Given the short period of time most normal people spend in the shower, there have been a disproportionate number of Trash movies using it to make an impression. The list below is twenty of my favourite shower scenes, though I’ve widened the description slightly to include their close cousin the bath scene as well. All those listed have something to recommend them and are mostly more than gratuitous-wet-bimbos, even if the number of socially conscious shower scenes is still very small.
“Have sex and die”. Not just a general term for the slasher genre, it’s also a pretty good summary of what you can do in a shower, according to Hollywood. The list below falls into three types: nudity (the largest in number) and violence, both of which have distinct lines of descent, plus a few which don’t really fit into either category, and may even be necessary to the plot!
The reason for the nudity is quite simple: it allows a lot of naked flesh without total gratuitousness: most people do take their clothes off when they take a shower, although I suspect women don’t really spend quite as much time soaping their breasts as is shown in films. Violence in the bathroom can be traced directly to ‘Psycho’, since when almost every lunatic-on-the-loose film worth it’s salt (and a good few others) has had at least one pseudo-artistic sequence of blood spiralling down a plughole.
There are also movie that should have had shower scenes, like ‘Videodrome’ (Debbie Harry’s was edited out, to David Croneberg’s eternal shame), and those that ought to have had shower scenes – you feel sure there was one in there somewhere but it’s just your imagination playing tricks: ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ and ‘Lust For a Vampire’, which had swimming scenes (a possible future article) or ‘Edge of Sanity’, which had virtually everything else. Here’s a top 10, in alphabetical order:
An American Werewolf in London
This film is enough to make anyone wonder about John Landis. He takes Jenny Agutter, an actress best known for her performance as a young teenage girl, dresses her up in a nurse’s uniform and then throws her into the shower with David Naughton. It seems this movie had a profound effect on Sam Raimi, as I suspect it was no coincidence Jenny played a nurse in ‘Darkman’. The experience would also seem to have been rather stimulating for David, judging from his brain-dead performances since then.
Brian de Palma’s adaption starts with a schoolgirl shower scene. Any hopes of some pleasing titillation vanish when the blood starts dripping, as the heroine has her first period. Her classmates are naturally helpful and sympathetic – they throw sanitary towels at her. One assumes this is supposed to say something. What exactly, I’m not sure but it is quite an impressive way to start a movie.
This one qualifies both under sex and violence. No-one could deny Ingrid Pitt provides the former, except she doesn’t take baths in water or sissy stuff like asses milk: she prefers the blood of virgins as a moisturiser to anything Oil of Ulay produce (dread to think what her cleaning bill for towels must be like). While it works, and she does snare herself a husband, as with all addictive substances she has to keep upping the dose or her youthful qualities evaporate, leaving her looking as you might expect someone to look who has just spent several weeks in the bath: very wrinkled.
Gratuitous-wet-bimbo par excellence, with Linnea Quigley scoring highly in all three categories as the ultimate non-actress gets extremely moist in a shower scene with no relevance to the plot. It says a great deal about the movie that this is the best bit but then LQ has a lot of shower experience, most recently in her Horror Workout, where she changed the usual order of things, having the shower before the exercise.
Flesh & Blood
Although it takes place in a bath, it almost counts as a shower scene given the enormous quantity of spray flying. Jennifer Jason Leigh is Rutger Hauer’s bath toy as they do their bit for water conservation, though the amount that slops over the side makes it an easy winner of the Soggy Bath-Mat award.
Unique among those here in that showeree Winona Ryder, being a ‘serious actress’, demurely keeps her clothes on although they get nice and clingy. The purpose of the self-inflicted cold shower is to try and bring herself back to a reality where she has murdered her best friend/worst enemy. I might add it wasn’t Winona’s first aquatic appearance, since her earlier ‘Square Dance’ had a fairly long scene with her in the bath. However, as she was supposed to be a 13-year old, it’s of limited interest to the average fan.
House on the Edge of the Park
David Hess walks into the bathroom only to find a beautiful, short-haired lady having a shower. She invites him to join her – this he does (after much drooling) and finds his back on the receiving end of a sponge. Just as we think we’re in for a treat, she leaves poor old David covered in soap, and none too pleased. Film analysts may conclude that it is this that causes David to kill, maim and torture most of the other characters in the film.
