Dedicated to my friend Mermaid in Austin
The Best BDSM Themed DVDs
"Someone's playing a game with you. You are part of it, and you are getting to like it."
- Emmanuelle Seigneur as the Girl
The Ninth Gate
wr. Enrique Urbiz, John Brownjohn, and Roman Polanski
- Secretary (2002): Arguably the best motion picture about an emerging BDSM relationship. The stars of the film give well rounded, nuanced performance of individual characters, not types. Maggie Gyllenhaal's transformation from a shy, unhappy, and passive young lady to a happy, determined, and confident woman is marvelous. James Spader's performance of a conflicted dominant is pitch perfect and brilliant.
- Maitresse (1973): This French film was created with the advice of a professional domina and includes real footage of S&M. It is a convincing love story about the romance between a well well-intentioned -- if ignorant young man -- (Gérard Depardieu) and an emotionally guarded dominatrix (Bulle Ogier.) Vanilla audiences might be shocked by some of the scenes of S&M while today's generation of BDSM purists will be alarmed by the numerous scenes in which people in bondage are left alone for long periods. Directed by Barbet Schroeder.
- 9 1/2 Weeks (1986): An erotic classic directed by Adrian Lyne and staring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. The terms S&M and BDSM never really come up and it's easy for mainstream audiences to see it as kinky but mostly innocent fun -- but D/s and S&M are still D/s and S&M not matter what you call them. The perfect choice for a date film when testing the waters with a vanilla lover or spouse. Say "Gee, this looks like a interesting film honey" at the video rental store.
- The Story of O (1975): An adaptation of Pauline Réage's classic French novel of sadomasochism and submission directed by Just Jaeckin, the director of Emmanuelle. The drama comes from an internal strugle as O (Corinne Clery) tries to submit totally to her lover's whims. Lots of lovely nude actresses, simulated sex, and sadomasochism.
- Quills: A very well done, wonderfully cast, and intellectually stimulating. It's a film adaptation of a play about the final days of the Marquis de Sade (somewhat fictionalized.) The focus on the film is less on the eroticism of the divine Marquis's writing (which has not really appealed to me) and more on questions of ethics and the politics of pornography and censorship. The most erotic scenes are more or less vanilla but they feature some lovely actresses including Kate Winslet. (yum!) Never has necrophilia looked so appealing.
Lesser Known and Less Kinky DVDs
- Batman Returns: Michelle Pfeifer as the latex clad, single tail whip whelding Catwoman. Me-YOW! Also staring Michael Keaton as Batman. Tim Burton makes it look like a German Expressionism film. One expects Dr. Caligari and Count Orloc to turn up any time. Indeed one character is named Max Shreck (after the actor who played Count Orloc in Nosferatu, the first film adaptation of Dracula.)
- Catwoman (2004): How bad can a film be if it has Halle Berry kicking butt and prancing about in a skimpy leather outfit? Pretty bad. But now with the wonders of technology, you don't have to sit through an inane plot, predictable characterization, and over the top direction. Just fast forward to the good stuff.
- Color of Night (1994): A psychological thriller and murder mystery in the format of Basic Instinct and Jade. What makes this movie relevant to this list is the sub plot about a kinky relationship between a psychologist played by Bruce Willis and a beautiful and mysterious woman played by the incredible Jane March.
- Crash (1997): James Spader and Holly Hunter star in this film by David Cronenberg based on a novel by J.G. Ballard about a subculture of people who intentionally crash their cars for erotic thrills.
- Cruising: Very controversial motion picture about the gay leather bar scene of the 70s. It's borderline homphobic but it contains scenes filmed in the leather bars of the day and features real leathermen as background talent.
- De Sade (1969): Biopic about the Marquis de Sade staring Keir Dullea and John Huston
- Exit to Eden: Moderately funny comedy based on a novel by Anne Rice. Gives a positive but inaccurate presentation of the BDSM community. The production team meant well but they just didn't get it.
