The Teruo Ishii thread

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The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:27

I ended up doing a bit of reseach on Ishii after attending a Ishii retro in Tokyo, and thought I might just as well start a new thread. I'll try to do the following:

1) Shed some light to the Joys of Torture / Cinema of Cruelty / Abnormal Love series that is indeed confusing as hell in terms of what films are a part of which series...
2) Post all of my Ishii mini-reviews here. I hope other members will also contribute!
3) Share trivia, news, whatever.
4) Hope that others will join me.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:29

Short introduction to Teruo Ishii

Born in 1924, Teruo Ishii first joined Toho in 1942. He soon moved to Shintoho, where he spent a decade as an assistant director before being allowed to helm his first own picture 1957. He spent most of his Shintoho years helming gangster movies, including the Line series and the Woman's Body series, both of which often examined the sleazier side of Japanese night life and gangster circles.

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In an interview Ishii said he begun making gangster movies at Shintoho because it was a genre the company president didn't know much about, and Ishii figured that way the boss would leave him alone. This perfectly summarized Ishii as a director. He was always a bit of a rebel, though not a political one. Later at Toei too, he often went against the producers' advice, but he was forgiven because his films were so successful.

After Shintoho's bankruptcy Ishii moved to Toei where he continued helming gangster movies. The importance of these films cannot be emphasized too much. While the Western world knows Ishii for his exploitation films, in Japan he is known first and foremost as a gangster film director, in which profession he was astonishingly successful.

Ishii first initiated the Gang series (1962-1967) at Toei, which helped Ken Takakura to gain popularity before he became the most popular Japanese actor of all time. A few years later Ishii initiated the Abashiri Prison series (1965-1967) which cemented Takakura's position as the most popular actor in Japan. Ishii directed and wrote all 10 films within a time period of 2.5 years. In 1965 three of the year's TOP 10 domestic box office performers were Abashiri Prison films. In 1966 it was the same.

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Ishii left the series in 1967 after having a burn out with it. He was sick and tired of it and refused to make any more. Other directors would helm 6 more New Abashiri Prison films. Toei producer Shigeru Okada then suggested Ishii something very different. Okada had been planning a series of erotic and violent films to lure audiences back into theatres (profits had been decreasing, TV was stealing viewers, people were starting to get tired with yakuza films, and all the studios struggled). Ishii took the offer.

Short introduction to the Abnormal Love series

The new film series producer Okada initiated with Ishii was called the Abnormal Love series (異常性愛路線). The first movie in the series was History of the Shogun's Harem (1968) which was still quite tame by later standards. However, it was one of the first sexploitation films by a major studio with lots of publicity, as opposed to the small profile pink films produced by tiny companies that only played in adult theatres, or major films where sexuality played a limited role. The film was a hit. It cost 30 million to make, and it earned more than 100 million at the box office despite opposition by critics and women's organizations.

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The second film in the series, Hot Springs Geisha (1968), was just as tame. Okada and Ishii then decided to take the series to a more violent direction, resulting in The Joy of Torture (1968), which made a huge splash. Not only was it amazingly popular (the 9th most popular film at the box office in a year that saw nearly 500 Japanese movies released) but also very controversial. Critics said Japanese cinema has hit the rock bottom, Asahi Newspaper had a "bashing campaign" against the movie, and Toei actors Koji Tsurura and Tomisaburo Wakayma publicly criticized the film.

The series continued with Orgies of Edo in 1969, which was billed as the "4th film in the Abnormal Love series" in its trailer. It was a little less violent than The Joy of Torture and more true to the series title. Shameless: Abnormal and Abusive Love (1969) came out next, followed by Inferno of Torture (1969), seeminly parts 5 and 6 in the series. Inferno of Torture was again surrounded by a lot of controversy as Toei's own assistant directors held a large protest against the film at Toei Kyoto studios. The film also had lost its original star Teruko Yumi who had left the shoot without saying a word.

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After Inferno of Torture the series labelling gets confusing. Yakuza's Law (1969) came out next and it was billed as the "the 1st film in the Stimulating Violence series" in its trailer. Love and Crime (1969) was called "the 1st film in Teruo Ishii's True Account series". No follow-ups were produced, however (*). Later at least Love and Crime has been considered a part of the Abnormal Love series by Toei who released it in a box set with some other Abnormal Love films.

Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) is a bit of a question mark. Ishii was given free hands to do what he wanted, and he chose to adapt several Edogawa Rampo stories into a single narrative. The film was pulled from distribution soon after its release due to its political incorrectness regarding its theme (malformed men) and Toei has never released it on video or dvd, or screened it on TV in Japan. Nowadays it is frequently screened in 35mm by independent theatres, though. Whether this is a part of the series or not is unclear to me.

The Abnormal Love series ended here, if not already before, and Ishii returned to mainstream gangster films. Ishii did helm some similar titles in the 70s, however. The Red Silk Gambler (1972) had elements of ero-guro but is considered a mainstream yakuza film. Female Yakuza Tale (1973) was a modern pinky violence / yakuza film. Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (1973) however was included in Toei's Teruo Ishii DVD box set with 4 other Abnormal Love films. I believe it was suggested in the box set (which I don't own, yet) materials that it was part of the series, although I doubt it was marketed as such / considered one back in 1973.

* Seven years later, in 1976 Yuji Makiguchi directed two films, Shogun's Sadism and Bizarre Crimes of Post-War Japan, which could be considered follow-ups of sorts to Ishii's movies. Ishii was not involved in them.

Shogun / Tokugawa / Joys of Torture / Cinema of Cruelty series?

Western distributors were quick to discover Ishii. Several of Ishii's films were released theatrically in Germany, Italy and some other countries in the early 70s. The Joy of Torture was the first one, which is probably why the films have sometimes been billed as "The Joys of Torture Series". In Germany many of the films were released as Tokugawa films, even Orgies of Edo ("Tokugawa III) which is not even set it the Tokugawa period. Sometimes the movies have also been referred to as the Shogun films despite the shogun only appearing in a few of them (and none of them being Shogun's Joy of Torture aka The Joy of Torture).

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One of the fun things about the European distribution was how the films were often marketed with Western models who did not even appear in the film, and were given fake credits filled with Western names. The Italian poster for The Joy of Torture for example claims the film stars Lory Steel, Barbara Adams and Mary Laurent, and Inferno of Torture stars Jenny Steel, Lory Rose, Barbara Laurent and Dania Adams (see what they did?).

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Regarding the Criticism by Toei Staff for the Abnormal Love Series

To understand where the criticism was coming from you need to understand a few things. First of all, Toei Kyoto was famed for their traditional, respectable samurai films. With the Abnormal Love series initiated, suddenly the studio sets were covered in blood and guts and there were naked women running around everywhere. Many employees didn't like that.

Secondly, since filmmakers were "company employees" back then they often couldn't refuse when they were ordered to work on these movies. The assistant directors (a better term would be "director's assistant" or "director's slave") were especially bitter.

Thirdly, movies were released as double bills back them. This is purely my own speculation, but I wonder if one reason why Tomisaburo Wakayma hated Ishii films so much was the fact that no less than three times his films in 1968-1969 were paired with an Ishii exploitation flick, and probably every time he was overshadowed by some Ishii actress' boobs.

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Fourthly, Ishii and his regulars were considered outsiders. It was an era when filmmakers often spend their entire career working for one studio. Ishii had joined Toei only 6 years before and had been a bit of a rebel from the beginning. Most of his female stars came from outside the studio or were new recruits as Toei actresses refused to appear in Ishii films. The Ishii crew were called Ishii gumi (Ishii gang) and they were treated disrespectfully by many Toei employees.

Finally, pay attention to the exact release year and even release month. In the late 60s and early 70s Japanese cinema underwent a couple of decades worth of development in terms of censorship and moral standards loosening. You might feel like calling Wakayama a hypocrite for criticizing Ishii considering how exploitative his own Lone Wolf and Cub films were, but you really can't compare 1968 films with 1972 films. So much changed in just a few years.


[Bloody hell, I was only supposed to write like 3 or 4 paragraps... and even this is just a brief introduction. I may edit it later to add information or correct possible mistakes]

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:30

I recently attended a Teruo Ishii festival in Tokyo. I covered it in the Movie Going Madness in Japan thread in more detail, but I'd like to post just a brief summary here as well.

