Impulse Pictures (Synapse) released the "Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailer Collection" last year to the gratitude of diehard Nikkatsu fans and devotees of on-screen erotica . Its release was not dissimilar to the sexy neighbor half disrobing for you as you ogled her from the assumed cover of a darkened room. She knows you want her, but she's not going to make it easy. She wants to test your long term interest, and who can blame her? A one night stand won't pay the bills or fuel her fires when nights are cold.
Finally, the sexy neighbor has made good on her promise and exposed her sleek little body not once but twice with the releases of True Story of a Woman in Jail - Sex Hell (Koyu Ohara), and Debauchery (Hidehiro Ito). Like many a shy lass, this one is full of delicious surprises.
Ohara's flick, the first in a a sleazy trio, is modeled on Shunya Ito's Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 ('72), but it's less surreal, more erotic, and far sleazier than any 'Scorpion' entry with the exception of Masaru Konuma's Caged ('83). Having directed a minor erotic classic (Fairy in a Cage; '77) and one of my favorite pink flicks of all time, White Rose Campus - Then, Everyone Gets Raped ('82), Oharu delivers the expected goods to Sex Hell, but he also succeeds in bringing a surprising amount of solid characterization to the movie, as well as some sharp performances. In all honesty, female prison flicks can be repetitive and overly familiar, usually meeting conventions and little else, but Ohara's effort here demonstrates commitment to producing a work that rises above the usual.
From a kink perspective, this is one juicy and creative exercise. Ticking the usual boxes (lesbianism, rape, and shower fondling), it also adds a cheery helping of golden games and sensual brutality. A bloody tampon makes an appearance here, too, and would again seven years later in the wild White Rose Campus; in that, a pervert enters a public bathroom and engages in some mind-boggling tampon-sniffing. Ohara's strength is his guiltless commitment to the material.
A terrific DVD bonus here is a color reproduction of the film's original poster; it's an absolute corker. On top of that, Japanese film expert Jasper Sharp provides concise and info-rich liner notes on the film and its cinematic context.
Highly recommended... and the first sequel is on its way...
Impulse's simultaneous release is the inferior Debauchery ('83) from director/writer Hidehiro Ito. Ryoko Watanabe stars as an unhappy housewife who finds herself on a semi-reluctant erotic odyssey to a land way beyond her personal boundaries.
Directed and shot with an average amount of style, it's powered by a strong central performance and a constant escalation of its shock factor.
The theme of a woman exploring her limits is not new at all in Japanese cinema. Recent releases such as the Flower and Snake remakes have plumbed these well-worn depths with unbridled panache, but Debauchery, though a more modest affair, lifts itself out of typical 'Oniroku Dan' territory (many of these efforts are based on Dan's novels) by sheer invention and a refusal to remain within "acceptable" limits (relatively speaking); the "explosive" climax neatly returns our heroine to her initial starting point, completing a neat circle. During this period in Nikkatsu's history, their output was as controversial and limit-pushing as possible. Debauchery reflects that status.
With these two releases, Impulse has established a solid standard for their Nikkatsu releases. The transfer/print quality is as good as it's going to get (bar a Blu-Ray bump), and the choice of material is strong.
One of the upcoming titles that excites me immensely is 'Zoom In: Rape Apartments', a truly mind-boggling piece of fiery erotica that will be retitled Zoom In: Sex Apartments for its US debut. This film is a must for the whole damn family (well, at least those over eighteen).