Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Are We There Yet?

I don't know why the makers of White Rose Campus: Then, Everybody Gets Raped! (Shirobara gakuen: soshite zenin) didn't go for a more provocative title         :-)

Didn't they understand that punters want to know what they're getting?!

This really is diamond quality exploitation from Nikkatsu and the late Koyu Ohara, the underrated director of Fairy in a Cage, Zoom Up - Rape Site, Wet and Rope, Sins of Sister Lucia, and dozens more.

In this dynamic sleaze epic, Ohara, shooting hand-held, captures a gloriously perverted vibe as he tells the pulp perfect story of a busload of high school girls imprisoned, raped, and assaulted by a trio of escaped convicts.

The film is remorseless in its depiction of base desires and niche fetishes.

The story opens with the lead villain, Yuichi Minato, an actor who worked hard to establish a resume of perversion, entering a female toilet block, locating a used tampon, and proceeding to suck it dry. With his deviant bona fides established, we become more than a little concerned when he observes a busload of virgins pulling up outside.

Yuichi and his psychotic pals sneak onto the bus and begin wreaking havoc after the bus has left the station and they've deposited the fat and ugly girls by the side of the road.

For me, what distinguishes great exploitation filmmaking from bad exploitation filmmaking is sincerity.

If you're going to tackle a subject, don't be embarrassed by it. Grab it by the balls and pull hard. Rip them off and stomp on them if you have to, but don't go crying to the high brows that you weren't making an exploitation film, you were trying to "say something important about human relations". Fuck off! Entertainment first.

Because Ohara is so damn sincere, and because he's energized by the subject matter, he delivers a masterpiece. He serves up glorious exploitation with a mean streak that has the whiff of a Corman pic, the grit of Sam Fuller, and the shit-eating bravado of Zebbedy Colt channeled through Max Hardcore and Sam Peckinpah.

When the villains get the girls to strip at gunpoint and line up for a chorus call of rape, you watch appalled and impressed because this gem is taking you to places only imagined in Greenleaf porno paperbacks from the 70's. Corman, Friedman and Herschell Gordon Lewis (God bless 'em all!) didn't go this far -- they never combined sex and violence with this much unapologetic ferocity.

Although the film was made to appeal to Nippon raincoaters, it has the broadest appeal of almost any pink film I know of. It embraces American exploitation conventions unabashedly, and may have been influenced somewhat by Earl Barton's Trip With The Teacher (1975)

...and Don Siegel's Dirty Harry (1971).

An echo of the great scene in Harry in which the irrepressible 'Scorpio' (Andrew Robinson) takes control of a school bus can be heard in Ohara's feature length perversion of the concept.

There is a raw, cruel humor present in White Rose Campus... and Ohara fucks with our our expectations of how the film's issues will be resolved.

Let me just say that there are no "good guys" to be found here... just some "good girls" who got more than they bargained for when they took a trip with the teacher.

A subplot involving one of the girls (pictured above) and her relationship with one of the convicts is a surprise addition to the heated proceedings.

As is common with all Japanese pink films, nudity is cloaked by quivering mosaics. Since there is so much nudity on show here, the mosaics jump around like frogs, making for a slightly distracting experience at times.

Once the action moves from the bus to a country mansion, the pace does not flag. On the contrary, there are plenty of surprises in store for the girls, their teacher, and the audience.

Most exploitation films do not live up to their titles. This is definitely not one of those.

The film has been released twice on DVD in Japan; although both transfers are stellar, there are no subtitles.

A gray market VHS (with subs) was distributed in the 90's by Thomas Weisser of Video Search of Miami.

No comments:

Post a Comment