The full program was:
Invaders From the Planets, Super Giant 3 [DCP]
The Earth in Danger, Super Giant 4 (1957) [DCP]
Woman's Body and the Wharf (1958) [DCP]
Black Line (1960) [DCP]
Queen Bee and the School for Dragons (1960) [DCP]
Gang vs. Gang (1962) [35mm]
Underworld Boss: Eleven Gangsters (1963) [35mm]
Tattooed Ambush (1964) [35mm]
Secret Agent 101: Bodyguard Murder (1966) [35mm]
Settlement (1967) [35mm]
Abashiri Prison: Challenging the Wicked (1967) [35mm]
The Joy of Torture (1968) [35mm]
Shameless: Abnormal and Abusive Love (1969) [35mm]
Orgies of Edo (1969) [35mm]
Love and Crime (1969) [35mm]
Yakuza Law (1969) [35mm]
Inferno of Torture (1969) [35mm]
Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) [35mm]
Blind Woman's Curse (1970) [DCP]
Killer's Black List (1970) [35mm]
Prisoner's Black List (1970) [35mm]
Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (1973) [35mm]
Jitsuroku 3 okuen jiken: Jiko seiritsu (1975) [35mm]
Wakusei Robot Dangard A tai Konchu Robot Gundan (1977) [35mm]
Japanese Hell (1999) [35mm]
Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf (2001) [35mm]

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Yumiko Katayama, the star of Inferno of Torture
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She was telling some great stories about Toei and how she got into Inferno of Torture, where she plays the first girl tattoeed by both Asao Koike and Teruo Yoshida. She said she joined Toei via Toei's new faces competition (like Sonny Chiba and Ken Takakura before her). Toei brought the screenplay to her but she refused it on basis of the nudity and its extreme nature. The film later went into production with a different actress, who however quit in the middle of filming because she couldn't take it! Meanwhile Katayama had agreed to do a bikini shoot for Heibon Punch, but it turned out a nude photo shoot! She used a fake name, but Toei found out said now she has no excuse not to do (replace the missing actress in) Inferno of Torture.

As many people probably know, Ishii had caused quite a stir with The Joy of Torture which had been hated by the press, and even Toei stars like Tomisaburo Wakayama and Koji Tsuruta publicly spoke against it. There was actually a protest by Toei Kyoto Studios staff against Inferno of Torture during its production. The Ishii gumi ("Ishii gang") was quite widely disliked by the Kyoto staff back then. Inferno of Torture was Katayama's first starring role and not all the attention it brought to her was positive. After the film, Tomisaburo Wakayama had her cast in one of his movies and made her play an extra (a farmer with a dirty face who appears in some group scene with 70 other extras) apparently just to humiliate her because she was in Ishii films.

She also revealed a fun bit of trivia: she had been offered a nun's role in The Joy of Torture, but she refused because she was asked to shave her hair. Unthinkable for a 19 year old girl!

She said she's now proud to have been part of Ishii gumi as Ishii's films enjoy cult reputation around the world, but she has actually never seen Inferno of Torture! She can't stomach violent movies! She said she recently subscribed to Toei Channel (TV) but half of the movies there are too shocking for her to watch! She feels like the characters on the screen are real people.

She also recalled the filming experience (Inferno of Torture) as "being naked from 9 to 5".

She was also asked about Asao Koike who plays the serial killer rapist in Love & Crime, and she said she remembers how he was giving her advice how to put on the maebari...

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:30

Mini reviews: Shintoho years (1950s & 1960s)

Woman's Body and the Wharf (女体棧橋) (Japan, 1958) [DCP] - 3/5
"A town in the centre of Japan that is not Japan!" Teruo Ishii's moody noir about two detectives trying to bring down an international woman trafficking ring operating in the seedy night clubs of Tokyo. Stylish and delightfully shot at 75 minutes, but perhaps a bit too talkative. Ishii regular Yoko Mihara (still young and slim) appears in a major role.

