Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to…
Japanese cinema has given the world many things. From the iconic image of Godzilla destroying a miniature Tokyo to a teenage assassin who kills via poisonous darts launched from her vagina (thanks Takashi Miike!), Japan is often in a world of it’s own when it comes to celluloid dreams. One genre exclusive to Japanese filmmakers is known as pinku eiga, or pink film. At its most basic and obvious level it refers to softcore cinema, but it actually has a narrower definition. Pinku films are roughly an hour long, are made in under a week on a very tight budget, are filmed on 16mm or 35mm film only, and are required to feature some type of sex scene every five to ten minutes. Those are the official rules of pinku, but there are two unofficial standards as well.
On the unfortunate side of things, the movies often feature some fairly harsh treatment towards women in the form of sexual assault and guys who think slobbering tongues and finger jabs are all a lady needs to feel pleasure. The women are portrayed as enjoying it in the end (double entendre intended), but it can grow tiresome very quickly. On the brighter side though, pinku directors are free to tell whatever story they choose provided they work within the rules above. That freedom can create some fairly surprising results.
S&M Hunter (1986) opens with a man entering a club for sado-masochists where he proceeds to strip, debase, and abuse a hot nun. (She’s not really a nun, but she is really hot.) He goes a bit overboard and reveals that his anger stems from the recent abduction of his boyfriend by an all-girl gang called The Bombers. Who can possibly save his gay lover from these sex-starved, leather-clad she-vixens? The S&M Hunter (Shiro Shimimoto), that’s who. Armed with an eye patch, a priest’s collar, and an arsenal of highly tensile ropes, he’s able to turn any woman into a willing and subservient love slave. His technique involves throwing his ropes in such a way as to tie and bind the woman’s naked body into various and elaborate positions… which always include a few well-placed loops pulled taut over her lower lady bits. The convoluted and intricate knots would make any Boy Scout proud (although seeing the woman contained within them might make him implode). That pretty much covers the first ten minutes. The remaining fifty follow S&M Hunter’s rescue mission, his fibrous seduction of The Bombers’ lead wench, Machi (AyuKiyokawa), and a battle royale with a vengeful girl from his past.
This movie could lose half of it’s already short running time and still be one of the most gloriously fucked-up cult classics you’ve ever seen. It’s sleazy, sexy, offensive, subversive, and awesome. Lubricious nuns, topless arm wrestling, man love, a complete disregard for good taste, and a vindictive, nunchuck-wielding chick dressed in a Nazi uniform all make appearances. S&M Hunter gleefully crosses every line it finds, but it does so with it’s tongue firmly planted (if not bound) in cheek so no one should take it serious enough to actually be offended. Most importantly, it never ceases to entertain. Even the scenes that lack nudity, violence, or writhing vaginas manage to be fun and engaging purely through the lead performance of Shimimoto. He plays the entire thing straight, but he’s also aware enough that you just know he’s winking at you from behind his eye patch.
At the other end of the pinku spectrum is Daisuke Goto’s A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn (2003). A young widow named Noriko (Ryoko Asagi) lives on a farm with her aging father-in-law, Shukichi (Horyu Nakamura), and every morning she heads out to the barn before he awakes, disrobes, and gets down on all fours in one of the cow stalls. The old man is senile and he doesn’t realize his favorite cow, Bessie, died months before… so Noriko pretends to be the cow in order to protect him from the loss. And she lets the old man try to milk her. Of course. The situation is mutually beneficial as Noriko has found the love and warmth from Shukichi that her husband never gave to her. The relationship is soon threatened though by the arrival of the old man’s delinquent daughter (Yumeka Sasaki) and an unscrupulous businessman after the farm land (Seiji Nakamitsu). The requisite pinku criteria is present not only in the frequently nude and fondled Noriko, but also in the more traditionally sexy pairings of Shukichi’s naughty daughter with the town lech, and the local veterinarian with his bubbly assistant.
Once you get past the initial absurdity of A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn, you realize the film is actually a fairly touching love story and a wistful acceptance of getting old. Asagi and Nakamura both give strong performances as a young woman and a much older man experiencing an unspoken love for each other, and it explores how they react to their feelings when they know the real world won’t allow it to last. Sasaki also shows a briefly heartfelt turn (and a lot of sweaty, grinding skin) as a daughter realizing she’s close to losing her father. This is probably one of the more seriously-themed pink films you’ll find, and it’s definitely worth a look.
Pink Eiga is a brand new DVD label with plans to introduce the US to pink cinema in a big way. Two of their films have already been released with two more due at the end of the month. The genre has been around since the sixties, but the label will be focusing on films released between the mid-eighties and today. Check out their site for trailers and photos, both definitely NSFW, as well as for more information on pink films in general.
S&M Hunter is available now and A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn is scheduled for release on February 23rd. I highly recommend both films, but the same can’t be said for Pink Eiga’s other two initial releases. New Tokyo Decadence – The Slave is an autobiographical tale about one woman’s willing descent into masochism, and it’s an incredibly difficult and unpleasant watch. Due out on Feb 23rd is Sexy Battle Girls, which is like a low-rent Machine Girl(and yes I know that’s redundant). Aside from the lead girl’s ball-and-cup toy/weapon that packs a retractable dildo used to incapacitate her enemies… it’s instantly forgettable. There are several more promising releases upcoming including such subtly-named classics as Whore Hospital, Semen Demon, Sexy S.W.A.T. Team, and Ninja Pussy Cat.
Bottom Line: Pinku films in general are hit or miss, but these two titles are both really good… in their own ways. S&M Hunter is fantastic fun for viewers lacking excessive sensitivity or politically correct leanings. It has a few laugh-out-loud scenes, but more often than not your jaw will simply be resting on the floor. Crazy onscreen antics and nutty dialogue combine for several WTF moments that you’ll want to share with friends and family alike. But you won’t for fear that you’ll be judged. A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn surprises as a serious love story interrupted periodically with freaky sex. It’s definitely a pinku film, but it’s also an emotional and realistic character study. With women who go “moo.”
Non-Editor’s Note: Normally Foreign Objects appears on Wednesdays, but this week it’s showing up on Thursday for a very special reason. I set my feature clock based on Cole Abaius’ Old Ass Movies, which appeared one day late this week. That delay unfortunately caused this delay. Oh, and I also failed to write it on time.