The first non-adult movie to be entirely revealing on-screen is widely believed to be 1915’s Inspiration. In fact, it seems that the entire purpose of that film was to find an artistic way to showcase model Audrey Munson’s figure.
Ever since then, film directors have used these scenes as the ultimate tool to draw in legions of curious filmgoers. Even though we’re all familiar with what sells, it’s quite remarkable that these scenes have remained such a draw over the years. After all, we live in the age of the internet, and the internet has opened up direct access to...umm...we’re guessing you already know.
Nevertheless, the right kind of high-profile, 'revealing' scene can still draw in audiences more than a big star or word of mouth can. We’d like to chalk that up to some deep dissection of the appeal of voyeurism on a psychological level, but we’re pretty sure it has more to do with the appeal of seeing stars take off their clothes.
What’s truly remarkable, however, isn’t that these scenes continue to be a draw, but rather that there are some of these scenes which are so infamous that they turn an otherwise forgettable or deeply flawed film into a cultural cornerstone.
These are 15 Movies That Are Only Famous Because Of A Revealing Scene.
15 Embrace of the Vampire - Alyssa Milano
Embrace of the Vampire was part of that weird renaissance of vampire movies in the ‘90s that included films like Dracula, Interview With The Vampire, and John Carpenter’s Vampires. While Embrace of the Vampire is nowhere near as good as those movies - that isn’t meant as a compliment towards those movies - it did feature a naked Alyssa Milano.
Milano admits that she was desperate to shed the child actor image she had acquired courtesy of her role on Who’s the Boss? As such, she took just about any role that allowed her to play an older character in a mature setting.
Embrace of the Vampire is certainly the most notable of Milano’s nude scenes during that time. That’s partly due to the fact that this film featured the most...generous amounts of nudity, and partially because the rest of the flick is so unspeakably bad that Milano still has to defend her decision to appear in it at all.
14 Sleepaway Camp - Felissa Rose (Kind Of)
If you were a filmmaker hoping to get in on the slasher film boom of the ‘80s, you needed a hook. The market for such movies was so flooded that any by-the-numbers slasher flick was destined to fail.
While Sleepaway Camp is largely a by-the-numbers slasher flick about kids being killed at camp, it features a nude scene that ensured nobody who witnessed the movie would ever forget it. For those who don’t know, Sleepaway Camp ends with the reveal that killer camper Angela Baker is actually a boy. Director Robert Hiltzik chose to reveal this shocking fact by slowly panning the camera down towards Angela’s...well, you can probably guess.
Were it not for that ending, Sleepaway Camp would have been gleefully forgotten alongside a hundred other slasher movies. Instead, it’s become a cult classic.
13 The Canyons - Lindsay Lohan
Following a series of regrettable life decisions that we won’t recount in full here, Lindsay Lohan seemingly decided that the best way to get her career back on track was to star in every movie she could.
For reasons beyond coincidence, most of the movies Lohan starred in during this time involved her taking her clothes off.
The Canyons is certainly the worst movie Lohan appeared nude in during that time. This super low-budget movie - it was made for about $250,000 - told the story of rich L.A. kids going crazy and getting into trouble.
Mostly, though, the film is remembered for a Lohan shower scene and a couple other similar sequences. While the producers of the movie figured that would be a huge draw, The Canyons ended up bombing at the box office. It did, however, apparently do quite well upon its digital release.
12 Havoc - Anne Hathaway
To be fair, Havoc is actually one of the better movies on this list. The film follows a small group of upper-class youths who desperately want to be gangstas. Predictably, their life choices come back to haunt them, and some of them fall too deep into a lifestyle they are in no way prepared to deal with.
Despite being based on a pretty good script, Havoc is ultimately a pretty dull movie that is largely remembered as Anne Hathaway’s “coming out party” in terms of taking on adult roles.
Actually, Hathaway’s role was originally going to go to Mandy Moore, before Moore backed out over objections to the subject matter. Her loss was Hathaway’s gain, as her risqué role in Havoc helped her effectively shed her child actor image.
