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The 10 Most Romantic “Monster” Movies

October 8, 2014

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It’s Halloween time, when every network piles on the scary movies. We’re not ones for blood and gore, but give us a good love story, and we’ll happily take a fright or two. Not that these ten flicks are all that frightening, or blood-curdling, or horrifying — they’re mostly pretty tame compared to the usual October fare. (The scariest thing about this list is the prevalence of bad 80s hairdos and synth pop throughout.) No, these 10 films probably won’t turn your blood cold; instead, they’ll warm your heart. By the way, as a matter of principal, we left off the Twilight trilogy completely — not only did we use romance as a criteria, we used quality, too. Warning: spoilers ahead!

1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

A lot of people like to claim that Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 rendition of the 19th century novel is the truest to the book, despite the fact the entire love story between Dracula and Mina — the central element of the movie — was nowhere in Stoker’s manuscript! (And there certainly wasn’t any half-man half-beast date rape in the novel, either.) But that doesn’t make the flick any less romantic: A guy who forsakes God, becomes a vampire, and waits 400 plus years just to be with you again? That’s not scary, that’s sweet. (What’s scary are Keanu Reeves’ and Winona Ryder’s horrendous British accents.)

 

2. The Corpse Bride

Tim Burton’s 2005 stop-motion animated fantasy details the Victorian era love triangle between a shy woman (Emily Watson), her awkward fiance whom she’s just met (Johnny Depp), and the ghost who wants to marry him herself (Helena Bonham Carter). Having been killed on her wedding day, ghost Emily is eternally always a bridesmaid, never a bride — but when she finally gets the chance to tie the knot, she realizes that when you love someone you have to set them free. Awwwwwww! Honorable mention goes to Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas for the love story between Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, and animated rag doll Sally — their duet in the final scene is one of the sweetest love songs ever:

 

3. The Fly

Probably the grossest of the films in our list, 1986′s The Fly, directed by David Cronenberg (of course), stars Jeff Goldblum as the mad scientist working on teleportation and Geena Davis as the reporter who falls for him. (That the two were falling in love in real life during the filming only adds to their on-screen chemistry.) Not only is The Fly about a guy with a god complex slowly becoming a disgusting fly-man hybrid after a sci experiment gone wrong, it’s also about the dangers or jealousy, the inherent right of women to have autonomy over their own bodies, and the tragedy of loving someone who’s really, really wrong for you.

 

4. Ghost

The Dirty Dancing of ghost stories, this 1990 film is most famous for the threeway scene between Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopie Goldberg. Just kidding, it’s most famous for increasing cultural interest in pottery classes and making super short hair on girls cool for the first time since Rosemary’s Baby. Despite the cheesy demon shadows and heavenly silhouettes, there really are some nice moments exploring the depths of love and loss.

 

5. Near Dark

Before Kathryn Bigelow won a Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, she made this 1987 Western/biker movie, which Time Magazine called “the all-time teenage vampire love story.” It’s a blood-soaked star-crossed lovers story, you see, except with a happy ending: Mae, a vampire, and her victim Caleb, must escape the violent clutches of her disapproving, bloodsucking family in order to walk off into the sunrise together.

 

6. Warm Bodies

This is another Romeo and Juliet remake (the main characters are “Julie” and “R”) complete with balcony scene and a Hollywood happy ending. It’s about the transformative power of romantic love — so transformative in fact that it can turn zombies human again. If only it could make your partner’s irksome bad habits disappear, too. (Btw, is it wrong to think main dead guy Nicholas Hoult is hotter with his zombie makeup on?)

 

7. Only Lovers Left Alive

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, this 2013 vampire film captures the banality of long-term relationships (Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston’s marriage is centuries old), without giving up on the romance of true love. Or the potential for continued eroticism. This pasty yet sexy, depressed yet funny couple make marriage so cool. The kickass soundtrack doesn’t hurt, either.

 

8. Bride of Frankenstein

Poor Monster. So alone in world, so alienated. He just want love. Just want understanding. A friend, a mate, a bride. But when Dr. Frankenstein creates one for his monster, complete with awesome hair and wicked goth makeup, she’s just not ready to settle down. “She hate me. Like others.” Heartbroken, Boris Karloff and his neck bolts decide that if he can’t have her, no one else will — indeed, no one else should. “We belong dead.”

