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"She is naked. He takes a lipstick and draws circles around her lady business. And then they have sex. It is mirthless and unpleasant, both for us to watch and apparently for them to have. He cries afterward, for no discernible reason. His thoughts are narrated in a woman's voice. This is one of the Frenchest movies I have ever seen."
—Eric D. Snider on Anatomy of Hell
Euroshlock is a general term for a certain type of European arthouse films. They are typically studies of human sexuality, generally female sexuality as opposed to male. Homosexuality, BDSM and pedophilia are also occasionally dipped into. Consequently their transgressive elements tend to take the form of explicit sexual content, though they many times dip into Gorn as well.
The mileage of critics of these films tends to vary. Inevitably, one critic will decry the sex and violence and/or accuse them of being ponderous and pretentious, and one will praise them as a masterpiece for going where no other film has gone before and being an intelligent study of sexuality.
Gaspar Noe, Lars von Trier, Michael Haneke and Pier Paolo Pasolini are the kings of this trope. Catherine Breillat is the queen. The nation they rule is France. This trope arguably began in the 70s with Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, Thierry Zeno's Vase de Noces, Dusan Makavejev's Sweet Movie and Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris. It has seen something of a resurgence in the 2000s.
Despite (or because of) the frequent displays of graphic and kinky sex at work in these movies, they tend to be somewhat maudlin in tone and end on a downer, sometimes coming with the unfortunate message that "depraved" sex (or even sex in general) will only lead to misery and death.
Contrast Le Film Artistique, which is too forbiddingly opaque and incomprehensible (and monochrome) to be offensive, and the Exploitation Film, a more morbid genre which emphasizes over-the-top violence, gore, nd sexuality.
Tropes common to these films:
- A Date with Rosie Palms
- Banned in China - And frequently elsewhere
- Crapsack World
- Deliberately Monochrome
- Downer Ending
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory
- Fan Disservice
- Freud Was Right
- Grey and Gray Morality
- Humans Are the Real Monsters
- It's Not Porn, It's Art
- Leave the Camera Running
- Le Film Artistique
- Male Frontal Nudity
- Nausea Fuel
- True Art Is Angsty
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?
(Note: Films such as Cannibal Holocaust and those of Lucio Fulci are born out of a similar but separate tradition of surrealist-inspired Italian horror movies. Those films are composed of a series of strange, gory, and horrifying scenes which have little narrative relation. This separates them from the tradition of Euroshlock as defined here, which is more character-driven, features a more coherent narrative, and usually focuses on sex rather than on gore. Please do not add surrealist-inspired Italian horror movies to this list.)
- 9 Songs
- A Ma Soeur! (Released in English as both For My Sister and Fat Girl)
- Anatomy of Hell
- A Serbian Film
- The Brown Bunny: An American example.
- Caligula: Its writer was American, but its director, setting and filming-location were Italian, and its actors were British. Its producer was also American, but of Italian descent.
- The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
- Exterminating Angels
- Funny Games
- High Tension, arguably. It has a lot of the elements of a Euroshlock movie, such as A Date with Rosie Palms, Gorn, a Downer Ending, and Leave the Camera Running (Tropes Are Not Bad, the beginning is hilarious), but it is also something of a standard Slasher Film with a Genre Shift to action and another Genre Shift to Psychological Horror at the end.
- In a Glass Cage
- In the Realm of the Senses is a bit of an odd example. The film is Japanese-language, set in Japan and is by a Japanese director, but because of the bans on depictions of genitalia there, it was listed as a French production and had its final editing completed there.
- I Stand Alone
- Ken Park
- Last Tango in Paris — Arguably, the Trope Maker.
- Man Bites Dog
- Metamorphosis: A Japanese example. And it’s porn.
- Mysterious Skin: an American example.
- The Piano Teacher
- Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
- Shortbus: an American example.
- Sweet Movie
- The Tin Drum. Although the novel focused on it much more, the film version has many elements of the genre, featuring a lot of sexual encounters between a teenaged girl and a very underaged little boy. It's a metaphorical commentary on Hitler.
- Trouble Every Day
- Vase de Noces
- W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism
- Sebastian's "Love In Motion" music video is what you get when a famous euroshlock director (the aforementioned Gaspar Noé) tries his hand at music videos.