Girls Without Return Tickets (女体渦巻島) (Japan, 1960) [DVD] - 3/5
Action packed exploitation noir with some wild, colourful sequences. Teruo Yoshida is a tough guy affiliated with a Hong Kong syndicate running a drug and woman trafficking ring on a small island in Japan. Yoshida travels to the island with an intention free his loved one Yoko Mihara, whom he hasn't seen for three years, only to find out she's been promoted to a managerial position and is enjoying her job commanding the other drug addicted hookers. Decently stylish and entertaining, with an ace running time of 75 minutes, but ultimate quite routinely written. Although the English title makes no reference to it, the film is part of the Jotai / Woman's Body series, which was similar to the better known "Line" series.

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Black Line (黒線地帯) (Japan, 1960) [DVD] - 3/5
An investigative reporter (Shigeru Amachi) getting too close to a narcotics syndicate wakes up in a hotel room with a dead prostitute in his bed. He flees and tries find the real killer while on the run from the police. Entertaining Teruo Ishii / Shintoho noir is yet another dive into the seedy night of modern Japan. Gangsters, transvestites, hot girls, some stylish black and white cinematography and somewhat daring for the era, one does however get the feeling the storyline is a bit over-plotted. This was the 2nd film in the Line series. The films were made at Shintoho in 1958-1961, Ishii helming the first four of the five. The 1st movie, Secret White Line (1958), is quite difficult to see because the film materials are partially lost / damaged, and it was only released on DVD as a bonus feature in the Line Series DVD box set in 2008, that version lacking 15 minutes of footage.

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Sexy Line (セクシー地帯) (Japan, 1961) [DVD] - 2.5/5
The 4th film in the Line series. This was Teruo Ishii last movie for Shintoho before moving to Toei. Teruo Yoshida is a company employee whose OL girlfriend is secretly working for a yakuza prostitution ring that hires nude models and sends them out with customers for extra money. When the girl is murdered, he becomes the prime suspect. He flees and hooks up with pickpocket Yoko Mihara to go undercover and find out what's going on as he's blissfully unaware of the whole racket. Semi-sleazy (for the era) noir is entertaining and suitably short at 82 minutes, but ultimately a bit pedestrian. The storyline does not seem entirely credible: there are too many (un)lucky coincidences and Mihara's willingness to risk her life to help Yoshida is not believable. Visually the film is also not as wild as Ishii's better movies. However, the film can be praised for its strong female characters, especially considering the topic. Victims they may be, but none of them are portrayed as weak or passive.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:30

Mini reviews: 1960s films - Part 1

Love, the Sun and the Gang (恋と太陽とギャング) (Japan, 1962) [DVD] – 2.5/5
The second film in the Gang series, which is linked only by theme and title. Ken Takakura, Tetsuro Tamba and a bunch of other crooks plan on robbing a casino run by foreigners. Of course, most of the gangsters are merely looking for a chance to double-cross their partners. A decently made but unremarkable, jazz-tuned, highly noirish caper by Teruo Ishii. Takakura stars in one of his early “punk roles”, as opposed to the stoic hero roles he later became famous for. The middle part is quite talkative, but there’s some energy to the visual style. Sonny Chiba appears in a small supporting role as a helicopter pilot. He has a couple of good scenes near the end, but his screen time is limited to a couple of minutes.

Abashiri Prison (網走番外地) (Japan, 1965) [DVD] – 3.5/5
The first film in what is probably the most beloved yakuza film series of all time. Ken Takakura stars as tough guy sent to the Abashiri Prison, which is populated by Toei’s regular yakuza films stars (Toru Abe, Kajuro Arashi, Kunie Tanaka etc.). The opening half isn't that special, but after that the film takes off when it transforms into an exhilarating chase set in the beautiful and cold Hokkaido locations. Solid cinematography and well used ninkyo elements (although it's not really a ninkyo series) also contribute to the success. The series ran a total of 18 instalments, the first 10 of them helmed by Teruo Ishii.

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Another Abashiri Prison Story (続網走番外地 ) (Japan, 1965) [DVD] - 1.5/5
An uninspired routine sequel only made to cash in on the success of the original. The first film was an entertaining action flick set in the snowy Hokkaido winter; this sequel misses the cool for being filmed during summer. There are no prison scenes either; the shabby storyline follows Takakura and others ex-cons as free men. They soon get involved a with diamond theft. The series theme song by Takakura is the film's only highlight.

