Crime films give every genre a run for its money when it comes to getting hardcore. Murder, torture, kidnapping—they have it all and in many cases, they show it all. Even the lion’s share of the horror genre doesn’t hold a candle to scenes like Mr. Blonde getting down with a duct-taped cop and a straight razor.
Sex is no exception to the gritty lens of crime film. Sure, soft-focus has its part to play, but for every sultry love-making like in the Big Easy, you have a eye-ripping atrocity like I Spit On Your Grave. We’ve combed the archives to bring you the worst offenders, so send the kids to your ex-mother-in-law’s and let’s us revel in our sense of self-loathing with—The 10 Perviest Crime Films.
These films bring a demented original twist on original sin.
10. Truck Turner
But let’s start with something a bit lighter before we head down the road of true depravity and sin. 1974’s Truck Turner is one of the finest examples of the best blaxploitation has to offer, and not just because of the star, Isaac Hayes. No, what’s the real draw here are the two prostitution racketeers whose ire Truck has aroused (ha). Yaphet Kotto plays the brilliantly named pimp Harvard Blue who has been tasked to bring down the bounty-hunter Turner. Often dressed to the nines in the finest pimpwear of the times, Kotto plays his part with the finesse and skill only a member of the Actors Studio could bring to such a role. But the absolute star of the show here is Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols as the madam Dorinda. When Lt. Uhura plays against type, things get scary (and more than a little hot):
9. High Plains Drifter
One of Clint Eastwood’s early directorial efforts and a none-too-shabby follow-up to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, High Plains Drifter is the story of a man on a quest for revenge against what amounts to an entire town. When he first rolls down Main Street, Clint immediately begins establishing himself as an anti-hero by blasting three yokels dumb enough to interrupt his shave. Fair enough, but when the young and brash Callie, as played by Marianna Hill, gives him a load of backsass, things take a turn for the icky. When faced with a woman with strong opinions, Clint naturally rapes the shit out of her to teach her some manners. In context, the scene makes it look as though this is some sorta weird old West BDSM play in that Callie is into forceful dudes, and this is a long time before safewords and craigslist. Still, the whole scene really will make you feel like showering afterwards.
8. Thelma & Louise
Quite the opposite of High Plains Drifter, this uncomfortable rape scene makes our protagonists into heroes, but is still plenty creepy and gross. Harlan, as played by Timothy Carhart (who is likely best known as the stiff in Ghostbusters who happens to be one of the finest musicians in the world), takes the sweet-natured Thelma out into the parking lot to capitalize on all the Slippery Nipples she’s had down at the road house. When she refuses his oily advances, he proceeds to force himself on her until no-nonsense Louise comes out and effectively rapes him with a bullet. This of course is the catalyst for the ensuing crime spree by these two cultural icons of third-wave feminism. Watching Geena Davis get victimized is no fun for anybody with even a bit of heart, but it does lead to some of the most vilifying actions by female characters in the history of cinema. You go, girls.
In this biopic of Aileen Wuornos, the prostitute-turned-serial-killer, there’s a minute of “sex” shown to justify her killing spree. A minute is all we need. It’s about 59 seconds longer than anybody with a sense of decency is comfortable with.
The short span of it may sink Monster to a lower place on our list, but that’s a mercy: Aileen, Charlize Theron in the film, wakes after a John smashed her unconscious by a tire iron, and finds herself bound with pants down. It’s implied that this is pre-rape, as opposed to post-rape as in Wuornos’ true story, but things go very bad, very fast, from there. The wimpy dude from HBO’s Oz proceeds to sodomize her with a tire iron, thereby earning the six slugs Aileen puts in his chest shortly after. And we are left convinced that the woman deserves a purple heart instead of lethal injection.
6. Natural Born Killers
Rodney Dangerfield got no respect onstage, but he sure won our revulsion onscreen. His performance as Mallory Knox’s abusive, incestuous dad in Natural Born Killers revealed new dimensions of disgusting that science had yet to discover.
Oliver Stone never forced us to watch Rodney forcing himself on his teen daughter in bed, but so much was implied by him mauling her ass, food drooling from his mouth all the while, that viewing the scene legally qualifies as an assault charge. Never has sex not shown offended so many.
After five unsavory seconds of Rodney and Mallory in close-up, the audience could watch Juliette Lewis shoot a blind man, with a terrier used as a silencer, and give her a pass.
