DVD: Eros School: Feels So Good / Erosu gakuen: Kando batsugun (1977)
Label: Impulse Pictures / Synapse Films/ Region: 1 (NTSC) / Released: June 12, 2012
Genre: Japanese Pink / Adult / Ill-conceived Erotic Comedy
Synopsis: In this jovial comedic romp of mirth and sexual assault, a convicted serial rapist is granted parole, but immediately proclaims his full intention to deflower his high school’s women.
Special Features: Liner notes by Jasper Sharp
The rivalry between two high schools – Eros and Agape – is interrupted and upset by the arrival of a convicted rapist whose goal is to never assault the same girl twice! Can he succeed in ‘bagging’ Eros’ promising runner Misa (Asami Ogawa), or will her longtime admirer and his bespectacled best buddy get to Misa first?
From the director of an assortment of rape films (on a highway, apparently in a motor vehicle, in a female high school) and the screenwriter of prison-based pink films comes a wacky youth comedy with softcore elements + rape as comedy. There’s also the use of a pig that predates South Park and one of its most cherished insults, and was perhaps inspired by inappropriate goat activities in Nico Mastorakis’ Island of Death, another celebration of anti-social aberrations released in 1977.
The film’s bizarre comedic tone seems to be the end result of filmmakers who realized they’d taken their own dramatizations of eroticized sexual assault to its ‘creative’ limits in prior films, and kind of ran out of juice (er, ideas). Being stuck in a rut is a key reason exploitation meister Roger Corman switched from grim gothic Poe adaptations to tongue-in-cheek horror comedies in the sixties, lampooning the genre elements as well as its historic film icons because he had nothing more to say within that specific genre.
That isn’t to say the filmmakers were justified in crafting this weird comedy; it strangely succeeds in both offending and creating laughter for being completely bonkers. On one level, Eros School is straight T&A with the flagrant nudity, skirt chasing, and judo groping (it’s a sport!) , but instead of the high school seniors being comprised of weak women & assertive boys, the girls are ‘Amazon’ aggressors who fight amongst themselves, and beat the crap out of boys. The lone exception is Ryu (Morihei Murakuni, in his final screen appearance), the bucolic ‘rapist with a name,’ freshly released from a juvenile prison, who not only starts groping the teacher, but demands that his first assault victim – the school newspaper’s editor – print his proclamation of intending to assault every girl he can in the next issue.
Ryu, perpetually wearing non-conformist country clothes and a wide-brimmed hat (a Clint Eastwood homage?) also has a pet pig whom he places in high esteem (hence the revenge element in the final reel), and he’s able to successfully assault students because all adult teachers are super-wimps, and seem infected with the emotional and social maturity of grade schoolers.
On the day of the big race, Miso’s chance at scoring one for the home team goes in an unexpectedly different direction, and the labour with which director Koretsugi Kurahara choreographs absolute behavioral Wrongness is pretty elaborate. Maybe Miso should’ve put fresh orange juice on her feet for good luck, as offered by her long-suffering (and guitar-strumming) admirer?
It’s not unusual for the adult industry to satirize itself and its conventions, but Eros School feels like an early signal where Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno series was going to run out of steam within a few years after pushing every genre conventions and crafting hybrids to their max. Perhaps because it was made in 1977, it has a strangely refreshing absurdism which will undoubtedly make it a rare variant within pink’s stalk & assault sub-genre.
Impulse Picture’s DVD (Vol. 3 in their series) comes from a clean albeit slightly soft-focus print which may have been cropped down to 2.35:1 from a wider ratio by the studio, as headroom in several shots is either tight, or the noggins bob up and out of frame. The sound mix is straightforward and features a score by Naozumi Yamamoto (under the pseudonym Sansaki Okuzawa), who seemed unsure of the film’s tone and sometimes scored scenes as drama, or as jokey, physical comedy. Perhaps he was wondering how the hell he went from scoring Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill (1967) to Eros School… and a lot more that decade.
Jasper Sharp’s liner notes are brilliantly informative and funny, and he provides a good chronicle of Nikkatsu’s switch from straight film to adult in the seventies, and the utter strangeness of Kurahara’s film.
Director Kurahara’s handful of directorial efforts include Sex Rider: Wet Highway (1971), True Story of Sex and Violence in a Female High School (1973) before a rare poke at straight cinema as co-producer/production planner of Antarctica (1983), directed by his older big bro Koreyoshi Kurahara.
Writer Akira Momoi’s other Nikkatsu titles include the women in prison diptych True Story of a Woman Condemned: Sex Hell (1975) and True Story of Woman Condemned Continues (1975), whereas actress Asami Ogawa’s highpoints include Erotic Diary of an Office Lady (1977) and a smaller role in Star of David: Beauty Hunting (1979).
© 2012 Mark R. Hasan
Categories: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review