Monday, March 25, 2013

Pulpy Porn Pulchritude

Incendiary sexual material like this is frequently ignored by society's hypocritical and ignorant gatekeepers. You know the type of people I'm talking about. They're real big on telling you that THAT is literature and THAT is trash. If it's a Penguin Classic, it's literature -- if it's published by Mills and Boon, Satan's Press, or Eraserhead (Press), it's trash.   Never mind the fact that Penguin publishes a lot of so-called "classics" because they're public domain. They don't cost them a cent in advances or royalties. It's a financial decision, and plonking "classic" on the masthead keeps the scam cooking.

At Phantom HQ, no distinction is made between literature and trash, art or pornography. Nope, here it's all about one question and one question only: Does it achieve greatness on its own terms?

The Just For Kicks cover is truly one of my all-time favorites. "Wandering nymphets, stoked with aphrodisiacs, were capable of any unnatural act." Like what? Well, having wild threesomes with men old enough to be their grandfathers. You can bet that this silver fox didn't need to pop a Viagra to "perform.

Not a bad read at all. It's worth keeping in mind that many, many porno novels were written by established names moonlighting for some extra bucks to put their kids through school.

Uncredited but fantastic cover art for Jim Felton's The Rapist (I love the silhouetted foreground), a book purporting to be the true confessions of an imprisoned man with a year to serve. The book, which is written in a spare, conversational style, has no truck with political correctness or conventional redemption. It concludes with these paragraphs: 

I've been a model prisoner and that means I should be released in less than a year. Whenever I start musing on what I must do, I look out through the window bars of my upper story cell. I can see the prison road winding off through the fields. It's only fifteen miles from this place to the little farm town where I grew up.

Only fifteen miles to Susie Mills' house.

The publisher writes:

We loved it for its unusual candor and its provocative insights into the workings of a rapist's mind.

Jim Felton doesn't hesitate to editorialize on the "hypocritical games" of women and on quite a few other things, and though his views in no way reflect the publisher's views, we think you'll enjoy hearing a rapist "tell it like it is". 

Therefore, we bring you "Confessions of A Rapist". 

I love this image of a woman enjoying her alcohol. She's so damn thirsty she can't wait for her gentleman friend to provide a glass. Clearly, some good times are ahead.

Truly a tawdry tale from J.X. Williams, it is enthusiastically written and paints a vivid picture of a deliciously sleazy mindset.

It opens, literally, with a bang, and a great description of its leading lady.

A poster flapping in the gritty wind announced the feature attraction of the Bijou Theatre as a Payne-Hutton production for Colossal. No one on Hamilton Street was interested, though. The picture had been released for distribution six years ago.

Heavy boards were nailed over the Bijou's doors. Tin cashier's booth had long ago been demolished by vandal and the citizens of Hamilton Street had grown accustomed to seeing that last poster worn away bit by bit in summer rain and winter snow. The paper relic of the Bijou's decay was now reduced to a few letters of type, the right eye brow of Chester Morris and Richard Arlen's determined jaw.

Inside the Bijou this damp September evening, however, there was another kind of feature attraction, completely hidden from the weary citizens of Hamilton Street.

In the dark ruin of broken seats and ripped-up carpet, a seventeen-year-old girl named Rita Danilov was getting ready to take on eight boys one at a time.

Getting ready?

Hell, she was ready.

Her head buzzed with the beer she'd consumed after the boys picked her up outside Olivetti's Variety Store. She kicked off her sneaks. She could hardly wait to get free of the binding constriction of her ultra-tight, dark blue toreadors.

More erotic magic from Greenleaf. I like the darker hues and utter lack of sophistication of this image. That's what makes it hot. Just plain white panties and a provocative pose.

I'm not sure why the fella is reading books on the floor, but one could argue that he's in the right place at the right time.

Porn novel logic can't be denied.

Satan's Press serves up its 107th entry, blessing it with an S/M-inspired cover that deMullotto would have enjoyed. Heavy on the S/M, the Satan's Press books are not true hardcore, and came before words like "cunt", "fuck", and "cum" were commonly used in print pornography.