- Eyes Wide Shut (1999): A film by Stanley Kubrick staring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Most of the film is a deadly bore made even more boring by the bland performance by Tom Cruise. But it picks up when Tom cruise's character sneaks into a lavish masked orgy hosted by rich hedonists. While it's not really about BDSM, the ornate rituals and Catholic church influenced hierarchy make it interesting to D/s enthusiasts.
- The Image (1976)
- Marquis de Sade's Justine (1969): An exploitation film by Jess Franco based on the novel by the Marquis de Sade.
- The Notorious Bettie Page: Standard biopic about Fetish icon and 1950's American pin up model Betty Page. As played (very well) by Gretchen Mol, Betty is an attractive woman and a sympathetic person but not an especially interesting character. She has no reservations about her choices seeing no conflict between posing nude for photographs and her devote Christian faith. While her views are enlightened and refreshing, they don't make for dramatic moments of introspection or self discovery. The story lacks dramatic tension: While her life is not without it's heartbrakes and difficulties, she emerges seemly unscathed from some really harrowing tragedies. What really saves the film are the depictions of the repressive America of the 1950s and the other historical figures from America's sexual history that Betty encounters such as Irwin & Paula Klaw, John Willie, and Bunny Yeager. (Admittedly this critic is not a huge fan of Betty Page's work.) Written by Mary Harron & Guinevere Turner and directed by Mary Harron.
- Preaching to the Perverted (1997): An English commedy written, directed and produced by Stuart Urban about a Member of Parlament's attempts to prosecute group of perverts participating in consensual S&M. While a few of the scenes are a little contrived (e.g. presented to make a point on the film maker's behalf) and while I would disagree with a few of the pronouncements made by the perverts (i.e. "You're either a dom or a sub") the film is very well researched and constructed -- much better than Exit to Eden which it resembles somewhat. The dialog used in the court scenes are lifted from actual British trials. The usual arguments against consensual sadomasochism are presented by the forces or law and decency and suitably addressed by Mr. Urban. Many of the extras and performers in the Fetish club and party scenes were real participants and performance artists drawn from the British Fetish underground. Voyeurs will be pleased with the eye candy and drinking game enthusiasts are advised to drink everytime hot pink appears. Julie Graham is terrific as the head slave. She's convincing, engaging, and very, very sexy. (But then this critic has a weakness for beautiful, nearly bald headed women.)
- Strangeland (1998): Dee Snider -- of the band "Twisted Sister" -- plays a "Captain Howdy", a sadist who frequents Internet chatrooms looking for vulnerable teenagers to abduct and torture. This critic hasn't seen this film but be warned: Other reviews were universally negative.
- Swept Away A vehicle for Madonna directed by her husband Guy Ritchie. The film was panned by critics.
Moderately and Tenuously Kinky
- Birthday Girl: All too brief scene of Nicole Kidman nude in bondage.
- Blue Hawaii: Elvis Pressly spanks his leading lady
- Boxing Helena (1993): Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch and staring Julian Sands and Sherilyn Fenn. It's about sex, obsession, and possession taken to an extreme. It's somewhat reminscent of The Collector. It would be unfair to tell more.
- Cat People (1982): Erotic horror film or an erotic film with moments of horror. Of particular interest is Nastassja Kinski's bondage scene.
- Collector, The (1965): A psychological thriller based on a novel by John Fowles and staring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar. A introverted man kidnaps and imprisons a woman in the hope of forcing her to love him. The film does not end happily.
- Fight Club: (1999) A great film that covers a lot of ground. One of the many plot elements that makes it relevant to the list is an underground club where men go to beat the c**p out of each other. The goal isn't winning. It's fighting. The movie is brutal and violent but a lot more. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt star. David Fincher (of The Game) directs. Based on the kick-butt novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk.
- The Game: None of the outwardly recognizable trapping of BDSM and not very kinky in an erotic way but this critic argues that once seen in its entirety this is the best film depiction of a rigid, uncompromising man's journey of discovery of his repressed masochism and deepseated need to submit.