Abashiri Prison: Saga of Homesickness (網走番外地 望郷篇) (Japan, 1965) [DVD] - 3.5/5
The 3rd film in the series, and one of the best. Like the previous instalment it was shot during a summer and also lacks any prison scenes. However, the screenplay and characters are pretty good this time round and the film features a very atmospheric use of music. Thr film starts with Takakura out of the slammer and trying honest living as a port labourer with other former prisoners gone straight, but of course things are complicated by Toru Abe's villainous rival gang, who want the business all for themselves. There's also a black(face) kid who makes friends with Takakura, but is surprisingly not irritating at all. Although Abashiri Prison was not really a ninkyo yakuza series, this instalments features quite a few typical ninkyo elements, including an honourable, death-sick assassin hired by Abe's gang to fight Takakura.

Abashiri Prison 4: Northern Seacoast Story (網走番外地 北海篇 ) (Japan, 1965) [35mm] – 2.5/5
The 4th film in the series that cemented Ken Takakura's status as the biggest yakuza film star of the 60s. Northern Seacoast Story takes the story back to the snowy Hokkaido where the original film took place (after a couple of warmer entries, of which the 3rd movie was admittedly one of the best in the series). Unfortunately it's not among the series highlights. The film opens with silly comedy routines with two gay prisoners before turning into a yakuza film variation of Stagecoach (1939) when Takakura is set free and he takes a job to drive a certain truck through Hokkaido. The cargo is cargo a runaway teenager (Reiko Ohara), a mother accompanied by sick child, and two ruthless criminals (Tooru Abe and Takashi Fujiki). It’s hardly an original movie, but the solid genre cast, jazz soundtrack and winter landscapes provide enough entertainment to warrant a viewing for fans. Sonny Chiba plays a small supporting role as an inmate with health problems. His character initiates the plot, but is only featured in the early scenes.

Abashiri Prison: Duel in the Wilderness (網走番外地 荒野の対決) (Japan, 1966) [DVD] - 2/5
Part 5. A mediocre-at-best entry. The first 15 min is dedicated to Toru Yuri and others goofing around in the prison (typical for the series, and Ishii, unfortunately) before things take a bit more serious turn. Once out of the slammer, Takakura befriends horse breeders harassed by the yakuza. I initially thought this was one of those southern entries with summer setting but it was shot in Hokkaido after all with a bit of spring snow and scenery here and there. There's not much else to write home about, except perhaps the unusual ending which is void of excessive bloodletting.

Abashiri Prison 6: Duel in the South (網走番外地 南国の対決) (Japan, 1966) [DVD] – 2/5
Sonny Chiba's second appearance in the series comes in one of the weakest Abashiri Prison films. This instalment takes place as far away from Abashiri as possible in Okinawa. The actual Abashiri prison is only featured in stock footage. The storyline mostly focuses on Ken Takakura and goofy pal Kunie Tanaka coming across a pick pocketing kid (whose hooker mom is played by Ishii regular, pinky violence supporting star Yoko Mihara). Veteran star Kanjuro Arashi is the best thing about the film. Chiba has a slightly bigger role than in the 4th Abashiri film, but he doesn’t have much to do. He plays a distinctly different character than last time, unlike some other actors. One characteristic of the series was actually that the same actors would return in sequels, playing essentially the same roles even if their characters had been killed before, which could be a bit confusing at times.

Abashiri Prison: Duel in the Snow Country (網走番外地 大雪原の対決 ) (Japan, 1966) [DVD] - 2.5/5
The 7th film in the series isn't bad, but it doesn't truly come alive until the great finale. Similar to many other weaker instalments in the series, it suffers from the lack of strong plot. There's too much silly comedy, especially with two gay prisoners, and too many meaningless quarrels. The plot doesn't really kick off until during the last half an hour when Takakura is out of the prison and runs into an old man and daughter harassed by a local gang. The film benefits from some impressive winter locations, but the best thing is the highly satisfying, Western influenced gunplay/sword fight finale on the snow covered streets.