The $.75 price denotes the era.  

Sexual Freaks, by Stan Remming, features case histories of women encountering bizarre sexual behavior, behavior that would not have been out of place on a 70's Color Climax/Rodox film and still shoot.

Mr. Remming offers a telling introduction to the content:

As a newspaper reporter I have run across many strange stories of bizarre sex practices. Some of them involve warped, twisted psyches that have reached the point where no normal sexual practices are impossible.

At this point, their strange sexual compulsions drive them to all sorts of off-beat sexual contacts in the hope of achieving satisfaction.

While the daily police files are crowded with stories of rape of one sort or another, there are sometimes cases of such terrible magnitude that the details make the calloused reporter flinch.

To better understand how the mind works in these twisted sexual circumstances, I have drawn upon a few such incidents to outline in detail exactly what happened.

While it is hard to understand how certain individuals derive satisfaction sexually from warped sexual practices, it, nevertheless, is necessary to completely understand how their minds function in order to be of help in preventing recurrences in the future.

Therefore, we will focus our attention on the minutest details of these strange and twisted sexual psyches, and by looking at these acts dispassionately it is hoped understanding will follow.

These strange people can serve as vivid reminders that these aberrations exist all around us, and they can well serve as a warning to keep our guard up at all times.

How often one reads of two young teenage girls who are hitch-hiking and wind up picked up by two lusty young men. If they are lucky, they get to their destination unharmed. But, if they are like some unfortunate young girls who've tried hitch-hiking they are either molested, raped or killed. The sexual instinct is second in power only to survival in the human psyche. This must be remembered when anyone thinks sex is just a plaything.

The following case histories expose the depths the sexual drive gone awry can take a person.

A Greenleaf edition trading on 70's fears that grew out of the Vietnam War.

Cover illustration is not particularly striking.  

Although I despise porno novels with actual photos on the cover (it was a sign of a turn for the worst in the business) , I like the description here:

The girls were beautiful and youthful... but not so innocent... and they were willing victims of the dirtiest racket in town!

It's a mighty claim that your racket is the dirtiest racket in town. There are so many others to compete with. 

Another classic (?) from Russ Trainer and Satan's Press. Much of the novel takes place inside a prison, and what makes the male/female coupling possible is the hostage drama set-up. 

In one exciting scene, a nasty husband gets his just desserts from a pissed-off wife:

Lisa raised her foot and struck him again. Then again and again, so fast that her smashing foot resembled the relentless striking of a trip-hammer. And as she tortured his body, she raised her head high, looked to the ceiling, and parted her lips. Her eyes glazed and she looked as if she were experiencing a sexual thrill, undoubtedly the first of its kind she had ever entertained. And she jammed and pumped her foot to him. Blood oozed and smeared at his groin. He looked bloody and broken, made forever limp and useless, injured beyond repair. He looked cutoff and left not at all like a man.

Finally, Burt Matthews yelped a final time before going unconscious. But Lisa continued her attack for it had become to mean something else to her. She pumped her foot hard and as she did so, she raised one hand to her breasts. She tore the bra from her body. She grabbed one breast and kneaded it madly as she continued to thump her sharp shoe into her husband's groin. And her eyes elongated, grew sensual and wild. Moisture dribbled at the corners of her mouth. And she kneaded and kneaded as she jammed her husband's manhood into total lifelessness.

Phyllis Marlowe's Lustful Karate Teacher was an attempt to mix Bruce Lee with porn. Enter the Dragon was big at the time, so it made sense to blend kung fu with fuck fu, didn't it? No, it didn't, it was a dumb idea, and Lustful Karate Teacher was a bust. 

It's weird how they avoided any karate kicking action on the cover. 

A killer who stalks the women of Los Angeles at noon (!)

I'm not sure why it's marketed as surprising that the "victims are always women". Afterall, these novels are aimed at hetero men.

On top of that, why the cover photo that clearly appears to be taking place at night?

The writing here is pretty good, and the Los Angeles trappings (read: lots of freaks and "perverts") make for a spicy read.

