This weekend sees the release of Fifty Shades Freed, the third and final instalment in the big screen adaptation of best-selling erotic novel trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey.
Doubtless we all know where we stand on Fifty Shades by now. Some love it wholeheartedly; some despise it with an equal fervour. Others, such as this writer, have neither seen nor read it and have no plans to do so, but at the same time don’t wish to be a killjoy toward fans of the series.
Wherever you stand, Fifty Shades is a fascinating phenomenon in that it’s the only major multi-platform franchise of recent times to be driven primarily by sex; and, if certain predictions prove correct, it may prove the last of its kind for quite a while, in the wake of Me Too/Time’s Up.
Yet while Fifty Shades may be a rare breed of blockbuster today, not so long ago sex was big business at the box office. In the wake of the more permissive 1970s, sexual themes began to pop up in mainstream thrillers, along with more explicit representations of the act itself.
Henceforth, the erotic thriller was born, arguably coming into its own as a genre in the 1980s, reaching its peak by the early 1990s – yet falling out of favour not long thereafter.
There’s no real mystery why the erotic thriller died; after all, a lot of the films were pretty terrible (Showgirls and Striptease, anyone?) Even so, there are some gems to be found in the genre…