It might be the week where romance is supposed to be prevalent, but you’re playing hanky-panky roulette if you’re looking for the movies to get you in the mood.
Because whilst a good romance may lead to you settling down for an evening of memorable, passionate how’s-your-father, if you pop the wrong film in, you’re more likely to be reaching for a cardigan and a good book than a post-coital cigarette and a big grin.
Here, then, are 15 films you might want to avoid popping in your DVD player when it’s a night of nudge-nudge-wink-wink that you’re craving…
NOTE: We’re leaving the nasty films out of the list. To be included, every scene depicted had to be consensual.
AVATAR: EXTENDED EDITION
Genuinely, we’re of the view here that as long as it’s legal, how you get your kicks is your own business. Rightly so, too. And thus it’s far from us to cast aspersions if the idea of a couple of smurfs indulging in a little plug and play is high on your agenda of erotic material.
It’s perhaps inevitable that there’s a coldness, though, to the blue scene from the Avatar: Extended Edition. Just animating a kiss, and getting across the passion of it, is enough to test the very best in the profession. When you’re trying to get across two digital characters engaged in a bit of good, old-fashioned fornication, it’s inevitably got all the erotic appeal of a particularly ordinary turnip. And not a sexy one, either.
Furthermore, the scene in question is under half a minute long, which suggests that the male residents of Pandora need to get a little bit better at thinking about baseball.
EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK
For good reason, when a couple sit down and discuss the act of mattress macarena, it rarely gets too scientific. Some choose fairly crude terminology, granted, in a bid to turn up the excitement. Others choose to sugar coat it all in sweet, romantic ways. And some just get on with it.
I might be going out on a limb here, though, and while I fear speaking for all men, I can’t imagine too many gents have, at the moment of warmth and fuzzyness, imagined that their sperm looks like Woody Allen.
It’s a valuable lesson that the movies teach us here, friends. Science is a fascinating subject, but there are moments in life when it doesn’t serve you well. The exact biological calculations going on in our bodies are not best kept near the top of our brains, for fear of the pinnacle of the act being sullied with a flashback to Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.
It’s a funny movie. But there’s not a sensual moment on the planet that it couldn’t knock the eroticism out of. And, on a practical level, Woody’s glasses might hurt on the way out.
THE CRYING GAME
In my time, I’ve always struggled with the weekly shopping. Actually, it’s not the shopping that’s the problem, rather the putting of my groceries away in the right place. On more than one occasion, I’ve mislaid a couple of vegetables, and the odd bit of meat, and discovered them later where I least expect to find them.
The Crying Game, then.
It’s a film that puts across this golden rule: when someone tells you they’ve got something to tell you, let them tell it. And when someone’s trying to slow you down, there might be a reason for it.
It also teaches us that surprise is important in any relationship, but risky. After all, to keep things between the sheets fresh, relationship counsellors and bonking experts on the telly are never shy about telling us to introduce some unpredictability into the bedroom.
What said experts fail to cover, however, is the further golden golden rule: if your partner has genitalia of the ilk you’re not expecting, it’s generally a good idea that both people know in advance of undergarments being slipped off. Just a suggestion to bear in mind. It just saves a mildly startled conversation happening.
Oh, and a further note of courtesy: it’s good form not to enquire of the other person, unless they bring the topic up first. BRIDE OF CHUCKY
We are a responsible website. As such, if you’re thinking of getting a bit of horizontal refreshment, we’d always recommend safe sex. However, there’s taking it too far, and here’s a stark warning for those who haven’t sorted out their contraception in advance: you might face an awkward conversation (unless you take The Naked Gun route, obviously).
None more awkward, though, than the one in the superior horror sequel, Bride Of Chucky. This is the film that marked a temporary renaissance for the Child’s Play movies, before they went crap again. And one of the centrepiece sequences is where Jennifer Tilly’s Tiffany gets ready to consummate her relationship with Chucky.
The thought of having a sheet-shaking moment with Chucky in itself is a tad concerning. But the romantic build-up talk is hardly the sort to get you in the mood. “Have you got a rubber?”, enquires Tiffany. “Have I got a rubber?”, says Chucky, aghast. “Tiff, look at me! I’m all rubber!”
Just to rub in the tender romance at the moment, there’s then Tiffany’s answer, just to top off the cake: “wait, I thought you were plastic?”
Some nights, it’s best just to read a book… SLEEPING DOGS LIE
”Tell me the weirdest thing you’ve ever done, something you wouldn’t tell anybody”, John asks.
There are reasons that question shouldn’t asked in the middle of a bedroom scene. When the tone has been wonderfully set, when the couple are snuggled and dearly in love. When your heart is melting for them, and you’re at your most vulnerable.
