ZOOM IN: SEX APARTMENTS
Color, 1980, 68m.
Directed by Naosuke Kurosawa
Starring Erina Miyai, Youko Azusa, Yuuko Ohzaki
Impulse (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)
TRUE STORY OF A WOMAN IN JAIL: CONTINUES
Color, 1975, 70m.
Directed by Kôyû Ohara
Starring Kozue Hitomi, Natsuki Kumi, Arikawa Mihoko, Yoshii Akiko
Impulse (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
"I can't help it, you're wearing these sexy panties today!" Uh oh, it's Nikkatsu time again as we wallow around in two more Roman porno outrages guaranteed to send social conservatives into frothing fits of outrage. In the previous batch released on DVD by Impulse, we got an eyeful thanks to Zoom Up: The Beaver Book Girl, and that loosely-connected shutterbug series continues here with the previous year's Zoom In: Sex Apartments. Imagine the '70s giallo favorite Case of the Bloody Iris remade by some sex maniacs with a camera, and that might give you some idea of what to expect here with the story Saeko (Miyai), a woman assaulted by a black-gloved, masked lunatic. As it turns out, the assailant is also a kinky firebug who's into attacking schoolgirls and setting their nether regions aflame, a peculiarity tied to a traumatic past, voyeurism, and other perverse twists before the film explodes in a fiery, orgiastic finale that must be seen to be believed.
Once again the Nikkatsu line veers in directions you'd never expect with this one, which feels like an extended homage to the Edwige Fenech era of Sergio Martino's thrillers from Italy. The always useful liner notes by Jasper Sharp cite Dario Argento as a reigning influence here, but really the convoluted plotting and extended sexualized stalking feel much more like Martino territory (and his imitators like the aforementioned Bloody Iris), right down to the quasi-Bruno Nicolai score. The tone is sweaty and grimy throughout with lots of conceptual nastiness, though this isn't as overtly as explicit as the series would become with its following entries; rather than spraying the viewer in the face with bodily fluids, this one is more content to set up ravishing scope compositions and have its characters squirm around naked inside them like bugs on pins.
As usual the DVD from Impulse is a real beauty, perfectly framed with the colorful and often wildly experimental widescreen photography perfectly realized. The English subtitles are loads of fun as usual (both Saeko's current horndog boyfriend and her piano-tuning old flame get the best lines), and for extras you get the outrageous Japanese trailer and a set of exhaustive liner notes by Jasper Sharp (with the gorgeous Japanese poster art on the insert front).
The very first batch of Impulse's Nikkatsu films featured one especially grungy offering, True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell, from 1975. Well, guess what? Poor Mayumi from that first film (still played by Hitomi) is still behind bars and in deep trouble, sulking out of solitary into a world where the inmates are repeatedly strip searched and forced to wade through a room-length cleanser spray that looks like blood. Her new neighbors get a kick out of forcing each other to demonstrate sexual positions on the floor, and she finds that it's all mostly a new set of scumbags colluding to make life a living hell for defenseless inmates (some of whom don't strictly fit the definition of female). The prisoners still have a knack for constructing lewd sexual aids out of handy materials, there's drug smuggling afoot, lesbianism runs rampant, and even heroin-stuffed prophylactics aren't safe from being turned into stuffed tools of debauchery. Then there's a gang rape flashback for our heroine, sinister erotic photography, grabby guards, and a foul forced miscarriage in the communal bathtub.
As usual, Nikkatsu manages to find a few new shocking wrinkles in the reliable women-in-prison formula courtesy of director Ohara, a pink veteran whose career is covered in great detail in the obligatory Jasper Sharp liner notes. This one seems to owe even more than usual to the previous year's Caged Heat courtesy of its grim and stylized lighting as well as the frequently casual and sometimes de-eroticized nudity, which is sometimes intentionally fogged in an attempt to make the eye think something nastier is going down in front of the camera than what the actors were most likely really doing. Again the transfer is excellent, about on par with the first film in the series with optional English subtitles (and no extras, but that hardly matters when you get 70 minutes of unhinged sexy prison insanity.)
Buy Zoom In: Sex Apartments from Diabolik.
Buy True Story of a Woman in Jail: Continues from Diabolik.