Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Nikkatsu Erotic FIlms Collection Vol. 1 & 2

The folks over at Synapse Films/Impulse Pictures are celebrating Nikkatsu Studios' 100th anniversary by releasing what they are calling The Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection. They were nice enough to send me the first two volumes, Debauchery (1983) and True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell (1975). As some of my readers may know, Nikkatsu, Japan's oldest movie studio, made a business decision in 1971 to all but abandon traditional filmmaking for what they speculated would be a much more lucrative proposition: softcore pornography. They called it Romantic Pornography (Roman Porno for short), and, as planned, it was a big hit, despite a total lack of visible genitalia or even pubic hair. This is down to Japanese filmmakers' endless creativity when it came to depicting sexual activity -- it's amazing how hot a sex scene can be without ever seeing anyone's privates! Plus an effort was made to class things up with compelling storylines, decent acting and high production values.

Debauchery is the more intense of the two films on offer, due in part to when it was released; the advent of VHS and availability of more explicit fare meant Nikkatsu had to raise its game, content-wise. The film runs just 70 minutes, and 69 of them are sex scenes (well, that's an exaggeration, but not by much ... ). The premise looks to be taken from the Luis Bunuel film Belle de Jour (1967), in which a bored, affluent housewife decides to work part time as a prostitute. In the case of Debauchery, the woman in question (played by the lovely Ryoko Watanabe) gets way more than she bargained for, particularly in the realm of kink -- B&D, S&M, whips, belts, beads, the humiliation and degradation mounts until she's finally walked on all fours on a leash down an alley, only to be given over to a bunch of dirty bums. Distasteful? Yeah. But well made, enough so to hold my interest. If kinky Japanese sex hijinks is your thing, you can't go far wrong here.

As for Sex Hell, as you can guess by the extended title, it's a Women in Prison picture, and fairly decent as far as this genre goes. There's a lot more story and character development here as well as plenty of lurid sex. Unfortunately most of the women aren't very good looking, plus I'm not a real big fan of WIP flicks (with the exception of the Female Convict Scorpion series starring Meiko Kaji). That said, if you are, you'll probably enjoy this entry in the genre.

These two films street on April 10 and hopefully more will be released before the eventual demise of the DVD format (get those disks while you can, collectors!). Actually, I just checked and there's a third title (more info here). With all the garbage coming out of Hollywood these days, a nice Roman Porno could be an exciting change of pace. If you've never seen one, now's your chance!

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