According to Paul Verhoeven, Hollywood has a basic problem: There’s not enough sex onscreen.
The era of the erotic thriller is all but forgotten, with sensuality giving way to Marvel movies and watered-down studio films. But “Showgirls” and “Basic Instinct” director Verhoeven isn’t letting steamy cinema go down without a fight.
“Sex is the essence of existence,” the filmmaker, whose 2021 “Benedetta” is now releasing in the U.K., told The Times. “Without it, there are no species anymore. So why is that a big secret? There is a new purity.”
The “Benedetta” director made headlines last year for depicting a lesbian nun masturbating with a crucifix, among other NSFW (and arguably blasphemous) sequences. Verhoeven, whose upcoming film “Young Sinner” reportedly is a return to form as an erotic thriller in the vein of “Basic Instinct,” blamed the Church for snuffing out sex in films.
Verhoeven said that “the evangelical thinking of the last decades — that sexuality has to be family-orientated, a man, woman, children” has thwarted hard-hitting films. “Young Sinner” will be Verhoeven’s first film to be made in the U.S. since 2000.
“Sexuality has been moved out of movies,” he continued. “In the 1970s you could talk about it. But you arrive now, decades later, and those movies are not possible anymore. It would be very difficult to make a film like ‘Showgirls’ or ‘Basic Instinct’ now.”
Instead, Hollywood has shifted to big-budget, high-concept blockbusters that are about “crashing and blowing up. Sometimes these movies are fun, but the narrative tells you nothing about us now,” Verhoeven said. “I don’t see any other thought in Marvel or Bond movies.”
And the lack of sensuality in modern Bond films is another cause for concern: “There was always sex in Bond!” Verhoeven concluded. “They did not show a breast, or whatever. But they had some sex.”
“I’d go back to reality,” he cautioned of Bond movies, admitting he liked “Casino Royale” but not “No Time to Die.” “Cars that don’t leap up into the sky.”
“Basic Instinct” celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year, and its legacy epitomizes the current censorship of mainstream cinema, as “You Must Remember This” podcast host, film historian, and author Karina Longworth told IndieWire.