During the 1970’s while American cult film lovers were frequenting the Grindhouse and drive-in scenes, in Japan, Nikkatsu was making a name for itself with its “Roman Porno” erotic line. Between 1971 and 1989 the studio released over a thousand “Pink Cinema” films, and now thanks to Impulse pictures, those of us in America are finally going to get to see (at least 25 of) them for the first time. Subtitled, chock full of half-naked Asian cuties and filled with all manner of bizarre Japanese fetishism, let us examine this collection in order of release and see if American audiences have a “yen” for this sort of thing?
Volume 3 EROS SCHOOL: FEELS SO GOOD is a comedy about rape. If that seems inconceivable, wrong or just plain impossible due to the deeply personal; painful nature of sexual assault I will respectfully let you stop reading now. Too many male cult reviewers everywhere are apologizing for this title, prattling on for several pages about how much they are sickened by actual cases of rape (seriously, what decent person naturally isn’t?) As for me, I will be damned if I am going to beg the forgiveness of online strangers for something I didn’t create. I don’t think REAL CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN are funny either, but this film is indeed absolutely hilarious and unlike anything I have ever seen, two things I hardly ever get to say about a film in a review, so understandably, I am not about to miss out on the chance to say them now about a film that deserves them.
For those of you that are still reading, now is the time to tell you that while there are incidents of sexual violence in this film, they are handled in a bombastic, unrealistic, slapstick fashion which some people (as myself) could perchance find “comedic” if they are grounded enough to recognize the differences and therefore the subtle irony which all humor is based. Not only do the women stop struggling automatically within the first few moments of an attack and start to “enjoy” themselves, but the background music during the assaults sounds wacky; madcap as an “action theme” from THE BENNY HILL SHOW. I find it hard to be horrified at any scene of violence whether intimate or impersonal if the soundtrack is accented by slide whistles but maybe I am just some sort of monster…Again; stop reading if you find my tone to be disrespectful. Unlike other reviewers, there will be no string of half-hearted apologies from me where I apologize for my shameless enjoyment of something potentially misogynistic just to keep women happy (after all, this is a review, not a relationship).
EROS SCHOOL follows a long tradition of American Sex comedies where several boys, (usually a group of buddies) are obsessed with a pretty classmate and privately wager; betting on whom among them will be the first to have sex with her. Eros School begins exactly like this and might have ended with a simple touching, awkward sex scene at the end between the pretty girl and the nicest nerd, except for the arrival of the character named Ryu Katasuragi.
Ryu would be an odd, off putting character in almost any high school movie; a man who looks a little too old to be in class yet goes everywhere wearing wooden clogs, a filthy farmer’s hat, and a red loincloth emblazoned with his name who travels everywhere he goes with a pet pig in tow. Yet when Ryu is introduced as the new kid in class; a transfer from a reform school who raped a girl at age 15, the film skids off the rails of what is normally considered “funny” in a teen sex romp at least by the standards of “PORKY’S” or “AMERICAN PIE”. Yet as the film asserts itself so does Ryu, for when it is his turn to speak ahead of the class he merely begins to crudely grope the teacher until she flees from the classroom, only to unceremoniously trip over his pet pig (which gave me the first uproarious laugh of many). Of course the real funny thing in this film is that Ryu can pretty much do whatever he wants to whomever and no one really tries to stop him whatsoever. He makes it known to all that he will rape Mia, the popular, athletic head of the student council and that he will work his way to her by first raping all both of her friends, Yoshi and Akemi. Teachers, students alike all watch with bemused horror as Ryu drags away this girl or that, even in the middle of class and yet even then his audacity only grows to an even more insane level. For example one of his victims’ works for the school newspaper and even as he is busy raping her Ryu tells her to run this following message in the next issue (which he has written down beforehand, as some kind of bizarre press release).
“Greetings from a transfer student. My name is Ryu Katsuragi, also known as “Ryu the Rapist.” This is because I have no control from the waist down and have committed dozens of regrettable acts. I fully intend to continue my rampage at Eros High School. Beauty Queens in particular should exercise extreme caution. My Beauty Queen rape rate stands at 100%.”
The funny thing is the girl actually prints this on the front page as instructed and yet no one seems to notice or care whatsoever, except for the small trio of student council members; girls that Ryu has taken a liking to and already begun to work his way through. Eros High School seems to exist in a strange dimensional netherworld where no one notices anything Ryu is doing (except that people seem to enjoy watching while it happens) and he operates with kind of a psychopathic, audacious godlike impunity to his perversion never seen before onscreen since Bob Guccione’s Caligula that simply has to be seen to be believed. Seriously, he is madder than Hannibal Lecter if not more maniacal; deranged in his never ending, all-encompassing hunger of flesh.
There are two male outcast characters that always appear like they are going to save the day and win the heart of Mia and restore some hint of Western romance to this, but these two geeks are freaks as well, each having their own share of problems which conspire to make them unlikely heroes indeed. Soon enough, this thing ends where no one ever thought it would from the box art…as a fun, entertaining film.
EROS SCHOOL, It’s not a staunch documentary on rape. It’s not a tender young teen coming of age sex romp. And it’s not a realistic depiction of the long lasting emotional effects of sex crimes on their victims. As any comedy, it is NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY yet it is an onscreen spectacle that you just can’t look away from. Even its trademark stupidity and inherent surrealism all serve to numb its admittedly savage subject matter, making it an unlikely, albeit unforgettable good time that you will be glad that you consented to, a few moments in (just like Ryu’s victims).
Special Features include newly translated English subtitles and liner notes by Jasper Sharp who as usual provide some higher meaning to the current title and it’s relation to the current historical context of Pink Cinema.