The best B-movies in your Shanghai DVD shop

The best B-movies in your Shanghai DVD shop

We bypass the blockbusters clogging the shelves and dig into the DVD stacks to find the most noteworthy, steamy, awfully brilliant B-reels that have escaped the censors

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? 

Shanghai dvds -- “Destricted"Most high brow:
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.


Shanghai dvds -- “Italian Stallion”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.”


Shanghai dvds -- “Score”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?”


Shanghai dvds -- “Tender Cousins”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.)

Shanghai dvds -- “The Raspberry Reich”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.”


Shanghai dvds -- "Nude for Satan" 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.


Shanghai dvds -- “The 120 Days of Sodom”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.


Shanghai dvds -- “Salon Kitty”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.


Hunter Braithwaite is a writer and editor based in Miami. Before that he lived in Shanghai. He edits the Miami Rail and blogs at

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