The conclusion wraps it all up nicely as the killer goes down:

Cautiously, sweating in his bulletproof vest, he entered the bathroom. It was empty. Slowly he opened the door of the shower stall. Sy Brendt lay slumped on the tile floor, his gun beside him. He had shot himself in the chest, but he was still alive. The toupee had fallen to the floor and his naked scalp trickled drops escaping from the showerhead. "I thought it might be you," Bishop said softly.

The actor stared at him. A glaze had come over his eyes. "Please make sure they feed my pets," he said. "Only rats. That's all Hamlet and Lollobrigida eat. They're the only things alive that ever gave a damn about me."

A moment later he was dead.

Bishop turned as he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Trask. He stood up.

"The girl's okay, Mike. She was all right as soon as they took her out into the fresh air."

Lieutenant Bishop shook his head, took off his hat and wiped his brow with his hander-chief. He moved closer to the window. "What a town! Los Angeles. Even the murders out here come out like B-movies. All these phony complications. Disguises, plastic bags, all that crap. Where else could it happen but Hollywood? Next week, Fu Manchu."

He examined the body for a moment and then went in to see how Penny was. When he came back, Trask was putting down the phone.

"Come on over to the house tonight, Al. Helen always celebrates the end of a case with a twenty-dollar meal: chicken paprika, Hungarian chocolate cheese cake, and champagne."

Trask flushed deeply. "I'd like to, Mike, but I just offered to take Sally Rosson to dinner. She's still a little shaken."

Bishop eyed him carefully. "Bring her over, Al. If she's going to be a cop's wife, she might as well learn how to cook."

A final entry from Satan's Press and the reliable Russ Trainer.

A man finds himself in a camp run by women who enjoy fighting more than fornicating.

Cover art clearly inspired by Eric Stanton.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kim Ki-Duk's Brilliant PIETA

Kim Ki-duk's PIETA deservedly beat out Mallick's TO THE WONDER, De Palma's PASSION, and Anderson's THE MASTER to win Venice's Golden Lion Award in 2012; THE MASTER came second.

It's encouraging to see that politics, hype, and big money don't always hold the winning cards in these festivals.

I recently caught PIETA and was blown away by it. Easily my favorite Kim Ki-duk film since CROCODILE and THE ISLE, it is a brutal, unsentimental, yet touching tale of a debt collector who will do anything to collect... until a strange woman who may or may not be 'family' enters the picture.

With recent efforts like TIME, BREATH, THE BOW, and DREAM, the director's ideas have failed to coalesce into a satisfactory whole. Although imbued with strong concepts and deft execution on low budgets, they have lacked the audacity of earlier works such as THE ISLE, ADDRESS UNKNOWN, BAD GUY, CROCODILE, and BIRDCAGE INN. Thankfully, PIETA gets the balance exactly right, and is entirely satisfying as both a visceral and a deeply emotional experience.

The film is filled with stunning revelations and bursts of cringe-worthy violence as it critiques the excesses of capitalism and the aftermath it leaves us . Set in a typically confined Kim milieu, the drama plays out intimately, and Kim never takes easy roads to dramatic peaks. Blessed with truly amazing lead performances, it's a textbook example of a brilliant concept realized brilliantly, and without the compromise that buckets of money bring.

For the faint-hearted, this is one to steer well clear of. For the adventurous cinephile, PIETA is acidic cinematic ejaculate blown across the face of convention. 

...and made for 1/50 of the cost of its closest contenders.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

James Herbert Has Died

James Herbert, a writer mentioned often on this blog, and sometimes referred to as "Britain's Stephen King" has died at 69. He originated what came to be known as 'the nasty', and, with THE RATS, launched an entire genre of horror fiction that spawned titles such as NIGHT OF THE CRABS, BLOWFLY, EAT THEM ALIVE, SLIME, WORMS, THE CATS, DEVIL'S COACH HORSE, SNAKES, and ALLIGATORS.