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Secret Agent 101: Bodyguard Murder (神火101殺しの用心棒) (Japan, 1966) [35mm] - 2/5
Fast paced, but ultimately disappointing Shochiku action shot on location in Hong Kong and Macao. The messy film is basically a mash up of spy flicks and gangster movies. There's some entertainment to be had thanks to the locations, undone towards the end by the dumb script and insufficient production. There are some frustrating bits like a woman who's just been saved from gangsters deciding to go back to the same damn place because her lover is there. The long action / stunt finale featuring a the hero (Muga Takewaki) dodging bullets (and occasionally hanging by a rope) from small airplane counts as one of the sloppiest action set pieces I've seen in ages. The trick shots are laughably bad and it's obvious the scene required more footage than the filmmakers were able to film. Teruo Ishii later admitted that Shochiku was no place for filming modern action.

Abashiri Prison: Duel at 30 Below Zero (網走番外地 決斗零下30度) (Japan, 1967) [DVD] - 3.5/5
The 8th film in the series, and one of the most entertaining. Takakura runs into an abandoned little girl whose real father is working for a slimy gangster (Toru Abe again) in a snowy northern mining town. Although this entry also doesn't have the strongest of plots and features some silly comedy in the early scenes, it comes with pretty good characters and it makes a good use of locations. Takakura especially gets to do his usual stoic 'worker class hero' act very well here. Like the previous film in the series, it also has a strong Western atmosphere with lots of gunplay, horse riding and Western esque score by Masao Yagi. It doesn't hurt that Tetsuro Tamba plays a major supporting role either.

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Abashiri Prison: Challenging the Wicked (網走番外地 悪への挑戦) (Japan, 1967) [DVD] - 3/5
Part 9. A summer set Abashiri Prison film with no scenes set in neither the prison nor Abashiri was usually a bad sign. Not this time, though. This one's got a dynamite opening with credits where Takakura's name explodes on the screen in the biggest red font you've ever seen. The next scene is a hostage situation with armed delinquents. The storyline that follows (Takakura with delinquents) is an unexceptional melodrama but there's a bit of that jazzy touch you find in late 50s and early 60 Ishii films (e.g. the Gang series). The ending is great again with violent action and a great tie up to the next film. Not quite top tier Abashiri (1, 3, 8) but probably the best of the rest.

Abashiri Prison: Duel in the Blizzard (網走番外地 吹雪の斗争 ) (Japan, 1967) [DVD] - 2/5
The 10th and last Abashiri Prison film directed by Teruo Ishii (8 more New Abashiri Prison films were made by other directors). This is another one with a winter setting, which is an instant plus. There are a few other interesting things as well, such as Takakura escaping the prison hiding in a coffin, and an elderly foreign prisoner. Unfortunately the rest of the film is no great shakes. The film mostly composed of loosely linked set pieces: there's the compulsory quarrel with other prisoners, there's the escape, there are the encounters with other gangsters outside of the slammer, and finally there's a bit of something resembling a plot when Takakura runs into a man who had his father killed long ago. The last half an hour features some strong western influences, but it all comes out a bit less stylish than one might wish.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:31

Mini reviews: 1960s films - Part 2

Hot Springs Geisha (温泉あんま芸者 ) (Japan, 1968) [DVD] - 1/5
This is one of those films that in some ways doesn't deserve the low rating I'm giving it - after all, it's a technically well made film with some good looking cinematography, a solid cast (Yoko Mihara, Masumi Tachibana, Teruo Yoshida etc), and Teruo Ishii as the director. But then again, how do you survive a 90 minute a dated sex comedy with no laughs and no nudity other than in one amusing pool fight scene? You don't. Norifumi Suzuki helmed much better instalments in the same series a few years later, partly thanks to the new era allowing him much cruder jokes and sexier content.

The Joy of Torture (徳川女刑罰史 ) (Japan, 1968) [DVD] - 4/5
The biggest hit in Teruo Ishii's series of ero-guro films that critics called the low point of Japanese cinema and Toei's own stars (e.g. Tomisaburo Wakayama, Koji Tsurura) bashed. The early films were, or course, smash hits, with this one ranking no. 9 at the yearly box office for domestic films. People these days often forget what a good film it is. It’s the gruesome and exaggerated history of Japanese capital punishment in the Tokugawa era told in three short stories, starting with a deceivingly romantic tale of doomed love, later climaxing with an unbelievable torture orgy where a mad tattoo artist asks an execution/torture squad to help him with inspiration for his to-be masterpiece tattoo “Joys of Torture”. Unlike some other similar films, The Joy of Torture has well written storylines, excellent pacing and lavish production values to support the violence and nudity. They truly don’t make them like this anymore.