11 The Brown Bunny - Chloë Sevigny and Vincent Gallo
It would technically be more accurate to say that The Brown Bunny is famous for a sex scene. Actually, it’s famous for a non-simulated sex scene.
The Brown Bunny includes a scene which features actress Chloë Sevigny orally pleasuring actor/director Vincent Gallo. This very real sequence naturally garnered much attention. Despite Sevigny and Gallo’s protests that people focused too much on that particular portion of the movie, much of the film’s promotion revolved around teasing that shocking moment.
While The Brown Bunny had fans, most couldn’t help but ridicule the movie over its nonsensical plot and sloppy direction. Critic Roger Ebert especially hated the first cut of the film and called it the worst thing to ever air at Cannes Film Festival. In response, Gallo stated that he hexed Ebert and caused him to receive cancer. Ebert replied that watching his own colonoscopy was more entertaining that watching The Brown Bunny.
We miss you, Roger.
10 9½ Weeks - Kim Basinger
There’s a famous story that once ran in the New York Times which alleged that a special large-scale preview screening of 9 ½ Weeks was abandoned by all but 40 people who stayed until the end. Of those 40 people, 35 apparently thought the film was awful.
So why did anyone care about it in the first place? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that it starred Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke at the arguable height of their popularity - and promised to showcase intense sex scenes featuring the pair.
While the movie made good on that promise, the parts of the film not dedicated to those...err...parts, are just a step or two above a softcore porno in terms of quality.
9 The Gift - Katie Holmes
Actually, there’s a very good chance that you’re only familiar with this movie because two characters in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle make a joke about it featuring a Katie Holmes nude scene.
That brief joke just about summarizes everything noteworthy about The Gift.
It’s a bit sad that it's as bad as it is, given that it stars Billy Bob Thornton, Keanu Reeves, Hilary Swank, and was directed by Sam Raimi. That does little to change the fact that this movie about a slightly supernatural murder investigation is a real dud.
As for Holmes, she - much like some of the other actresses on this list - appeared nude in the movie as part of her effort to shake the teenage image she had acquired via her work in Dawson’s Creek.
8 Powder Blue - Jessica Biel
The biggest argument against Powder Blue’s inclusion on this list is that there’s a good chance you’ve still never heard of it.
Of course, given that this movie is the film equivalent of amnesia, there’s also a chance you have seen it and have still never heard of it.
Power Blue is the story of characters in Los Angeles whose lives all converge due to various circumstances. The most notable of these characters are strip club owner Velvet Larry (Patrick Swayze in his final film role) and stripper Rose-Johnny (Jessica Biel in her first non-body double nude role).
Biel’s contributions to the movie certainly helped Powder Blue draw more attention than it ever would have otherwise achieved, but the movie's awful absolutely everything else pretty much guaranteed that it was going to be a bust.
7 Striptease - Demi Moore
If you thought Powder Blue got a lot of mileage out of the promise of a high-profile actress appearing as a stripper, you must not be familiar with Striptease.
Striptease was produced around the fact that actress Demi Moore was going to appear nude in the movie several times. In fact, Demi Moore was paid a then-record $12.5 million for appearing in the movie.
Director Andrew Bergman even noted that he didn’t hire Moore because she was the funniest or most talented actress, but rather because, “No other major star was willing to take her clothes off, and I was not going to do a TNT version of Striptease with people running around in swimsuits."
Even though this wasn’t Moore’s first nude scene, the sheer volume of nudity in this film helped Striptease gross over $100 million off a $40 million budget.
6 Gia - Angelina Jolie
Gia is another movie that was actually fairly well-received upon its release. The film follows an aspiring model who succumbs to the allure of drugs in order to cope with her pains. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t feature a happy ending.
In retrospect, we’re left to wonder if critics were sampling some drugs themselves when reviewing this HBO movie, as it’s little more than a mature take on a Lifetime movie of the week. It does, however, feature a young Angelina Jolie participating in arguably her most notable nude scenes.
