Tag Archives: funny

Other Obscura / , , , ,

Our Six Best China Stories!

Happy 61st 62nd birthday, China! (And happy 39th birthday, me!)

In honor of this grand celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, today we decided to sift through the AsiaObscura archives, and return to our wildest, most popular China stories of 2011! And so, in order of pageviews….

6. The Sick Collector and his 2000 Shoes
What happens when you take one creepy old man, one disgruntled housewife, and a collection of bizarre tiny shoes? After marital discord, that is. This profile of Yang Shaorong and his sick fetish brought together pornography, Polyester, and sweet sick obsession into one strange little story.

5. China’s all-time favorite (and all-time darkest?) comic book: Sanmao
Not many foreigners know about Sanmao, but in China he’s bigger than Disney. He’s Bart Simpson, Richie Rich and Charlie Brown, rolled into one dark comic burrito of bloodshed and poverty. Sanmao is a work of Chinese art, and a seriously weird 1940s comic book.

4. Inspector Black Cat: China’s Gore-Soaked Answer to Tom & Jerry
While our Sanmao story drew big audiences, it was nothing compared to the fans of “Inspector Black Cat”–a 1980s kids cartoon that coupled Tarantino with Hanna-Barbera. Blood splats across the screen, cute baby pandas are gruesomely eaten, and swords slice through innocent diners… on daytime tv.

3. Wonderland: Beijing’s Abandoned Disneyland
Crumbling castle walls and turrets, on the road to the Great Wall of China. We spent a day exploring this gorgeously decrepit amusement park, a onetime challenger for Beijing’s best theme park, and found more than just near-death-trap wells.

Plus, don’t miss our visits to Beijing’s Real Fake Disneyland, the Kingdom of the Dwarfs, and the abandoned Romance Park of the Heart — three other Chinese amusement parks that captured our hearts.

2. Relive the Cultural Revolution (aka The Weirdest Dinner Theater in Beijing)
It’s the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, all rolled into one delicious meal. The chance to experience the beatings of teachers and parents, the melting of pots and pans, the years of starvation and decade of torture, and get dessert, too. As part of the same story, don’t miss the video of the dinner show, in which landlords are executed on stage to audience cheers, or the restaurant’s incredibly bad menu. What a night!

1. 19 Incredible Taoist Gods
And of course, the Taoist gods ended up the most popular China story on AsiaObscura this year. Like that’s any surprise? We’ve covered plenty of weird Taoist temples in these pages, but this piece on the amazing bad-ass sculptures really caught some attention. If you like those, don’t miss Terrible Moments from a Taoist Temple, in which the gods slice, dice, and saw their congregation in two. It’s unforgettable.

While those were the China stories that garnered the most pageviews this year, my favorite piece on China didn’t make the top five, or even the top ten…. And since it’s my birthday today, as well as China’s, here’s that one, too:

0. A Postcard from Erenhot
Few views, few shares, and almost no comments, but it’s an AsiaObscura must-read. It’s got smugglers, whores, and dog head for breakfast… and after all, what more could a visitor be looking for?

/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Chinglish / , , ,

That’s just rubbish….

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Pretty Pictures / , , , ,

Ready to Rumble

/ by The WooLand Hotel / 4 Comments
Strange Tourism, Theme Parks / , , , ,

Fiendishly Fun Photo Ops at World Park

While we were busy on our own adventures, Chinese tourists flocked to Beijing’s glorious World Park of their own accord. Some of them with entire camera crews in tow. Wedding photos, engagement photos, bff shots, they were costumed, posed, and so immaculately arranged. Here’s a couple of our favorites!

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/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Sweet Movies and Wild Books / , , , , , , ,

China’s first sci-fi movie: Death Ray on Coral Island (1980)

Sci-fi books?  China’s got tons of those.

But when it comes to sci-fi movies, China’s really falling behind.  One that really did impress me, though, was the very first to be produced in China: 1980’s gorgeous, fun, and campy “Death Ray on Coral Island” (珊瑚岛上的死光).


In “Death Ray,” a good-hearted team of Chinese scientists, based in what appears to be San Francisco, finally succeed in completing their fabulous futuristic invention. That is, until the sinister back-stabbing Americans, played with Bond-villainous glee by Chinese actors in whiteface and prosthetic noses, decide to steal the invention for their evil plots. They use sabotage, death-ray guns, murder, and even cocktails, to get what they want. The head scientist, shortly after being gunned down with a 激光 laser and left for dead, hands off the circuit board to his brave son-in-law.  “Take this, and flee!”  But those lousy Americans don’t give up…  they shoot down the kid’s plane over shark-infested, death-ray-filled waters, and he ends up on a mysterious Dr Moreau island.  On this island?  Oh, just more death rays, a robot, a mute dogsbody (ahem), some cool sound effects, and loud disembodied “Number Two” announcements.  Oh, it just keeps going!

Okay, “Death Ray” is very cheesy… The effects are terrible, the plot– based on the story by Tong Enzheng — is wildly convoluted, and it really reminds me a lot of the 1950s American sci-fi films.  With more awesome Hawaiian strings on the score.

But it’s also earnest, and a really interesting slice of Reform & Opening Up China. At its core is the duelling lust & hate for the West…  shots of the futuristic and desirous overseas American life, which is ruined only by the evil Americans who live there.  (I remember experiencing the same duality as a schoolboy in England: all of my classmates were obsessed with America, but hated Americans.  I guess we all experience this everywhere…)

And then there’s the dancing, the glorious ballroom dancing!  It was all the craze in the mainland at the time, so there’s a great extended (8 minutes or so?) scene, which is set in a ballroom dancing party.  Not much point to the scene, except to watch (and study) the moves.  If you haven’t already, don’t miss Ginger Huang’s wonderful article from The World of Chinese magazine about “The Last 30 Years of Dancing in China.”  Not only is she a great writer, it’s a fascinating story.  (Executions for holding dance parties…  and more.)

The film remains unsubtitled, which is a crime — it’s delicious fun — so I’m working on fan-subtitling it. (Help always appreciated!)  But in the meantime, here are some colorful pix from a VCD copy.


Don’t miss the futuristic backgrounds.



I’m confused about this classic clock in among all the futuristic computery, but it works.


The floppy disc took me back to my younger days. Plus, love the bathroom tile walls.




What is this machine?  “Pox license”? “EGG”?


The white-skinned, red-headed, prosthetic-nosed force of evil…


Eight minutes of ballroom dancing.


The evil sweater is sweet. Later, he dramatically rips off his sunglasses. Won’t reveal the shocker.


Cut back to dancing for a while.  A long while.


That henchman’s shnozz has to be prosthetic, no?


Death ray effects.  Have to say…  kinda weak.


More henchmen.  That’s a wig on the redhead, right?


I think I know this robot guy from Fisherman’s Wharf.



I wish you could see the massive speedboat she’s helming, but… you get the idea.


This brilliant scientist isn’t really insane.  You have to see their trickery to believe it…


The evil boss, in his younger, permed wig days.  I love this guy.


Great asylum design!  Especially adore the droopy white lines.


I won’t give away the ending, but…. well…  *KABOOM!*

If you want to help with subtitles, let me know!

/ by Dean Pickles / 10 Comments