 

9. King Kong

Not one, but three versions of this story (1933, 1976, 2005) have accomplished the miraculous feat of making bestiality seem kinda sweet. After all, King Kong is a star-crossed — there’s that word again — love story about a giant gorilla with the hots for a normal-sized human. Like Frankenstein’s monster, he’s a misunderstood softie who just wants a little companionship, someone to bathe in waterfalls and climb up phallic symbols with. Is that so much to ask? Since none of the three versions ever attempted a happy ending, with Kong and his gal picking out china patterns together, we guess it is too much to ask.

 

10. A Chinese Ghost Story

Isn’t it always the way: you find someone you really click with and it turns out they’re a ghost beholden to an evil hermaphroditic tree spirit and betrothed to a demon warlord? But hey, if it’s true love, you may just have a fighting chance.

 

What movies did we miss? Remember, we were looking for romantic monster movies, not sexy scary movies — stay tuned for that list from us next week!

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Blog Snog: One Woman’s Search for a Happy Ending…Massage

October 3, 2014

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photo via YourTango


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Photographer of the Week: Sven Hagolani via Getty Images(NSFW)

October 2, 2014

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Please VOTE for EMandLO.com!

October 1, 2014

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photo via Flickr

All you ¬†have to do is press the pink “VOTE” button on our Kinkly page HERE!

 

Kinkly.com is holding a Sex Blogging Superheroes Contest: whichever blog gets the most votes from their fans gets not only the glory, but $500 in cash from our favorite pleasure object purveyors, LELO! And we could use it — writing a sex blog is not the lucrative career choice Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe had us all believing in. So if this site has ever:

  • Given you good advice
  • Made you laugh
  • Let you vent
  • Gave you an excuse to avoid work

…then please take one second and anonymously click the “VOTE” button here — it’s that easy! We’ll love you forever for it.

XO,

Em & Lo

 



The Revolution Will Be Televised: 15 Great Recent Feminist Shows

September 24, 2014

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Netflix’s “Happy Valley”

“The Golden Girls” was a historic show: four central characters, all female and all over the age of 60! Of course, back in the ’80s, it was an aberration: throughout television history, female actors have been in supporting roles mostly, with an emphasis on their youth and beauty. Sex and the City was a 90s update on that original foursome, with a chokehold on traditional beauty and Hollywood glam, but a lighter grip on our youth obsession, and a revolutionary embrace of female sexuality and all its complications. Showtime’s The L Word seemed to pick up where SATC left off, doubling down on the glam factor and the sex, but doubling the female cast size, as well as upping the diversity in terms of race and sexual orientation. Still, the television landscape was mostly dominated by dudes.

Now, a decade after SATC’s final episode aired, with a lot of “female-focused” trash in between — Desperate Housewives and The Real Housewives franchise do not serve the cause — television is experiencing something of a feminist revolution, with more and more quality roles for women that revel in their imperfections, explore their contradictions, and — perhaps most importantly — don’t always revolve around men. These past few years have seen a welcome trend in award-worthy (and award-winning) female-driven shows that aren’t afraid to portray women as ugly, whether inside or out. Thanks to the freedom and risk-taking that Netflix and cable channels have offered producers, the old notion that female-focused narratives have too limited an appeal has been blown out of the water.

Let’s hope the deluge of decent shows continues! The below series in our top 15 have all premiered sometime in the last three years, with many of them still in production and/or available on demand. We’ve left off many of the network shows that could be considered feminist — The Good Wife, Scandal, etc — but that aren’t necessarily groundbreaking since they often have a gloss that feels fairly unrealistic, dumbed down, or at least cliche. What we’re focusing on here is the cream of the crop in terms of feminist advancement, TV-wise:

The Ensembles

1. Orange Is the New Black¬†(2013, ongoing) — Has there ever been a show with this many women in it? A show that has a ratio of female-to-male characters at about 10 to 1? That’s so comfortable showing female diversity, in looks, body size, race, age and sexual orientation? It’s a boob-tube miracle! Thank you, memoirist Piper Kerman, developer Jenji Kohan, and Netflix!

2. American Horror Story: Coven¬†(2013) — The third season of FX’s horror anthology is more slick and stylistic than OITNB, but the main characters are also all female — some big, some small, some white, some black, some young, some old, and even one with a genetic disorder — with just a handful of men in supporting roles. ¬†These witches are powerful, sexually assertive, and oftentimes sadistic — not stereotypical feminine qualities.

