DVD: Sex Hunter / Sekkusu hantâ – sei kariudo (1980)

September 15, 2014 | By


SexHunter1980_sFilm: Very Good

Transfer:  Very Good

Extras: Standard

Label: Impulse Pictures / Synapse Films

Region:  1 (NTSC)

Released:  February 1, 2014

Genre:  Japanese Pink / Adult

Synopsis: A dancer discovers a grand opportunity to learn from a prima ballerina involves some quite severe extra curricular activities.

Special Features:  Theatrical Trailer / 4-page colour booklet with liner notes by Jasper Sharp.





“Draped in the scent of semen – A solitary house of pleasure!” – highly discrete trailer tagline


Prior to Evil Dead Trap (1988), Toshiharu Ikeda apprenticed at Nikkatsu as an assistant director before making his debut in 1980 with Sukeban mafia: Rinchi, after which came Sex Hunter, one of the strangest and perhaps more offensive Roman Porno films sanctioned by the studio.

Nikkatsu may have had mixed reactions to Ikeda’s distinct style – after Sex Hunter, he was assigned a more banal romantic story, Hitonatsu no taiken: aoi sangosho (1981) – but there’s no doubt he managed to up the ante in the level of smut screen wrongness, because Sex Hunter is filled with elaborately directed sequences that combine classic Sadean situations with the visual scope and colours of Dario Argento.

More than the depraved Zoom In: Sex Apartments (1980), Sex Hunter devolves into a work that resembles some nightmarish witch thriller, and Jasper Sharp’s liner notes cite a connection between Ikeda’s film (supposedly based on a manga by one Dirty Matsumoto) and Argento’s Suspiria (1977). Both films involve characters within a dance school and strange goings on, but in place of murders and witches, Ikeda uses insane cruelties and a headmistress who redirects her dancers to extra-curricular activities of the orgiastic variety.

Ayako Ohta (Female Teacher: Dirty Afternoon) plays Miki, a promising dancer lured to an exclusive academy run by her partner’s sister Akiko (Zoom In: Sex Apartments‘ Erina Miyai), herself a former prima ballerina. Soon after arriving, Miki is seduced with chartreuse booze, shown an orgy (a scene that’s oddly reminiscent of the pre-shunting moments in Brian Yuzna’s Society), and ‘re-educated’ by Akiko’s sadistic assistant who really, really likes Coca-Cola.

Although Miki never learns the reasoning behind all this torment, we certainly do: jealous of losing her now-invalid brother to Miki, Akiko’s devised an elaborate process of total moral destruction, and presumably after showing him how unchaste Miki truly is, Akiko can continue to fondle him in private. Amazingly, in spite of brutally assaulting Miki and engaging in a Coca-Cola enema / voiding game (yes, really), it’s the discovery of Akiko’s incestuous relationship that offends her assistant.

Ikeda’s insane film features an ongoing, elaborate ‘scope tableaux of characters often forced / compelled to watch other acts of debased bonking through two-way mirrors, and most of the sequences contain slo-mo components shot with a high-speed camera. The sound design features exaggerated human touching, fabric rustling, tightening leather, and the voiding of fizzy Coca-Cola from bottles and, er, Miki herself.

Some of the cinematography is uneven – the zooms and tracking shots as Akiko drives Miki to her castle-like school are very clumsy – but there’s a sense the whole film was shot in record time. Like Suspiria, the colour palette is filled with flesh tones and deep reds. The finale is dominated by heavy blues as a thunderstorm snaps open French doors while Miki engages in a threesome – an intimate orgy which only offends Akiki because she isn’t the one in the centre.

The details upon which Ikeda fixates are grotesque, yet they’re elegantly composed for the 2.35:1 ratio, making Sex Hunter a visually classy / morally bankrupt film, but certainly not an exception within the Roman Porno genre. Ikeda’s style made him a natural for horror films, and the nastiness of the scenes serve as a portent to the director’s Evil Dead Trap which piled on grotesqueries to make it perhaps his most infamous, and career-making film.

Amid the harshness, there are plenty of ridiculous moments, spanning the (il)logic of Miki being assaulted one day and practicing ballet the day after (apparently the debasement and ballet program run concurrently and neither inhibits the progress of the other); and an the ongoing motif of proper / improper cola consumption (something of which the corporation would not approve).

There’s also the so-called ‘ballet’ training and performances. Miki’s solo dance in Sex Hunter’s abrupt ending was likely performed by a stand-in, and all group dance scenes are hysterically clumsy: the actresses never move in unison, and in the opening ballet performance the rear ‘dancers’ actually wobble and stumble.

Sharp’s liner notes provide needed context for this infamous Roman Porno entry and Ikeda’s peculiar career, which remained largely within the horror genre after he left Nikkatsu, following the completion of Angel Guts: Red Porno (1981), his fourth and final film for the studio.

Besides the Evil Dead Trap franchise, Ikeda also branched out with more dramatic fodder, earning festival awards for Ningyo densetsu (1985) and Kagi / The Key (1997). Instead of maintaining a prolific career, Ikeda stepped away from directing for a few years, and after Akifukaki (2008), reportedly committed suicide two years later.



© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



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