THE RATS, his first book, was a phenomenon that combined graphic violence and raw sex in the working class settings of London. James, the son of London street traders and an ex-advertising man, was a true success story. In the wake of THE RATS came THE FOG (no relation to the John Carpenter movie) THE SURVIVOR, THE DARK, FLUKE, DOMAIN, LAIR, THE MAGIC COTTAGE, THE SPEAR, HAUNTED, and many others. He even created a RATS installment as a graphic novel and penned two non-fiction works, the best being BY HORROR HAUNTED.

As a young lad, I wrote to Mr. Herbert to express my admiration for his early novels. Over a decade, we exchanged many handwritten letters and met in Melbourne when he was promoting THE JONAH with his publisher. I enjoyed an underaged beer with them.

A serious-minded writer who stressed the importance of research and wrote beautifully, he once told me that writing sex and violence opens up the mind's receptors, and often started his writing day by scribbling something juicy. He also rewrote two or three pages from the previous day's work to get himself back into the previous day's groove.

Mr. Herbert's work was not, generally, translated well to the silver screen. DEADLY EYES, an attempt to turn THE RATS into a movie, was a depressing misfire. THE SURVIVOR, a film made in Australia by director David Hemmings, took a great idea and made a mess of it.

More recently, Mr. Herbert angled towards more supernatural-focused fiction, and an adaptation of his novel HAUNTED fared better in a TV format. He moved away from the true hardcore horror of earlier works with a series of effective 'ghost' novels, but, right up until his final novel ASH, Mr. Herbert's skill to chill was unique and unequaled.

A man who suffered no fools and applied a no-nonsense approach to everything he did, he will be greatly missed by millions who were shaped by his special brand of horror.

You were a true Apostle of Pulp, and you did for British horror what Enid Blyton did for childrens' literature.

RIP, James.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Melbourne a Thriving Hive of Softcore Succulence For Children

To me, the Melbourne of the late 60's and 70's was a thriving hive of softcore sexual succulence.

I didn't have internet porn when I was a kid. I couldn't get on-line and stream obscenity until my balls turned blue.

No, I had newspaper ad mats like these.

I guess they're responsible for my insane filmmakers' optimism.

In order to be a filmmaker, you've got to be insanely optimistic while attempting to remain realistic. It's not an easy line to walk.

I certainly didn't walk it well when I was seven years old. In fact, I must have been some sort of nutcase to even ask my mother to take me to I Married You For Fun.  What the fuck was the likelihood of that happening? See, insane optimism?

Still, I persisted. I pointed to the ad and said "Can I see that movie? I'll mow the lawns for two years if you let me."

I never saw the movie, but I still mowed the lawns for two years.

Ripped off.

The Star Adult Cinema on Melbourne's Elizabeth Street fascinated me for a decade. I actually thought you'd find people lounging around naked like this inside. Every now and then, my mum would take me into the city to see my eye doctor. On the way back to the station, I'd always insist on walking past the Star. It had flashing lights, pictures of semi-naked girls, and men in long coats buzzed up and down its grimy steps. Sometimes I'd take a short detour down those steps, but my mum's firm hand always pulled me back into line.

What's a "loving feeling"? I asked myself. Are those people on the poster experiencing one? "Beautiful birds," the poster sings. "Beautifully stimulating." Stimulating? Was that something I could be part of?

Not on your fuckin nelly, mate!

Steptoe and Son was a popular British TV show screened on Channel 2 in Melbourne. 'Steptoe' was a grumpy old coot and his son tolerated him. I made no attempt to see this one at the drive-in because I could already see it on TV. Didn't other people realize that?

Of course, this was a slightly raunchier version of the TV show. The girls probably said "Saucy!" a lot and acted like they didn't want sex -- not unless they had a beer first. 

Forbidden Decameron screened at the Playbox, not a traditional Melbourne porn venue. The theatre became a traditional live venue in the late 70's and never turned back.

The film, riding on the Decameron bandwagon, was a '72 flick from Italy. I never saw it, but I was fixated on the fact that it was "a more sensuous insight" into the writings of a bloke I'd never heard of.

What did "sensuous" mean? Could I be part of sensuous things?

