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Beyond ’50 Shades Darker’: These seven films deliver a more erotic brand of sexuality

 

As you’ve probably heard, the second 50 Shades of Grey movie, 50 Shades Darker, hit theaters February 10, and it’s sure to ause lots of awful problems for the ushers who have to clean up the theater after each screening. As you probably can guess, it’s also most likely going to be terrible, given that it hasn’t screened for critics (and most likely won’t).

We haven’t seen a descendent of Tippi Hedren get mauled so badly since 1981’s Roar, so we thought, in honor of Valentine's Day, we’d suggest some alternative viewing options for those interested in BDSM or other, kinkier, sexy stuff instead of wasting money on that nonsense. Here are seven other movies about sexuality that are either much more titillating, much more heartwarming, or just generally better made than the 50 Shades trainwrecks.

Warning: this list is most definitely not safe for work.

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In the Realm of the Senses

Fair warning: This is the most fucked-up movie on this list. We can guarantee you that this is also the most explicit movie in the Criterion Collection (Blue is the Warmest Color be damned), and also one of the most controversial of all time, given its subject matter, its year of release (1976), and the fact that all of the sex scenes between its leads were, oh, unsimulated. Based on the bizarre case of Sada Abe (don’t Google don’t Google don’t Google), In the Realm of the Senses is about a tragic affair between a businessman and a maid and all of the extremely nasty stuff that they get down to. Seriously. If you’re shocked by the content in the 50 Shades films, avoid this one at all costs. But if you can handle it, enjoy the work of Nagisa Oshima, one of Japanese cinema’s great masters, and marvel at his astonishing understanding of the medium. Oshima worked with sexuality throughout his career, from the comedic (Max, Mon Amour) to the totally fucking devastating (Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence), but this is by far his most memorable.

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