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[CRITICAL BOOK] THE EROTIC THRILLER

Riding on the 80’s and 90’s, the erotic thriller is a part of these phenomena hollywood that keep even today their share of mystery and scandal. Basic Instinct, Liaison fatale, Stalking… so many objects of study for the book of passion and exciting of Linda Belhadj.

Each genre film has a scene emblematic. This scene is reflected immediately in the collective imagination as soon as we pronounce the terms associated with the genre in question, even if this means that this Crude picture sums up the kind of way a caricature. Also the erotic thriller has a scene emblematic since Sharon Stone caused a retinal persistence in the spectators, revealing its intimacy in the famous interrogation scene from Basic Instinct. In his book, aptly titled THE EROTIC THRILLER, Linda Belhadj believes, rightly, that the character of Catherine Trammell blind men with her pussy, ” like Medusa, turned to ancient stone those who importunaient “.

Then of course, the scope of dramatic scene no doubt, and proves to what an extent the female characters are the lethal weapons for the screenwriters and filmmakers of the 80s and 90s. But another picture appears to be glaring at the reading of the book by Linda Belhadj, and stands out as an overlay of the visual shock related to the anatomy of Sharon Stone. So first of all, the genre presents itself as an excuse to show off the bodies of femmes fatales, one realizes that in the end, another part of the anatomy, this time more clearly male, is the true sensitive area exhibited by these stories. The erotic thriller holds up to the eyes of the public, what are the testicles and the penis of the America of the 80’s and 90’s. The attributes in manly a company appear superimposed on the female sex blinding and paralyzing, they are the counter-field is shameless and cruel, revealing the anxieties and distractions of the yuppies and other children more or less legitimate of capitalism and the Reagan era.

How we got the show of a heterosexuality constantly bringuebaler between instincts and moral compass, to the screen as in the real world ? It is precisely to this question that Belhadj tries to respond by establishing a genealogy of the erotic thriller, which consists of a mosaic of influences which, when it is observed from a distance, form a portrait of an America in full-kick-flip. Among these influences, we find the thrillers of the early 80’s in which sexuality takes more and more place (The Hunting of William Friedkin, Impulses and Body Double both signed Brian De Palma). But what drives Hollywood to make the sex more explicit on the screen comes more from the competition that means the market of the VHS growing during this decade. Erotica and pornography are becoming a place in american homes, and their aesthetic will then contaminate the minds of the writers.

Among them stands out a certain Joe Eszterhas, portrayed over the statements and anecdotes collected by Belhadj as an author to the ego, bulky, sometimes invested in projects to the point of imposing its vision to the producers and directors, sometimes to désolidarisant of the company to critique the effects touts and the faults of taste. This ambivalent personality will become the master of the erotic thriller in the 90’s, however there are in truth two other creators at the origin of the genus. Namely, the script-writer James Dearden and director Adrian Lyne, who proposed in 1987 a formula dramatic detonating with Liaison Fatalethat Linda Belhadj is considered a true first work deserving the qualifier of erotic thriller.

In the Face of the thriller that we are routed, one cannot help to ask a myriad of questions : who is the assassin ? Who is going to die ? What extreme act such and such a character will he commit ? In the erotic thriller, other questions join the last : who is going with who ? And especially the hero, whether he is a policeman or not, layer with a murderer ?

A formula based on the embrace of Eros and Thanatos, on the close relationship between the pulsations of life and death. From this master-stroke (number 2 at the box office US this year), the erotic thriller has already in his breast the discomfort of the panic sex, hangover from the free love of the 70s, now gone. A malay societal coincide with the emergence of women active in the business world, and single women, independent and established, suggesting to some men that they are victims of a society that has turned against them.

Alex from Fatal Attraction is, in the erotic thriller, and the american society, what are the horror film the witches, and the succubus : the bogeyman of the modern man and urban. This poses a question : all the women in the erotic thriller are they harpies ? And above all, the femme fatale in the erotic thriller are irreparably active women.

The book allows you to precisely define the genre of the erotic thriller and to distinguish it from film-noir and neo-noir in which he is often assimilated. Also, it will be noted that the erotic thriller wakes up the demons hovering already over the movement of black film in America after the war : loss of trust in institutions (psychiatrists, justice, police) and suspicion of machiavélisme towards the fairer sex :

These sexual experiences […] are exposed as symptoms of an american company, in perdition, in which it is no longer possible to trust anyone or to be safe in the privacy of a room, a fireplace, an office or even a court.

In autopsiant a time so by the powerful images conveyed by the media, by the network of ideas and trends that moved to Hollywood, Linda Belhadj thus allows us to understand how the formula of the erotic thriller has become a synonym for jackpot, especially when Joe Eszterhas understood the title reference, Basic Instinct, directed by Paul Verhoeven in 1992 :

Andrew Garroni, producer of Animal Instincts has it, no problem to thank the Verhoeven film for the explosion of his business : “Basic Instinct has allowed the managers who handled the distribution of to highlight one of our films, saying,” It’s like Basic Instinct. There is just David Carradine in the place of Michael Douglas in it ! “

And will Body, Sliver, Jade, Color of night, Harassment and other Sexcrimes, seeking to always tickle more public, using all the possibilities to make the plot more exciting : preliminary oral, masturbation female, sadomasochism, and certainly the most tasty, the verbal sparring is rich in double meaning.

THE EROTIC THRILLER arises in the book rich and successful thanks to the wide range of its sociological analysis from the appearances of the star system down to the depths psychoanalytic narratives. By multiplying the sources : extracted images of the films studied, covers of magazines of the time, excerpts of criticism US or the French of the time, extracts from interviews or the memoirs of some of the protagonists, Linda Belhadj chooses a panoramic point of view that allows us in turn to focus our gaze on what the public perceives, and then to supplement this vision by throwing a look behind the scenes, following the journey of the genre over stories strong about :

Verhoeven discussing the script of Basic Instinct with Eszterhas : ” What do you mean by ” it is dark. You can’t see well ” ? I have to shoot six pages of your script in the dark or what ? “

This is the question, Paul. That is the question.

THE EROTIC THRILLER in Linda Belhadj , published in Aedon.

358 documents of illustration in color, 220 pages, 23 euros. In bookstores since November 10.

Arkham

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