”A long time ago, when I was at school, and I wasn’t alone…”, Amy begins.
Five seconds later, John has worked out the dangers of pillow talk. For Amy, in a quiet moment with just her and her dog, er, ‘popped its weasel’, so to speak.
Unsurprisingly, this throws quite a spanner into John and Amy’s relationship, although what’s perhaps surprising is that the film around this pivotal moment is a strangely sweet romantic comedy. Even stranger, it’s from Bobcat Goldthwait, the helmer of World’s Greatest Dad.
It also offers a strong case for why blokes falling asleep straight after the act, without any conversation, isn’t such a bad thing…
Just what is it with David Cronenberg and disquieting sex scenes? You could pick almost any film from his lengthy career and find some sort of gag-inducing moment of intimacy. The weird love triangle of Dead Ringers, for example, the alarming wound probing of the controversial Crash, perhaps, or James Woods’ kinky relationship with Debbie Harry in Videodrome.
For proper, date-wrecking scenes of science friction, however, look no further than Cronenberg’s first feature, Shivers, aka The Parasite Murders, aka They Came From Within. The entire film is effectively a series kinky close encounters, hastened by a mad scientist’s invention of a new breed of giant, diseased maggot.
As the maggots infect the community of an apartment complex, the residents lose their sexual inhibitions, and begin fornicating with frenzied abandon. Shivers reaches its mad zenith when protagonist Dr Hobbes (Fred Doederlin) is finally cornered by an army of sex-crazed residents in the complex’s swimming pool. Only David Cronenberg could make an orgy look so disturbing.
Shivers isn’t particularly explicit, and its low production values are evident throughout, but it’s a genuinely odd, unforgettable film that’s sure to put a dampener on any romantic evening on the sofa.
We’ve discussed quite a lot thus far of the importance of build up to the act of conjugal conjoinment. Some people, between you and me, like to talk in slightly rude ways, as a way of getting each other prepared to unbutton their respective cotton pyjama tops.
Yet there is a real gift to this kind of talk. Say the wrong words, and a night of passion will soon be reduced to a game of Scrabble, one where you’re not aloud to put down rude words.
Predictably, the movies offer practical suggestions as to what not to do. And here, friends, is the richly-celebrated movie Gigli, doing just that. Sometimes, a video paints pictures that words simply can’t match…
Before Peter Jackson became the darling of Hollywood with his blockbusting Lord Of The Rings movies, the director made his mark with a pair of indescribably gory horror films, both shot in his native New Zealand.
The most best and most bloody of these was Braindead (released as Dead Alive in the US), in which the bite from a disease-spreading Sumatran Rat-Monkey sparks a plague of zombies.
If the grotesque scenes of gore and bad taste humour aren’t enough to kill your amorous mood, then the sequence where luckless protagonist Lionel (Timothy Balme) stumbles into a dining room to discover a pair of zombies limb mingling on the table is sure to put a stop to any potential rustlings. Yucky.
Appreciating that afternoon delight appeals to different people in different ways, there’s still something that’s likely to unify most of the world in its unilateral ability to smash any sign of passion out of the bedroom. It’s parents. More to the point, hearing your parents.
Most people I speak to seem to believe that the number of times that their parents have bopped in close proximity can be calculated by adding up the number of children they have. Most people I speak to, however, fear what’s perfectly demonstrated in Serial Mom.
For here, Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston engage in some bed ballet, only for the former to make sounds of such a volume that their children can hear every moment. It’s the kind of moment that keeps psychiatrists in business…
LAST TANGO IN PARIS
Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 drama, which detailed the doomed relationship between an aging hotel owner (Marlon Brando) and a much younger Parisian lady (Maria Schneider) was infamous for its explicit sexual content, which sparked controversy in both the US and Europe. A showing in New Jersey even had to be cut short after a bomb threat.
Still, Last Tango In Paris earned all kinds of plaudits and gongs in spite of its controversial nature, with Brando nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, while Bertolucci picked up a nod for his direction.
Last Tango should have also won an award for the least sexiest movie about sex yet made, though. While there’s no shortage of steamy sequences throughout Bertolucci’s film, they’re about as erotic as a wildlife documentary about rutting wildebeest.
And, ultimately, any thoughts of post-movie sheet shaking can also be irrevocably banished with the mere mention of two words: Brando butter.
Part of what makes David Cronenberg’s disintegrating scientist movie such a timeless classic is the brilliantly portrayed relationship at its core. The shoulder pads and hair may be looking a little past their sell-by-date 25 years on, but the performances of Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis (then a couple in real-life) add a human dimension to The Fly’s icky body horror.
