Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc
Post Reply
Guro Taku
King of Beggars
Posts: 674
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 16:37

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by Guro Taku »

HungFist wrote: 31 Mar 2024, 15:54The 2024 retrospective includes five films from the 2013 line-up (including three that Laputa had produced prints for), as well as three new films. If you look at the list carefully and beyond, you'll find some vaguely familiar names. Misao Arai was Teruo Ishii's assistant director in his notorious late 60s shockers, and directed the 2nd film in the Hot Springs Geisha series. Tomomi Yoda likewise worked as assistant director in films like Horrors of Malfomed Men and Tokugawa Sex Ban. Victimized was written by Ikuo Sekimoto, while “Married Woman’s Sex Hell” was written by Masahiro Kakefuda and co-stars Takuzo Kawatani. Kawatani is also the star of The Fancy Man, which is the film I'm most looking forward to seeing.
I'd be curious about the Misao Arai film at the very least. In my opinion, his second Hot Springs Geisha film is the best entry in the whole series. And I say that as someone who worships at the altar of Suzuki's Soft-Shell Turtle Geisha film but even if that one is a close second it can't beat the ero-guro fireworks that Arai unleashes in the last third of his film. It feels illegal at times and depending on where in the world you watch the film, maybe it is. I don't think I ever managed to see any other film he directed, which is a damn shame.

I still find the 180 you did on Kawatani funny. The guy certainly has a... unique acting style. I've always liked him but that's because my introduction to him was Shogun's Sadism and not one of the many lowbrow comedy roles he did.
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

Guro Taku wrote: 31 Mar 2024, 19:04 I still find the 180 you did on Kawatani funny.
I know :lol: 10 years ago I called him a "miserable over-actor". Now I fly to Tokyo just to see him in a bargain budget porno :lol:

I even like his comedy act now :lol:
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

A couple of corrections to my earlier post regarding Toei New Porno
HungFist wrote: 31 Mar 2024, 15:54 (not yet on the homepage)
The website is up:
http://www.laputa-jp.com/laputa/program ... ewporno_r/
HungFist wrote: 31 Mar 2024, 15:54 There's a recent twitter post about how Laputa tried to get "A College Girl's Affairs" into their 2013 Toei New Porno retrospective, but for "various reasons" (an annoying Japanese expression used when one doesn't want to state the reasons publicly) the film had to be dropped. "The Fancy Man" was also cancelled prior to the screening. However, the issues have now been cleared and new 35mm prints have been produced for the 2024 retrospective.
Correction: a new 35mm print has now been produced for "A College Girl's Affairs". "The Fancy Man" has an older print which couldn't be screened 10 years ago due to undisclosed reasons.
HungFist wrote: 31 Mar 2024, 15:54It should be noted though that the two Virgin Breaker Yuki films are NOT actually Toei New Porno but were included for being a close call (and likely because Laputa couldn't afford to produce more film prints, haha).
My mistake here. Decapitation of an Evil Woman, which was included in the 2012 retrospective, is not considered Toei New Porno. Two Virgin Breaker Yuki films ARE Toei New Porno. My memory was playing tricks on me and I didn't realize my mistake until a took another look at the 2012 program introduction text.

Also, I've added all the missing films to Letterboxd (four of the eight, well, actually five if you count one that I added 6 months ago already) so you can find them there if you search for them.
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

MY GOD! PART II. Laputa's Main Program for August - September has been announced, and it is:

T G C戦うガールズコレクション2024

8.4(日)~6(火)
13:00 ずべ公番長 夢は夜ひらく(Delinquent Girl Boss - Blossoming Night Dreams) (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1970)
15:00 めくらのお市物語 真赤な流れ鳥 (Crimson Bat, the Blind Swordswoman) (Sadatsugu Matsuda, 1969)
17:00 東おんな極道 (Kanto Woman Scoundrel) (Kazuo Mori, 1969)
19:00 ずべ公番長 夢は夜ひらく (Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams) ( Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1970)

8.7(水)~10(土)
13:00 めくらのお市物語 真赤な流れ鳥 (Crimson Bat, the Blind Swordswoman) (Sadatsugu Matsuda, 1969)
15:00 東おんな極道 (Kanto Woman Scoundrel) (Kazuo Mori, 1969)
17:00 妖艶毒婦伝 人斬りお勝 (Quick-Draw Okatsu) (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1969)
19:00 女番長ブルース 牝蜂の挑戦 (Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee's Challenge) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1972)

8.11(日)~13(火)
13:00 妖艶毒婦伝 人斬りお勝 (Quick-Draw Okatsu) ( Nobuo Nakagawa, 1969)
15:00 女番長ブルース 牝蜂の挑戦 (Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee's Challenge) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1972)
17:00 めくらのお市 地獄肌 (Trapped, the Crimson Bat) (Sadatsugu Matsuda, 1969)
19:00 ずべ公番長 東京流れ者 (Delinquent Girl Boss: Tokyo Drifters) (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1970)

8.14(水)~17(土)
13:00 めくらのお市 地獄肌 (Trapped, the Crimson Bat) (Sadatsugu Matsuda, 1969)
15:00 ずべ公番長 東京流れ者 (Delinquent Girl Boss: Tokyo Drifters) (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1970)
17:00 女左膳 濡れ燕片手斬り (Lady Sazen and the Drenched Swallow Sword) (Kimiyoshi Yasuda, 1969)
19:00 女番長 (Girl Boss: Revenge) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1973)