3. Girls¬†(2012, ongoing) — The 21st century’s SATC on HBO, with four equally unlikeable yet oddly compelling female leads. Writer, director, producer, star (and probably caterer, too) Lena Dunham and her exhibitionistic tendencies have done more for female body confidence than all the Dove campaigns combined!

The Leads

4. Happy Valley¬†(2014) – This new BBC import by Netflix has the biggest baddass on TV since Walter White: both “Heisenberg” and Happy Valley’s “Catherine Cawood” are middle-aged, world-weary yet strong-willed and obsessive, reckless and resilient, with unexpected reserves of bravery. Except in her case, she’s on the right side of the law as a morally stable police sergeant (played impeccably by Sarah Lancashire). Fortunately for viewers, the camera isn’t afraid of the lines on Lancashire’s amazingly expressive face.

5. The Honorable Woman (2014, ongoing) – The Sundance Channel series from the U.K., starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as a Baroness and¬†Anglo-Israeli businesswoman, is incredibly timely and incredibly smart. Gyllenhaal is one hundred percent committed to her career — it’s more of a calling than a day job — and she kicks some serious ass along the way. There is no female eye candy on this show — all the women have their own motives and desires, and these desires are more along the lines of ¬†”peace in the Middle East” than “shoe shopping.” The show is complicated and sometimes hard to follow, but it’s a pleasant treat to feel like maybe you’re not quite smart enough for a television show.

6. Homeland (2011, ongoing) – This Showtime series follows one CIA agent’s major role in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Talk about a flawed character! She’s got bipolar disorder, terrible taste in men, and pretty bad roots. Claire Danes is in the lead, so you know there’s no “pretty” crying on this show — just like in real life.

7. The Killing (2011 – 2014) – As we’ve written before, if you can get past the fact that the entire series revolves around the brutal murders of pretty young girls, this show¬†totally counts: the main character, homicide detective Sarah Linden¬†(Mireille Enos), is a strong, tough, independent woman who is sexual without being sexualized, realistically styled with sensible shoes and sweaters, and pretty bad at parenting. That her awesome male police partner doesn’t participate in macho posturing (and is unapologetically vegan!) is icing on the cake.

8. The Fall¬†(2013, ongoing) – Gillian Anderson plays a badass senior police officer (are you seeing a pattern here?) on this Netflix show, another BBC import. She’s a woman who knows what she wants and ruthlessly goes after it, whether that’s a serial killer (played by Christian Grey!)¬†or casual, no-strings attached sex.

The Comedians (Not Comediennes)

9. Inside Amy Schumer¬†(2013, ongoing) — She is unafraid to address the most embarrassing, unflattering, and horrifying aspects of being a woman in the most hilarious, un-pc, and feminist ways.

10. Broad City¬†(2014, ongoing) — Weird, random tales about two under-acheiving, disheveled, stoner dudes…and they’re female! After all, it’s approved and produced by “mighty girl” Amy Poehler.

11. Garfunkel & Oats¬†(2014) — Since we did our Anal Airlines bit 10 years ago, there will always be a special place in our hearts for two adorkable women who sweetly profess, without shame,¬†the benefits of anal sex.

The Great Equalizers

12. The Leftovers¬†(2014, ongoing) – While the main protagonist is male, this HBO show based on Tom Perrotta’s intriguing novel is full of interesting female characters who are damaged, dangerous and refreshingly not dolled-up. It’s missing the gratuitous T&A that HBO often feels compelled to cram into its shows to satisfying the paying straight male audience.

13. The Returned¬†(2013, ongoing) – Another Netflix import, this time from France, about a town whose dead inhabitants mysteriously come back to life. ¬†This haunting show follows a series of characters — some male, some female, all complex and all realistically portrayed.

14. Top of the Lake (2103) – If it’s a miniseries made by Jane Campion, you know it’s going to be a feminist heavy hitter. With rich roles for both women and men, including Mad Men‘s Elizabeth Moss as the lead detective investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old and Holly Hunter as the spiritual leader of a compound of middle-aged women looking to rediscover themselves. (Rarely on TV do you see naked women who don’t have perky breasts and slim physiques — Campion dares to go there.)

