Over the decades, intimate scenes on camera have changed. In the Golden Era of Hollywood, they had to use innuendos and cut-aways to give the idea of what was happening to viewers. The 1960s brought the change as movies embraced nudity and were soon showcasing the hotter aspects of love scenes. Since then, you can find hot scenes in drama, action, comedy and more. Many of them are iconic and fantastic, boasting the biggest stars around. Even the lower-rung films have their appeal, as shown by how the 1990s boasted a huge market for straight-to-video “softcore” fare. However, as with so much else, going “bigger” is not always “better” in Hollywood and that goes for erotic scenes as well.
So often, movies present scenes meant to be incredibly hot but totally fall apart. The actors have no chemistry, the music is cheesy, it’s shot badly— the reasons are numerous. It goes for big budget events as well as some lower budget films. It especially happens in movies meant to be erotic fun but turn out utterly terrible. Instead of sparking excitement, the reactions are just laughter from audiences and looking incredibly bad. It helps mar the movie, often enough to drag it down majorly and some scenes play more like parody than a real film. There are plenty of examples, but here are some of the biggest. Fifteen major movie scenes that were meant to be steamy as hell but came off as unsexy as possible and more laughter than thrills provided.
15 Color of Night
This 1994 thriller had controversy with the MPAA wanting it NC-17 so it was cut down. When it opened, critics wondered what the fuss was about as the entire movie is a mess. Bruce Willis is a psychiatrist so rocked after a patient commits suicide that he loses his color vision. When a friend dies in suspicious circumstances, Willis takes over his therapy group. Soon, he’s violating all ethics by having an affair with patient Jane March which includes her cooking for him in nothing but an apron. Their major hookup takes place in a pool where we are “treated” to the sight of Willis going full frontal before March dives under the water. It’s shot so tightly that it’s almost like Willis’ point of view of her working at him and then he returns the favor. The sheer length of the sequence makes it shallow, lasting too long and you marvel they can hold their breaths so much. The jazz score is no help either and thus this scene is enriched in history as the highlight of one of the unsexiest “erotic” thrillers ever made.
James Cameron’s 2009 movie still ranks as the highest-grossing motion picture of all time. It’s a huge science fiction epic that won several Oscars for its special effects and Cameron deserves credit for pulling such a huge project off. Of course, it’s also been mocked for its rough story (“Dances With Aliens” is a common joke), long running time and 3-D effects that cause literal headaches. The entire storyline of Sam Worthington’s soldier taking on an alien body to mingle with the residents of a world is a retread of the classic “white man among the natives” storyline. Zoe Saldana was boosted to stardom as his alien love and the motion capture for them is terrific. However, their eventual hook-up is pretty damn crazy, even by Cameron’s standards. In the massive tree that’s home to the aliens, Worthington and Saldana spew out some overly poetic talk, then join together while attaching their tails to the tree branches. It’s meant to be part of some “communal joining” but just comes off ridiculous and watching two CGI characters rolling around together is even worse. Cameron is talented in many ways, but making a compelling love scene is not one of them and one of many moments that makes this hit so mockable.
13 Body of Evidence
While she’s had plenty of success as a mega-recording star, fashion icon and cultural standby, Madonna really hasn’t had much luck in movies. For every A League of Their Own, there’s a Swept Away as the Material Girl isn’t quite known for good acting. Body was pushed for Madonna’s role as a woman tried for killing her rich lover in bed. Willem Dafoe played her lawyer who naturally gets involved with her. This leads to a sequence that elicited howls at screenings as Madonna ties Dafoe up in bed. She then pours hot wax over his body before taking him, a scene meant to be amazingly hot. It totally fails, however as the whole thing is so over the top with the filming, the lighting and Madonna’s smirk just ruining the effect. Dafoe doesn’t help with his ludicrous over-reacting to the wax and thus turns the entire thing into a parody. A later hookup in a parking garage is even nuttier but this scene is what the film is best remembered for. It’s yet another mark in Madonna’s film “credits” and no wonder the Razzies awarded her Worst Actress as her body wasn’t enough to make this scene sexy.
12 The Room
To many, this may be one of the single worst movies ever made. Writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau appeared to truly believe he was creating a gripping take on romance in today’s world. What viewers got was one of the most insanely written and shot films of the last decade. It’s inspired a massive following with midnight screenings complete with yelling out the movie’s lines and mocking Wiseau’s ridiculous performance. So it should be no surprise that its attempt at a “love scene” is a disaster on every level. It’s bad enough to see a guy getting pleasured with a ridiculous look on his face. But then there’s Johnny (Wiseau) and fiancée Lisa (Juliete Danielle) going at it on a four-poster bed. It’s shot through a sheer veil, the camera swinging around to show candles and rose petals before a close-up of Wiseau’s rear end. The cheesy music doesn’t help as the entire sequence is utterly ridiculous in so many ways. It’s oddly fitting for a movie that doesn’t grasp what a joke it would become and add to its status as a legendary bad film.