While not technically Jolie’s first foray into on-screen nudity, Gia is remembered as the movie which featured Jolie baring near-all during some particularly provocative lesbian scenes.
The film would have probably garnered respectable ratings even without those sequences, but they’ve certainly defined the movie’s legacy in the years that followed.
5 10 - Bo Derek
Technically, 10 is a movie about an aging composer who becomes obsessed with a woman he glances on the street, whom he promptly rates as an “11” on a scale of 10. Mostly, though, 10 is a movie about Bo Derek running around in a bikini.
While Derek’s infamous run along the beach has come to define the film - it certainly became the focus of the film’s marketing post-release - she also briefly appears nude in the film. Naked or not, you have to realize that Derek was considered by many to be the most beautiful woman on the planet at this particular time. As such, word regarding her general lack of clothing certainly helped 10 become a box office success.
10 is far from the worst movie ever made, but you can rest assured that it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful were it not for Derek.
4 Showgirls - Elizabeth Berkley
Despite numerous suggestions to the contrary, Showgirls is not the worst movie ever made. It’s not a good movie, but it’s not quite as awful as its infamous status as the pinnacle of awfulness would lead you to believe.
Having said that, it is a really, really bad movie that is mostly remembered for Elizabeth Berkley’s numerous nude scenes.
Prior to Showgirls, Berkley was best known as one of the teen actors on Saved by the Bell. She’d never even come close to taking on a risqué roll. That’s why it was so shocking to see her appear nude several times throughout the course of the film's runtime.
For years, Showgirls was synonymous with Berkley’s nudity. In recent years, the film has slowly gained a reputation as an excellent piece of “So bad, it’s good” cinema.
3 Wild Things - Denise Richards
The ‘90s were arguably the “golden age” for big name and aspiring young actresses turning nude scenes into main attractions. We’re not sure why that is the case, but we do know that Wild Things is one of the most notable examples of that phenomenon.
It’s funny, but when people think back on Wild Things, they tend to associate it with nude scenes from actresses Neve Campbell and Denise Richards. While Campbell never actually appeared nude in the movie, Richards most certainly did.
Take away the appearances of those two actresses, and you’re left with a twisting and turning crime thriller that thinks it is much more clever than it actually is. Nevertheless, it’s likely that the movie will continue to live on in infamy due to Richards’ nude scenes and Campbell’s presence.
2 Swordfish - Halle Berry
Swordfish is an awful, awful movie. Nevermind the fact that it stars renowned actors like Hugh Jackman, John Travolta, and Don Cheadle; it’s an utter disaster of a crime thriller that apparently thinks it’s quite cool.
We can pretty much guarantee you that the only reason anyone saw this movie is because it was widely-publicized that Halle Berry would appear topless at some point during the film.
Actually, Berry reportedly received an extra $500,000 for agreeing to film her now infamous topless scene. To help explain that, you have to remember that Berry was at her absolute peak of fame by the time that Swordfish was released.
While that scene no doubt helped this otherwise entirely forgettable dud do fairly well at the box office, it also marked the moment that Berry’s career started to go downhill.
1 Basic Instinct - Sharon Stone
Quick, recount the basic plot of Basic Instinct!
“Uhmm...there was a murder I think…”
Hmmm….is there anything you remember about the movie?
“Isn’t that the film with Sharon Stone's leg crossing scene?”
Yes it is. Basic Instinct is arguably the definitive example of a movie that is mostly remembered because of one nude scene. That brief flash of flesh in Basic Instinct came to define the film shortly after its release and is usually the image that most people think of whenever they hear about the movie.
As for the rest of the movie, Basic Instinct is - at best - a decent crime thriller. It has its moments, but it likely would have been quickly forgotten were it not for Stone’s legendary nude scenes.
What other movies would have been lost to the sands of time without their nude scenes? Let us know in the comments.
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