Jan 23

Call of the Pistil (1971) aka Kashin no sasoi

It is the jarring debut of Masaru Konuma (Ikenie Fujin), one of the Nikkatsu studio’s most unconventional filmmakers. The outrageous story line deals with Masako (Keiko Maki), a journalist who is raped while researching a story. The rape causes her to develop amnesia, so her brother devises a novel way to get her memory back — he has her boyfriend rape her again. It doesn’t work, so the brother and boyfriend do more research, discovering that Masako was raped by an African-American soldier. As might be expected, they then hire a black GI to rape the poor girl yet a third time. There remains nothing else to say about this film. Those who might enjoy it will surely be searching for it already, and those who are repulsed will surely not be swayed by hearing what a well-made film it is, or how well novice director Konuma composes scenes.

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Jan 17

Spirit of love (1993) aka Ai de jing ling

Loletta Lee plays a model who, judging by her lavish home, is making a fortune doing TV commercials. When her boyfriend/boss comes over and tries to get romantic, Loletta begins seeing weird and scary visions. Visions of blood flooding her floor, and a three year old boy ghost. It seems that, three years earlier, she was pregnant and caught her husband (Poon Chan Wai) athletically knocking off a blonde. Husband kicked her down the stairs, which causes her to abort. The ghost is evidently the aborted baby grown up. Back to the present day, hubby has teamed up with a new girl (Joanna Chan), and is trying to get back into the house and kidnap the boy ghost. Warning : Due to a combination of no subtitles and a confusing storyline, some of this is guesswork.

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Jan 14

Zegen (1987)

The award-winning director of such esteemed films as Black Rain and The Ballad of Narayama has chosen here to tell the decidedly dicey true tale of Iheiji Muraoka, also known as Zegen, the man who became the most powerful pimp in modern Japanese history, a man who could honestly regard himself as “The Boss of the South Seas.” At the time, between the World Wars, Japan was involved in empire-building throughout East and Southeast Asia. After a brief career as a low-level military adventurer, Iheiji (Ken Ogata) decided to set up chains of brothels throughout Asia. As Japan’s power in the region grew, so did his prosperity, as the man is quite literally surrounded by sex of all kinds, much of it shown onscreen. Interestingly enough, this engaging rogue was convinced that his entrepreneurship was not only personally rewarding, but was his way of doing his patriotic best to advance his country’s global ambitions.

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Jan 14

Ringu (1995)

In different parts of Tokyo, four young and seemingly healthy people suddenly die of heart failure at exactly the same moment. Reporter Kazuyuki Asakawa decides to investigate the deaths, and discovers that the four had stayed at a rural inn together just a week earlier. At the inn, he comes across a strange video that ends with a message saying that anyone who watches it will die exactly seven days later. Now the clock is ticking for Asakawa. Can he break the curse in time?

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