Top 10 Psychosexual Thrillers!

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

Hey now, could this be the year the crazy Flying Dutchman Paul Verhoeven throws his hat in the Oscar ring? If the critical mass has any effect, he just may do so with his new psychosexual revenge thriller ELLE, opening in theaters November 11th. Our guess is, at the very least, the stunning French actress Isabelle Huppert will land a best acting nod for what many are calling a career capping performance. Fingers crossed yo!

But in the interim, as we gear up to cop a peek at the flick, we wanted to highlight some likeminded movies that have won our heart over the years. We’re talking that rare breed of movie that mixes sex, psychological horror and violence into one steamy cauldron of abject terror. Many to choose from, we realize, and this list is by no means exhaustive. If we left out your favorite, feel free to add it in the talk backs below. But first, leer hornily at 10 of our favorite Psychosexual Thrillers above!

#1. PSYCHO (1960)

Right there in the title, is it not? Indeed, while we could have easily bestowed the top honor to Hitchcock’s even more sexually charged and graphically violent FRENZY from 1972, it is PSYCHO that almost inarguably launched the entire subgenre we’re feting today. A psychotically unhinged slasher who moonlights as his dead mother, cross-dressing and speaking to himself in her voice? If that doesn’t define what a psychosexual thriller is, or what it can be at its best, I don’t know what does. Norman Bates’ hyper-violent fractured psyche is what drives the narrative, the mystery of which would shock first-time audiences today just as it did back in 1960. Simply legendary!


You saw this one coming, didn’t you? Of course you did, after all, this was the highest grossing film worldwide in 1987. After having a torrid sex affair with a horny but happily married sleaze-ball lawyer, Glenn Close goes absolutely bat-shit ballistic on Michael Douglas in FATAL ATTRACTION, a movie that doubles as a psychosexual power play as well as a crazy psycho stalker bitch flick! Talk about two birds, which Douglas’ insatiable character bangs with little compunction. Oscar nominated for best picture, director (Adrian Lyne), actress (Close), supporting actress (Anne Archer), writing and editing (winning none), FATAL ATTRACTION is that rare hybrid of A-list production with B-movie material.

#3. DRESSED TO KILL (1980)

Goddamn I love De Palma flicks! As an unabashed Hitchcock acolyte, we could’ve cited a number of his films in this category…from the robust BODY DOUBLE in the 80s to the uneven PASSION just a few years back. But when all is totaled, few of De Palma’s flicks take such a genre-bending, deep-seeded psychosexual toll than that of DRESSED TO KILL – a movie not only inspired by PSYCHO, but in many ways, ups the graphically prurient ante in and allows the student to surpass the master. Well, almost. The great Michael Caine turns in a frightening, icily violent dual performance in a movie that tackles psychotherapy, voyeurism, gender politics…all studded by a harrowing amount of carnage. De Palma strikes again!


So that’s how old Mikey Doug copped a fit of oral cancer, did he? Oh we jest, no doubt out of jealousy for getting to stop, drop and roll around on prime Sharon Stone in yes, Paul Verhoeven’s lewd and lusty BASIC INSTINCT. Here’s a tidbit for ya: the role of Nick Curran was originally written as a lesbian cop with Kathleen Turner (who we just saw in BODY HEAT) specifically in mind. That would have been double (quadruple) tits! Also, the infamous panty-less leg-crossing scene was not in the original script, but imagined by Verhoeven while shooting. Word is ol’ Paulie shot 10 days worth of sex-scene footage in order to use every possible angle to skirt MPAA objection. One thing is for certain: ice-picks have never been hotter!

#5. BODY HEAT (1981)

As a sultry and stylish remake of DOUBLE INDEMNITY, Lawrence Kasdan’s 1981 directorial debut BODY HEAT is deeply steeped in film noir tropes. Of course, this must include the key role of a femme fatale, played boldly and beautifully by in-her-prime Kathleen Turner, as she uses and abuses Bill Hurt’s easily manipulable sex-starved lawyer. Set amid a dripping Florida heat-wave, the film oozes bodily sweat in a story that both empowers and acquits the female character in question. Though she uses her body to attract the man at first, it’s the severe psychological tricks she plays on him that ultimately causes his undoing. Dude’s putty in her hands, an absolute puppet. I love this movie!

#6. BLUE VELVET (1986)

“I’ll f*ck anything that moves!!!” What’s a list of sick psychosexual perversion with out Mr. David Lynch? Unthinkable, that’s what! And while we could have easily opted to speed down MULHOLLAND DRIVE, it’s only right we go back 25 years prior to what still holds as one of the most vilely vexing of all Lynch films, BLUE VELVET! Indeed, not only is Frank Booth and his ether-huffing infantalism enough to make one’s skin crawl, that seminal scene between Kyle MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini in which the latter catches the former in the closet peeking at her undressing, only to reverse dominance once Frank Booth suddenly barges in…yeah, it belongs in the psychosexual hall of fame!

#7. AUDITION (1999)

Come on now, how can anyone mount a legit litany of psychosexual hedonism without the Japanese? Can’t do it. Yet, with all of the country’s overt perversion, it has to be Takashi Miike’s torturously titillating AUDITION that makes this here cut. What a flick! A widower film producer looks to pick the pieces of his broken heart by auditioning a series of young starlets for a new film project. Catching his eye is a demure young thing, whom the producer begins feverishly obsessing over. Right when he gets her alone in his apartment to make a move, she totally turns the tables and exacts a series of shockingly inventive revenge modes, including making the poor bastard lick vomit from a doggy bowl. What a gal!

#8. THE SKIN I LIVE IN (2011)

It’s always a wise bet to place Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar among the Top 10, and anyone who saw his delectably devious 2011 psychosexual thriller THE SKIN I LIVE IN knows his standing here is more than well deserved. Banderas plays a sick, psychotic doctor with designs on creating a synthetic skin type that can prove impervious to physical damage to overcome past tragedy. Thing is, when he meets his subject, a sexy young Spanish strumpet with her own set of baggage (Elena Anaya), an unhealthy obsession of lust-fueled possession takes hold. The perverted cat and mouse game traded between the two sides is equal parts creepy and sexy, all building toward an unforgettable climax (so to speak). Please give this movie a look if you haven’t already!

#9. THE BEGUILED (1971)

It’ll be interesting to see how Sofia Coppola re-envisions Don Siegel’s underrated THE BEGUILED, how much she dials back or pushes the envelope of psychosexual warfare among a gaggle of horny nubile women. Remember, in the 1971 version, Big Clint played a Union soldier who’s taken prisoner inside a confederate female prison. As they nurse his wounds back to health, Clint begins seducing the girls one by one, until all the females vie for his affection by resorting to a full-fledged fit of violent showdown. Universal themes of desire, territorialism, carnality and more all come to a harrowing head by the finale. It stands alongside HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER as a deceptively genre-bending Eastwood western that demands a closer look!

#10. THE HOUSEMAID (1960)

Getting this lurid party started, we coin flipped two sultry black and white flicks from the 1960s that deserve far more attention than they’ve culled over the decades. But instead of going with the ultra-perverted taboo of a movie in WHO KILLED TEDDY BEAR (1965), we’ve opted to kick it off with the forerunning Korean chiller THE HOUSEMAID – a flick that, in a lot of ways, the rest of this list owes a tremendous amount to. Daring, disturbing, deeply unshakable, THE HOUSEMAID features a young couple who enlist an au pair to help out around their abode. Of course, the gal turns out to be a home-wrecking nymphomaniacal slattern with intent on sleeping with the father/husband and forever ruining the family unit.

Tags: Hollywood

Latest Entertainment News Headlines