8.18(日)~8.20(火)
13:00 女左膳 濡れ燕片手斬り (Lady Sazen and the Drenched Swallow Sword) (Kimiyoshi Yasuda, 1969)
15:00 女番長 (Girl Boss: Revenge) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1973)
17:00 妖艶毒婦伝 お勝兇状旅 (Okatsu the Fugitive) (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1969)
19:00 昇り竜 鉄火肌 (Rising Dragon's Iron Flesh) (Teruo Ishii, 1969)

8.21(水)~24(土)
13:00 妖艶毒婦伝 お勝兇状旅 (Okatsu the Fugitive) (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1969)
15:00 昇り竜 鉄火肌 (Rising Dragon's Iron Flesh) (Teruo Ishii, 1969)
17:00 緋牡丹博徒 お命戴きます (Red Peony Gambler: Here to Kill You) (Tai Kato, 1971)
19:00 女番長 感化院脱走 (Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School) (Sadao Nakajima, 1973)

8.25(日)~27(火)
13:00 緋牡丹博徒 お命戴きます (Red Peony Gambler: Here to Kill You) (Tai Kato, 1971)
15:00 女番長 感化院脱走 (Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School) (Sadao Nakajima, 1973)
17:00 笹笛お紋 (Girl with Bamboo Leaves) (Tokuzo Tanaka, 1969)
19:00 昇り竜 やわ肌開帳 (Rising Dragon’s Soft Flesh Exposed) (Masami Kuzuo, 1969)

8.28(水)~31(土)
13:00 笹笛お紋 (Girl with Bamboo Leaves) (Tokuzo Tanaka, 1969)
15:00 昇り竜 やわ肌開帳 (Rising Dragon’s Soft Flesh Exposed) (Masami Kuzuo, 1969)
17:00 女番長 野良猫ロック (Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss) (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970)
19:00 恐怖女子高校 暴行リンチ教室 (Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1973)

9.1(日)~3(火)
13:00 女番長 野良猫ロック (Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss) (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970)
15:00 恐怖女子高校 暴行リンチ教室 (Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1973)
17:00 銀蝶渡り鳥 (Wandering Ginza Butterfly) (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1972)
19:00 不良姐御伝 猪の鹿お蝶 (Sex & Fury) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1973)

9.4(水)~7(土)
13:00 銀蝶渡り鳥 (Wandering Ginza Butterfly) (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1972)
15:00 不良姐御伝 猪の鹿お蝶 (Sex & Fury) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1973)
17:00 緋ぢりめん博徒 (The Red Silk Gambler) (Teruo Ishii, 1972)
19:00 恐怖女子高校 不良悶絶グループ (Terrifying Girls' High School: Delinquent Convulsion Group) (Seiko Shimura, 1973)

9.8(日)~10(火)
13:00 緋ぢりめん博徒 (The Red Silk Gambler) (Teruo Ishii, 1972)
15:00 恐怖女子高校 不良悶絶グループ (Terrifying Girls' High School: Delinquent Convulsion Group) (Seiko Shimura, 1973)
17:00 銀蝶流れ者 牝猫博奕 (Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler) (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1972)
19:00 若い貴族たち 13階段のマキ (13 Steps of Maki) (Makoto Naito, 1975)

9.11(水)~14(土)
13:00 銀蝶流れ者 牝猫博奕 (Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler) (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1972)
15:00 若い貴族たち 13階段のマキ (13 Steps of Maki) (Makoto Naito, 1975)
17:00 混血児リカ ひとりゆくさすらい旅 (Rica 2: Lonely Wanderer) (Ko Nakahira, 1973)
19:00 前科おんな 殺し節 (Criminal Woman: Killing Melody) (Atsushi Mihori, 1973)

9.15(日)~17(火)
13:00 混血児リカ ひとりゆくさすらい旅 (Rica 2: Lonely Wanderer) (Ko Nakahira, 1973)
15:00 前科おんな 殺し節 (Criminal Woman: Killing Melody) (Atsushi Mihori, 1973)
17:00 修羅雪姫 (Lady Snowblood) (Toshiya Fujita, 1973)
19:00 必殺女拳士 (Dragon Princess) (Yutaka Kohira, 1976)

9.18(水)~9.21(土)
13:00 修羅雪姫 (Lady Snowblood) (Toshiya Fujita, 1973)
15:00 必殺女拳士 (Dragon Princess) (Yutaka Kohira, 1976)
17:00 やさぐれ姐御伝 総括リンチ (Female Yakuza Tale) (Teruo Ishii, 1973)
19:00 ビューティ・ペア 真赤な青春 (Red-Hot Youth) (Makoto Naito, 1977)

9.22(日)~24(火)
13:00 やさぐれ姐御伝 総括リンチ (Female Yakuza Tale) (Teruo Ishii, 1973)
15:00 ビューティ・ペア 真赤な青春 (Red-Hot Youth) (Makoto Naito, 1977)
17:00 修羅雪姫 怨み恋歌 (Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance) (Toshiya Fujita, 1974)
19:00 華麗なる追跡 (The Great Chase) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1975)

9.25(水)~9.28(土)
13:00 0課の女 赤い手錠 (Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs) (Yukio Noda, 1974)
15:00 修羅雪姫 怨み恋歌 (Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance) (Toshiya Fujita, 1974)
17:00 華麗なる追跡 (The Great Chase) (Norifumi Suzuki, 1975)
19:00 0課の女 赤い手錠 (Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs) (Yukio Noda, 1974)

- http://www.laputa-jp.com/laputa/program/tgc2024/
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

Toei New Porno and More: The First Trip - Part 1/3

This is going to be a crazy summer. Laputa Asagaya is killing my bank account! They already did the massive Toei Oizumi retrospective earlier this year, now they’re doing Toei New Porno, and I haven’t mentioned it yet but a 30 movie Roman Porno retrospective with films like Yukihiro Sawada’s ultra rare revenge film Attack! (襲え) (1978) started last weekend. And there’s the Fighting Women screening series packed to the brim with Pinky Violence, karate and swordswoman classics coming in August-September. I might as well rent an apartment in Tokyo because that’s how many times I’ll be flying there. I must. I’d regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t.

