in a movie that wasn’t pornography. But all jokes aside, Aronofsky’s chilling, sometimes twisted cautionary tale of addiction, “Requiem For A Dream,” has some really nasty elements to it. Chief among those, aside from a woman being given excruciating electro-shock therapy after nearly dying from diet pill abuse, and having to look at the festering sore of a needle-wrecked arm that’s gone gangrenous, is the film’s “sex scene.” Jennifer Connelly’s heroin-dependent character is so far gone in the throes of addiction she will stop at nothing to get her fix. This means blowing random strangers at first, but this is nothing compared to how low she will go. Vile and debasing, in the film’s climax (pardon the pun that’s already made us queasy), Connelly’s character agrees to go into a dungeon-like sex club for men, where rich, asshole Wall Street Guys (who are about as sick and vile as you can get onscreen) cheer her on as she goes ass-to-ass, connected to a dildo with another prostitute. Clearly trying to reach a crescendo of full-on depravity, Aronofsky orchestrates the scene to reach its fever pitch just as the other characters are suffering their own sick and vicious fates. Jokes can and will be made about this scene for the rest of cinema’s history—it’s that fucked up—but while we do have a sense of humor too, anyone who is under the belief that this scene is sexy needs their head examined.
“Idioterne”/“The Idiots” (1998)
Two Lars von Trier movies on this list and surely “Nymphomaniac” will be added should we ever do an update. All von Trier films are divisive, but we wonder just how much more polarizing this one would have been, had people actually seen it. This even means cinephiles as “Idioterne” is easily one of Von Trier’s least seen film (at least of the notable ones). Made in compliance with the Dogme ’95 Manifesto—stripped down, no artificial lighting, hand-held only, etc.—this 1998 comedy centers on a group of anti-bourgeois nihilists who attempt to annihilate their ego in order to achieve their “inner idiot.” The manifesto of the group is essentially to liberate themselves from the falseness of society by embracing humiliation and the destruction of their dignity. How do they do it? Well, the group poses as mentally disabled and they try and “spazz” out to regress to a kind of pure state and to provoke a reaction from the status quo around them. Amusingly enough, they are taken in by some community members who pity the commune of idiots and as you can probably guess it just gets worse and more hilariously wrong. The film’s big sex scene occurs when the group’s opportunistic leader has a birthday and his wish is a gangbang, essentially abusing the group’s manifesto so he can get laid and get fresh with all the females in the group he presumably just wanted to fuck in the first place. The curdling of the manifesto for his selfish means is pitch black funny and the orgy is one NC-17 mess of penises, big bushes and a few brief moments of unsimulated penetrative intercourse. “Idioterne” is very wrong, but it’s also pretty fucking funny: Lars von Trier at his most mischievously provocative.
No … Not that “Crash.” David Cronenberg has had fun messing with sexual conventions since his debut feature “Shivers” (where a parasitic life form turned the button-downed inhabitants of an apartment building into sex-craving maniacs), getting a perverse kick out of making people squirm (and uncomfortably cross their legs). This movie is based on J.G. Ballard‘s novel of the same name, which concerns a group of people who stage famous car accidents and get a strong sexual kick out of them. There are so many bizarre sex sequences in “Crash” that we could probably make a separate top ten list out of them. So take your pick: the sequence where James Spader has sex with a vagina-like scar on Rosanna Arquette‘s thigh (guh) or the time that Spader deliberately gets involved in an accident with his wife (Deborah Kara Unger), fucking her as she crawls away from the twisted metal that was once her car (double guh). The sex sequences in “Crash” are never actually arousing, instead they are judged on a sliding scale of repulsiveness (the sequence where Spader traces the outline of Unger’s nude body is still pretty weird but the most outwardly erotic scene in the entire movie). It’s hard to imagine anyone getting turned on by “Crash,” but you have to give Cronenberg and his fearless actors credit for unblinkingly investigating the mechanics (pun very much intended) of fetishism, techno-eroticism and body modification. It’s hard not to imagine that the car-sex of “The Counselor” was at least partially inspired by Cronenberg’s vision of vehicular arousal.
