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10 Best Romantic Thrillers of the 80s & 90s, Ranked

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A genre of film, like many, we just don’t see anymore. The erotic thriller is famous for using the staples of film noir and found what was sexually explicit about the femme fatale and the lonely man who follows her. The genre had its heyday in the 80s and 90s with directors like David Lynch, Adrian Lyne, and Paul Verhoeven finding ways to shovel in sexually explicit themes to popcorn success. Michael Douglas used to be the king of this genre, making films like Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Disclosure, and A Perfect Murder.

However, even with its disappearance from theaters, the erotic thriller appears to be primed for a comeback with the recent release of Deep Water starring Ben Affleck and Ana De Armas. From the erotic, sensual auteur himself, Adrian Lyne returns after a nearly 20-year hiatus. But, Deep Water was shuttered to Hulu with little-to-no press engine behind it. The erotic thriller appears to be a genre of the past, at least, for Hollywood. Nevertheless, here’s a look at the best erotic thrillers from the 80s and 90s, ranked.

Related: These Are Some of the Steamiest Thrillers of All Time

The bright pastels of Los Angeles, transfused with a purveyor of noir vibes from writer-director Paul Schrader, make for a unique foray into the world of dark eroticism transposed in American Gigolo. At times, a clear indictment of being a male sex worker but also a look at the sexual politics of those that play freely in their supposed closed relationships and who affairs harm the most. Richard Gere plays the dedicated, lonely man who gets caught in a murder mystery. But mainly, how open sex could sow seeds of distrust and how ambition can get the best of you, Schrader’s film is oozing a delectable sense of horniness from pickup to pickup as Gere’s gigolo realizes desire and trust are not the same things.

A film soaked in the sweaty swamps of Florida where nearly every character soaks up the moisture, Wild Things is a wild, Hollywood sexploitation romp cranked up to near parodic levels of noir that lead to a fun and sexually-charged thrill ride. With an incredibly seedy Matt Dillon performance, even by his standards, paired with the shooting superstardom of a late-90s-era Denise Richards, the two are on an incredibly twisty ride. Wild Things is a rarity and Hollywood conundrum where the level of erotic thrills has never quite been matched again.

Brian De Palma’s depiction of voyeurism is akin to the classic Rear Window. Both he and Hitchcock have a knack for creating suspense out of the action of simply looking and placing the audience directly in the protagonist’s shoes. In a film rife with 80s sleaze but cracking suspense, De Palma crafted yet another thriller in the vein of Hitchcock. But setting it in the world of Hollywood gave it a gloss and veneer of industry satire while also using the song “R-E-L-A-X” to create an air of suspense and anonymity in a surreal visit to a movie set. Body Double is one of De Palma’s most accomplished, sexually evocative, and thrilling works.

A young adult version of the erotic thriller based on the text that inspired Dangerous Liaisons, Cruel Intentions is a mature, psychosexual trip through the halls of Upper East Side aristocrats. Even with the sexually repulsive relationship between Ryan Phillipe and Sarah Michelle Gellar, the film is mature about how teens manipulate and exploit but also find ways to have fun with the nature of sexual exploration. Even as the two twisted siblings have the young virgin (Reese Witherspoon) in their crosshairs, the film finds a heart by the end resolve with an iconic needle drop by The Verve to soundtrack it.

When David Cronenberg is at his best, his films unfold like a trance. Deeply hypnotic and disturbing with an atmosphere that has you wrapped from beginning to end, Crash takes human curiosity to its nastiest, transgressive, and unknown spaces. James Spader stars as the badly wounded but sexually evocative TV director who finds the taboo violence of car crashes to rejuvenate his joyless sex life and make amends with his emotionally distant wife. A rarity in the genre of horror/thriller where the scurrility does as much to evoke and provoke feelings across a spectrum that range from sensuality to disgust.

Related: Best David Cronenberg Movies, Ranked

A film steeped in a lurid sense of stylization and a clear hold on how to craft a set-piece that oozes a cool aesthetic that would define the Wachowski Sisters’ career filmography, Bound is a classically fitting noir with a deep erotic charge. Following the steamy affair that beckons between Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly, lovers at first sight, it’s not long before the two scheme on Tilly’s scumbag husband, played with hilarious bravado by Joe Pantoliano. The film sets the course for sexual tension and violence when the schemes go full steam ahead.

Adrian Lyne’s career is marked by a superfluously sexual and, at times, soft-core aesthetic. Blurring the lines between commercial filmmaking and sexuality that looks for the style over substance. But, when Lyne is firing, he dives deep into the intense, psycho melodrama that haunts wealthy suburbanites, city deal-makers, and wealthy people who make games of sex. Lyne hit a crescendo with Fatal Attraction, pairing Michael Douglas near the height of his sleaze powers with Glenn Close was a fired-up, sexual thrill ride that gave the film an immediate, iconic status. Married to an all-timer of an ending, Fatal Attraction remains one of the best.