My latest trip was to catch the first two films in Laputa’s Toei New Porno retrospective. But let’s talk about that a little later since my program was more than just porno!

Day 0: Thursday

Déjà-vu! I was supposed to fly to Tokyo on Friday, but then Cinema Vera announced a 35mm screening of the legendary Japanese car chase film Hairpin Circus for Friday at noon. What do you do? You fly to Tokyo one day earlier, that’s what you do! And yes, this does sound awfully familiar, right? I had to do the exact same thing last March when Shin bungeiza suddenly announced Lone Wolf and Cub screenings for Friday morning.

I had my flight booked for Thursday night after work at 20:50. It takes about 4-5 hours from my couch to my destination in Tokyo, depending on the airport (Narita / Haneda), the type of train (cheap / expensive), and where you’re heading. I arrived at my capsule hotel in Ueno just after midnight. Time for a good night’s rest… or so I thought. Turns out the place is a fucking zoo! There’s a Godzilla snoring so loud in the next capsule that the whole damn building was shaking. And then there’s some sort Giant Pig giving him a run for his money on who can snore loudest. Thankfully I was so tired that I fell asleep regardless sometime around 2 a.m.

Day 1: Friday

I haven’t visited Cinema Vera too often in the recent years. 10 years ago their program was amazing! I met Sonny Chiba there, I listed to Yumiko Katayama tell tales about Teruo Ishii, I caught Chusei Sone and Noboru Tanaka films, celebrated the careers of Meiko Kaji and Norifumi Suzuki, just to mention a few. But recently their program has leaned more towards digital screenings of old American and European films. Also, several years ago something happened to their projection quality. The image is now brighter and more washed out, with weaker blacks and less vibrant colours. They’re still totally worth visiting, but the projections just don’t look quite as amazing as they did before.

Cinema Vera. The program poster art is from Pig and Goldfish (1962)
Image

None of this mattered too much when Hairpin Circus (ヘアピン・サーカス) (1972), Kiyoshi Nishimura’s essential Toho New Action flick, screened from a gorgeous print. Often referred to as Japan’s Vanishing Point, the existential car chase film follows a traumatized former race driver, tempted back to speed thrills by a rebellious street racing gang lead by a young woman (terrific Yuko Enatsu in a gender role defying part) in a yellow Toyota GT-2000. Cool to the bone without being overly flashy, Nishimura’s is film is a dreamy classic is set to a fantastic jazz score and features the kind of driving that could never be filmed in modern Japan.

Hairpin Circus and Nuns That Bite (more about this one in a later post)
Image

Hairpin Circus screened in a rather obscure program called “Legendary Movie Theater: The 6392 Days of Ooi Musashinokan”. This theatre closed down in 1999 after having enjoyed some popularity as a revival house bringing back to life forgotten gems, and is said to have contributed to the re-evaluation of directors such as Teruo Ishii, who had been largely forgotten by audiences back in the 80s / early 90s. I don’t know how the films were selected for this screening program, but it should be safe to assume they had all played at Ooi Musashinokan at some point.

Photos of Ooi Musashinokan
Image

Up next, Michihiko Obimori’s 1970 Daiei film Way Out, Way In (高校生番長), which really ought to have a more literal English title (Kokosei bancho / High School Boss). I had seen this film years ago at the Film Archive and remembered it being a pretty tame and conservative take on the wild youth. Indeed, the film’s moralizing tone is light years behind the kind of stuff Toei and Nikkatsu were putting out. However, I was more amused by the film this time. It’s charmingly innocent, has an awesome psychedelic night club scene, and can’t stop laughing at the sub-plot where a guy gets traumatized for life after his first sexual experience (seduced by the film’s sole sukeban girl boss character). He then starts molesting women on the train and imagining his big sister naked (which we don’t really get to see, sadly). Kind of fun film. The faded 16mm print wasn’t too much to write home about, though.

After Way Out, Way In I had about 45 minutes to make it from Cinema Vera to Jinbocho Theater. I had a friend with me, but he ended up missing the next film as he couldn’t keep up with me. The film in question was Asu no hayome (あすの花嫁) (1962), a pretty nice romantic youth film starring one of Japanese cinema’s most beautiful and popular stars of all time, Sayuri Yoshinaga. The film was part of Jinbocho’s five week Yoshinaga retrospective celebrating the 65th anniversary of her legendary career. This film starts a little slow with Yoshinaga sent to a girls’ school, but once she heads for a holiday trip with girl friend and boyfriend candidate Mitsuo Hamada the film gets very funny and charming.

Jinbocho's Sayuri wall
Image

Two posters for Asu no hanayome
Image

For the rest of the night I originally had different plans, but since my friend wanted to see Furiosa we decided to head towards Marunouchi Piccadilly by foot to catch the movie on a huge Dolby Cinema screen. The movie looked nice and all, but I must say it doesn’t come close to matching a good 35mm screening at Laputa or Jinbocho.

