DVD: Nikkatsu Roman Porn Trailer Collection, The (2010 )

November 24, 2010 | By

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Film: Very Good / DVD Transfer: Excellent / DVD Extras: Good

Label/Studio: Impulse Pictures / Catalogue: IMP-0016 / Region: 1 (NTSC) / Released: November 9, 2010

Genre: Eros / Adult / Pink Film

Synopsis: Collection of rare Japanese pink film trailers from the seventies and early eighties.

Special Features: Bonus Short Film: “Ryoko’s Lesbian Flight + video trailer (30:01) / Booklet with liner notes by Jasper Sharp.

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Review:

Impulse Picture’s collection of adult trailers is a far different offering than mechanical sex films designed to engorge and relieve stressed-out audiences.

As author Jasper Sharp (Behind the Pink Curtain: The Compete History of Japanese Sex Cinema) explains in the liner notes, Japanese censors were very particular about the suppression or obfuscation of genitalia – the key ingredient in American and (generally) western porn – and that created a conundrum for filmmakers wanting to create erotic material that was still risqué.

They could dramatize or film adult behaviour, but all the naughty details were taboo, so the solution was to mimic conventions – the school teacher film, the wanderer film, the crime film, etc. – and make a kind of hybrid that explored allowable, dark subject matter like rape, S&M, and, er, rape.

Most of the trailers in this collection illustrate the bizarre fixation on sexual violence or violation, but they also represent a smattering of sample material from Nikkatsu, a veteran studio equivalent to MGM or Fox with a long history of mainstream and artistic films that decided the adult (or ‘pink’) market was worth getting into.

Branded Nikkatsu Roman Porno, the line included around 850 productions (in-house, affiliated, and independent) made between 1971-1988, and many of the trailers reflect the kind of studio-quality production values and striking style American porn makers probably dreamed of making had their industry not been reliant on sometimes questionable financing sources and producers, as well as outright vilification by conservative groups that ensured XXX films were relegated to smut venues. Some of the films were shot in 2.35 ‘scope, featured gorgeous cinematography, rich sets, costumes, every day or historical locations, and very attractive performers.

Unusual by western standards, the trailer lengths vary from :30 seconds to less than 2 mins., feature old-style teaser text that blatantly state a film’s most lurid qualities, and seem to presume audiences were familiar with specific adult sub-genres, like wayward school teachers. That meant less time was spent establishing characters, and the narratives basically show dramatic peaks as men and women arrive, engage, assault, climax, leave, run, walk, or re-engaging in sexual matters civil, sensual, and/or violent.

It’s actually quite fascinating, because unlike short western teaser or TV trailers, Nikkatsu apparently didn’t want to waste the audience’s time. The basic format is: studio name + ‘news announcement’ herald + clip montage + screaming text telling you ‘this is the dirtiest, nastiest stuff you want to see now!’ + end.

Whether all the films actually delivered the advertized goods is speculative, but Impulse Pictures is slated to release the first set of Nikkatsu naughties: Female Teacher: Dirty Afternoon, and Debauchery.

This collection includes 38 trailers totaling about 60 mins., and the bulk of them are in amazingcondition. Most seem to have been mastered from near-pristine sources, hence the striking colours and compositions that immediately grab the viewer.

Sub-genres include wayward wives tired of being trapped in “concrete tomb” apartments asserting rage through sexual promiscuity as prostitutes (Apartment Wife: Afternoon Affair), naughty teachers (Female Teacher: Dirty Afternoon, and Female Teacher: In Front of the Students), cheeky liberal nurses ((Nurse Diary: Mischievous Fingers and Nurses’ Dormitory: Assy Fingers), nymphomaniacs in seaside villages (Nympho Diver: G-String Festival and Pearl Divers: Tight Shellfish), sex fiends, sex hunters, and rape films featuring no-nonsense titles (Rape MeRape!, and the singing idol/kidnapping/crime hybrid Rape Shot: Momoe’s Lips).

Offensively titled and potentially wrong? Perhaps more so than western films, but there’s also a level of absurdity to the porn genre as a whole, and the commentary text in some of the trailers is downright hysterical – not because of Japanese-English translation, but the attempt to give the events within the montages some, er, uhm, literary flair. Nympho Driver features “Sopping wet sea anemones,” whereas Apartment Wife is “Overwhelmingly Nikkatsu Roman Porn.”

Alternatively (and more icky), the discretely branded Rape Me: Sexual Assault in a Hotel Roomrepeatedly has the text “Rape Me!” zooming towards the audience, and its final caption reads “Intense joy… for that alone.” The most bizarre view within the ‘ambiguously’ titled Rape! isn’t that it’s a violent act, but an apparently common and shared experience that’s part of the hard knocks during early adulthood. And in the rural drama Confidential Report: Prostitute Torture Hell, a man woefully says to a T-strapped woman, “I have to do this” before ‘taking her’ in front of a mob of villagers. The trailer’s closing caption? “The heart of a woman is a terrible thing, isn’t it?”

Less risqué are Nurse Diary: Beastly Afternoon, where the little health helpers are hypnotized by a pale woman, and a bell is inserted deep into her hoo-ha (hence the ringing bell sound that plays over the Nikkatsu title logo, and key dramatic shots in the central montage); and Nurse Diary: Mischievous Fingers, which contains more down-to-earth nuances – fart jokes.

Throughout the trailer collection – which is more than enough at 60 mins. – one sees which films have storylines, gloss, and some finesses; which offer narrow fetishistic material; and some that are silly and probably unmemorable. Certainly in the early films, the use of elegant ‘scope and some striking locations – cliffs, beaches, mountains, rural villages, and manicured gardens and parks – distinguishes them.

As porn itself was eventually cheapened by video, Nikkatsu apparently moved into the realm of the video edit suite, and the DVD’s bonus short, Ryoko’s Lesbian Flight, is an example of product from the Roman Porn’s final years.

The porn video is slick, but offers no story beyond two stewardesses exiting a (real) airport, and one woman’s night of love with her male partner being upstaged by her hungry female colleague. There’s competition and jealousy when the man arrives, and any details are fogged by blocky pixels or a great white fuzzy oval, both of which look completely absurd considering the filmmakers made a point of filming and editing graphic footage in the first place.

Funny, absurd, and unsettling, Impulse’s DVD is another well-produced release for connoisseurs of vintage erotica.

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© 2010 Mark R. Hasan

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