The best B-movies in your Shanghai DVD shop
In a country where pornography is technically banned, many of the smaller DVD shops offer a range of B-movies that put the phrase “I know it when I see it,” to the test.
While none of these movies are explicitly pornographic -- that would be illegal -- they’re second-rate films larded with sex and violence. Exactly what an evening in, in Shanghai calls for.
The movie covers alone provide hours of entertainment in your local DVD store.
Here are the eight best, worst and most bizarre films you can get your hands on in your average Shanghai DVD shop.
Get ready for bad music, mediocre acting, and … Nazis?
Most high brow: “Destricted”
Made in: Great Britain, 2006
The lowdown: “Destricted” is a collection in which international artists like Larry Clark and Richard Prince direct short films displaying their views of contemporary sexuality. The coup de grace goes to Marina Abramovic for her “Balkan Erotic Epic,” which illustrates sexual folkways of Eastern Europe.
Topless babuskas, naked men fondling a hillside … makes you want to book a ticket to Serbia before the closing credits.
Most embarrassing: “Italian Stallion”
Made in: United States, 1970
The lowdown: Before he was Rambo, before he was Rocky, he was paid US$200 to act in the X-rated “Italian Stallion.” Although the film is lighthearted, there is one disturbing scene involving a studded belt. Perhaps segueing into the violence of Stallone’s blockbuster days?
It also contains the best line of Sly’s entire oeuvre: “I’ll be velvet-mouthed upon your shank of love.”
Most swinging: “Score”
Made in: United States, 1972
The lowdown: Set in a those lighthearted days before the AIDS epidemic took hold in the United States, “Score” spends a weekend with bisexual swingers vacationing in an exotic town called Pleasure, in which every bedroom has a waterbed and a mirrored ceiling, lots of shag carpeting and amyl nitrate.
Best line of the film might just be, “Are you gonna sleep in all that denim?”
Most nostalgic: “Tender Cousins”
Made in: France, 1980
The lowdown: Directed by the British photographer David Hamilton, this movie follows the escalating affection between two cousins in the French countryside. But with its made for TV soundtrack, and its slapstick comedic action, this one is closer to “Wishbone” than wishin’ to bone.
The soft focus puppy love is endearing, even if you never had a crush on your cousin.
(Click "Next" for the rest of the best B-reels at your Shanghai DVD shop.)
Most revolutionary: “The Raspberry Reich”
Made in: Germany, 2004
The lowdown: Canadian cult filmmaker Bruce La Bruce’s irreverent ode to revolution -- sexual and otherwise -- a group of gay terrorists overthrow the system the best way they know how. Set in Berlin, the techno soundtrack and political asides “a la Godard” make for guerrilla filmmaking at its best.
Choice slogans: “Join the Homosexual Intifada” and “Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses.”
Most baffling: "Nude for Satan"
Made in: Italy, 1974
The lowdown: After a car crash in some anonymous Gothic highlands, a couple seeks shelter in a creaking manse, only to find that it is inhabited by evil souls, or the devil and his sexy mistress, or something. Does it matter? Do you watch these things for the storyline?
Play this on mute at your next sexy Halloween party.
Most critically acclaimed: “Salò,” or “The 120 Days of Sodom”
Made in: Italy, 1976
The lowdown: Pasolini’s epic of depravity belongs both in the “Criteria Collection” and in a bucket of disinfectant.
Using a cast of kidnapped teenagers, the Italian auteur tells the story of the Fascist takeover of Europe through the language of Marquis De Sade.
While the endless scenes of sexual perversion might offend those with genteel sensibilities, it is a stunning critique of society’s capability for hypocrisy and cruelty.
Best: “Salon Kitty”
Made in: Italy, 1975
The lowdown: This is simply the best B-movie you’ll ever see. It indulges in the camp sensibilities of the genre while presenting passable acting, dialog and cinematography.
The opening scene, which channel’s Judy Garland in “Cabaret,” is splendid, as is the bizarrely whimsical sexual ode to Leni Riefenstahl’s “Olympia” about midway through.