After Furiosa it was time to head back to the capsule. I was really hoping the animal gang was gone as I had a relatively early wake up scheduled for next morning. No such luck. Not only were Godzilla and Giant Pig at it again, they were joined by Texas Chain Saw Snorer whose attempts at sleep sounded like a movie villain trying to start a chain saw. How do they not wake up themselves, or each other, is beyond me. Fuck!
Guro Taku
King of Beggars
Posts: 674
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 16:37

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by Guro Taku »

Still haven't tried sleeping at a capsule hotel and you don't exactly sell me on the experience.
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

Guro Taku wrote: 22 Jun 2024, 18:48 Still haven't tried sleeping at a capsule hotel and you don't exactly sell me on the experience.
Haha, this time was the worst! Usually it's peaceful, though you do get occasional snorers and noisy tourists (the latter is a recent phenomena. When I started using capsule hotels 15 years ago there were no tourists and you didn't even need a reservation as long as you checked in before midnight).
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

Toei New Porno and More: The First Trip - Part 2/3

Day 2: Saturday

I had probably slept about 5½ hours before heading to the convenience store (onigiri and Red Bull) and taking a JR train from Okachimachi Station to Asagaya. Yes, tonight’s Toei New Porno film wouldn’t screen until 21:00, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. I was at Laputa by 10 a.m. and were awarded with ticket no. 1 (Laputa’s tickets are numbered, and you get called in in that order. Jimbocho Theater and Cinema Vera are the same).

Laputa's ticket counter
Image

There was another reason for arriving early, which was Laputa’s Hisako Tsukuba retrospective in the 10:30 a.m. Morning Show. The day’s film was Seijun Suzuki’s 1959 noir Passport to Darkness (暗黒の旅券) (1959), which proved to be a competent and stylish tale of a man whose wife is found dead just after they get married. He must find the killer himself as the police are unable to accuse anyone except him of the murder. I am not the world’s biggest Suzuki fan actually, but this was a solid film that should please any viewer.

Hisako Tsukuba Retrospective
Image

Image

I had cleared my Saturday afternoon of movie program to enjoy Asakusa for a few hours, while also applying my best ninja skills to try and move only in the shadows (I forgot my sun lotion, and was too lazy to go buy a new one).

As the sun started to set, it was time to head back to Vera for a 35mm screening of Yuji Makiguchi’s legendary lesbian cannibal nun splatter Torn Priestess aka Nuns That Bite (女獄門帖 引き裂かれた尼僧) (1977). I had missed this film a few years ago when Shin bungeiza screened it in a Makiguchi memorial all nighter (he died in 2021), so I was delighted at the opportunity to finally see it in 35mm. The film is completely bonkers, admittedly a bit cheap and overdone when compared to better films by Norifumi Suzuki or Teruo Ishii, but a lot of fun nevertheless.

That being said, Torn Priestess might not quite live up to the legendary reputation it achieved back in the VHS days when only a heavily cut version missing 30 or 40 minutes of footage was available. It was later discovered that only drama scenes had been cut out! I might also state here that the optical censorship you may have seen on the DVD edition is also present on the print, and is surely how the film was always intended to be screened. Remove the fogging and you’d just find out they weren’t focking for real!

You might not believe it, but Torn Priestess turned out NOT to be the day’s most bizarre film. That honour goes to A Diary of a Woman Doctor (女医の愛欲日記) (1973), the first film in Laputa’s Toei New Porno series. Death by Hanging screenwriter Doten Fukao’s directorial debut is an increasingly surreal tale of a female doctor who leaves her home and husband (Fumio Watanabe in a 30 second role) behind to attend a seminar in Kyoto, but in reality she has reserved the weekend of fleshy pleasures. First comes the casual stuff like stabbing a gigolo with syringe during sex for kicks, then the goat… oh boy, I’m not going to spoil what happens to the goat, but I will say after the scene there’s an existential dialogue about the goat’s existence. And then she eats a bouquet of roses!

Supposedly inspired by real events (what the hell?), Fukao makes the most of his limited resources with tight framing, intoxicating use of the yellow color, an intriguing story that probably no one fully gets on first viewing, and a bizarrely big name cast featuring genre and art-house actors in one scene cameos, such as Etsuko Ichihara discussing the goat’s existence. And holy shit the ending shot left the entire theatre gasping, trying to figure out what the hell had they just witnessed. To quote Cinema Vera’s old introduction text for this film, it’s up to you to decide if this is a masterpiece among cult films, or a failure pretending to be avant-garde?

Image

The screening was nothing short of a big deal. 11 years Laputa attempted to screen this film from their own self-produced print as part of their previous Toei New Porno retrospective, but Toei placed this and several other films under complete screening and distribution ban at the request of Fukao (whose name really is Doten Fukao. All English language databases have it wrong as Michinori Fukao). The ban wasn’t lifted until Fukao died late last year. I didn’t actually know about any of this prior to seeing the film, but I had begun suspecting something before the screening. As I was standing outside the theatre waiting for us to be admitted inside, I became increasingly glad I had bought my ticket in the morning. I was counting people as they were arriving at the theatre… 31…35... 38… Time to move in. 40…41. Oh shit, another gaijin! 4-5 women too. And this is in a theatre that only has 48 seats. As the movie was about to start, I confirmed the final headcount as 43 blessed souls who’d never forget this night. It was the film’s 8th and last screening for now.

After the film I headed back to my capsule, however, instead of riding the train all the way to Ueno I decided to get off at Akiba and walk to Ueno. On the way I got hungry and stopped at a random ramen restaurant in Okachimachi for this delicious bowl.

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

Toei New Porno and More: The First Trip - Part 3/3

Day 3: Sunday

I had not rested well. The animal gang had been at it again. The Texas Chain Saw Snorer had kept up his terror, and Godzilla sounded like he’s dying from his own snoring. I think Giant Pig was gone, but replaced by T-Rex. Damn.

