Director: Giichi Nishihara

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

I love most aspects of Japanese cinema, though rubber monster suit films are not my faves, anime is not generally my cup of tea, & pinku-eiga or softcore usually bores me.

Now & then a romanu-poruno ("roman porn") or period-pinku film is kind of cool because the samurai action will be nifty in about equal proportion to the silly sex. But most such films have modern settings because they're cheaper to make & cheapness is all-important for most of these films.

I don't outright hate these films but it sometimes saddens me so many pinku or "pinky violence" softcore films have better distribution than really great Japanese films of artistic integrity telling superb stories. This isn't true of Giichi Nishihara, however, who has nearly been forgotten though he was something of a pioneer of softcore in the 1960s when it was still possible to get arrested.

Hikisakareta shojo (Ripped Virgin, 1968) is a pinku-eiga soft-core film about a highschool girl (Tamaki Katori) raped by her boyfriend (Hiroshi Yajima). For sadomastic viewers it will be way too lightweight & slick, but for anyone else it will merely be offensive that rape is treated as an entertainment for the viewer.

Much the same can be said of director Nishihara's other films, which are the same kind of lightweight rapist fantasies. In Nikutai no Yuwaku (Seduction of Flesh, 1968) young Ryoko (Tamaki Katori again) is multiply raped then commits suicide to save her husband's reputation.

Midareta kankei (Indecent Relationship; aka, Weeping Affair, 1967), where this director is concerned, is almost a real movie. It again stars Tamaki Katori, this time as a wife helping her husband (Koji Sato) with his gambling debts by working in a nightclub, putting herself at considerable risk.

When she discovers he is having an affair with the woman who owns the nightclub (Setsu Shimizu), who is abusive to her employees, our peevish heroine decides to kill them both.

This was pretty much the same plot Nishihara used the year before in Ijo Na Hanno: Monzetsu (Abnormal Reaction: Ecstasy, 1967) with Mari Azusa starring as the angry wife intent on killing her husband & his lover (Katori again), impaling them in their bed.

These two films must past as Nishihara's most "tasteful" grotesques, as everything else he directed pretty much reveals his own rape fetish; he's entirely singleminded about it, without any of Teruo Ishii's imagination, so really anyone who wants a big dose of politically incorrect misogyny should look for Ishii's Joys of Torture series before bothering with much of Nishihara.

However, one of his films comes close to Ishii's imagination: Sei no kaidan (Ghost Story of Sex, 1972) stars Maki Kirikawa, a horror story with a big gross-out rape scene ending in the victim's death. But at least it is framed as horror rather than sexy shit. And the dead girl's ghost pursues a course of vengeance against the serial rapist (Hiroshi Nishihara) driving him to an inventive demise.

Also viewable as a sicko horror tale is Gendai Ryoki Sei Hanzai (Grotesque Perverted Slaughter; aka, Present-day Bizarre Sex Crime, 1976) in which a jealous wife (Yuri Izumi) dismembers her husband's mistress (Keiko Sugi), then has wild sex with her hubby with the body parts under the bed. Our heroine is also gang-raped by yakuza, but it is that drawn out battle between Yuki & Maki that stands out as almost kind of cool as gross-out sickening films go.

More in keeping with the director's 1960s pinku-eiga but amped up a bit for the 1970s is Mou ichido yatte (Please Rape Me Once More, 1976), an abysmal descent into misogny. A husband & wife (Eiji Togawa & Yuki Misumi) divorce after the husband is disgusted by his wife having been raped. When opportunity arises, the divorced wife becomes willingly involved with her rapist (Hiroshi Nishihara) & convinces him to rape her ex-husband's new sweetheart.

In Ijojochi jiken: kamisori (Abnormal Passion Case: Razor, 1977) Nishihara again stars his real-life wife Yuri Izumi, this time portraying an incest relationship with her sickly father.

She is raped by her attorney while attempting to improve her lot, so when her old dad dies, she sets out to avenge herself on the rapist-attorney in a slash & hack climax. This is regarded among softcore afficionados as a true classic of its type, filmed & acted with horrific conviction.

If one wants ultra-trash instead of just trash, the 1970s films are going to be a lot more rewarding than the 1960s films, as the sleeze factor got ratcheted up year by year.

The "pinku decade" for Japanese cinema was probably 1968-1978, as the high point of popularity for a film genre that can be clearly identified by 1963 & still exists. That specific ten years, though, was an interesting social phenomenon that arose at a time when most of the Japanese film industry was in decline, & family films had lost their draw.

Nishihara & his wife were able to found an independent film company in the midst of major studios' suspended productions, bankruptcies, or shift into exclusive television productions. Nishihara had backing from yakuza interests, as organized crime had been involved even with above-board filmmaking at Toei & Nikkatsu & suchlike, so were certainly going to be in on the groundfloor of pinku.

But when the craze for pinku among predominantly Japanese male audiences faded, or shifted from theaters to videos, this occurred simultaneously with the legitimate film industry making a come-back. Directors like Nishihara & most of their stock players were thereafter unemployed. After the demise of Nishihara's own studio he did his last couple of films for Shintoho, after which his career as a director was over.

When these films made it to the international audience for their exploitation value, the companies that provided the subtitling were about as amateurish as they come, as it was not expected that anyone with an IQ over 85 was ever going to watch them.

Yet a couple of these films are psychologically complex & legitimately suspenseful & despite their excesses & all-round cheeziness, they did deserve slightly better treatment.

The peculiarly Japanese tendency to make everything no matter how outre a genre with sub-genres within sub-genres has categorized these sorts of films from the 1960s & 1970s as ero guro eiga.

Though Ero Guro is more or less an English borrowing meaning "Erotic Grotesque," it must be understood as a broad artistic category that began in the 1930s in daring tabboo-breaking literature, especially among short story writers, & one of the greatest of these writers was Edogawa Rampo.

Ero Guro grew & spread until there were jazz bands & rock bands & live theaters & manga comic books & poster art -- performances & artworks intended to shock, horrify, & often enough provoke laughter by its wit & exaggeration. It is the mainstreaming of rebellion in a society that coopts rather than arrests its rebels, packages & markets that which would in other countries be criminalized & driven underground.

Though the majority of Ero Guro was sexist & misogynist, it was not entirely so, or it had layers of intent or interpretation. Such tabboo-smashing in fact helped give rise to Women's Liberation in Japan, & the films were only partially a hostile backlash to feminism.

Often the women are shockingly powerful figures even in the midst of rape & torture; they can be viewed symbolically as a parallel to the actual revolt of victimized women against a torturing society.

Whether in respectable literature like Rampo's or in trash cinema like that of Nishihara, the content are the same: suspense, rape, enslavement, murder, goriness, physical mutilation or transformation, fecal obsession, & horror.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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