By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist October 23, 2013 at 4:19PM
Where to start with David Cronenberg’s new-media freak fest? It was the Canadian auteur who we joined in proclaiming, “Long live the New Flesh,” but it was James Woods and Debbie Harry who generated the greater deal of lust on the big screen. Woods’ Max Renn is all go-getter sleaze, his sex appeal generated from popped suit collars, fast-talking hucksterism, and alpha male bluster, and psychiatrist Nicki Brand (Debbie Harry) responds immediately. It’s a meeting of twisted minds when they go to bed together, with Brand clearly desperate to be subordinate to his chatty demands. We only see a little bit of their courtship, but it stems from a mutual attraction to Videodrome, a mesmerizing otherworldly snuff channel that broadcasts s&m beatings that speak directly to Brand’s pleasure center. When their union is consummated, Brand, with a back littered with cuts and scratches, allows a cigarette to be put out on her breasts, a borderline demand spoken by the breathy Blondie singer that turns up the heat in any atmosphere. Oddly enough, it’s probably the least sexual scene in a film that escalates into constant penetrative moments of violence and assimilation, where we no longer realize where Renn’s body ends and his imagination begins, often in memorably gruesome detail: one could argue every time Renn reaches his hand into the vaginal cavity that develops on his stomach, it’s the lustiest sex scene in the entire movie.
"The Devils" (1971)
If young Linda Blair stabbing herself in the crotch with a crucifix and snarling "Lick me mommy" in "The Exorcist" holds the high watermark in your cinematic memory for sheer blasphemy, you might want to get a load of Ken Russell's extraordinary "The Devils." Or you might not, depending on how Catholic your eyeballs are. Taking as a central theme the very fleshy desires of those supposedly promised to God, the film details priest Grandier (Oliver Reed) indulging his lusts quite frequently early on, but he's actually not really part of the film's two most memorable sequences of jawdropping excess. Firstly there's the famous "Rape of Christ" sequence in which an entire order of nuns masturbate themselves on various parts of a gigantic statue of Jesus on the cross, writhing and moaning in the throes of a religious mania that has turned orgiastically carnal in nature. That scene takes place within a wider scene of an orgy that seemingly spontaneously breaks out as the kangaroo court for Grandier's trial is set up, in which white-clad nuns dispense with their virginal habits, and once naked, um, dispense with their virginal habits. Oh, and head hysterical nun, the hunchbacked Sister Jeanne (an amazing Vanessa Redgrave), gets restrained by two men while a goop we could politely describe as "yogurty" is spritzed onto her from a large syringe. Secondly, it is Jeanne who is again the center of the other most outrageous scene, in which she masturbates pathetically with a charred femur bone retrieved from the pyre on which Grandier was burned at the stake. This last scene is hard to find nowadays, but the "Rape of Christ" sequence has been restored in the most recent version of the film, so that's definitely the one you should seek out, and not just for prurient reasons—we may be tittering about its naughtiness a little here, but the film is a truly mindblowing work of art.
“Team America: World Police” (2004)
Two rubbery human marionettes making love to one another is certainly weird enough, like the childhood thrill of slamming two Barbies together mixed with the kind of late night softcore porn that you find on Cinemax. The "Team America: World Police" creative duo of Trey Parker and Matt Stone knew this. But they knew that they could push it much, much further to truly outlandish levels of hilarious, totally uncomfortable awkwardness. Accompanied by a wonderfully stupid song by Parker and Stone ("All I ask is that you're a woman!"), the sequence lovingly details the genderless puppets (strings and all) 69-ing each other, engaging in oral sex, going doggy style, reverse cowgirl and, well, also peeing and pooping on each other. "Lisa, you're the most amazing person I've ever met … " the more characteristically male character says at the end of the sequence. Not that you can even hear the dialogue over your wheezing laughter. Apparently this was the sequence that caused the MPAA, longtime nemeses of Parker and Stone, to threaten the movie with an NC-17 rating (an extended version is included on the DVD release). Again: they're puppets. Without genitalia. The sequence is undeniably amazing, but the fact that it ruffled so many feathers is even more incredible.
Sex scenes don’t get much more upsetting that the opening to “Antichrist,” where Lars von Trier cuts back and forth between the thrusting bodies of two unnamed lovers and a moment where their unwatched toddler child climbs out the window and falls to his death. Von Trier uses both black and white and slow motion to illustrate the beauty not only of the two bodies in centripetal motion, but the snowflakes that distract the boy. A hardcore insert of penetration (with the use of body doubles) is contrasted with their freefalling child, a prankish but affecting contrast between the pleasure of a wedded couple and the harsh realities of their own responsibilities. That ultimately pales in comparison to later in the film, when the relationship between these lovers (played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) is a little less friendly. It is revealed that she is ultimately self-loathing and self-destructive, and when his psychoanalysis cuts too deeply, she subdues him, disabling his gentials with a block of wood and stroking his unconscious erection with maddening lust until he ejaculates blood, an unforgettable money shot that is actually one of the less-extreme visuals in this schizophrenic von Trier epic. What we’re trying to say, basically, is that it’s a family film.
“Sleeping Dogs Lie” (2006)
Leave it to director Bobcat Goldthwait to find the humanity in the sort of topic that doesn’t make it outside of German pornography. The second film from the comedian-turned-auteur (fourteen years after “Shakes The Clown,” though only three after TV movie ”Windy City Heat”), the picture pivots on the relatively normal relationship between Amy (a revelatory Melinda Page Hamilton) and her steady-but-unremarkable new beau. But something lingers in her past, captured through the haze of a lazy day in her dorm, away from the pressures of college life. One wandering mind, and one puff of weed, and suddenly, she’s staring at the erect member of her beloved dog. It’s not deviance or sexual lust, but merely boredom and sloth that leads Amy to sample her dog. It’s a brief moment of exploration, mostly offscreen, and there’s almost no eroticism, a moment belonging to Amy and Amy only—the poor dog doesn’t even seem to notice. This event reverberates through Amy’s life, however, and admitting this transgression ultimately creates a divide between herself and not only her fiance, but also her family. Ultimately, this is a picture about trying to get past the actions we’ve taken, though one can’t help but think of the moment in question, a scene hilariously incongruous with its content, noted not only for its nonchalance, but for the fascinating contrast with everyday tooth brushing that proves to be some sort of twisted multiple entendre.