- Kiss Me Kate: Another movie musical with a spanking scene
- Marquis: Directed by Henri Xhonneux and staring François Marthouret and Valérie Kling. Another "Marquis de Sade in prison" film but in this one the story is performed by puppets.
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Angelina Jolie poses as a dominatrix in one all too brief scene.
- The Wild One: A terrible film that has somehow become a classic. No S&M but Marlon Brando's performance as a biker has become iconic for the Leather community. (See also "Old Guard? If You Say So" by Joseph W. Bean at http://www.EvilMonk.org/A/jwbean.cfm for a more in depth look at the film and its significance.)
- Three Films About Sada Abe: Sade Abe is famous in Japan for the death and partial dismemberment of her lover in 1936. In her youth she was raped. As an adult she killed her lover by erotic asphyxiation and cut off his penis and testicles -- which she kept with her while she wandered through Tokyo for three days. After her capture, she explained that she murdered her lover out of love and a desire to possess him totally and exclusively. The crime was a media sensation. There was a lot of sympathy for her and she has since become a cultural icon of sorts. There have been at least three films about the incident.
- A Woman Called Sada Abe (1975): soft core porn version directed by Noboru Tanaka and staring Junko Miyashita as Sada and Hideaki Ezumi as her lover.
- In the Realm of the Senses (1976): an art film with explicit sex directed by Nagisa Oshima and staring Eiko Matsuda as Sada and Tatsuya Fuji as her lover. Explicit, erotic, and well made but this critic was bored.
- Sada (1998): Very stylish and kinetic retelling of the story with less sex than the other two.
- Audition (2000): A very suspenseful and disturbing horror film with a great underplayed femme fatale performance. A lonely aging widower decides to find a new wife by staging auditions for a non-existing televison series. The winner appears to be a demure old fashioned girl but she turns out of be an angry, preditory sort of later day Sada Abe. Think of "Isla the shewolf of the SS" as played by a geisha. Directed by Takashi Miike and staring Ryo Ishibashi as the widower and Eihi Shiina as the object of his affections.
- The Bondage Master: Japanese "direct to video" film with a simplistic but positive presentation of the Japanese fetish community.
- Flower and Snake (Hana to Hebi) (2004).
- Moonlight Whispers (1999)
- School of the Holy Beast (1974): An "Erotic-Grotesque" with a plot that seems lifted from the over-heated and uncensored imaginations of High Gothic novelists like M. G. "Monk" Lewis. Forbidden secrets! Murder! Betrayal! Naked Japanese Catholic nuns! Hot (softcore) Lesbian Sex between Japanese Catholic nuns! Naked Japanese Catholic nuns flogging themselves! Naked Japanese Catholic nuns whipping each other! A sex crazed Japanese Catholic priest! A sex crazed Mother Superior! Ravishment! Incest! This film has everything including the yummy Yumi Takigawa. It was released in 1974 but it opens with a scene of swinging Tokyo that seems lifted from an Austin Powers film. Director: Norifumi Suzuki. Japanese title: Sei ju gakuen
- Spanking Love (1994)
Sada Abe shortly after her capture.
- Irreversible: (2002) Horrible and extreme! An art film meant to shock and disgust --- and it succeeds even with this jaded critic. For those looking forward to seeing Moica Bellucci's sex scene be forwarned: It is violent, degrading, and repulsive -- in a bad way! The only reason for including this film on this list is because it includes a scene taking place in a French Leather bar. (But many Leather men will take offense at the implication that non-consensual sex is acceptable in their community.) Staring Albert Dupontel, Vincent Cassel, and Monica Bellucci. Directed by Gaspar Noé.
- The Piano Teacher (2002): Where Secretary showed how BDSM can be a positive element in a healthy relationship, this film illustrates the reverse. But the film's makers were not intent on bashing a lifestyle. Rather they were being psychologically truthful about a desperately unhappy woman in an untenable situation played by the marvelously subtle and expressive Isabelle Huppert. Against her better judgment title character gives into her repressed masochism at the hands of a persistent admirer. When she confides in him about her desires he's at first repulsed. Later he praticipates whole heartedly in her fantasies but without concern for her health and safety. She doesn't recognize how extreme and costly it would be to act out her fanatsies and he's clueless about the niceties of negotiation and safe words. The result is painful to watch.
