The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema

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This bold and original book examines in detail a relatively new genre of film—the erotic thriller. Linda Ruth Williams traces the genre’s exploitation of pornography and noir, discusses mainstream stars (including Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone) as well as genre-branded direct-to-video stars, charts the work of key producers and directors, and considers home videos as a distinct form of viewing pleasure. She maps the history of the genre, analyzing hundreds of movies from blockbusters such as Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, and In the Cut to straight-to-video film titles such as Carnal Crimes, Sins of Desire, and Night Eyes.

Williams’s witty and illuminating readings tell the story of this sensational genre and contribute to the analysis of mainstream screen sex—and its censorship—at the beginning of the 21st century. She shows that as the erotic thriller plays out the sexual fantasies of contemporary America, it also provides a vehicle for marketing those fantasies globally.

Indiana University Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253218360
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Ruth Williams is Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of Southampton. She is author of Sex in the Head: Visions of Femininity and Film in D. H. Lawrence and Critical Desire: Psychoanalysis and the Literary Subject.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction : carnal crimes : the erotic thriller from Noir to the 1990s 1
Pt. I Blockbuster thrills : erotic Noir in the mainstream
2 Femme Fatales, fall-guys and paranoid women : sexual and narrative blueprints 97
3 'Meisters of porno-noir' - key players in the cinematic erotic thriller 147
Pt. II Suspense in suspenders : the direct-to-video erotic thriller
4 Softcore on the sofa 253
5 The bad and the beautiful : key players in the direct-to-video erotic thriller 284
6 Uncovered and undercover : issues in the direct-to-video erotic thriller 331
Conclusion : the erotic thriller's hybrid children 377
Afterword on In the cut : new century, old sex? 417
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2006

    A Wide-Ranging and Accessible Study of an Erotic Film Genre

    A year after its release, The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema is as useful and as readable as ever. Linda Ruth Williams¿s wide-ranging genre study may strike first-time readers¿especially those interested in the overlapping fields of Hollywood cinema, cult cinema, and pornographic cinema¿as an unprecedented resource. Combining textual and contextual analysis, The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema covers the erotic thriller¿s most important moments, styles, and subgenres, integrating the whole with original industrial research that includes eight filmmaker interviews and a rich array of insider anecdotes. Though her history of the genre is rooted in Hollywood noir and neo-noir, Williams offers a precise account of how this genre has moved from peek-a-boo stylization to full-blown pornography and from high-concept excess to direct-to-video thrift. Williams also offers an account of how the erotic thriller has moved across national borders. As a result, The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema is not only a valuable look at Hollywood cinema but one of the best studies of international porn available. Indeed, Williams¿s book is adept at illustrating how in the erotic thriller the ¿problem¿ of pornography intertwines with issues of gender, reception, technology, financing, and cultural status. I was most taken by the details Williams supplied regarding genre-branded celebrities like Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas, and Joe Eszterhas¿and was impressed that she paid equal attention to cult icons like Gregory Dark and Katt Shea. I should also note the grace, clarity, and humor Williams¿s prose. Williams has written a book that scholars in film studies, sex-and-gender studies, and cultural studies will find indispensable¿as well as one that readers with a more leisurely interest in film will find entertaining and accessible.

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