I didn't know the answer to that one.

The word "romp" was used, too. I was learning quickly that a "romp" usually involved naked things.

A '78 film from Germany in which a lot of girls romp and act sensuously, I was 16 when it hit local drive-ins,  but because I was in the middle of important high school exams at the time, I was denied the film's subtle pleasures.

The support, Alice Sweet Alice, is one of my favorite horror movies ever.  

I took the Slaughter ad mat to school and achieved temporary popularity very quickly. This was as close as my classmates got to women with bumps on their chests. Bumps AND guns upped the ante considerably, so  I rode my legendary status for a day or two.

I grew up knowing that Jim Brown was a very important American. I couldn't figure out why he wasn't President.  He had more girls than the President. Well, maybe not more than JFK.

The Wife Swappers was another of my youthful fixations. When I finally saw it, I wasn't disappointed. It delivered.

But back when I was 8 in 1970, the concept of wife swapping confused me. I wanted to know the mechanics of wife swapping, so I asked my mum.

"What's wife swapping?"

Mum's answer began in the usual way: "Who wants to know that?"

My reply was the usual also: "A kid at school."

"Where did you hear that?"

"It's in a movie."

"What stupid movie?"

My investigation into wife swapping almost ended there. Almost.

"Mum, does dad swap you?"


"Does dad do some wife swaps?"

"Don't be ridiculous. He's at work."

That wasn't an answer, but it popped my balloon temporarily.

Until dad got home.

I approached him after dinner as he settled down to watch a popular Melbourne TV show called League Teams. On the show, they announced upcoming line-ups for Saturday's footy games.

"Dad, what's wife swapping?"

Dad looked through me while pondering the question.

"What's what?"

He'd heard me, but he needed time to recover.

"What's wife swapping?"

"Oh, I don't know. Who wants to know that?"

"A kid at school."

"Which kid?"

"I dunno his name. Just a kid."

Dad tried looking at League Teams to avoid looking at me. A bloke named Lou Richards was speaking.

"Dad, have you ever swapped mum for another mum?"

He didn't do it much, but dad looked at me and smiled. It was a smile that came before a low volume answer.

"Nah," he said. "I wouldn't get away with thinking about that, let alone doing it."

I didn't know what dad meant, but I was sure he'd shared something a little grown-up with me. I appreciated that.

This one confused me. "Some girls do, some girls don't."

"Do" what?  What do they "do"?  What don't they "do"?  What was I missing out on?

Pre-The Blood on Satan's Claw, the beautiful Linda Hayden in the classic Baby Love. Saw this at the Burwood drive-in with dad. The main feature was Medak's The Ruling Class, a film I didn't really get at the time.  I did get Baby Love, though, and I fell in love with Linda Hayden.

Lucky for me, there was a girl who lived out the back of our local Milk Bar named Louise. I started to think that she looked like Linda Hayden after I fell for Linda. Louise could do no wrong. I followed her down to the park once and watched her smoking a secret cigarette, one she'd pinched from her own mum's Milk Bar.  Smoking looked sexy when Louise did it.

Nothing serious happened with me and Louise, but I did go "digital" with her on one occasion. That's another story, and I didn't need to marry her, either.

I urged both my parents to take me to see The Initiation. I promised to make beds, dry dishes, mow lawns, and forsake five years of birthday presents for the privilege of seeing this. A Canadian flick from Denis Heroux, a future producer of Scanners,   I worshipped the artistic poster, and was deeply affected by the idea that three people could be naked together.

I made my case with mum while I was drying the dinner dishes:

"It's about flowers," I said.

Mum took a quick glance at the ad mat I'd already pasted into my scrapbook.

"Why do you even want that in your book?" she said, not at all pleased with my interest in illustrated threesomes.

"It finishes next week," I said.

"Good," she said, "and good riddance. We don't need films like that."

What do you mean "we", I thought. I need films like that.

"Can't we see it?"

"It's not for children," she said.

"Then who's it for?"


"I thought you said I'm a grown-up now," I countered.