- Sade (2000): Inspired by the novel by Serge Bramly staring Daniel Auteuil as Marquis de Sade and Isild le Besco as a spirited young woman who seeks pleasure at the hands of the Divine Marquis. While the setting is historical, the style of the film is blandly contempory with natualistic performances. Daniel Auteuil's Divine Marquis is unexpectedly passionless. Those of us who expect a larger-than-life style period film --- think Dangerous Liaisons and Amadeus --- will find the film bland and slow.
- Fetish: Pain or Pleasure? (2006)
- Fetishes (1996): Nick Broomfield
- The Hidden Fuhrer: Hitler's Sexuality: Was Adolf Hitler gay? The documentary is fascinating and entertaining but it ultimately fails to prove it either way. In addition to arguing whether he was or wasn't, the film covers the history of gay culture in Germany. Of particular interest to historians of Leather culture is a deleted scene in the bonus section of the DVD that covers the influence of Nazi uniforms on the art of Tom of Finland.
- Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Suprmasochist (1997)
- Whole: There are some people -- perfectly rational in every other way -- who feel a deep seated psychological need to be amputated. Is it socially responsible to allow (sane) people to mutilate themselves? There's no easy answer.
Movies Featuring Protocol
- The Caine Mutiny (1954): US Navy protocol. Writen by Stanley Roberts from the novel by Herman Wouk. Directed by Edward Dmytryk. Starring Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, and a host of other familar names and faces.
- Gosford Park (2001): English peerage and servant protocol. Directed by Robert Altman.
Hard To Find
- The Pet (2006): Visit the official site of this hard to find film at http://www.thepetmovie.com/
Adult DVD Rentals
Off Topic: Progressive Documentaries
- Bowling for Columbine (2002)
- Bush Family Fortunes: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (2004)
- Bush's Brain (2004)
- Control Room (2004)
- Fahrenheit 9/11
- The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
- Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004)
- Paragraph 175 (2000)
- The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
- With God on Our Side: George W. Bush and the Rise of the Religious Right in America (2004): History of the conservative evangelical movement in America and the role of George W. Bush's religious beliefs in his decisions as president of the United States.
- Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties (2004)
- Uncovered: The War on Iraq (2004)
- Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War (2003)
- Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (2002)
- WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception (2004)
- Online Shopping for BDSM Toys: A unique selection of inexpensive sources for quality toys including some less expensive toy sources most people don't think about.
- Creative Toy Sources!
- On Making Canes
- Books and Magazines
- Jay Wiseman's Book Review for The Gift of Fear
- Scene Music
- Relevant DVDs: Recommendations for DVDs with BDSM themes
- Ambrosio's Affliate Store
- Some Items for Sale on eBay
- An Amazon.com Storefront
Additional Articles by Ambrosio
- "Some Notes on Safety for Meeting Online and Off" at
- "Meeting Someone Else into BDSM" at
- "An Open Letter to a Novice Domme" at
- "Perverted Vocabulary: a Glossary of Terms Used in BDSM" at
- "Some Notes on Netiquette and 'Net Basics" at
- "Marginalia on the Old Guard, Leather Traditions, and BDSM History" at
- "Play Nice: Some Notes on Scene Etiquette and Leather Protocol" at
- "A Proposed 'Pansexual Protocol'" at
- "Polyamory and BDSM" at
- "An Open Letter to Law Enforcement" at
- "Some Criteria for Consensual D/s Contracts" at http://www.EvilMonk.org/A/contract00.cfm
- "Dawn Perlmutter's 'Dark Subculture' Witch Hunt" at
- "Anatomy for Flogging: The Back" at
- "A Proposed 'Pansexual Protocol'" at
- "A Rant on Mentorship" at
- "A Surprising Discovery" at