15. Masters of Sex (2013, ongoing) – This critically acclaimed Showtime show was developed by a woman who assembled a majority-female writing cast (in the telly biz, that’s¬†rarer than a white rhino!). At the start of MoS’s second season this summer, Time magazine called it the most feminist show on television, in part because of its self-imposed rule that the¬†sex scenes on this show couldn‚Äôt just be about sex, they had to be completely connected to story. Take a tip, HBO!

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How “Fifty Shades” Has Changed Sex Over the Past 3 Years

September 24, 2014

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As if the whole Internet going gaga over the first trailer for the movie adaptation of E.L. James’ erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey”¬†wasn’t evidence enough, our friends over at LELO have actually quantified just how influential the story of Ana, Christian and his woven tie have been on the world’s sexual habits. They surveyed over 10,000 women from 8 countries over the past few years and discovered that the interest in kinky accessories inspired by “Fifty Shades” served as a gateway to enjoying other intimate objects and activities:

2012:

The Year Vanilla Turned Grey

(click for infographic)

Women were becoming more adventurous. Sex out of the bedroom was on the increase, sex toys were on the increase and kinky liaisons were on the increase too. Sales of whips and teasers increased by more than 50% and sales of Pleasure beads increased by more than 200%. Fifty-eight percent of global sex toy owners were expected to use premium personal massagers with their partner.

 

 2013:

The Kink Continues

(click for infographic)

The kinky liaisons between the sheets continued throughout the first two quarters of 2013 with women everywhere feeling a new sense of sexual empowerment. But by the end of 2013 LELO witnessed a shift in how women wanted their pleasure.¬†¬†Sales of BDSM accessories, like whips and teasers, reached a plateau in the last quarter of 2013 compared with sales of premium couples’ massagers and vibrating couples‚Äô rings worn during intercourse, which increased by 82%. By the end of 2013, 72% of sex toy owners used massagers or rings with their partner.

 

2014:

The Year of the Vanilla Revolution

(click for infographic)

LELO‚Äôs Global Sex Survey revealed women emerged from their kinky ‚ÄėFifty Shades‚Äô phase with liberated attitudes, finding ways beyond novelty and kink to enhance intimacy with their partners.

In 2014 LELO shows that¬†1 in 5 women have been involved in a threesome (double that of 2012‚Äôs findings). Similarly more than half of women in a relationship have made a home movie, and over a third have had sex in a public place.¬†More women have lived out their fantasies over the past 2 years but a whopping 80% said their fantasy¬†didn’t¬†live up to expectations. Either women have become more sexually confident since “Fifty Shades,” or they‚Äôve become more confident talking about their sex lives.

Kinkier ‚Äėnovelty-based‚Äô products like whips and hand cuffs have still¬†plateaued, but are expected to take a sharp rise around the release of the movie.¬†However, sales of couples‚Äô massagers, vibrators worn during intercourse, like IDA and Tara have increased by as much as 82% this year and are expected to continue to rise.

 

2015: Predictions for the Future of Sex

We would guess that immediately after Valentine’s Day next year, when¬†the “Fifty Shades” movie premieres, LELO will be absolutely pummeled by increased requests for¬†handcuffs,¬†blindfolds and teasers, not unlike Christian Grey on Ana’s bare bottom. Sales of kinky accessories will plateau (until the next movie in the series comes out), but by then even more women will have become comfortable buying and using bedroom accessories with their partners. A regular visit to LELO will be as normal as a dental checkup — but certainly much more pleasurable (unless, of course, you’re into pain).
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The 10 Best Bird Kisses from Getty Images

September 24, 2014

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When you do a search for ‚Äúsex‚ÄĚ on¬†Getty Images, you get¬†a lot¬†of interesting results ‚ÄĒ so many, in fact, that we were compelled to create a¬†superlative series of Getty ‚Äúsex‚ÄĚ search images. A lot of the animal-themed images that come up are just adorable kissing photos, so today, it’s decidedly PG in the animal kingdom, with a focus just on frisky fowl. Enjoy!