"You're not THAT grown-up," she sneered, flipping the dish towel onto the rack. "And it's time you went to bed, too."

I persisted. "I'll see it on my own if you don't let me."

"You won't be seeing it on your own or with anybody. It's not for you."

And that's what stuck in my head for years: "It's not for you, it's not for you, it's not for sure." The statement echoed in a cheap echo chamber.

When I did finally see it, those words made it more enjoyable. I was finally watching a film that wasn't for me, wasn't for me, wasn't for me. I was defying my mother. Not even a great score can make a film as enjoyable as one watched in a state of defiance of your mother.

I tried hard to convince dad to take me to The Hitchhikers. Despite the fact that it was restricted to children over the age of 18, I almost succeeded. I recall him looking up where it was playing and studying the ladies on the ad. To me, that was as good as a yes, let's hit the road, son!

Unfortunately, nobody hit the road. I hit bed instead.

I never saw the film for another twenty years, but I sure enjoyed waving to female hitchhikers whenever our family went on a holiday at Xmas time. Dad never stopped to pick any up because he didn't want me having too much fun, I guess. Or maybe he was scared of what mum what say. She'd already put her foot down on wife swapping. God knows what she'd think about hitchhikers.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fifty Shades of a Deeper Gray: Fairy in A Cage

Beyond some extravagant and audacious bondage and torture sequences, Koyu Ohara's Fairy in a Cage (Nikkatsu Studios, '77boasts stellar production values with period detail unique for its budget. Never have these elements been more obvious and lush than on Impulse/Synapse's Blu-ray of this infamous Roman Porno (Romantic Pornography) production. Never released on DVD or Blu-ray anywhere in the world, it finally gets the royal treatment.

Released simultaneously with the just-reviewed and highly praised Female Teacher: In Front of the Students, this superb piece of elegant perversion from '77, the year Star Wars arrived on our planet, is a must-have for collectors and the cinematically adventurous. The 'Fifty Shades of Gray' crowd may not be ready yet for  Mr. Ohara and writer Oniroku Dan's brand of S/M, but, if anybody is looking for a worthy entry point for this unique Japanese genre,  this may be a good place to start.

Mr. Dan is a Japanese novelist whose works have been enthusiastically adapted by erotic filmmakers. A couple of Dan standouts are Rope Cosmetology, Teruo Ishii's The Red Silk Gambler, and various films based on his 'Flower and Snake' books.   He's not big on plot or characterization, but he does imbue the genre with particularly personal touches.  You'll find a lot of rope bondage in the author's work, and Fairy  in a Cage is consistent with that fact.  The film is a catalog of squirmy "tortures" that run the gamut from suspension to spanking to various water-based outrages. Rape is pretty frequent, too.

Ohara, the director of the infamous Zoop Up: Rape Site,  True Story of a Woman Condemned To Hell, Wet and Rope, and the exploitation classic White Rose Campus: Then, Everybody Gets Raped, brings a more tempered artistic style to this tale of military and upper class corruption set doing WWII in the Land of the Rising Sun. The bare-bones story involves a wealthy pervert who uses a dubious military pretext to arrest and incarcerate (in his home torture chamber) a woman (Naomi Tani) that he wants for his own private amusement. Assisted by delightfully deviant wife, he involves Tani in his games, and brings along a devotee of hers (she's an actress!) for additional humiliation.

The film is lavish, somewhat confronting, but fairly predictable plot-wise until the two-thirds mark. It then shoots off on an interesting tangent and re-locates itself to a dense forest where horrors of a more personal kind are experienced by Tani, an actress who never met a torture she couldn't embrace.

The work of cinematographer Nobumasa Mizunoo on Fairy is exemplary. Surprisingly, he had only shot two Masaru Konuma classics before this (Erotic Diary of an Office Lady and Cloistered Nun: Runa's Confession), but produces the work of a veteran artist here, delivering exquisitely lit interiors complimented by striking compositions. The tortures shot through the metal bars of a cell are breathtaking, as is his photographic treatment of the film's final denouement. 

