Pink Films Vol 5 & 6 - Pink Films Vol 5 & 6( Blu Ray) [Third Widow Films - 2021]
Here we have a rather wonderful Blu ray release bringing together three films from the Pink film genre, which is the sex-tinged side of the Japanese exploitation, and boy the genre is wide 'n' varied- and this release nicely illustrates that fact. The release appears on UK based Third Widow Films, and will certainly be of interest to anyone who enjoys sexploitation film.
All three films are presented on a single region B disc- with the option of either English or German language. There are no extras on the disc, but considering we get three films here- you can't really complain.
First up we have Women Hell Song(aka Onna jigoku uta: Shakuhachi benten) it was made in the year 1970, and follows the plight of Benten/ Okayo-a Yakuza who has killed many, and is been pursued by bounty hunters- who want to get the price on her head & the tattoo of the Buddhist Goddess of Love on her back. It was directed Mamoru Watanabe- who has an impressive 209 directional credits to his name. These start in 1965 and run to 2004- and going from the film’s poster artwork, and sparse plot descriptions on IMDB, he focused largely on films in the Pink genre.
Women Hell Song is largely filmed in rather low-grade black & white- which makes it look more like it’s from the ’60s. Along the way, we do get a few colour erotic encounters, and these effectively blend in kinky illustrations & tattoos. In the lead as Benten, we have Noriko Tatsumi- who during 1965 and 1971 racked up an impressive 113 Pink film credits. With the second female lead coming from Tamaki Katori- another veteran of the pink genre with 29 credits to her name between 1960 and 1971, she plays an initially innocent young woman who gets tangled up with gangster- later getting raped, abused & tortured.
The film starts in fairly pacy fashion with Benten been chased by the law- she jumps into a river, and it looks like she got away to be suddenly dragged out of the water by crooked cop- who takes her to two decidedly sleazed bounty hunters- one is an animalistic tattoo faced man, who appears later. The pair take her to an abandoned mine, and here we get one of the early memorable scenes as the pair attack her in the shadows & broken concrete of the mine opening- fairly soon a man appears at the opening of the mine, shoots the animalistic man. And the rest of the film flash-forwards three years where both Benten and the two sleazy gangsters are looking out for revenge.
From here the film unfolds at a fairly uneven stop/ start pace- as new characters are added in(with their names often appearing in bold text on the screen), then more often than not we don’t see them again. Another negative is the upbeat & mellow almost Spanish sounding guitar cue that appears on a few occasions early on- and it never fits the mood/ tone of what’s on-screen. Moving onto the positives the flesh bound encounters are largely well-thought-out, and more often than not non-consensual- capturing both the pain and tension in the women. The colour scenes are well executed with their blend of twist and turning female flesh & erotic prints. Though not all of the erotic scenes get the colour treatment, one of the more notable/ troubling of these is when Tamaki Katori is hung up straight naked, whipped by bamboo, then painfully tortured between her knees with blood pouring onto her feet. In finishing there is certainly worth & talent in Women Hell Song- it’s just a pity it couldn't keep an even flow/ pace, and the early placement of unfitting music.
Second up we have the most modern film here 2011’s Underwater Love, and boy this is a wacky and weird trip- it’s a Pink musical focusing on the relationship between a Kappa(a half-man/ half turtle-fish) and a thirty-five-year-old female fish factory worker. The film is directed by Shinji Imaoka, who seems to have a knack for creating bizarre pink films- there was 2004 Tamamono- which followed the story of a mute bowl alley. worker & a postman. And 2005 Frogsong- featuring a tired of her marriage women obsessed with all things frog-related, who befriends a hooker in a late-night comic shop visit.
Underwater Love plot tells of Asuka(Sawa Masaki) a 35-year-old woman who works at a fish factory and is engaged to her boss Hajime(Mutsuo Yoshioka). Her life is seemingly nice, normal, though more than a little bland. One day she finds a live fish in the factory, so she rushes out to the nearby harbour to let it free- then up pops from the water a Kapa-which is a mythological creature that looks like a blend of turtle, fish and man. We find out soon that the Kappa is Aoki, a seventeen-year-old boyfriend who drowned in the nearby marsh, and he has come back to see Asuka. The film is a blend of wacky fantasy comedy, soft-core at times quite bizarrely kinky sex- we get Kappa and female human bounding, and bright synth-pop musical numbers. The whole thing flows together as a crazed romp of a film, which features some quite rewardingly jarring tonal shifts. Hell, I don’t mind the musical numbers too much either, and that’s coming from someone who largely detests musicals. Maybe it could have had a little trimming here and there, as the films hour and twenty-seven does seem longer than it should. But I’d most certainly say if you enjoy bizarre/ quirky sexploitation it’s a must-watch, and I’ll be checking out more of director Shinji Imaoka work.
The third, final, and listed as bonus film is 1966 Forbidden Techniques( aka Kinjirareta Technique)- and it’s best described as a crossbreed between noir/ French new wave atmospherics, sweaty roughie, and downturn romantic drama- with stark boxing match footage thrown in. The film was directed by China-born Kan Mukai- who between 1962 and 2004 racked up an impressive one hundred and forty-seven films in the directing seat. Sadly like a lot of Pink directors, there’s little or no info about much of his output- but he does have a few notable films to his name like 1966 gigolo focused erotic drama The Bite.
Forbidden Technique is a wonderful moody looking film- we kick off with a montage of boxing footage, and a woman either in pleasure & pain. After the credits we drift into a rain-lashed late-night train station, a drunken man staggers down the steps to the platform- and goes onto mock a hunched dark glasses wearing and banged brow man. The drunk man gets on the train, with only one person leaving the train- a young woman Naomi(Kaoru Miya), who offers the hunched over figure a light as his doesn't work. We find out soon enough that the crumpled and dejected figure on the bench is Eriguchi (Shûsaku Mutô) a down on his luck boxer, who has recently lost one match after another. The pair move onto a late-night bar, and fairly soon head back to Naomi small, stark, and neon flickering lite apartment. From here Eriguchi tells the story of his fall from a promising young boxer, to a rundown punch bag, and how he sees it relates to a woman called Kaori(Kazuko Kanô)- an ex-girlfriend who loved pain and cheated on him. In between the flashbacks, the pairs troubled passions, fears, and self-doubt unfold- we find Naomi works at a local bathhouse, as an on/off hooker, and the depth of Eriguchi self-loathing. The film features some wonderfully gritty, tense, and atmospheric erotic scenes- often using netted material to rewarding effect. Both leads are great- Shûsaku Mutô really sells the dejected & life battered boxer, and Kaoru Miya as Naomi switches well between tough-talking, scared & frightful, passioned & emotional. The film is a largely fairly glum affair, with fleeting moments of both positive romance and tragedy- I found forbidden Techniques both powerful, moody, and at points troubling film, and it’s great to see the film here. The print is a rather battered & marked German language version, which initially felt slightly jarring with its Germanic tongue, but this passes soon, and you are left with a really effective little film that runs around the seventy-one-minute mark. It’s made me very keen to check out more of Kan Mukai output.
Pink Films Vol 5 & 6 certainly shows the scope and variety of the pink genre- and really there’s something for everyone here, be it Yakuza focused spiritual revenge, wacky half-man/ half turtle musical, or gritty and grim noir touched roughie. I'm really looking forward to more releases in this Third Windows Film series.Roger Batty