The whole conceit behind writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein‘s nifty little horror comedy is that the teeth of the film’s title aren’t located in our main character’s head … they’re in her vagina. Jess Weixler plays a young woman dealing with sexual impulses that could potentially kill any sexual partners. There are three different instances in “Teeth” that end with penises being bitten off by Weixler’s fanged vagina—the first is an attempted rape, the second is a consensual moment that goes horribly wrong, and the final moment has Weixler’s character seeking vengeance against her asshole stepbrother, whose own sexual urges inadvertently led to her mother’s death (don’t ask). What makes this final seduction-and-castration so satisfying is that, after her vagina chomps off her stepbrother’s member, the family dog comes in and eats the penis. That’s some “Hostel Part II“-type shit. It would be one thing if “Teeth” set up this great premise and didn’t have the guts to go through with it; it’s another to have it go through with it several times. At the end of the movie, it’s implied that she has become a kind of avenging angel. An old creep gives her a ride thinking that she’ll give him a little something in return. Oh, he will get exactly what he deserves.
“Howard the Duck” (1986)
The George Lucas-produced and spectacularly awful “Howard the Duck” is full of all sorts of weird sexuality; in the opening credits Howard (Chip Zien) is looking at a Playduck Magazine (complete with duck breasts) and, when he’s sucked through a wormhole, he crashes through the apartment of a female duck in the bathtub and we linger on another set of duck breasts. There’s also a moment when Howard, now in the human world, expresses sexual interest in an overweight African American woman’s ass. But the most WTF-worthy moment in all of “Howard the Duck” comes when he tries to seduce Lea Thompson, who’s wearing a lacy teddy and a pair of sheer underwear. The scene contains actual dialogue like the following exchange: Lea Thompson: “I can’t find the right man,” to which Howard responds: “Maybe it’s not a man you should be looking for.” After Thompson starts to show interest back, Howard becomes skittish and shuts her down. At one point Thompson is about to take her top off and Howard stops her, effectively putting an end to what would have been the lone highlight of a generally miserable experience. Also, it should be noted, the scene has a boner gag where Howard’s feathers flare up like an erect penis. And people wonder why this is largely considered one of the biggest flops, both commercially and creatively, in the history of Hollywood?
Where to start with David Cronenberg’s new-media freak fest? It was the Canadian auteur who we joined in proclaiming, “Long live the New Flesh,” but it was James Woods and Debbie Harry who generated the greater deal of lust on the big screen. Woods’ Max Renn is all go-getter sleaze, his sex appeal generated from popped suit collars, fast-talking hucksterism, and alpha male bluster, and psychiatrist Nicki Brand (Debbie Harry) responds immediately. It’s a meeting of twisted minds when they go to bed together, with Brand clearly desperate to be subordinate to his chatty demands. We only see a little bit of their courtship, but it stems from a mutual attraction to Videodrome, a mesmerizing otherworldly snuff channel that broadcasts s&m beatings that speak directly to Brand’s pleasure center. When their union is consummated, Brand, with a back littered with cuts and scratches, allows a cigarette to be put out on her breasts, a borderline demand spoken by the breathy Blondie singer that turns up the heat in any atmosphere. Oddly enough, it’s probably the least sexual scene in a film that escalates into constant penetrative moments of violence and assimilation, where we no longer realize where Renn’s body ends and his imagination begins, often in memorably gruesome detail: one could argue every time Renn reaches his hand into the vaginal cavity that develops on his stomach, it’s the lustiest sex scene in the entire movie.
