Erotic Underground 4: Ten Thrillers from 1992-1993

The climax of Erotic Thrillers occurred in 1992 with the release of Basic Instinct.  The remainder of the year and 1993 saw some of the most unusual and interesting films in the genre released, and coincided with the non-R rated success of Jurassic Park, signaling the twilight of adult oriented cinema.  What follows are ten films from those years and where to find them. 

Final Analysis (1992)

Phil Joanou's (Three O Clock High, State of Grace) third film, Final Analysis is a Hitchcock homage that brims with sexual tension.  Featuring Kim Basinger, Uma Thurman, and Richard Gere, the story focuses on a psychiatrist who drawn into an erotic triangle of sex, death, and conspiracy by a beautiful woman and her possibly deranged sister.  Featuring a scene stealing performance by Eric Roberts as a menacing gangster, Gere and Basinger's chemistry sets everything ablaze amidst a labyrinth of twists, turns, and double crosses. 

Availability: VUDU (W/Ads), Digital on Demand 

Basic Instinct (1992)

The film that changed everything for erotic thrillers, Paul Verhoeven's neo-noir masterpiece is a sexually charged neutron bomb.  Starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone, the story concerns the murder of a retired rock and roll star.  As the investigation points towards Stone's ultra femme fatale, she begins a torrid affair with Douglas' rogue cop.  Made famous by Stone's controversial panty-less legs uncrossing scene, the success and infamy of the film would spark a tidal wave of direct to video softcore thrillers and television series that would drink the life’s blood of adult cinema in less than a decade. 

Availability: Digital on Demand 

Single White Female (1992)

More in line with the post Giallo slasher origins of the genre, Barbet Schroeder's (Barfly, Kiss of Death) psychological story of duality and agency is surprising relevant in today's political climate.  Featuring an elusive turn by Jennifer Jason Leigh as Hedy, the mentally unstable woman who slowly works her way into a poisonous friendship with Bridget Fonda's Allie.  What elevates the picture is not only Leigh's terrifying performance, but in Schroeder’s methodical presentation that creates an organic relationship between the principals.  A bastard child of Persona and Dressed to Kill, this is an essential piece of erotic thriller history. 

Availability: Digital on Demand 

Double Jeopardy (1992)

Rachel Ward returns yet again with a direct to TV film that challenges notions of power, perception, and consent.  Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5) stars as a man who begins an illicit romance with an old flame named Lisa (Ward), betraying his attorney wife (Sela Ward).  He witnesses Lisa being raped by her old boyfriend whom she kills.  Lisa is then defended by his wife.  The trial and its aftermath have startling consequences.  While the plot can be paint by numbers, Ward and Boxleitner shine while Sela Ward is the show stopper as a wife at her wit's end.

Availability: Amazon Prime

Dance with Death (1992)

Once again, a serial killer is preying upon exotic dancers in a dark city.  Only this time, the police are apparently too busy to do anything so a reporter decides to go undercover to find the killer.  Beyond the ridiculous (awesome) premise, this film costars Sexy Rexy himself Maxwell Caulfield.  Written by erotic thriller icon Katt Shea, this film lacks the progressive undertones of Stripped to Kill, but it also makes up for the deficit with a sexy, early 90's ambiance that, when juxtaposed with the grimy 80's interior of Stripped to Kill, allows this near satirical neon-noir to work. 

Availability: Amazon Prime

Body of Evidence (1993)

Nominated for six Golden Raspberries, Uli Edel's trashterwork, Body of Evidence was yet another doomed Madonna vehicle.  Originally rated NC-17 for some extremely steamy (including candle wax!) sequences with Madonna and Willem Dafoe, the film lives in infamy as one of the worst ever made.  Still, there is a dirty charm that oozes underneath the tired courtroom whodunnit (PS, you know instantly) that explores the concept of power both inside and out of the boudoir.

Availability: Amazon Prime 

Romeo is Bleeding (1993)

TV directing icon Peter Medak directs a legendary cast of character actors in a nihilistic neo-noir like no other.  Focusing on a corrupt detective's (Gary Oldman) dangerous and perverse sexual relationship with a Russian hitwoman (Lena Olin), this is a film that is defined by excess.  Every single scene is so over the top, so violent, so unrelentingly sexual that it breaks down the mind's defenses before nestling into the subconscious.  Possibly Oldman's greatest performance, this is one of the better post Pulp Fiction crime films because of its mature approach to the material, albeit in a veneer of the absurd.  There is an aura of danger that is simply unescapable for the duration of its runtime.

Availability: Amazon Prime 

Boxing Helena (1993)

The debut of Jennifer Lynch, which earned her the Golden Raspberry for Worst Director, Boxing Helena is a challenging film that went through hell in preproduction, including driving Kim Basinger (who broke her contract to leave the role) into bankruptcy.  Starring Sherilyn Fenn (From Lynch's father's Twin Peaks) and the always alluring Julian Sands, the story focuses on a peculiar doctor who continually performs amputation operations on a former lover whom he has imprisoned.  Ultimately the film is about trauma, obsession, and how we force those we adore into constraints (both real and unreal) to fit our paradigms. 

Availability: DVD 

Sliver (1993)

Following the success of Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone returned to the erotic arena in yet another script written by carnal Joe Eszterhas.  This time Stone plays a recently divorced book editor who moves into a high-profile apartment building in NYC, populated by the vain, the sexy, and the deadly.  There's an undercurrent of surveillance technology and privacy issues that echoes in today's climate, but the most charming aspect of this film is in how Stone's character's sexual reawakening is entwined with her budding voyeurism.  It's a sleazy cousin of Until the End of the World; an intoxicating mix of surprisingly well-done sex sequences and a wonderfully hammy turn for Tom Berenger.  

Availability: Digital Rental 

Guilty as Sin (1993)

One of the more unique entries in cinematic legend Sidney Lumet's filmography, Guilty as Sin is less a courtroom thriller and more of a showcase for one of the most insane performances in Don Johnson's career.  He plays a rich playboy accused of murdering his wife.  He hires Rebecca DeMornay to defend him.  As their relationship begins to blur the lines of morality, DeMornay's character is forced to confront her own actions in an effort to find justice.  Featuring a charming supporting turn by Stephan Lang, the film was critically annihilated upon release.  Regardless, Johnson's over the top camp is just so much fun, nothing else matters. 

Availability: Digital Rental

--Kyle Jonathan