Monday, December 13, 2010

Nikkatsu Roman Porno Collection

The Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailer Collection from Impulse Pictures (an offshoot of Synapse) is representative of a pretty extraordinary commitment (by the distributor) to the audacious work of the unique Japanese studio.

This collection is a compilation of 38 trailers and offers a pleasing taste of, hopefully, a lengthy release schedule that will see many of these films distributed for the very first time -- legitimately -- with English subtitles. It's encouraging, too, that the condition of these trailers is excellent considering their vintage.

To be fair, some Nikkatsu titles such as Assault! Jack The Ripper (Mondo Macabro) and Star of David: Hunting for Beautiful Girls (Discotekmedia) have been released in the U.S. in excellent subtitled editions, but these releases were not indicative of broader releasing plans (of this type of material) for their distributors.

Koji Wakamatsu Volume 2 from blaq out

Only a small handful of French distributors have embraced some of these titles (and works from the likes of Teruo Ishii and Koji Wakamatsu) with equal enthusiasm. Per contractual conditions, however, most of these have not been subtitled in English. The exception is the recent Koji Wakamatsu Volume 2 from Blaq Out.

I've written extensively on Nikkatsu's output in these blogs, so I'm not going to bore you with more introductory history.

The trailers featured in this collection are quite diverse in quality and tone. Nurses Gone Wild is light-hearted softcore, while Yasaharu Hasebe's Rape! is a dark masterpiece.

Yasaharu Hasebe's Rape! may finally see a U.S. release

Although Nikkatsu's 'roman porno' (romantic pornography) output was, by definition, always sex-oriented, there was great variety to be found between the poles.

Of the trailers included in this compilation, I've seen about half of the movies themselves. My favorites of the ones on offer are Rape!, Zoom In: Rape Apartments, Sex Hunter (an extraordinary piece from 'Evil Dead Trap' director Toshiharu Ikeda), Race Across the Drenched Wasteland, Sex Hunter: Wet Target (from Yukihiro Sawada, the director of Flesh Target - Rape), Female Teacher: In Front of the Students, Female Teacher: Dirty Afternoon, Female Teacher Hunting, and The Lovers Are Wet.

It's worth mentioning that these trailers may not be entirely representative of all the features Impulse will be releasing; they may not even release some of these in feature form at all. Recently, on the AV Maniacs forums, Don May Jr., the head honcho of Impulse/Synapse, mentioned additional titles such as Eros School, True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell, and Woman in Heat Behind Bars.

Race Across the Drenched Wasteland (aka 'Retreat Through the Wet Wasteland')

In anyone's book, these upcoming releases are essential purchases -- not downloads! Clearly, Impulse has made a substantial financial commitment to these titles, and there will be no future commitments if sales are not healthy.

In the long run, we will all lose ouit if the legit DVD's are not supported with dollars. I can not stress this hard enough. Is there a market for such a flood of moist magic? I hope so. I know I'll be snapping up every title. I hope other fans do, too.

The first two out of the gate are Female Teacher: Dirty Afternoon (a favorite of mine) and Debauchery, a film I have never seen. The trailer on the compile looks terribly tasty, though.

There are dozens of Nikkatsu and non-Nikkatsu titles beyond the Impulse titles that have yet to see English-subtitled releases including Raping! and Rape 13th Hour (two dazzlers from Yasaharu Hasebe) and Koyu Ohara's White Rose Campus - Then, Everybody Gets Raped, a spectacular piece of Cormanesque exploitation.

The unreleased White Rose Campus: Then, Everybody Gets Raped!
Available in Japan only

Also of note are Ohara's Zoom Up: Rape Site, Beautiful Teacher in Torture Hell, Captured for Sex 2, and Serial Rape (from Yojiro Takita, the director of the Oscar winning Departures).

Additionally, Pink Pineapple's amazing Rapeman series has only been released on DVD in Japan; it's not subtitled. An English-subbed release of that would be like Xmas.

Logically, if these roman porno titles are supported by fans and fans-to-be, it's highly likely that we'll see legit releases (with English subs) of the above-mentioned and many more.

However, if so-called "fans" opt to download the Impulse titles for free, we can all kiss the prospect of seeing legitimate releases of these films goodbye.

Support the genre with dollars.

There's no other way to assure its survival.

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A recent release from Synapse that I can't recommend highly enough is Graphic Sexual Horror, a truly amazing documentary about the life and death of insex.com, a website that was closed down by American ('Land of the Free') authorities.

14 comments:

  1. It's good to see this happening. Reissues of pink films seem to have exploded in Europe and Asia on DVD with very sharp looking transfers over the past few years but many are not English friendly. Save for a few notables, no US distributors have leaped at the chance to bring these films to American fans at all. If you really wanted them, you'd have to pay high prices to import them or buy them from pricey niche retailers, and even then your enjoyment is often hindered by the language barrier.

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  2. d -- I agree completely with you. We've all been paying very high prices for releases we often don't understand at all. American distribs have been slow on the uptake, I think, because the American market is pretty damn terrible for cult titles right now. Even the Australia cult film market is healthier. I guess it's the utter dominance of studios here in the U.S.; they condition audiences away from anything adventurous. On top of that, the Puritanism here is a bit shocking (even to me). And the gross hypocrisy. It's a weird country. Mostly weird in a fascinating way, but weird nonetheless.

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  3. jervaise brooke hamsterDecember 13, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    I just want to see gorgeous 18 year-old girls being buggered 24 hours a day (in POV).

