Pink Flamingos (1972) Scuzzy sex isn’t the worst of it in this cult favorite directed by John Waters. The mystery man with the singing sphincter is far more traumatic, as is the notorious ending in which 300-pound transvestite Divine munches on real—and factory fresh—dog feces. But any time there’s a live chicken involved, you know the sex ain’t gonna be a cake-walk either.
Angel Heart (1987) For starters, it’s gross to even think about Mickey Rourke having sex. Actually seeing him and Lisa Bonet going at it hammer and tongs with blood dripping on them from the ceiling isn’t ominous or scary or whatever it was supposed to be—it’s just unpleasant. Bill Cosby wasn’t too impressed with Bonet’s new career direction, either—he booted her off The Cosby Show. Now, youngest Cosby child Rudy undergoing her first menstruation on the sitcom a few seasons later—that was just fine with ol’ Bill.
Showgirls (1995) Apologists for this steaming mug of cinematic barf insist that everything about Showgirls is as bad as it is on purpose—including the sex. But all the high-falutin’ critical theory in the world can’t steel you for the embarrassment of watching the girl from TV’s Saved by the Bell thrashing around in an orgasmic seizure astride Twin Peaks actor Kyle MacLachlan. That’s not acting, friends—he’s just as mortified as you are!
Blue Velvet (1986) Speaking of Kyle MacLachlan: We’re not sure if Dennis Hopper’s “performance” with Isabella Rossellini and an oxygen mask qualifies as a sex scene. But if it does, it’s really gross.
Deliverance (1972) “Squeal like a pig!” ’Nuff said. Duh-nuh-nee-noo-nee-noo-nee-noo-neh…
Last Tango in Paris (1972) Turns out everything isn’t better with Blue Bonnet on it. Do you still have to worry about good and bad cholesterol if you’re not actually putting the butter in your mouth?
Matrix Reloaded (2003) Because their eventual carnal union was so clearly foretold in the first Matrix, it’s really disappointing that the love scene between Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss in the first sequel is so terrible. Seemingly endless and terrible. But at least it means less time spent watching the completely retarded futuristic rave scene.
The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover (1989) OK, so it’s supposed to be crude and disgusting. Mission accomplished. Now would somebody please destroy the original negative, all prints of the film and anything else to indicate that this horrible piece of crap ever existed?
The Night Porter (1974) What is it with Italian filmmakers exorcising the country’s World War II demons through sadomasochistic sex scenes? The Night Porter stars Charlotte Rampling as a former concentration camp inmate sexually abused by a guard she later meets working as the titular night porter in a crummy Vienna hotel. As it turns out, the old sexual chemistry is still there. Woo hoo! Makes you want to scrub with straight lye when you’re done watching it.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995) Mike Figgis’ smash indie hit provided many mainstream filmgoers with their first glimpse of unflinching, unrelenting, no-trace-of-a-happy-ending movie romance. If it had been a studio movie, Nicolas Cage’s self-loathing suicidal drunk would have magically turned his impotence around in time to treat Elizabeth Shue to a scorching desert bonk-fest. Alas, it was not to be. If only they’d had Viagra back then—bottles are for drinking, guy.
Crash (1996) It’s telling that most of the sex in this movie is the from-behind kind. It’s also the whole point of the movie, and the original story by J.G. Ballard. But fellas: Next time you see a fender-bender, watch the car in back to see if any women tear their clothes off in aggressive displays of sexual arousal. Apparently, it’s what they do in Toronto.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Another case of “Wait, was that even a sex scene?” Orgies never looked so boring, or so crypto-Fascist. Stanley Kubrick had kids of his own, but you’d never guess it from the way sex is treated in most of his films, when it appears at all. Then there was that whole Jack-Nicholson-making-out-with-a-corpse-in-the-bathtub thing in The Shining, which leads us to a special mention for diseased sex in 2002’s Cabin Fever. Note to self: Need more lye.
Damage (1992) Damage indeed. Here’s a movie about a man coming up in the world, emerging from the shadow of his successful father with a promotion and an impending marriage, only to discover—in the worst possible way—that Dad (Jeremy Irons) has developed a sexual obsession with his daughter-in-law-to-be (Juliette Binoche). And, even worse, junior’s would-be bride is, umm, indulging Dad’s come-ons. When our boy wanders into a hotel room where Pops and the fiancée are getting it on, the sight so shocks him that he stumbles backward over a railing and falls to the stone floor below, dead. Presumably it was the facts of the matter that led to the fall, but it’s the actual sex, as filmed by Louis Malle, that’s more likely to send video viewers reeling: stilted, theatrical and posed for maximum discomfort. You often hear prudes and liars say that pornography doesn’t turn actually turn them on; here’s proof that art can actually do sex worse.