Monday, February 27, 2012

Naked Pink Pursuit

Since finishing the first stage of the Pink film archive on February 19, I have been doing some pick-up work: New re-release posters from Xces, new Nikkatsu Roman Porno films and other posters from Cinepo, etc. One of the big news items in the Pink film world is Pink debut of the bountiful AV-idol and former gravure model, Hitomi Tanaka. Here she is, at right, standing next to Ren Azumi in a still from director Yoshikazu Katô's Dosukebe kensa: Naasu bakunyû-zeme (どスケベ検査 ナース爆乳責め), released by OP on February 3rd. Despite her ginormous bazoom, she's too thin, and disproportionate to the Dekkappedlian eye, which prefers an all-around pleasing plumpness. But I can certainly see the attractions... Dare we hope this move could be followed by the recruitment of genuine BBWs like Tamaki Yasuoka!?

Yesternight's viewing combined two of my passions: old, obscure films and Asian eroticism in one unsatisfying package. Naked Pursuit (released by World Eiga in March 1968 as Kôfun [昴奮]) is one of the few examples of early Pink cinema currently available on DVD to the Anglosphere. Slave Widow (1967), Madame O (1967) & The Bite (1966) are the others, and Naked Pursuit is easily the weakest of this quartet. It is, basically, one long rape with a little talk at the start to give the attacks some context. The director-- Toshio Okuwaki-- tries a few camera and sound tricks in a futile attempt to make things a little more interesting, and Pink film stalwart, Masayoshi Nogami (also featured in Slave Widow, as the son/Naomi Tani's fiancee) makes an adequate rapist. But even watched in Fast-Forward, this was pretty hard to take. I'm glad I saw it anyway, to get some historical perspective on the genre. The other three films are of a much higher quality, but this one probably gives a better idea of the average genre entry of the time. If Slave Widow had represented the norm, then Donald Ritchie's 197 essay condemning the "eroduction" ("The Japanese Eroduction", reprinted in A Lateral View: Essays on Culture and Style in Contemporary Japan, 1987) would be inexplicable.

Naked Pursuit owes its current existence to its importation to the U.S. by exploitation mogul Harry Novak. The cross-pollination between the exploitation industries of Japan and the U.S. in the '60s is something that interests me very much, but about which there is very little written. Jasper Sharp devotes a chapter to this subject in his Behind the Pink Curtain, but this is only enough to make one want to know more. One wonders, for one thing, why Naked Pursuit, out of the hundreds of others of presumably higher quality (judging from the other three '60s Pink films on DVD), was selected for U.S. audiences. True, even the fleeting glimpses of partial nudity on display in this film would have been enough titillation to draw in a grindhouse/drive-in audience in the '60s. (The Internet generation probably cannot grasp how difficult it was to come by visual depiction of the nude female form in those days.) But the other existing Pink films from that era show that nudity and quality were not mutually exclusive at that time.

Like many fans of the Japanese erotic entertainment, the violence towards women irritates and bores me, but I don't pretend that this sort of entertainment is unique to Japan. In fact, I suspect the U.S. "roughies" explored this misogynistic territory slightly before the Japanese did. The U.S. "roughies" were shown in Japan during their first release, as attested by contemporary Japanese posters to films such as Scum of the Earth! (1963), Lorna (1964) and The Defilers (1965; Japanese poster at left). It has been claimed that the violence acted out in these softcore productions is to compensate for the inability to "go all the way". (Though misogyny is certainly present in the earlier, non-erotic cinemas of both Japan and the US-- My beloved films noir, for example, are very misogynistic...) The U.S. erotic entertainment industry moved into hardcore, killing off not only the "roughies", but the entire domestic softcore industry. The Japanese, instead, stayed with softcore, and the older "roughie"-like themes. Is hardcore really more acceptable than softcore with sexual violence? Certainly not to me. (I will watch a Japanese Sasori film-- loaded with over-the-top softcore sexual violence-- over any non-violent U.S. hardcore porno any day.) And the U.S. slasher films of the '70s and '80s did mix up violence and sexuality just as many contemporary Japanese softcore films-- Nikkatsu's Roman Pornos for example-- were doing.

Anyway, back to Naked Pursuit: Rape, rape and more rape. Nothing much more to say about it... Three out of Ten stars for the historical value, IMDb's lowest rating (One star) for entertainment value, averaging out to a Two. To get an idea of the type action which your humble servant, old Dekkappai would rather see in a film bearing the title Naked Pursuit, take a look at the scene below, from Karen Toudou's QDN-17.

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