Up and to Laputa we go. Rice ball and Red Bull. Sunday was largely a repetition of Saturday with me once again arriving at Laputa by 10 a.m. for a porno ticket. This time I only got ticket no. 3. Perverts get up early, it seems. As you probably guessed, I wasn’t there just for that. I was there for Toei’s demented snowman flick Himalayan Wanderer (ヒマラヤ無宿 心臓破りの野郎ども) (1961), which screened in the Hisako Tsukuba retrospective. The audience was about 30 dudes, me probably the youngest one, and absolutely zero women. It figures, I guess.

The film is a loose sequel to The Big Gamblers of the Amazon (an absolute blast of a film that I caught in Laputa about 10 years ago). While not quite as good, beautiful or demented, it’s still tons of feel-good fun with Chiezo Kataoka capturing the Himalayan yeti and bringing him to Japan like a shrank King Kong. I had actually watched this movie at home and didn’t think so highly of it, but now it became obvious the digital TV airing just couldn’t re-produce the lush visuals and the cinema magic of the jaw-droppingly beautiful 35mm print. This makes Furiosa in Dolby Cinema look like someone’s home video. Damn!

I had originally planned on sandwiching three dramas / comedies / musicals between Toei’s morning mayhem and late show porno. But I decided to skip one (Daiei’s Eriko, 1962, at Vera) and instead head to Disney Shop. No, not for myself, but I though maybe I should bring something to my wife so that she'll let me go on my crazy movie trips in the future, too! That also gave me time to browse old movie posters in a random book store in Jinbocho before my 2nd Sayuri Yoshinaga film Watashi, chigatteiru kashira (私、違っているかしら) (1966), a rather annoying film about an irritating girl who can’t get a job because she’s a shmuck. Ok, enough about that film.

(speaking of Yoshinaga, I was a bit gutted that Koreyoshi Kurahara's absolutely devastating A Record of Love and Death screens between this and my next trip, just when I'm not in Tokyo. I'm sure that would have looked incredible in 35mm. I've watched it at home twice.)

Left: The Street with the Cupola / Right: Watashi, chigatteiru kashira
Image

Much more enjoyable was my 4th and final film at Cinema Vera, the 1962 Toho comedy Pig and Goldfish (豚と金魚). I was partly drawn to this screening, despite knowing nothing about the film, due to my positive experience with the same era / same studio Kumo no ue dan gorō ichiza (1962) at Laputa last year. And indeed, this was a pleasant little comedy with a musical touch, following an ensemble of characters living around a pig farm, including a spirited grandma, evil ramen chef, a young painter rockabilly guy (Takashi Fujiki), and most importantly his gal Akiko Wakabayashi. She spends most of the film in revealing tops bowing, running, and riding bicycle on bumpy roads! Total fan service! I wasn't expecting this, particularly from a 1962 film, but hey I ain't complaining!

Other films screening in Cinema Vera
Image

Image

Image

And then finally, it was time of some more Toei New Porno at Laputa. The night’s film was The High Cost of Virginity (処女かまきり) (1973). Teruo Ishii and Norifumi Suzuki's former assistant director Tomoomi Yoda's debut film is an anarchic sex comedy about a pair of sisters selling sex and virginity (restored by gynaecologist Hiroshi Nawa upon request). There isn't much to the film beyond shagging and gags, and it could certainly have done without the opening credits sequence composed of a woman's moaning and stills of horses having sex, but Yoda directs with mad energy and a fair bit of visual inventiveness, playing with colours and framing, throwing in silly gags, and even choreographing one sex scene in the rain using an umbrella as the only visible moving element. The main cast is composed of Toei eros regulars like Mitsuko Aoi, Mami Sakura and Miwako Onaya, but the real standouts are found in the supporting roles: award winning author occasional Toei junk guest star Tanaka Komimasa as a horny monk, and Toei's live action Donald Duck Takuzo Kawatani as horny young chap. Imagine Norifumi Suzuki doing a 52 minute series of goofy sex scenes, and you'll get the idea.

This was one of the films that were actually allowed to screen 11 years ago due to not having anything to do with Fukao, and perhaps that’s why audience attendance was only a bit more than half of the theatre capacity. The film screened from Laputa’s excellent self-produced print – I count that at least five, possibly more, of the eight prints in the retrospective were financed by the theatre (three of them 11 years ago, one even earlier, and one this year). That’s how rare these films are!

Also curious trivia from The High Cost of Virginity press sheet: the film is compared to West German pornography, which according to the text, enjoyed great popularity in Japan. Also, Takuzo Kawatani's name is not mentioned anywhere, not in the film introduction and not in the cast list, despite playing the 3rd biggest role in the film.

The High Cost of Virginity
Image

Film prints ready to be shipped back to Toei warehouse.
Image

Image

Laputa at night
Image

And that was it for this time. It’s 10 p.m., time to head back to the capsule for a way too short night sleep before an early morning flight to be at the office by 11 a.m. next day on other side of the country. Boy, were I sleepy. And yes, the animal gang was still at it, though something unexpected and a bit scary happened. The Texas Chainsaw Snorer (whom I identified as an old Japanese geezer sleeping in his capsule backwards, likely drunk) really started getting on someone’s nerves as that someone started banging the capsule wall like a madman. It somehow worked, somewhat. The geezer turned down the snore volume by at least 40%. Don’t ask me how that’s possible.

