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25 Movies With Unsimulated Sex

Just because the sex is real doesn't mean it's porn.

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1. In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Entertainment One Films

Directed by: Nagisa Oshima

Written by: Nagisa Oshima

Based on the true story of Sada Abe, a Japanese woman who — spoiler alert — erotically asphyxiated her lover then cut off his penis and kept it in her handbag, In the Realm of the Senses is as explicit as you'd expect given the subject matter. The sex is real; the murder and genital removal is, thankfully, not.

2. A Real Young Girl (1976)

Rézo Films

Directed by: Catherine Breillat

Written by: Catherine Breillat

The subject matter of A Real Young Girl is...difficult, to say the least. The film focuses on the sexual exploration of 14-year-old Alice (Charlotte Alexandra). All of the explicit scenes were shot with actors of age, but it's still unsettling. And, yes, an earthworm was harmed during filming. (You don't want to know.)

3. Caligula (1979)

Image Entertainment

Directed by: Tinto Brass

Written by: Gore Vidal

Caligula is a fascinating disaster of a film, truly NSFW even without the unsimulated sex peppered throughout. (There is necrophiliac incest, after all.) But beyond that, Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, who financed the film, added in explicit scenes that — well, they're porn. It's porn. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

4. Cruising (1980)

Warner Bros.

Directed by: William Friedkin

Written by: William Friedkin

The vastly misunderstood Cruising was protested for being homophobic, but this thriller, in which Al Pacino plays a cop going undercover in leather bars to find a killer, is far more complicated than that. The murder scenes are cut with actual footage of gay sex, which definitely invites analysis — but not dismissal.


5. The Idiots (1998)


Directed by: Lars von Trier

Written by: Lars von Trier

Lars von Trier pops up a few times on this list, and with good reason. In The Idiots, a group of anti-bourgeois adults lose their inhibitions by embracing their "inner idiot." That means a lot of nudity and the occasional orgy. Most of this is simulated, but there is at least one scene with actual sex taking place.

6. Romance (1999)


Directed by: Catherine Breillat

Written by: Catherine Breillat

Over two decades after A Real Young Girl, Catherine Breillat showed her continued willingness to frankly explore sexuality. Romance, which follows Marie (Caroline Ducey) as she searches for sexual fulfillment outside of her boyfriend, is often credited with paving the way for more unsimulated sex in arthouse films.

7. Pola X (1999)

Entertainment One Films

Directed by: Leos Carax

Written by: Leos Carax and Jean-Pol Fargeau

Body doubles were supposedly used for the most explicit scenes in Pola X, so it's unclear how much of the unsimulated sex is actually stars Guillaume Depardieu and Yekaterina Golubeva, who play long-lost siblings and lovers Pierre and Isabelle in this loose adaptation of a Herman Melville novel.

8. Baise-moi (2000)


Directed by: Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi

Written by: Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi

The title Baise-moi has been translated to Kiss Me, Fuck Me, and Rape Me, so perhaps it works best in the ambiguous French. This rape-revenge thriller is filled with unsimulated sex, though the graphic violence is, naturally, not the real thing. Nevertheless, the film has remained highly controversial since its release.


9. O Fantasma (2000)

Rosa Filmes

Directed by: João Pedro Rodrigues

Written by: Alexandre Melo and José Neves

The Portuguese film O Fantasma — translated as The Phantom, but it just doesn't carry the same weight that way — follows Sergio (Ricardo Meneses) as he wanders the city of Lisbon. The hunky Portuguese actors might tempt you to watch it as porn, but if you're looking for that, you're likely to be disappointed.

10. Intimacy (2001)

Entertainment One Films

Directed by: Patrice Chéreau

Written by: Patrice Chéreau and Anne-Louise Trividic

Think Last Tango in Paris, but a little more grounded. Jay (Mark Rylance) and Claire (Kerry Fox) are two strangers who engage in weekly anonymous sex, slowly developing an emotional attachment to each another. Unlike Last Tango in Paris, all of the sex is completely unsimulated.

11. Ken Park (2002)

Vitagraph Films

Directed by: Larry Clark and Ed Lachman

Written by: Larry Clark and Harmony Korine

The disturbing interconnected stories of Ken Park are all highly sexual, most of them involving teens. Of course, all the actors were over 18, and most of the sex is simulated (however realistic) — except for unsimulated masturbation. Which, yes, totally counts.

12. The Brown Bunny (2003)

Wellspring Media

Directed by: Vincent Gallo

Written by: Vincent Gallo

It takes a special type of auteur to write, direct, and star in a movie that involves him receiving an unsimulated blow job to completion on-screen. But Vincent Gallo did it in The Brown Bunny, with Chloe Sevigny performing the act. There has been some controversy over whether or not it was real — but it was.