Similar in style to Toshiharo Ikeda's very fine Sex Hunter, Koyu Ohara's Fairy in a Cage is intensely erotic stuff that will arouse the open-minded and shock those bringing traditional expectations of entertainment to it. Like all Nikkatsu 'pornos', it is not, in fact, pornography as we Westerners define it, and steers well clear of hardcore sexual depictions.

That it is now available on Blu-ray is, I must admit, kind of amazing.

I urge you to support this release with a legit purchase in order to encourage Impulse's head honcho Don May to think seriously about releasing such unreleased (in the US) Nikkatsu treats as Rape, White Rose Campus..., Zoom Up: Rape Site, Sex Hunter, and Raping! on Blu-ray.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Female Teacher: In Front of the Students

What's to be said about Yasuro Uegaki's Female Teacher: In Front of the Students (just out from Impulse/Synapse) is all good. Very, very good, in fact.

Nikkatsu, the old Japanese film studio that, after sixty years, suddenly turned dark and erotic to make ends meet, has, admittedly, made its share of lame efforts such as Nympho Diver and I Like It From Behind, both recently released by Impulse/Synapse. I suppose some folks bought them, but, for mine, they have little appeal because they're doing nothing that hundreds of British and American softcore porn flicks haven't already done.

You can't say the same about Nikkatsu flicks like Assault - Jack The Ripper, Rape!, White Rose Campus - Then, Everybody Gets Raped, Sex Hunter - Wet Target, Sex Hunter (the Ikeda film), Secret Chronicle - She Beast Market, and Zoop Up - Rape Site. All of these feature exploitation elements that are very culture-specific, and do not shun the sticky mix of sexual violence and eroticism that many Western films are afraid of.  Although S/M is being mainstreamed (and reduced to blandly flavored vanilla) by works of dubious literary merit such as 'Fifty Shades of Grey' (a massive bestseller), its harsher, more incendiary essence has been shaved away.

Nothing is shaved away in Impulse/Synapse's Female Teacher: In Front of the Students, a truly subversive Nikkatsu flick that some would describe as "troubling" for its perspective on rape. To take its politics too seriously would be to misunderstand its intentions. It is, afterall, a skin flick for a skin flick audience, so it takes a fantasy often imagined by women to its natural end point. If you think it condones the view that a raped woman can be sexually charged by the resulting trauma, you're projecting too hard. This is fantasy Japan-style, not reality.

The pretty Rushia Santo is 'Reiko', a new teacher at an elite high school. Forced to discipline a group of spoilt brats led by the particularly nasty Takuya (Toru Nakane), she finds herself intimidated by the boy. After an unnerving exchange with the group, Reiko is raped in one of the school's showers. Humiliated, she doesn't report the rape, but she keeps a piece of a jigsaw puzzle dropped at the scene by the masked rapist. Over the next few days, she attempts to identify her attacker, and flashes back to key images of the rape, but  her search is sidelined by a series of highly erotic seductions that relight the fire of the incident.

Like Toshiharu Ikeda's little-seen Sex Hunter (not be confused with Sex Hunter - Wet Target) and the notorious Captured For Sex 2, Female Teacher: In Front of the Students exudes an atmosphere of sexual nihilism and abandon that is downright intoxicating. Director Uegaki demonstrates a superb eye and flair for dark eroticism, and creates a seventy minute masterpiece that sucks us into a sexual maelstrom while never ignoring the story's emotional journey. Santo is excellent as a woman on an odyssey of deep exploration, and delivers a strong emotional, physical, and intensely sexual performance as a teacher torn between tradition and the delicious call of the dark.

The film has an amazing look. It's gritty and beautiful all at once, and the compositions, subtle camera moves, and extreme close-ups are striking. The sex runs the gamut from hetero to lesbian, and there is a potent threeway worked into the mix. The narrative never flags, and the sense of anxiety experienced by Reiko is always felt by the audience.

A great selection from Impulse/Synapse, and, hopefully, a sign of the direction future releases will take. Films like this offer a rare and exotic glimpse into the human mind, and underline why nobody does it better than the Japanese.