That’s all folks, for now. I’ve got my next three (!) Tokyo trips booked already, to catch the rest of the Toei New Porno that I haven’t seen yet.

Attachment: "Legendary Movie Theater: The 6392 Days of Ooi Musashinokan" (the art is from Pig and Goldfish) at Cinema Vera
Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

Toei New Porno and More: The Second Trip

This is starting to sound like a broken record. I wasn’t going to fly to Tokyo on this day. I was planning a trip two weeks later to catch A College Girl’s Affairs in its final screening, and The Fancy Man in its first. But then Laputa announced Attack! (1978) with only three screenings from Sunday to Tuesday. Yeah. Tuesday it is.

Tuesday

Nezumi Otoko has Landed in Humid Hell! The former is how my wife described me when she saw me dressed all in gray, and the latter is how my friend welcomed me to the summer Tokyo. I landed at 10:40 a.m. (Haneda) and rushed to Laputa as fast as I could. Attack! (襲え) (1978) would screen at 13:00. I read that Sunday’s screening sold out long before the movie started. Arriving 65 min in advance earned me ticket number 19. By time the film started, the theatre was packed. Even the same damn gaijin yaro whom I saw two weeks ago at A Woman Doctor’s Diary was there, in full pirate mode with beard and headscarf!

Image

It was no surprise the screening was packed. The film remains a bit of a Holy Grail: the only Roman Porno picture by action rebel Yukihiro Sawada that remains near impossible to see. Even Nikkatsu doesn’t have a screening print of it, but National Film Archive does and that one was loaned for this screening. I was laughing at Laputa’s introduction text, which said the film is so rare even they haven’t seen it yet, but are looking forward to it.

The film itself was quite alright, but not as good as Sawada's previous two Roman Porno films, the Sam Peckinpah pastiche Assault! (1976) and the mistitled alienated youth drama Rape Frenzy: 5 Minutes Before Graduation (1977). Attack! feels like a mix of those two with a youth film combined with a revenge thriller, but isn't quite as effective. Erina Miyai gets a nice bad girl role as a mysterious woman who blackmails three no-good youngsters into helping her kidnap a businessman’s daughter. Some rough stuff follows, but this shouldn’t be really compared to the violent pink wave of the mid/late 70s too much, despite Nikkatsu’s best marketing efforts (the poster depicts a scene that isn’t in the film!) as Sawada was more a youth action director. It’s a solid film with a nice rock soundtrack and occasional humoristic touches, even if it lacks the vigour of 5 Minutes Before Graduation and the incredible bullet ballet ending of Assault!

The movie screened in Laputa’s Main Program, is a 30 movie Roman Porno Retrospective running from mid-June to early August. It’s quite an odd program created in collaboration with the movie zine (small film publication) "Orgasm", whose staff selected the films. The result is a program with four Katsuhiko Fujii movies and nothing from Tatsumi Kumashiro. Never thought I’d live to see a day like this! There are some interesting works included, however, such as my all time favourite Roman Porno, Toshiya Fujita’s Female Delinquent: A Docudrama (実録不良少女 姦) (1977), Yoichi Higashi’s Jealousy Game (ジェラシー・ゲーム) (1982) with Reiko Oshida, and Fumihiko Kato’s bizarre revenge horror film Orgasm Mariko (オーガズム真理子), which has been gaining cult reputation in the recent years, screening from a brand new print produced by Laputa.

Other films in the program
Image

Lunch at Asagaya Kitchen after securing my film tickets.
Image

After enjoying some free time in Tokyo, I returned to Laputa at 19:00 for a 16mm screening of Katsuhiko Fujii’s perplexing Lesbian no joô: Zoku Kiri Kaoru (レズビアンの女王 続・桐かおる) (1975), which is a sequel to Kaoru Kiri: The Best Lesbian In Japan, a Docu-Drama (1974). I’m not going to go into detail about this film – God knows I’m not a fan of Nikkatsu’s dirt gutter director Fujii – but this film does provide some amusement. Centred around the famed real world stripper / sex show performer / lesbian icon Kaoru Kiri, the movie nevertheless spends most of its time following a straight guy who bangs anything that moves, including several lesbians, but not his own wife. Kaoru Kiri becomes a supporting character in her own movie, and amusingly she’s depicted as a total jerk. The audience was visibly confused, some of them cheerfully so, as they left the screening.

Image

As the day turned into night, it was time for the 2nd highlight of the day, and perhaps the entire summer, with Misao Arai’s formerly banned true account A College Girl's Affairs (女子大生失踪事件 熟れた匂い) (1974) in Laputa’s Toei New Porno retrospective. The film screened from Laputa Asagaya’s brand new 35mm print. This movie was actually meant to screen 11 years ago in Laputa’s first Toei New Porno retrospective, but became the first of four movies placed under complete distribution ban that lasted until screenwriter Doten Fukao’s death late last year (FULL STORY COMING SOON). Considering even Toei did not even have a screening print, it’s safe to assume this is the first time anyone has seen the movie in decades, perhaps since the 70s.

This film is based on the 1973 disappearance/murder of a Rikkyo University student case. The prime suspect was her professor at the university, who committed suicide with his wife and two daughters a month later. The girl’s body wasn’t found until six months later buried in the outskirts of Tokyo. Adding to the notoriety, the university staff were aware of the tragedy after the suspect’s somewhat cryptic confessions to several colleagues, but refrained from informing the police in fear of a scandal. I’m sharing all this background because it is essential to know the details in order to fully appreciate the film (see the end of the post for a detailed summary).

