BRING ON THE KINK

02.17.15 10:45 AM ET

7 Movies That Do BDSM Better Than ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Sure, there’s some light spanking and whipping in Fifty Shades of Grey, but plenty of other movies feature hotter, better BDSM sex than the film adaptation of E.L. James’s novel.

Unless you’ve been living under the rock of repression, odds are you’re at least familiar with the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey. E.L. James’s series of BDSM-lite novels, with its cringeworthy prose, has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, been translated into 52 languages, and even inspired an allegedly faulty line of lube.

It’s also spawned a film trilogy whose first installment, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, dominated the box office over Presidents Day weekend with a record $94.4 million take, and a global haul of over a quarter of a billion dollars.

The film centers on Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a romantic, virginal English lit student who falls for a surreptitious 27-year-old billionaire, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Little does she know that Grey has a dark past, which manifests itself in his desire to slap, whip, and smack around women with a series of tools in his red-tinted “playroom.” Anastasia isn’t into it at first, refusing to sign her suitor’s dom-sub (dominant-submissive) contract, but eventually relents after falling for the kinky bastard—albeit as a free agent.

BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) is a catch-all phrase that includes a variety of kinky endeavors—from inflicting pain and/or humiliation to the use of restraints—but involves a dominant who controls the session and a submissive who surrenders control. The BDSM scenes in the Fifty Shades of Grey film are tame by virtually any sexually active person’s standards. Take it from an actual dominatrix. But there have been a plethora of movies that have tackled BDSM in more unique and interesting ways.

So, without further ado, here are 7 movies that do BDSM better than Fifty Shades of Grey.

SECRETARY (2002)

Steven Shainberg’s film tells the tale of Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a clumsy and emotionally fragile gal who, after attempting to take her own life, tries to work her way back into society. She gets a job as a secretary for an attorney, E. Edward Grey (James Spader), who revels in how submissive she is. He doesn’t just share the same last name as Christian; also his taste for BDSM. What starts off as spanking to punish her typos blossoms into a full-blown dom-sub relationship. And James Spader is the ultimate dom. 

BELLE DU JOUR (1967)

“Do as you wish with me,” says Séverine Serizy. In surrealist master Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film, Serizy (Catherine Deneuve) is a young housewife whose sexual relationship with her husband is nonexistent. To satiate herself, she fantasizes about BDSM. Eventually, she begins working at a brothel under the name “Belle Du Jour” while her husband is at work, fulfilling her sexual fantasies and desires—including with a young gangster, Marcel, who brings her to the brink and back with his active dominance.

BITTER MOON (1992)

This is legendary filmmaker (and fugitive from justice) Roman Polanski’s stab at BDSM. Nigel (Hugh Grant) and Fiona (Kristen Scott Thomas) are a bored, married couple on a cruise to Istanbul, passing through India. They come across Mimi (Emmanuelle Seigner) and her paraplegic husband, Oscar (Peter Coyote), a couple very into BDSM. Oscar first tormented Mimi, humiliating her constantly and forcing her into an abortion, then, after Mimi renders him paraplegic, she relishes both dominating and humiliating him, having sex with other men in front of him. Nigel finds himself taken by Mimi, but she may prove too hot and twisted for him to handle.

A DANGEROUS METHOD (2011)

David Cronenberg is no stranger to BDSM—take the brilliant “device” sequence in Dead Ringers—and this film provides a fascinating psychoanalytical exploration of humiliation. Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) is being treated at a psychiatric hospital in Zurich by Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). Her frenzied condition was, it seems, caused by the simultaneous humiliation and sexual arousal she felt when her father spanked her naked as a child. At Freud’s (Viggo Mortensen) apparent suggestion, Jung and Spielrein begin a hot and heavy affair—one that includes bondage and plenty of spanking (by Fassbender, no less).

MAITRESSE (1975)

The French, sexually liberated beings they are, sure know their BDSM. And the BDSM scenes in Barbet Schroeder’s French film proved so racy that the movie was banned until 1981 in the UK, with the ratings board remarking, “the actual scenes of fetishism are miles in excess of anything we have ever passed in this field.” The film tells the story of Olivier (Gerard Depardieu, in an early leading role), a crook who falls under the wing of Ariane (Bulle Ogier), a seemingly normal woman whose apartment has a ladder that descends into a torture chamber. Yes, she spends her days working as a professional dominatrix, and a fascinating dom-sub relationship ensues with her new assistant, Olivier. The film was finally released in the UK after several minutes were cut from it, included an unsimulated scene where Ariane nails a client’s penis to a piece of wood.

BASIC INSTINCT (1992)

Paul Verhoeven’s erotic phenomenon starred Michael Douglas as Nick Curran, a detective investigating the case of a rock star who was brutally stabbed to death with an ice pick by a mystery blonde. The prime suspect is Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), an icy, bisexual writer with a penchant for bondage. While the leg-crossing scene is the most iconic, there are also several sexy BDSM scenes here featuring Stone tying Douglas to the bed and riding him like Seabiscuit.

9 ½ WEEKS (1986)

Adrian Lyne’s erotic drama is very ‘80s—about a divorced gallerist (Kim Basinger) who meets a Wall Street hot shot (Mickey Rourke) with a thing for dominance. The two start dating, and he begins controlling her sexually, first by blindfolding her, then in the iconic food sequence, before forcing her to masturbate at work at designated times. They get off having sex in public places, and then he buys a horsewhip, where things take a sadomasochistic turn. Eventually, he stretches her too far, and the relationship proves too adventurous for her tastes.

HONORABLE MENTION:

MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005)

Doug Liman’s film remake is most famous for being the movie where current husband-and-wife duo Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie first got together. In the film, they play a happily married couple who both lead double-lives as spy-assassins. When they’re forced to target each other, that’s when the shit hits the fan. Now, this isn’t a BDSM-themed film per se, but there is a fun sequence featuring Jolie in full leather dominatrix gear smacking around a handcuffed mark with a riding crop—before snapping his neck.