A film so sexually charged, it probably wouldn’t be made today. Doused in the sweat and moisture of the misc-en-scene of a swampy Florida town, William Hurt (RIP) finds himself in the erotic trappings of film noir. Played against the always sultry Kathleen Turner, the two start an affair where the passions turn to violence. Especially with the iconic scene of Hurt, so in the throes of wanting Turner, he slams a chair through a window because he can’t be kept from her. That scene punctuates why Body Heat is a staple of the erotic thriller genre.

A director who never throws caution to the wind and uses the art of film to shift dimensions, creating an air wholly his entity, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet blurs the lines of reality. Pairing protagonists that are seemingly the same while also creating tense sequences of raw romantic energy through a lens of voyeurism, Lynch doesn’t mince his set-pieces with subtlety. As a young Kyle MacLachlan gets steeped into the sexually charged world of Frank Booth (a wiry Dennis Hopper) and goes on a surreal odyssey of psycho-sexual violence.

The Dutch Provocateur Paul Verhoeven always finds the perfect tonal balance between satire, sleaze, provocation, and tension to drive the story forward. With Basic Instinct, he created something instantly iconoclastic. Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone use each other as sexual muses amidst a murder investigation that points to Stone as the killer. But the love and passion between the two create a mystery of manipulation that leads Douglas down a trodden path of reverse enlightenment. Also, making a sweaty meme out of Wayne Knight.

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Star Wars Trilogy from The Last Jedi Director Rian Johnson is Still Happening

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The next sentence will either be good or bad news for Star Wars fans, depending on which side of the sharp divide you fall down on when it comes to 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars trilogy is still happening. Speaking with Vanity Fair, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy revealed that Rian Johnson, who of course helmed the most divisive Star Wars movie of them all, will return to a galaxy far, far away. Eventually.

“Rian has been unbelievably busy with Knives Out and the deal that he made at Netflix for multiple movies,” Kennedy said, while revealing that Lucasfilm is still planning to go ahead with Rian Johnson’s proposed Star Wars trilogy.

While he may be busy, it certainly sounds like the plan is still to bring Rian Johnson back for more. As soon as he has some time, that is. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second installment in the Disney sequel trilogy, and brings Luke Skywalker’s peaceful and solitary existence to an end when he encounters Rey, a young woman who shows strong signs of the Force. Her desire to learn the ways of the Jedi forces Luke to make a decision that changes their lives forever. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and General Hux lead the First Order in an all-out assault against Leia and the Resistance for supremacy of the galaxy.

The movie takes some major swings with the Star Wars franchise, subverting certain expectations in an effort to meet fan theories head on, and depicting characters in ways that many did not see coming. This resulted in divides among both critics and audiences (for context The Last Jedi holds a rating of 91% from the former and 42% from the latter on Rotten Tomatoes) and even within Star Wars fans themselves. While some were captivated by the changes and direction undertaken by Johnson, others felt that the movie could be nothing less than the first sign of the apocalypse.

Following such a divisive response, it was rumored for some time that any further plans featuring Rian Johnson had been scrapped. But, thanks to this new report, it sounds like that is far from the case, and instead the studio is simply waiting for the director to have some free time in his bust calendar.

Related: Star Wars: Why Peace Can Never Be Attained in the Galaxy

Unfortunately, we still have no idea what Rian Johnson’s planned trilogy will involve, though many suspect that it will be a sequel to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, following the mysterious force-sensitive broom boy last seen in The Last Jedi.

Thankfully, there is still plenty to look forward for Star Wars fans, including the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi later this month, further seasons of the hit series The Mandalorian, various spinoffs including a show centered on Ahsoka, and much more.

Director Rian Johnson is indeed extremely busy right now, with the filmmaker currently working on several sequels to his critically acclaimed whodunnit mystery, Knives Out. The first follow-up, Knives Out 2, is expected to land on Netflix later this year and stars an ensemble cast consisting of Dave Bautista, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Madelyn Cline, Jessica Henwick, and Ethan Hawke.

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The Chicago P.D. Star You Likely Forgot Starred In Footloose

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Age-wise, it’s easy to assume that the only member of the main cast who might’ve starred in the original, 1984 “Footloose” would be Jason Beghe. As fun as it would be to see young Hank Voight rock out on the dancefloor, this isn’t the case. The true “Footloose” star in the “Chicago P.D.” cast is none other than Patrick John Flueger. The actor is known in the “One Chicago” franchise as Detective Adam Ruzek, but before his TV cop days, he appeared in the 2011 remake as the villainous Chuck Cranston. Chuck is the bad boyfriend of main character Ariel (Julianne Hough), and Flueger takes over from Jim Youngs, who first played the character in the 1984 version. 

While remakes sometimes get a bad rap, “Footloose” 2011 holds the distinction of being more critically appreciated than the original. Flueger’s version of the movie has a decent 68 percent Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while the original has a much less impressive 51 percent rating (via Rotten Tomatoes). 

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