5. Taxi Driver
As with Natural Born Killers, sex didn’t need to be shown to be depicted in such vileness as Harvey Keitel radiated it in Taxi Driver. As 13-year-old Jody Foster’s pimp in this Scorsese classic, Keitel spends an intimate moment alternately groping and threatening the pubescent hooker.
Seeing Harvey in his outfit of wife-beater-and-waist-pants, crowned with flowing Conan-style locks, is repulsive enough. He could be shown reading a copy of Variety on a bus bench and it would still be grounds of Indecent Exposure. Scorsese has Harvey caressing Jody’s cheek with a four-finger set of well-blooded pimp rings. She feels the love and we end up feeling a bit violated.
4. Ichi the Killer
There’s not a ton of sex in this demented murder epic by Takashi Miike, but, true to form for Japanese indy cinema, they get as much twisted mileage out of it as is humanly possible. Miike puts sex at the core of the central character’s motivation: Ichi is a killer who kills when he erupts—quite literally—from masturbatory frustration.
The most potent dose of Ichi sex comes when we first meet him, getting ready to spurt at the sight of an unsuspecting co-ed. A gorefest ensues. And the theme continues throughout the film, with Ichi committing his most gruesome assassinations when he’s on a summit of perverse arousal.
Leave it to Japanese cinema to glue the Freudian sex and death urges together into one gooey mess and make an entire plot out of it.
3. The Killer Inside Me
As we reach the top of our list, The Killer Inside Me wins its entry for binding together sex and graphic battery in the same sado-masochistic love story. As Deputy Lou Ford, Casey Affleck falls for a prostitute, Jessica Alba, by knocking her face-first into a bed. Slapping Jessica around turns Lou on so much—and Jessica, come to mention it—that almost ten minutes of onscreen animalistic boning results.
Whether audiences found this hot or not, The Killer Inside Me’s sex scenes are definitely heavy. Casey and Jessica tumble through a series of trysts that scan like an 80s montage of sexual battery. Slapping, choking, simulated rape—these crazy kids flaunt it all. Director Michael Winterbottom spared no cash—or comfort zone—when it came to showing just what was inside Lou Ford, or how he put it in Jessica Alba time and again.
2. American Psycho
American Psycho is a story of no limits and no exit. In the film, Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman goes places that Lou Ford would have needed a Black AmEx and a way wilder imagination to get to. As the film goes on, Bateman’s brutal hook-ups with prostitutes evolve into a nightmarish threesome with a drugged college acquaintance and a hooker who didn’t say ‘no’ soon enough.
That fatal sex scene in American Psycho ends with a smash-cut to a chainsaw chase, but by then, we’ve seen plenty: A couple solid minutes of artfully shot orgy action that get increasingly savage, with Bale flashing his build to a video camera all the while. It climaxes, so to speak, with the unveiling of his surgical tools.
Having read the book, I can attest to what the audience was spared: Cigarette burns and some car-battery-and-alligator-clip action. It only goes worse from there. But by showing how sex so readily oozes into murder for an American Psycho, this film deserves its spot as pretender to the throne of our list.
This film isn’t pretending. Like any of the works of Gaspar Noe, Irreversible doesn’t screw around depicting the most bestial damage human beings can inflict. The rape scene is the uncontested champion of uncomfortable footage.
It starts off with Italian beauty, Monica Belucci, being chased down in a tunnel. As if the poor girl hadn’t been through enough, getting tortured for snuggling with a Nazi occupier in Malena. Once she’s brought to ground and stripped from the waist down, viewers cringe knowing that brutal rear-end rape is sure to come.
What viewers don’t expect is to be slammed with it for the duration of the act in a virtually unbroken shot. Irreversible lives up to its name by searing the audience with no mercy vision of sexual violation. Those that haven’t already left their seats for the exit are left woozy. With that kind of unapologetic, unrestrained visual damage, Irreversible is far and away the best film showing sex at its worst.
+Matthew Funk is a social media consultant, professional marketing copywriter and writing mentor. He is the editor of the Genre section of the critically acclaimed zine, FictionDaily and Full Stop. Winner of the Spinetingler award for Best Short Story on the Web 2010, M. C. Funk has been published at numerous sites online, indexed at his Web site, and in print with Needle Magazine, Howl, 6S and Crime Factory. He is represented by Stacia J. N. Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.