A College Girl's Affairs provides a near ingenious interpretation of what MIGHT have happened. The film positions itself somewhere between reality and fiction, being either a fictionalized take on a true account, or a fictional tale that constantly references a true account. The film starts with an authentic premise, then takes facts, twists them around, and comes a full circle in wonderfully unexpected ways! Doten Fukao’s script mixes human existentialism with a non-linear who-did-it plot (here all of her lovers are suspects, gathering together to discuss what has happened, and they’re all university professors!), brought to screen in wicked fashion by Teruo Ishii’s former AD Misao Arai, who said he wanted to make a film where everyone was crazy. The film does have its porno trappings and less inspired patches, not to mention being a questionable production from the start, but it’s a fascinating piece of filmmaking with strong acting performances. And holy fucking shit what a soundtrack courtesy of psychedelic Kyoto rock band Datetenryu! The film’s ending scene will never be forgotten!

Image

That was it for the movies this time. I headed to my capsule for a very badly slept night (if Tokyo was a sauna, then my capsule was a furnace) before the usual early morning flight back to Hokkaido and straight to work. I had probably gotten about 3 hours of night sleep, and another 45 min during the fight but only after sacrificing my neck to the God of Sleep! Was it all worth it? Totally!

Postscriptum: Rikkyo Female Student Disappearance / Murder Case timeline

Here’s an abbreviated timeline of the real life case. I compiled this in a hurry, so it may not be 100% accurate. If you ever get a chance to watch the film, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the case first in order to understand and appreciate the film:

1973/7/19
A female Rikkyo University student disappears.

1973/7/20
As is discovered later, she was murdered by her lover, a married university professor name Hiroyoshi Oba, at a villa in Hachioji on July 20. He buried her body near the villa. Later the same day Oba tells an old friend in somewhat cryptic terms that it's all over now, and that he needs an alibi for that afternoon. The friend suspects suicide, or even murder.

1973/7/21
Concerned about the girl, the friend consults colleagues at the university. A few days later Oba confesses having murdered her, but says giving himself in wouldn’t bring her back to life. The colleagues keep the information to themselves, partly out of consideration for Oba's wife who has a history of suicidal tendencies.

1973/7/29
Oba digs up the body and re-buries it in a more hidden place.

1973/8/18
The girl’s mom visits the university. Aware of the relationship, she suspects Oba has something to do with her disappearance. The university denies any knowledge and calls it a personal matter. Meanwhile Oba is covering up for the crime by pretending to be searching for her.

1973/8/28-30
University conducts their own investigation on the matter. Oba’s colleagues comes forward and reveal the truth. Oba is called in for questioning but refuses to give direct answers. University management does not inform the police in fear of a scandal.

1973/8/31
A colleague convinces Oba to turn himself in. Oba resigns from the university and plans on turning himself in in about a week.

1973/9/2
Oba, his wife, and his daughters aged 4 and 6 disappear.

1973/9/5
Oba’s colleagues finally inform the police about his disappearance and the suspected murder of the female student.

1973/9/6
Fishermen find the bodies of Oba and his entire family. They had committed suicide two days earlier by throwing themselves off of a 20 metre cliff.

1973/9/19
The police have learned about the villa and conduct a search. They find a muddy shovel and items belonging to the victim. Over 300 policemen search for the body, but find nothing. Without a body, the crime cannot be proven.

1974/2/28
More than five months later smelly mud is reported at a development site near the villa. A body is found and identified as the missing student. Cause of death: strangulation. It is 224 days since her disappearance.

1974/3/23
Fukao submits the film’s completed screenplay.

1974/3/26
The case is closed with Oba officially announced as the killer (I’m unaware how much of the case and Oba was reported in the media before this day).

1974/7/17
A College Girl's Affairs, based a revised script, is released to Toei theatres as part of a triple feature for a brief 8 day run between the playing-until-then jitsuroku/karate double feature (Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Final Episode & Wicked Kempo) and the upcoming "Toei Manga Festival".
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

Toei New Porno and the Biggest Film Screening Ban in Laputa Asagaya’s History

This year’s most exciting film retrospective, The Deep World of Toei New Porno Returns, is currently in progress at Laputa Asagaya. As many of you may know, Laputa held their first Toei New Porno retrospective, Resurrection! The Deep World of Toei New Porno, back in 2013. While I was aware that the retrospective had encountered some problems, I only discovered recently what a nightmarish political thriller it all had been back in 2013. Four of the 10 films planned for the program had to be cancelled when Toei banned them! These four films remained under complete distribution ban until late 2023.

The following summary about what happened in 2013 is based on various magazine articles and letters posted at Laputa Asagaya this year to accompany the current retrospective, which includes most of the formerly banned films.

March, 2013

The idea for a Toei New Porno retrospective came after a couple of films had been shown in a different context. Ginza Cine Pathos had screened The Fancy Man in a Takuzo Kawatani retrospective, Cinema Vera had produced a new print for Amorous Tales of Genpei, and Laputa had produced a new 35mm print for A Diary of a Woman Doctor for their Kei Sato retrospective. The theatre agreed to produce two or three more new prints in addition to available ones.

10 films are planned to be screened in total. New 35mm prints will be produced for A College Girl’s Affairs, The High Cost of Virginity, and A Married Woman’s Sex Hell at Laputa’s own expense. The rest of the films selected for the program are A Diary of a Woman Doctor, The Fancy Man, Virgin Breaker Yuki, Virgin Breaker Yuki 2, Decapitation of an Evil Woman, Tattoos on Virgins, and Amorous Tales of Genpei. The last three films are not considered Toei New Porno, but they would be included as closely related works.

The retrospective is set to start in July.