11 The Matrix Reloaded
In 1999, moviegoers were totally blown away by The Matrix. This mix of action and sci-fi with its groundbreaking special effects was a huge smash and created an entire new geek following. For four years, fans were anxious for the sequels to go even bigger and bolder. As the first one began, viewers were finally introduced to Zion, the last human city in the distant future and would be the showcase of a great follow-up. Instead, the sequence where a rally turns into a massive “dance party” is seen as the moment fans realized this was going to be a mess. The whole thing looks like a beer commercial with hundreds of extras dancing around like a mosh pit, slo-mo close-ups of sweaty folks leaping about, all looking hot and gorgeous. Meanwhile, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) have a “love scene” that fails to pay off on their chemistry with both actors just looking bored and the close-ups of them in bed annoying. This really is the scene where the entire Matrix saga starts to fall apart and showing how badly a shark can be jumped.
10 50 Shades of Grey
This property has long been mocked for how E.L. James turned a Twilight fanfic into a best-selling novel that many say is just badly written. The long-awaited movie version promised to pack in some epic thrills and shatter boundaries of BDSM fun on screen. The warning signs were Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan showing little chemistry in public appearances. The movie just enhanced the book’s flaws, most notably how Christian Grey comes off as a total sociopath. Plus, the constant “contract” talk was a major distraction. When they finally do get down and dirty, it’s still a major studio take so it’s more “artsy” than the harsh side that gives those antics their heat. Johnson looked great but didn’t seem into it and neither was Dornan and thus the much-hyped couplings just lie there flatly. Ironically, The Asylum put out Bound, a rip-off to capitalize on Grey starring Charisma Carpenter and that film had more pure heat in five minutes than Grey did in its entire running time. Amazing to think how the sequel can be even worse.
9 Eyes Wide Shut
Stanley Kubrick’s final film gained plenty of attention before its release. When you cast Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (married at the time) in a sexy thriller, it should be a huge deal. The opening scenes of Kidman posing nude before a mirror are steamy and promise a fun ride. However, from there, the film starts to turn into a confusing mess with a meandering plotline. This includes the segment of Cruise heading to a high-priced society party packed with gorgeous women. It’s meant to thrill, this huge orgy of naked ladies engaging in risqué acts but it just comes off too flat. The addition of the masks may have been meant to make it mysterious but instead, it makes it too impersonal as you can’t see any reactions and turns the women into just faceless drones. The action is too choreographed, there's no real life to it and the whole thing just appears silly overall. It’s a shame Kubrick ended his career with such a poor final product as even his touch can’t elevate this scene to the heights it should attain.
8 The Specialist
It takes something very unique to turn a movie featuring a young and naked Sharon Stone unsexy. The Specialist was promoted as a major new action piece with Sylvester Stallone as the title character, a former soldier who now works as a hit man using specialized explosives. Stone is his client who wants him to kill a mobster (Eric Roberts) and his father (Rod Steiger). They trade a lot of talk that’s supposed to be steamy but doesn’t quite connect. They finally meet up after one of the hits for what’s supposed to be a blistering sex scene. Instead, it comes off flat with both actors not really into it. That’s followed by a bit of them standing in a shower talking long exposition on how Stone survived a bomb meant for her. Again, one would think a naked 1994 Sharon Stone would be a great sight but the scene just falls flat and having her doing all this talk while naked just comes off silly. The entire movie is “style over substance” in major ways with James Woods chewing too much scenery and the appeal of Stone wasted.
7 In the Cut
For years, Meg Ryan was a top Hollywood star, known for great comedies like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless In Seattle. In 2003, Ryan decided to shift up her image by starring in a dark thriller, playing a teacher who falls into a complicated mystery. Ryan really went all out, darkening her hair and taking on a rough edge. This includes pleasuring herself on a bed in front of detective Mark Ruffalo, whose performance is overshadowed by his huge mustache. Their big encounter involves her handcuffing Ruffalo to a radiator then basically riding him as he calls her bad names. The problem is that Ryan is totally miscast; yes, she famously showed how women can fake an orgasm in When Harry but she can’t seem to pull it off when it counts. Seeing her naked isn’t exactly a major thrill and she just isn't believable in a role this much darker to handle the seedy material. It really set Ryan’s career back, a terrible film and showing some ladies are better off as sweethearts then sexpots.
6 Last Tango in Paris
After years of lackluster films, Marlon Brando resurrected his career with his Oscar-winning turn in The Godfather. Back on the A-list, Brando was able to get any role he wanted and chose this dark romance that truly shocked moviegoers in 1972. It’s one of Brando’s best roles that earned him another Oscar nod. However, today, its eroticism comes off a lot worse. Brando and Maria Schneider have an affair in Paris but each with a major dark side that comes out. The love scenes have always been seen as rather sexist and some not happy with Schneider coming off as a wicked schemer. But the topper is the infamous “butter” scene that has Brando using the food to “aid” in his taking Schneider on the floor. It’s always come off a bit rough but it’s been made worse with a 2013 interview by director Bernardo Bertolucci where he revealed that he and Brando came up with the idea without telling Schneider. Thus, an already rough scene now comes off as full sexual assault, marring an otherwise great movie. It’s a blistering performance by Brando but also very disturbing to watch today.