“The Devils” (1971)
If young Linda Blair stabbing herself in the crotch with a crucifix and snarling “Lick me mommy” in “The Exorcist” holds the high watermark in your cinematic memory for sheer blasphemy, you might want to get a load of Ken Russell‘s extraordinary “The Devils.” Or you might not, depending on how Catholic your eyeballs are. Taking as a central theme the very fleshy desires of those supposedly promised to God, the film details priest Grandier (Oliver Reed) indulging his lusts quite frequently early on, but he’s actually not really part of the film’s two most memorable sequences of jawdropping excess. Firstly there’s the famous “Rape of Christ” sequence in which an entire order of nuns masturbate themselves on various parts of a gigantic statue of Jesus on the cross, writhing and moaning in the throes of a religious mania that has turned orgiastically carnal in nature. That scene takes place within a wider scene of an orgy that seemingly spontaneously breaks out as the kangaroo court for Grandier’s trial is set up, in which white-clad nuns dispense with their virginal habits, and once naked, um, dispense with their virginal habits. Oh, and head hysterical nun, the hunchbacked Sister Jeanne (an amazing Vanessa Redgrave), gets restrained by two men while a goop we could politely describe as “yogurty” is spritzed onto her from a large syringe. Secondly, it is Jeanne who is again the center of the other most outrageous scene, in which she masturbates pathetically with a charred femur bone retrieved from the pyre on which Grandier was burned at the stake. This last scene is hard to find nowadays, but the “Rape of Christ” sequence has been restored in the most recent version of the film, so that’s definitely the one you should seek out, and not just for prurient reasons—we may be tittering about its naughtiness a little here, but the film is a truly mindblowing work of art.
“Team America: World Police” (2004)
Two rubbery human marionettes making love to one another is certainly weird enough, like the childhood thrill of slamming two Barbies together mixed with the kind of late night softcore porn that you find on Cinemax. The “Team America: World Police” creative duo of Trey Parker and Matt Stone knew this. But they knew that they could push it much, much further to truly outlandish levels of hilarious, totally uncomfortable awkwardness. Accompanied by a wonderfully stupid song by Parker and Stone (“All I ask is that you’re a woman!”), the sequence lovingly details the genderless puppets (strings and all) 69-ing each other, engaging in oral sex, going doggy style, reverse cowgirl and, well, also peeing and pooping on each other. “Lisa, you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met … ” the more characteristically male character says at the end of the sequence. Not that you can even hear the dialogue over your wheezing laughter. Apparently this was the sequence that caused the MPAA, longtime nemeses of Parker and Stone, to threaten the movie with an NC-17 rating (an extended version is included on the DVD release). Again: they’re puppets. Without genitalia. The sequence is undeniably amazing, but the fact that it ruffled so many feathers is even more incredible.
Sex scenes don’t get much more upsetting that the opening to “Antichrist,” where Lars von Trier cuts back and forth between the thrusting bodies of two unnamed lovers and a moment where their unwatched toddler child climbs out the window and falls to his death. Von Trier uses both black and white and slow motion to illustrate the beauty not only of the two bodies in centripetal motion, but the snowflakes that distract the boy. A hardcore insert of penetration (with the use of body doubles) is contrasted with their freefalling child, a prankish but affecting contrast between the pleasure of a wedded couple and the harsh realities of their own responsibilities. That ultimately pales in comparison to later in the film, when the relationship between these lovers (played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) is a little less friendly. It is revealed that she is ultimately self-loathing and self-destructive, and when his psychoanalysis cuts too deeply, she subdues him, disabling his gentials with a block of wood and stroking his unconscious erection with maddening lust until he ejaculates blood, an unforgettable money shot that is actually one of the less-extreme visuals in this schizophrenic von Trier epic. What we’re trying to say, basically, is that it’s a family film.