Having invented a potentially revolutionary matter transportation device, Seth Brundle (Goldblum) rather foolishly tests his machine out on himself. Disappearing from one pod and re-materialising in another, he doesn’t realise that a housefly has joined him on his maiden voyage through space.
As Brundle begins to succumb to the fly genes that are taking over his body, he engages in several oddly disquieting and sweaty scenes of wicky-wicky-wah-wah with his girlfriend, Veronica (Davis), as thick, hideous hairs begin to sprout from his back.
Later, Veronica has a nightmare in which she gives birth to a huge maggot. If The Fly doesn’t at least put you off the idea of childbirth, then nothing will. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I distinctly remember going to see this film at the cinema, and watching as a row of 15-year-olds sheepishly snuck in, in the days before Google would have saved them a trip. They looked quite disappointed as they left, bemused no doubt by the fact that this sex stuff didn’t look half as interesting as it sounded.
But at least they learned a lesson, and it is this: there are moments when a true partner does not air their views, mid-rumpy pumpy. Because you have to admire the restraint of Kyle MacLachlan, when faced with the sheer enthusiasm of Elizabeth Berkely in Showgirls. When the two entwine in the swimming pool scene, I genuinely feared that the poor woman was having a bit of a turn.
It must have been a tricky crossroads for the one-time Agent Cooper. Do you go with the flow, in spite of the fact that personal comfort has long since gone out of the window? Or do you draw to the lady in question’s attention that she might just need some medical attention. MacLachlan? He simply settled back and thought of England. Such manners. JACK FROST
Not to be confused with the rather more family-friendly Jack Frost starring Michael Keaton, this 1997 comedy horror saw a deranged serial killer transformed into a homicidal snowman.
Now something of a cult classic, one of Jack Frost’s more memorable scenes involved said snowman materialising in Shannon Elizabeth’s bath. Worryingly, the randy creature’s carrot isn’t on his face in this sequence.
Chilling. THE LAWNMOWER MAN
Riding the wave of the early-90s virtual reality zeitgeist, The Lawnmower Man had almost nothing to do with the Stephen King story on which it was based (King got his name taken off the posters). Jeff Fahey starred as Jobe, the mentally impaired lawnmower operator of the title, who is granted god-like powers by Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Angelo.
Quite how cyberspace grants Fahey with such intelligence is never explained. Still, like most real-life web users, it isn’t long before Jobe uses the power of virtual reality to alert himself in the most exotic way possible.
What follows is enough to convince you that a bout of virtual beta testing has no pleasure attached to it whatsoever.
Enticing a young lady to plug herself into the matrix, the pair begin canoodling in cyberspace, merging and morphing into one another like badly rendered plasticine.
In an oddly coy moment, the act of, erm, ‘uploading’, is symbolised by a fluttering dragonfly. Then everything goes terribly wrong, as Fahey mutates into a goo-spitting phallus monster, terrifying the young lady beyond the brink of madness.
While not the most unpleasant sex scene in this list, you nevertheless feel sorry for the person who had to clean up Fahey’s cyber suit after the dirty deed was over. You never had to put up with nonsense like this in Tron…
HOWARD THE DUCK
And so we arrive here. With a moment that’s not just one of the most disturbing cinematic jiggy scenes of all time, but one of the most disturbing scenes full stop. Appreciating that taking potshots at Howard The Duck isn’t a job that involves much stretching, it’s still absolutely baffling as to who thought this particular segment of the film would be a good idea.
It sees Howard, or man-in-a-bad-duck-costume, lying in his bed, when Lea Thompson – she from Back To The Future, remember – suddenly starts coming on to him. I was 10 years old when I first saw this happen, and I believe, even then, the letters ‘WTF’ were prevalent in my mind.
The filmmakers didn’t just leave it at a suggestion, though. For Thompson then slowly strips down to her undergarments, starts sweet-talking Howard, while the audience barf popcorn back up and genuinely start considering en masse that every one of them could come up with something better.
For the record, I’m no Howard The Duck hater. It’s a messy film, but it’s one that’s rightly still spoken about, with a small amount of affection. But it taught cinema a valuable lesson: a quick quack is not romantic. And cinema has heeded its warnings. We wrote about it in more detail here.
The War Of The Roses: A film with quite horrifying bite.
Crank 2: Because nothing says “I love you” more than heading into the middle of a muddy horse racing track, exposing your nether regions, arranging a meet up for them, and taking the applause of the crowd.
The Specialist: Any movie star fantasies you might have are quickly debunked by two movie stars trying to re-enact them.
This post first appeared in February 2011.