 

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Blog Snog: Dating Advice from Mindy Kaling

September 19, 2014

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The Best Animal Kisses from Getty Images

September 18, 2014

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When you do a search for ‚Äúsex‚ÄĚ on¬†Getty Images, you get¬†a lot¬†of interesting results ‚ÄĒ so many, in fact, that we were compelled to create a¬†superlative series of Getty ‚Äúsex‚ÄĚ search images. A lot of the animal-themed images that come up are just adorable kissing photos, so today, it’s decidedly PG in the animal kingdom. (Stay tuned for the bird kisses next week!) Enjoy…

#154502253 / gettyimages.com

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Battle of the Sexists: “Blurred Lines” VS. “Rude”

September 16, 2014

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During this, the last official week of summer, we thought we’d compare this year’s “Song of Summer” with last year’s official hit to see which would win the title of “Most Offensive.” For the sake of argument, we’re calling “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke the winner of 2013 (though it was pretty much a tie with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”) and naming “Rude” by the band Magic! the winner of 2014 (though we’re sure many arguments could be made for “Fancy,” “Problem,” “Chandelier,” even “All About That Bass”…the list goes on). When it comes to our car-radio listening experiences these past two summers, Thicke and Magic! are the S.O.S. champions, hands down.

So since we’re dealing with these songs as radio hits, let us dismiss their videos entirely, at least for this particular column. After all, it wouldn’t be a fair fight: in the objectification department,¬†”Blurred Lines,” with its topless women bouncing around the fully-clad male singers, would easily and roundly¬†kick “Rude”‘s ass, what with its casual-Friday wedding attire and adorkable lead singer.

Actually, we imagine most people would automatically give the title to “Blurred Lines,” even just musically speaking, considering its traditionally sexually suggestive R&B roots and all the controversy and criticism the song’s lyrics garnered: ¬†I know you want it…I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two… Lines like that, along with the narrator referencing toking up with this “bitch”, getting blasted, her playing hard to get and him hating “these blurred lines,” resulted in the song being widely labeled as “rapey,” accused of sending mixed messages about consent, to the point where several student unions in the UK banned the song outright! ¬†(It also probably didn’t help that Robin Thicke often comes across as a slimy, philandering, drunken, musical liar.)

By contrast, Magic!’s “Rude” has seemed sweet and romantic, with its light reggae beats under lyrics about wanting to get married and create a family. The narrator is so in love with this woman, and so emotionally hurt by her father’s rejection of him, we can’t help but fall in love with this sensitive ponytail guy right back!

Even so: in this Battle of the Sexists, “Rude” is the winner.

As sleazy and smarmy as “Blurred Lines” is, its lyrics are still open to interpretation:¬†The way you grab me /¬†Must wanna get nasty /¬†Go ahead, get at me… As some mags like Slate and XOJane argued last summer, the woman is actively touching him, and though the narrator may be misinterpreting what that ultimately means, he’s leaving the call up to her, inviting her to make the first move. Same thing happens during T.I.’s rap: ¬†So I just watch(in) and wait(in) for you to salute /¬†But you didn’t pick.¬†She has sexual agency. And it can’t be denied that there are certainly straight women for whom having a guy whisper confident, alpha-male, dirty nothings in their ear is a real turn on (hey, there’s no accounting for fantasy fodder…or taste.) Perhaps the big crime in this song is not condoning date rape but endorsing cheesy, egotistical, pick-up artist techniques.

In “Blurred Lines,” the woman seems to have a choice; in “Rude,” she doesn’t even have a role. The lyrics are straight out of the 1950s, even though it was written around 2013: man wants to marry “that girl,” so he seeks out her father¬†to ask for his permission, which — hello? — isn’t his to give! The only person the singer has to ask is her. Just because the dad is “an old-fashioned man” doesn’t mean his old-fashioned sexism should be honored or met in kind.¬†Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?¬†the narrator croons, as if she is something to be owned, as if this is a necessary step in the processes of two heteros getting married these days. Even if you’re a sucker for long-time traditions grounded in the ancient practice of women being traded like chattel in property deals, why not update things by going to both sets of¬†parents¬†as a united couple and hoping for their blessing. After all, marriage is no longer a deal made solely by patriarchs conducting real estate business; it’s a commitment entered into by two consenting, equal partners. Do we need to mention again that this is North America in the 21st century?

With “Blurred Lines,” you know you’re getting a sexed-up, sexist song — there’s no hiding it. With “Rude,” its retro sexism is hidden under layers of romance and love, which makes it more insidious. One is about casual sex, which automatically doesn’t get much respect, crap lyrics or not; the other is about marriage, which automatically seems more noble in our puritanical culture. Don’t be fooled!

“Blurred Lines” is way easier to dance to, anyway.

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