I Spit on Your Grave
Idiotic behaviour is the mainstay of the horror-movie: without people merrily wandering into the woods /basement /house when a retarded slug would have had second thoughts, the genre would be much poorer. It allows us to say the idiots deserve what happens to them. If, say, a man helps gang-rape a woman, and is then stupid enough to accept her invitation to a bit of fun in the bath, we should not be surprised when he gets his genitals cut off with a large carving knife.
Reform School Girls
Advertised with the line “Young girls and their struggle for decency, respect and a warm place to take a shower”, it’s the quantity that counts here: of the 89:47 minute running time, 8:04 minutes or 9% of the movie are spent in the shower, washroom or other personal hygiene area, and that excludes the “fire-hose” sequence. To match this figure, you’d have to spend about 130 minutes/day cleaning yourself – while it’d mean Tube travel was more pleasant what’d it do to the morning bathroom queue?
Rachel Ward raises a few (wait for it!) smiles as she slowly undresses, leaving her clothes scattered around the flat, then takes a shower. As she caresses her body with the soap (as you do), an unknown figure stalks towards her. She notices a shape through the frosted glass, pulls the door open and lo and behold… (anyone who’s failed to see what’s coming, go and reread the Horror Cliches piece in TC~) …it’s her boyfriend. So much for suspense, eh?
This could easily have been a top 30 – here’s some more:
- Arachnophobia: Sex-mad spiders crawl along shower-rails to peek at a cute teenager. c.f. ‘Squirm’
- Blood of Doctor Jekyll: bath time for Dr Jekyll leaves him a new man: Mr.Hyde to be specific
- Cat People: Kinski’s natural, outdoor shower scene.
- Chained Heat: Sybil Danning and Linda Blair in the same shower.
- Date With An Angel: Emmanuelle Beart, complete with large fluffy wings.
- Emily: Koo Stark, would be a royal princess if things had worked differently. Also the only shower scene I’ve even seen on the Nine O’Clock News
- Hardware: Dylan McDermott demonstrates glove love to Stacey Travis.
- Immoral Tales: Countess Erszbet Bathory watches her imminent victims cleaning themselves before holding Mass and slaughtering them all.
- Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS: Dyanne Thorne in all her glory, bathing her boobs.
- Ilsa, Harem-Keeper of the Oil Sheiks: Dyanne Thorne in all her glory, bathing her boobs.
- Ilsa, Tigress of Siberia: Dyanne Thorne etc, etc but this time in the presence of five ogling men (or six, including me!). Nothing like variety, is there?
- Lair of the White Worm: Amanda Donohue, playing a member of the gentry and part-time snakewoman, in thigh-length leather boots I might add) tends to a bath full of Boy Scout.
- Mausoleum: Bobbie Breesee, pity about the overabundance of bubbles.
- Nekromantik: Some people have a rubber duck. Some have submarines. Some even have Jennifer Jason Leigh. Daktari Lorenz has a very dead cat.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street: The perils of falling asleep in the bath.
- Nuns on the Run: Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane aren’t actually in the showers so (mercifully!) they can keep their clothes on and leave the nudity to the female students.
- Psycho: Say no more.
- Psychos In Love: a parody of the ‘Psycho’ shower scene taken to the extreme. Not much flesh on view, but funny as hell.
- Society: Billy spots his ‘sister’ doing the twist in the shower. Another step to madness for him.
- Squirm: Sex-mad worms crawl up showers, and squeeze out of nozzles to peek at a cute teenager.
- SS Experiment Camp: A Nazi experiment involving a couple making love in a 60-gallon vat of water could be construed as a bath scene…
- Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down – In which a bath toy (a clockwork frog) turns into a sex-aid. Kim Basinger will shortly reprise this scene in the Hollywood remake.
- Toolbox Murders: Ex-porn star Kelly Nicholls bathes away her aches and pains with her fingers! Accompanied by an absolutely, horribly unsuitable sound track.