Fact one: People have sex. Fact two: Because sex is a natural human experience, some movie directors opt to include it in their films—unsimulated—for a heightened sense of realism, which means you're looking at real actors having real intercourse. Here are 12 movies that broke taboos for just that.
This 2008 film is about a zombie in Berlin, and features plenty of erotic scenes thanks to the fact that one of the characters is making a documentary about porn. Apparently, the intimate moments are real—so if your interests include zombies and sex, get on it.
1979's Caligula is slightly controversial in its status as a "regular" film vs. a porn film—but the fact that it has A-list actors like Peter O'Toole and Helen Mirren certainly lends it some mainstream cred. The movie was produced by Penthouse Magazine, and featured unsimulated sex scenes that were added post-production (much to the chagrin of the director) and acted out by "Penthouse Pets."
Good ol' Shortbus! This 2006 comedy is one of the better-known movies of this particular subgenre, and for good reason: it's legit great. The film centers on the happenings at an artsy sexual salon in Brooklyn, and chronicles one woman's very explicit adventures in trying to achieve orgasm. (FYI, actress Sook-Yin Lee was almost fired from her radio gig because of this movie, but kept her job thanks to the support of A-listers like Gus Van Sant, Francis Ford Coppola, and Yoko Ono.)
If you like your unsimulated sex with a side of hipster angst, look no further than 2005's 9 Songs. The film is essentially about a couple who a) attend concerts by aughts bands like Franz Ferdinand and The Dandy Warhols, and b) have a ton of sex. And it's very, very real.
Remember when The Brown Bunny came out in 2003 and no one could stop talking about the oral sex scene between Vincent Gallo and Chloe Sevigny? It broke alllll kinds of boundaries (after all, Sevigny is a household name-level actress), and remains one of the most notable unsimulated moments in film.
Expect Lars von Trier's name to pop up several times on this list, starting with 1998's dramedy The Idiots, about a group of friends who release their inhibitions (feel the rain on their skin) and get their orgy on. The sex is mostly simulated by actors, but one scene features actual sex enacted by stand-ins from the porn industry.
This circa-1980 thriller by William Friedkin stars Al Pacino as a cop who's trying to find a serial killer targeting gay men. The film's original version featured footage of gay sex, and while some frames remain visible in the final cut, a lot was deleted to nab an R rating. (Upon its release, this movie caused quite a bit of drama, and was protested by gay rights activists who felt stigmatized.)
Intimacy is a 2001 British film about a man who falls in love with the woman he's having casual sex with—only to realize she's married and has no plans to leave her husband (sorry, that was definitely a spoiler). The sex is real, which is pretty rare for a mainstream movie that won Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival.
Lie with Me is a 2005 indie drama about a man and woman's affair—and stars two pretty well known actors: Eric Balfour (who plays Milo Pressman in 24) and Lauren Lee Smith (who plays Riley Adams in CSI). The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, but wasn't exactly a critical success.
Lars von Trier strikes again! The director's 2009 film Antichrist stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg—and while they reportedly used body doubles, the sex is most definitely unsimulated. (Note: This film was highly controversial for scenes of vaginal mutilation, but on the other hand Gainsbourg won Best Actress at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.)
Guys, LOL. Don't Look Now (a true gift from 1973) has a *very* intense, very *au natural* sex scene between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, and it was all kinds of controversial for a) featuring oral sex on a woman, and b) kinda-sorta-maybe being unsimulated. Basically some people say they did, some say they didn't, and no one will ever know the truth. What happens on the set of Don't Look Know stays on the set of Don't Look Now.
Yup, Lars von Trier is back at it. This 2013 film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, and Willem Dafoe (among others) featured unsimulated sex per usual—but there's a catch. The actors simulated sex, and then body doubles had IRL sex, and their genital area was superimposed on the actors. #Normal. Also, apparently some prosthetic vaginas were floating around set.