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez have both gone on record stating this entire film was a bad idea. At the time of its release, “Bennifer” was Hollywood’s hottest couple, and the Oscar-winning actor and the multi-talented actress/singing star were a great combination. Naturally, the assumption was that having them sharing the screen would be sheer hot appeal. What moviegoers got was an utterly laughable script with Affleck as a would-be mobster who clashes with Lopez’s hit woman on killing a guy. Their off-screen chemistry totally flops in the movie as Affleck and Lopez just clash rather than spark and their banter painful to watch. They throw in how Lopez’s character is a lesbian and yet Affleck continues to hit on her. This finally leads to them being in bed and it's amazing how two very sexy people can come off so bland on screen together. Not helping is Lopez’s crazy “It’s Turkey Time,” hands-down the most ludicrous invitation to bed ever. “Bennifer” broke up after the movie was released and this showcases how putting a real-life pair on screen doesn’t lead to success.
There’s a large division about this film. Most comic book fans feel it’s a letdown and that any attempt to film Alan Moore’s masterpiece was doomed to fail. Others feel Zach Snyder actually did a great job bringing it to life and was mostly faithful. However, some touches were a bit much and that counts for the sequence where, after going back out in costume for the first time in years, Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) give in to passions. It’s actually keeping to the comic in its layout as they do it inside Nite Owl’s flying craft. However, seeing the real actors is not as steamy as the comic page with close-ups of their faces and the slow-motion making it look too campy. The really bad touch is having Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” playing over it all. It’s as if this comic book epic suddenly became a cheap 1980s adult film and pulls the audience totally out of the story. Having them hit a switch so the craft emits a blast of flame at their “climax” is just the icing on a crazy cake. The movie had good bits to it but this managed to make Akerman naked look amazingly unsexy.
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1
It’s been easy to slam the Twilight franchise for its poor acting and crazy plot twists. An obvious target is the lack of real chemistry between Robert Pattinson’s Edward and Kristen Stewart’s Bella. The over-dramatic script and shooting pushes on as the duo are finally married and heading to an island for their honeymoon. The printed version is actually rather intense with stuff like Bella tearing a pillow apart during their time in bed. The movie version, on the other hand, is both laughable and disturbing. The actors have strange facial reactions during the deed, not helped by the close-ups and cuts as the producers seem not to understand if it should be intense or heartwarming and comes off bad either way. The disturbing aspect is the next morning when Edward sees Bella with bruises but she insists it was great. That naturally led to a very vocal portion of viewers angered at this abusive touch and how it shows Bella as a weak character. Stewart has been hailed since as a quite good actress but her flat performance means this scene isn’t as hot as it should be, which really sums up the entire Twilight saga.
2 The Counselor
This is one of the most amazing wastes of talent imaginable. Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Brad Pitt, directed by Ridley Scott with a script by Cormac McCarthy. With so much star power, you’d expect something good and yet this “thriller” falls totally flat. The cameras linger too long on the desert vistas, the actors appear to be barely interested in their own lines and it just works too hard at being “cool” to stand out. The storyline has Fassbender’s character as the lawyer for Bardem’s drug dealer. Diaz is his former stripper girlfriend who loves this high life he promises and puts the moves on Fassbender to get ahead. This leads to the bit of Bardem telling Fassbender of their first time where they drove his flashy car to a cliff overlooking the city. There, Diaz proceeds to mount the car hood and… well, there’s really no other way to see it than her trying to have intercourse with the car itself. She rubs herself on it, grinding and rolling about and while it must have sounded good on paper, it’s completely insane to see on film. Diaz may be hot as hell but a viewer is embarrassed watching her do this and how this movie is a major waste of so many stars.
Really, the whole movie can count for this. This film was promoted as the hottest and most controversial ever made, as proven by its NC-17 rating. It promised the seedy tale of how Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) rises from strip clubs to starring in an adult dance show in Las Vegas and facing hard times. What came instead was one of the most atrocious movies imaginable as the sight of former Saved By the Bell star Berkley stripping was crazy to watch thanks to her bad dancing. Her acting didn’t help either, robbing the movie of a lot of its supposed sex appeal. The Vegas show is tacky rather than daring and even the kiss between Berkley and Gina Gershon is a letdown. The high point has to be the sequence of Nomi sleeping with casino boss Zach (Kyle MacLachlan) at his mansion. This includes them doing it in the pool under a waterfall, the pair jerking and shaking around in a ludicrous fashion. When the movie is shown at midnight screenings, this scene never fails to elicit massive laughter and sums up how the film has become a cult favorite. Even Berkley and MacLachlan have talked about how awful the whole thing is to watch and why this movie is so infamous.
Sources: IMDB, The AV Club
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