DVD Article

What Blockbuster Didn't Bust

Blockbuster's inconsistent ratings policy -- The video rental store cracks down on X and NC-17 rated films, but ignores racier unrated fare like ''Wild Orchid''

Banning movies rated X or NC-17, as the Blockbuster video chain has done with Henry & June, isn't the same as eliminating sexually explicit tapes. After all, some R-rated films are spicier than others — and raunchy movies can be released on video with no ratings at all. Here are some of the sexier R-rated and unrated tapes we found in a Blockbuster outlet in New York City.

Edited-down hard-core: The R-rated Stocks and Blondes is the porno hit Wanda Whips Wall Street with the naughtiest bits cut out.

Steamy foreign flicks: A smorgasbord of artful kink, both straight (Betty Blue, Rendez-vous) and gay (L'Homme Blesse, Querelle.

Mickey Rourke movies: Wild Orchid and 9 1/2 Weeks are in the store only in uncut European versions. As Orchid's box pants: ''This unrated version contains explicit 'footage' not included in the R-rated version released theatrically in the United States.''

Blockbuster doesn't see any contradiction in carrying the above films while shunning NC-17, according to senior VP Ron Castell. ''We cast our lot with the MPAA,'' Castell says. ''We also do a sub-rating called 'Youth Restricted Viewing,' which says that no one under 17 can take this out.'' But this in-house rating seems inconsistently applied: At the New York store, the unrated Wild Orchid carries a YRV sticker, but the equally explicit Takin' It Off does not.

Originally posted Mar 29, 1991 Published in issue #59 Mar 29, 1991 Order article reprints