“Sleeping Dogs Lie” (2006)
Leave it to director Bobcat Goldthwait to find the humanity in the sort of topic that doesn’t make it outside of German pornography. The second film from the comedian-turned-auteur (fourteen years after “Shakes The Clown,” though only three after TV movie ”Windy City Heat”), the picture pivots on the relatively normal relationship between Amy (a revelatory Melinda Page Hamilton) and her steady-but-unremarkable new beau. But something lingers in her past, captured through the haze of a lazy day in her dorm, away from the pressures of college life. One wandering mind, and one puff of weed, and suddenly, she’s staring at the erect member of her beloved dog. It’s not deviance or sexual lust, but merely boredom and sloth that leads Amy to sample her dog. It’s a brief moment of exploration, mostly offscreen, and there’s almost no eroticism, a moment belonging to Amy and Amy only—the poor dog doesn’t even seem to notice. This event reverberates through Amy’s life, however, and admitting this transgression ultimately creates a divide between herself and not only her fiance, but also her family. Ultimately, this is a picture about trying to get past the actions we’ve taken, though one can’t help but think of the moment in question, a scene hilariously incongruous with its content, noted not only for its nonchalance, but for the fascinating contrast with everyday tooth brushing that proves to be some sort of twisted multiple entendre.
There’s no escaping it: “Society” is a slow-burn horror effort that builds up to one helluva finale. “From Beyond” writer Brian Yuzna made his directorial debut with this story of a preppie kid who just doesn’t seem to feel at home amongst his upper-crust friends and family, as if they were all speaking another language. What he eventually learns is that his status as an outsider to this “society” isn’t accidental, and that there’s not a whole lot he has in common with the 1-percenters who populate his life, and the hints of debauched sex and incest build to a conclusion for the ages. Spoilers ahead, naturally, but you really can’t spoil the sight of a skin-melting orgy where the rich swallow the poor in graphic detail, each member of the upper class leaking into each other as their skin becomes a collective goo destined to swallow our young hero. The prosthetics from Screaming Mad George are one-of-a-kind sickening, depicting a fall-of-Rome debauchery with epic detail, skewering the film’s earlier Cronenbergian version of “The O.C.” by taking the social critique to an absurd level. But the real crowning achievement in this skin-smacking display of alien body melt (which would be homaged years later in James Gunn’s “Slither”) is how grotesquely delighted some of the participants of this free-for-all really are. Is it a surprise that this man has a face where he should have a butthole, or that the face is SMILING??
“The game has changed, but the players remain the same!” goes the call–and-response mantra of “MacGruber,” and it goes double for the titular hero’s late lady love. MacGruber (Will Forte) still can’t get over the death of his wife Casey (Maya Rudolph) on their wedding day, murdered by a missile launched by heartbroken villain Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer). MacGruber just can’t seem to pull himself out of that funk, and as a result, he shrinks when propositioned by new lover Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) out of respect for his lost bride. When Casey returns as a ghost, she finds it within herself to allow our hero a tender night of lovemaking with his new conquest. But still wracked by guilt, MacGruber makes moves on his ghost bride over her grave. What starts as a romantic coupling quickly devolves into guttural groans and hostile, nonsensical dirty talk as Forte’s bare bottom is seen roughly thrusting between Rudolph’s spectral legs, giving her the most inappropriate rogering in the middle of a sea of graves. What first seems like a bittersweet final farewell and a cathartic letting-go soon becomes a grossly porny show of affection from a sweating lunatic who doesn’t seem to realize he’s not hammering a nail into a wall with his crotch.
As usual, just the tip of the iceberg. Other examples include: “Southland Tales” (car-on-car animated sex scene), “The Devil’s Advocate” (three way with the devil coaching), “Coneheads” (just weird), “Clerks” (necrophilia), “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (bestiality/werewolf rape, vampyros Lesbos orgy), “Pink Flamingos” (gross), “Hollow Man” (invisible man sexual assault), “Demon Seed” (house sex), “Wet Hot American Summer” (I’m going to hump the refrigerator!), the awfulness that is the sadomasochistic “Salo,” “Splice,” The Howling,” “Species,” ”Re-Animator,” the creepy orgy in “Eyes Wide Shut,” “Nekromantik,” “The Room,” and of course as many more as can fit into your probably very scarred and disturbed memory. You always have your own ideas and picks so sound off below at a sex scene that’s disturbing, weird of funny. Or one that you wish you’d never witnessed. – Drew Taylor, Gabe Toro, Rodrigo Perez and Jessica Kiang