Last year, IFC.com and Nerve.com teamed up to count the 50 Greatest Sex Scenes in Cinema history. But that was mere foreplay compared to our latest collaboration, the 50 Worst Sex Scenes in Cinema.
Good sex is satisfying. Bad sex is not. Same goes for sex scenes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean movies earned a spot on our list because they weren’t erotic. Sex scenes can do many things besides titillate: they can disturb or enlighten, provoke or repulse, amuse or confuse. They can attempt any (or, in rare and poorly considered circumstances, all of) those things, but when they aim for one and get another, that’s where an onscreen booty call flips from good to bad. The films contained herein, from different eras and different directors, in different styles with different agendas, all share one thing in common: a disconnect between intent and content. Also, they’re icky, pretty much right across the board.
So why dwell on the negative? Well, for one, that’s what the Internet was invented for. But more importantly, we can learn from these filmmakers’ mistakes. Or at least laugh at them a little. Either way, it goes a long way toward making up for having to watch these fifty mini-monstrosities in the first place. …click to close
50. Crank (2006)
Public sex is hot. Amy Smart is hot. Potential death is hot. Jason Statham is . . . well, Jason Statham is Jason Statham. Bottom line though is that this scene from Crank, in which Jason Statham has public sex with Amy Smart to keep from dying (long story) should by all rights be delectably hot. Well, it ain’t. In fact, it’s disconcertingly rape-esque and at the very least, kind of embarrassing. — Peter Smith
49. Il Fantasma dell’Opera (1998)
When I first got this assignment, I was confused: there’s a sex scene in that terrible musical? Really? No wonder it’s so popular! Intrigued, I watched — well, fast-forwarded through — the 2004 big screen adaptation starring the not-unattractive Emmy Rossum, but quickly realized the gauzy, candlelit over-the-puffy-shirt groping and kissing I witnessed would only be considered "sex" by the film’s target audience of geeky pre-teen girls, aging spinsters and deeply closeted Republican senators. Then I read the fine print and realized I was supposed to be watching the deeply awful Il Fantasma dell’Opera, a 1998 remake of Phantom of the Opera by creepy Italian horror-meister Dario Argento, featuring WAY more buck naked doggy-style sex than the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. As for the reason the scene was picked for this list, I’d say it’s a toss-up between (a) Julian Sands’ Ed Woodian post-coital dialogue (i.e., "I was abandoned at birth in the river of time and space, where I was nurtured and cared for by creatures who have become my friends…") and (b) the fact the naked chick on all fours is, uh . . . the director’s daughter, Asia. In retrospect, it turns out my family’s embarrassing home movies could have been, oh, so much worse. — Andrew Osborne
48. Titanic (1997)
"Put your hand on me" is not something you want to hear your partner say as you begin copulation. It reeks of the Antioch rules, and sets the tone for an inhibited, permissions-based non-romp in the sack — or in the Model T, in this case. The car is actually kind of a fun venue, but Jack and Rose are so stilted and formal that when her hand slaps the steamed-up window (their lovemaking is so hot it’s raising the air temperature!), you can’t possibly believe she’d let herself go like that. — Will Doig
47. Jack Frost (1996)
Now here’s something you don’t see every day: a naked Shannon Elizabeth getting penetrated by a giant holiday lawn ornament. Or, if you do see it every day, you’re probably one of the rabid fans of the killer snowman flick Jack Frost, which Wikipedia tells me is a cult favorite (as opposed to the Michael Keaton warmedy Jack Frost, about a dead father reincarnated as a snowman to spend time with his kid, which, as far as I know, is a favorite of no one). But anyway, the scene in question begins when Ms. Elizabeth’s character, unaware her horny boyfriend has been icicled to death, slips naked into a hot bath and . . . well, okay, here’s where it gets complicated, see, because prior to becoming a killer snowman, Mr. Frost was just a plain old serial killer, but then he fell in some chemicals that transformed him into a kind of D-List X-man with the ability to melt and freeze at will. See where I’m going with this? No? Well, the first sign of trouble is a phallic floating carrot, and then the next thing you know, the bathwater has transformed into the aforementioned horny (and hilariously fake-looking) snowman, only he’s not using the carrot as a nose, and . . . yeah. Exactly. Ew! — Andrew Osborne
46. Poison Ivy (1992)
Poison Ivy is like a Lifetime movie that brazenly thought it was good enough for the big screen. Its deliciously trashy plot follows Ivy (a resurgent Drew Barrymore!), who insinuates her way into the life of awkward teen Sylvie (Roseanne‘s Sara Gilbert). In the process, she kills Sylvie’s mom, injures Sylvie in a car accident, and seduces Sylvie’s dad (a non-resurgent Tom Skerritt!). Despite a gushing head wound, Sylvie makes her way home from the hospital to discover her father mounting her teen friend from behind, with a gods-must-be-angry thunderstorm as the backdrop. There are so many awful visions to obsess over: Barrymore’s yellow dye job, Skerritt’s jowls as he leans over her lithe young body, the pseudo-psychological element of having Sylvie’s dead mother appear, then flashing back to Barrymore and her red-lipped, early-‘90’s pout. Poison Ivy gives us everything forbidden, but in the process proves that there is an art to capturing a true Lolita moment. And Tom Skerritt banging anyone from behind is not it. — Nicole Ankowski