April 2, 2013

Laputa’s manager / program director Yukari Ishii receives a call from Toei. The studio says they cannot make a print for the true account crime film A College Girl’s Affairs (Dir. Misao Arai, Scrip: Doten Fukao) due to undisclosed copyrights issues. No further explanation is given.

Laputa decides to replace the film with another true account crime film, Victimized, for which they will produce a new print.

April 23, 2013

Another call comes from Toei. A Diary of a Woman Doctor (Dir. Doten Fukao) and Amorous Tales of Genpei (Dir. Doten Fukao) are banned from screening. Director Fukao has requested that these two films are not to be shown under any circumstances. It does not matter that those two prints had already been produced a few years earlier by Laputa and Cinema Vera. Toei stores the prints and refuses to let them be screened.

The line-up for the retrospective is now reduced to only 8 films.

Doten Fukao (not Michinori Fukao btw. All EN language databases have his name wrong)
Image Image

June 4, 2013

The program line-up is publicly announced and program leaflets are printed. Several guest talk events are also announced to accompany the films.

June 21, 2013

Two weeks before the retrospective starts, Ishii receives yet another call from Toei. The Fancy Man (Dir. Tomoomi Yoda, Scrip: Doten Fukao) is prohibited from being screened. After the earlier bans the theatre had feared the worst but hoped for the best. No luck here. Laputa is told to announce that “the film cannot be screened due to various reasons” (standard Japanese expression when details won't be disclosed publicly).

A talk even with an actor appearing in the film has to be cancelled. New program leaflets have to be printed to replace the originals. The program is now reduced to just seven films after four movies have been banned (one of them replaced with a new film).

It’s the worst screening ban that Laputa has even encountered.

June

Misao Arai, the director of A College Girl’s Affairs, has learned about the ban of his film and sends Toei a very angry letter. He demands the screening ban to be reversed, and Toei to ignore Fukao’s “nonsensical screenwriter’s rights” claims, which Arai says conflict with common sense and the film makers’ rights to have their works screened to the public. It is to no avail. In Toei’s “generic” reply they refer to the Article 28 of the Japanese copyright law and say that in order not to cause any distress the screening ban shall be enforced.

In a later Eiga Hiho interview Eizo Yamagiwa, a representative of the Directors Guild of Japan, states that Toei was misinterpreting the copyright law by accident or on purpose. The screenwriter’s rights extend to “versions” of their works (e.g. a translation of a screenplay or a modified screenplay), not to completed films which are considered new works of art by film makers.

August 31, 2013

Arai attends the screening of Tattoos on Virgins in Laputa. Participants are distributed a letter called “My Battle”, where Arai discusses his failed attempts to lift the screening ban. He confirms that all erotic works written or directed by Fukao are under a complete distribution ban, including his film A College Girl’s Affairs. Arai writes that he’s furious at Toei and their autocratic actions against theatres, and promises to continue his battle in hopes that common sense will prevail.

Misao Arai, I believe
Image

Later 2013

Eiga Hiho calls Fukao to inquire on the matter. The interview ended short with Fukao hanging up after some minutes. Before that he claimed he had only agreed to have his works shows at the time they were made. He also said he wanted to use a pen name but wasn’t allowed.

Several other people are also interviewed. Some say that Fukao had been an ardent supporter of freedom of expression back in the 60s, and even defended film makers’ right to make violent and sexually explicit films, but developed a strong anti-pornography attitude sometime later. The general impression is that Fukao, a former Nagisa Oshima collaborator who wrote the first draft of Death by Hanging and an unused screenplay for In the Realm of the Senses, and later became a university lecturer, is ashamed of his past with Toei Porno and doesn’t want anyone to see those films. Some say he’s been giving a lot of trouble to various parties with unreasonable demands, and some may have agreed to his demands simply to get him off their backs.

September 2023

R.I.P. troubled soul, genius writer and bitter troublemaker Doten Fukao.

March 2024

Manager Ishii reports that the issues with the formerly banned films have been cleared, a new New Toei Porno retrospective is set to start in June 2024, and a new 35mm print for A College Girl’s Affairs, financed by Laputa, is being produced at Toei Laboratories.

June 1, 2024

The Deep World of Toei New Porno retrospective stars at Laputa Asagaya, featuring A Diary of a Woman Doctor, The High Cost of Virginity, A Married Woman’s Sex Hell, A College Girl’s Affairs, The Fancy Man, Victimized, Virgin Breaker Yuki, and Virgin Breaker Yuki 2.

Laputa Asagaya's programming director Yukari Ishii
Image
Guro Taku
King of Beggars
Posts: 674
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 16:37

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by Guro Taku »

Fascinating (and frustrating) stuff! Thanks for putting in the work to share all that. Do you know if these distribution bans always end with the death of the offended person? What would happen if, say, one of the involved peoples' child or grandchild were to petition the distributor and ask for a distribution ban because they can't live with having their (grand)ma be naked on a theater screen somewhere?
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11759
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Post by HungFist »

I'm afraid I have no insights to that. The impression I get is that studios do these bans on an entirely voluntary basis to avoid trouble and bad publicity, and simply to get troublemakers off their backs. It probably depends on a lot of things, including how persistent and loud the complainer is.

I don't know how many films are under such bans. At least Bankaku Rock (seems like Eikichi Yazawa, one of the Carol band members, feels he had been done misjustice in the film, and raised hell when Toei intended to release it on DVD) and the Machiko Ohtani films at Nikkatsu (the rumour is someone, either her or her family, doesn't want her porno work to be seen by anyone), but there are probably many others.
Post Reply