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?
“SHE CAT” is a secret agent potboiler involving a beautiful Asian woman named Dr “Cat “ Kagami who works as the Doctor in a woman’s resource center/abortion clinic alongside her lesbian lover. While she now enjoys something of a respectable life far from her former days as an assassin, she soon meets a female patient who asks her to help her forensically solve who murdered her twin sister. This film is a mockup of the classic foreign film plotline of the reluctant, often retired killer (always with a heart of gold) who is called into action one final time out of sheer necessity, a film that has been reworked into every form of film from LA FEMME NIKITA to THE PROFESSIONAL. Of course this time, all of the usual Nikkatsu Pink cinema plot devices are there and by that I mean has got the most explicit unrated sex scenes possible. As “She Cat” unravels the circumstances around this secret and terrible murder we learn a lot about her former life as told in flashback. This is effective, but her lover also seems to be involved in the long lost murder plot if not the man ultimately behind the original crime. What we get is a complicated plot where every character has been “secretly, sexually” involved with someone else (usually under duress). It seems everyone will ultimately betray the lover closest to them and most every character will end up worse for wear at the end of this than when they first started this strange tale of OB/GYN espionage.
I suppose some mention should be made of the fact that for the first time in a Nikkatsu “Roman Porno” we have an independent, skilled, female character that is quite capable of killing male attackers several times her size using only her quick catlike reflexes and the unconventional use of a scalpel. Yet before you start thinking that this series has gone soft, becoming a tale of female empowerment fit for the Lifetime channel, it should be mentioned that there is a particularly graphic scene where an innocent woman is raped shortly after having an abortion that absolutely destroyed my ability to enjoy this film in the manner that the cover art suggested I was supposed to.
I have always felt that you can tell a lot about a country by its pornography and let me just say that if this abortion/rape scene is indicative of what actually turns Japanese men on, I find it inconceivable that we beat these people in World War 2 because their cultural brutality is completely beyond an Americans comprehension.
Still, these stale, second hand observations of “slap and tickle” gone savage are nothing new to anyone who has purchased the previous thirteen volumes of this series and to them I need only to say that this films running time is 87 minutes which easily makes it the longest episode thus far (most are about 70 minutes). As for the mandatory manner of censorship in every Nikkatsu title, crude fogging is the rule rather than the exception of this outing making this She Cat more “spayed” that most casual fans of the series will want. I give it three skulls out of pure shock because out of sheer professional responsibility I have to admit that there aren’t too many films like this. At least that’s what I will reassure myself before watching volume 15 to keep myself from finally losing it…
It’s got a little booklet from Jasper Sharp who speaks of the significance of this title and the original theatrical trailer.