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  4. jervaise brooke hamsterDecember 13, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    I SAID, I JUST WANT TO SEE GORGEOUS 18 YEAR-OLD GIRLS BEING BUGGERED 24 HOURS A DAY (IN POV).

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  5. I'm sure that puritanism runs pretty hot in most corners of the world, but I imagine that few countries have such an inhospitable environment for filmmakers and distributors that aren't backed by big money. I'm pretty sure the demand for cult DVDs is here, but it's not enough for a bunch of small distribs to compete with each other for the same dollar and have to compete against releases from the majors as well.

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  6. Thank (insert omnipotent entity of your choice here) for this trickle of such obscure 'fringe' material, and those such as the Phantom who keep us informed. Free speech will keep us all alive, in the long run...

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  7. d -- Puritanism is definitely not confined to the US, but it has a strong voice here. There was demand here once. There were more DVD companies than there are now. Cult dvd's used to sell up to 100,000 copies. Now that's a fantasy. I'm not quite sure why 300 million people can't support the reduced amount of cult TV companies. Surely a tiny percentage of those people possess an adventurous spirit? Or am I being naive?

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  8. I'm sure there's a fair market for cult films. I've been on a number of forums over the years and I'm sure you have been too where people are genuinely passionate about non-mainstream films, and quite a few of these are decently sized communities with many American members. I think part of it is the economy and the trend being to download and stream movies. I know I am not generally willing to spend $30 on a movie which I may only watch once or may not even like and that's a viable, cheap alternative for me. If I buy a DVD or BD or video game it's something I know I want, will enjoy, and get use out of. You also have Blu-rays and services like Zune and iTunes all vying for the same entertainment dollar. It's just too crowded and the money's spread so thin that I can't imagine anyone that has at the heart of their business selling a physical, manufactured product like a DVD or BD is making the kind of money from that end they were 5 or 6 years ago when Synapse, Blue Underground, Mondo Macabro, and Anchor Bay were cranking out quality films on DVD for the first time on a regular basis. It sucks because the niche distribs are not gonna be able to keep up in a few years unless they adapt their business to the internet.

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  9. jervaise brooke hamsterDecember 13, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    Phantom, perhaps you are being naive, dont you realise that American society is the most ludicrously hypocritical that has ever existed in the last 5,000 years of recorded world history.

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  10. d -- it does seem inevitable that all DVD labels will need to embrace on-line distribution. Certainly the market is more fragmented now than it has ever been before. Altho there are many outlets (legal and illegal)for obtaining movies, few are paying much back to the producers or distributors. I do encounter many passionate people, but even if we collected all these enthusiasts together, their patronage of cult hits would still not compensate distribs for the fees paid for rights and preparation/authoring/cleaning up of materials. These prices have not fallen, altho the market has shrunk. Internet is a good direction for future releases, but fans will not pay anything like cwhat they pay for BR's, for example, to download a film and its extras.

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  11. has anyone, anywhere, translated the titles back to their original japanese one's to find the details of the year of release? think that lots of the films synapse have licensed appear to be from the 80's, where as i prefer the 70's films in the RP line - quite a few that have the earlier nikkatsu logo at the start are to be found later in the trailer collection, and they're often kumashiro films (which i've seen all the R1 releases for, so far), and only one or two are hasebe. might need to avoid the 80's ones, you see...

    also, wondering why it seems to contain two films that were released on DVD in america by other companies not that long ago? or is it my imagination?

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  12. logboy -- films such as ZOOM IN RAPE APARTMENTS (80) and the one Hasebe pic, RAPE ('76) are the ones I'm also interested in. Personally, I have zero interest in the merely erotic/frivolous titles such as NURSES GONE WILD and I LOVE IT FROM BEHIND. The appeal of the rougher material is the way it blends sex and violence and pushes boundaries U.S. films never pushed. Maybe the distrib has been offered RAPE 13TH HOUR, WHITE ROSE CAMPUS, ZOOM IN RAPE SITE, and SERIAL RAPE, but has delclined to distribute or is waiting to see how the other titles do. My tastes are definitely not mainstream, so I can't predict what people might steer themselves towards. But if I had a choice, I'd go right for the more extreme material (incl. SEX HUNTER, which was also '80). It's worth noting that after ZOOM UP RAPE SITE Nikkatsu pulled back on the violence and made fairly bland pink flicks. The 70's films, as you rightly point out, are the best of the RP line (no question). It's ironic that the negativity (for some) associated with Nikkatsu's most brutal flicks is exactly what made the company notorious, and why it's those films that should be getting released now.

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  13. phantom - i only watched through the trailer disc a few days back, and thought for the most part it was really hard to judge what would turn out to be decent; i would, if i knew, probably only automatically plump for the 70's films (guessing about a third of what's due from synapse) and wait to see the reaction on the rest. love the look of 80's japanese film in general, but the RP stuff from that period is far less interesting, as we seem to agree, and as the general consensus seems to be from what i gather.

    don't know - and haven't asked don may jr via avmaniacs- what the conditions and opportunities were when these titles were arranged for USA release; perhaps nikkatsu dictated what could be had (creating a package or setting prices for sub-groups?), or perhaps synapse had ideas as to what style of work might stand a chance of opening up RP to interested niches such as a fetish for nurses or teachers. surprised, given that jasper sharp is writing the liner notes, there's little sense as to whether they consulted him (or similar authority) on what would be worthwhile.

    personally, i love the wildness of imagination of 'assault! jack the ripper', so i'm glad there seems to be one other violent RP coming, a few more kumashiro and one or two tanaka.

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