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.