13. 9 Songs (2004)

Optimum Releasing

Directed by: Michael Winterbottom

Written by: Michael Winterbottom

The film 9 Songs includes actual footage of concert performances by bands like Franz Ferdinand, The Dandy Warhols, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — but, of course, most of the focus is going to be on the constant unsimulated sex between leads Kieran O'Brien and Margo Stilley.

14. Anatomy of Hell (2004)

Tartan Video

Directed by: Catherine Breillat

Written by: Catherine Breillat

Another Catherine Breillat film, another non-pornographic (but also, you know, totally pornographic) performance by Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi. Anatomy of Hell is not only explicit, it's also incredibly jarring, with some uniquely disturbing visuals that uncover the darker side of sexuality.

15. The Raspberry Reich (2004)

Peccadillo Pictures

Directed by: Bruce LaBruce

Written by: Bruce LaBruce

Bruce LaBruce movies are an acquired taste. And if you have acquired the taste for them, they are fucking delicious. The Raspberry Reich is a hilarious satire of what LaBruce calls "terrorist chic" that looks at the idea of homosexuality as a radical act. There's also a ton of unsimulated sex — and a porn version that includes even more.

16. Lie with Me (2005)


Directed by: Clément Virgo

Written by: Clément Virgo and Tamara Faith Virgo

Lie with Me is notable in part because the two stars, Eric Balfour and Lauren Lee Smith, are fairly well known — particularly Balfour — and engaging in unsimulated sex. Otherwise, it's another sort of take on the Last Tango in Paris model, though with a distinctly Canadian style. (It's set and shot in Toronto.)


17. 8mm 2 (2005)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Directed by: J. S. Cardone

Written by: Robert Sullivan

The weirdest thing about 8mm 2 is that it has nothing to do with the film 8 mm. It was originally titled The Velvet Side of Hell and lated rebranded as a sequel, even though it wasn't. It does, however, feature plenty of unsimulated sex, as well as actual porn scenes spliced in.

18. Shortbus (2006)


Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell

Written by: John Cameron Mitchell

Shortbus is perhaps the most well-known film with unsimulated sex. It's also one of the best. It's sexually explicit, yes, but it's also warm, funny, and thoughtful. Of course, it does owe a debt to earlier films with unsimulated sex. The vibrating egg Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) uses on herself is branded In the Realm of the Senses.

19. Otto; or, Up with Dead People (2008)

Strand Releasing

Directed by: Bruce LaBruce

Written by: Bruce LaBruce

Otto is a zombie. Or maybe he isn't. He definitely has an appetite for...something. This is another Bruce LaBruce film, so of course it's artsy, strange, and highly erotic. Much of the sex is real, though the copious amount of blood is not. Then again, it's not clear how much of the gore is only a product of Otto's twisted mind.

20. Antichrist (2009)

IFC Films

Directed by: Lars von Trier

Written by: Lars von Trier

In the prologue to Antichrist, a couple is having sex in the shower (unsimulated, natch) when their young son falls to his death from a window. As the unnamed man and woman, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg used body doubles for the explicit scenes. Warning: climactic genital mutilation.


21. Stranger by the Lake (2013)

Strand Releasing

Directed by: Alain Guiraudie

Written by: Alain Guiraudie

The link between gay sex and violence is nothing new — see Cruising, but also Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and countless others. Stranger by the Lake, however, is a more modern take on the concept with a murder occurring at a nude gay lake and popular cruising spot. The nude male form is on constant display.

22. Wetlands (2013)

Strand Releasing

Directed by: David Wnendt

Written by: David Wnendt and Claus Falkenberg

Wetlands is a disgusting movie. That's not a judgment: It's just objective fact. Helen (Carla Juri) is so anti-hygiene that she gets her kicks with used toilet seats. Most of the sex in the film is simulated, though there is one memorable moment in which a group of men masturbate onto a pizza, which is real and hilarious.

23. Nymphomaniac (2014)

Magnolia Pictures

Directed by: Lars von Trier

Written by: Lars von Trier

Does Nymphomaniac merit inclusion on this list? Maybe not. There has been much debate about the sex throughout the film, which was created by digitally adding porn star's genitals to the actors' bodies. So it's unsimulated and simulated at the same time, really. But it's also Lars von Trier, meaning we'll allow it.

24. Pasolini (2014)


Directed by: Abel Ferrara

Written by: Maurizio Braucci

Notable Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini gets the biopic treatment in a film that doesn't shy away from his sex life. There's more to it than that, of course, but for the purposes of this list, it's notable for the unsimulated sex — one review noted the discomfort the man sitting next to her felt when confronted by "erect male cock."

25. Love (2015)


Directed by: Gaspar Noé

Written by: Gaspar Noé

There is a plot to Love, but that's secondary to the sex: Gaspar Noé's love story is relentlessly graphic, shockingly explicit, and yes, filmed in glorious 3D. Call it porn if you like, but there's no denying the innovation of seeing ejaculate fly at your face from the safety of a movie theater seat.


This post has been updated to include films released over the past two years.