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Orgies of Edo (残酷異常虐待物語 元禄女系図) (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 3/5
There is a scene in this film where two foreign midgets try to rape a Japanese girl, who then gets pissed off and starts whipping them in return! And it is not even even the film's most politically incorrect scene. That should be considered a merit of some sort, I believe. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is not quite as exciting. although it remains an enjoyable vintage exploitation romp. The film is a followed The Joy of Torture, again utilizing a three episode format, but this time toning down the violence and focusing more on abnormal passions. In plain English: more nudity than blood. Out of the tree, the second story is the best, focusing on a woman who can only get excited by having sex with the "ugliest" and "most abnormal" men she can find. The other two stories are less interesting tales of a naive girl fooled into working in a brothel and a mad lord who enjoys mistreating his female servants. Entirely watchable, but mostly unexceptional.

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Inferno of Torture (徳川いれずみ師 責め地獄) (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 4/5
Ishii expands the tattoo episode from The Joy of Torture into a feature length film. This time there are two tattoo artist, one decent and one depraved, both in love with the same woman who's been promised to the winner of a tattoo contest. The two artists get their human canvas from an odd bunch of noblemen yakuza who run a woman trade ring. Of course the beauty of the women every so often causes mishaps to the men around them, punishable by ultra-brutal death of course. It is not only the fascinating tattoo theme giving the film a strong identity - with hellish visions of the inferno tattooed on beautiful women's backs - but also Ishii's colourful, highly visual imaging of a mysterious, cruel and fascinating (fantasy) Tokugawa era that make this a terrific film. There are only some minor issues with the storyline drifting around at times, and a couple of silly comic reliefs - something that is probably due to hasty pre-production (Ishii directed and wrote 7 movies that year). Shocking, beautiful, and fascinating, one of Ishii's finest films.

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Yakuza's Law (Japan, 1969) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Contrary to what many Western fans believe, Teruo Ishii was first and foremost a gangster film director. It is true, however, that the ero-guro films he made in the late 60s were some of his most inventive and enjoyable films. Yakuza's Law’s combines the two genres. Unlike his other films from the era, there’s almost no female nudity on display as the film focuses exclusively on men torturing each other. It's an incredibly violent film; basically torture porn long before the term had been coined. Ears and fingers are cut off, eyes are gouged, faces are burned, and bodies are crushed in three episodes set in the past and modern. The first episode, with Bunta Sugawara, is the most brutal, while the second one with Minoru Oki has the best storyline. The third episode is a super stylised, super violent, jazz tuned action with Teruo Yoshida as the kind of master gunman you might encounter in a Seijun Suzuki film. Oddly fascinating and “cultish”, although not on par with Ishii’s best films.

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Love and Crime (明治大正昭和 猟奇女犯罪史) (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 3/5
A true account of crimes of passion, played for little else than shock value. There's something admirable about such sleazy premise even if this doesn't rank among the better entries in the Abnormal Love series. Adhering (to a degree) to facts appears to be the biggest hindrance as the kind of wild imagination and inspired execution that could be found in Ishii's best films is somewhat lacking here. Once again Ishii uses the episode film structure with four main stories accompanied by a couple of mini-stories. The 1st story is the best, delivering both the skin and the guts as young wife and her lover go on a rampage. The 2nd is the weakest, Ishii mainly getting credit for being an early bird on the Abe Sada story and bringing the lady herself in front of the camera for a cameo - everything else was done better later by Oshima and Tanaka. The decent 3rd and 4th story focus on a serial rapist murderer, and Oden Takahashi, the last woman executed by decapitation in Japan. The film benefits from its production era, coming with the charm of somewhat dated if gross 60s exploitation rather than convincing nihilism that might have been too much given the topic. Followed by a weak semi-sequel Bizarre Crimes of Post-War Japan (1976) by Yuji Makiguchi.

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Horrors of Malformed Men (江戸川乱歩全集 恐怖奇形人間) (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 4.5/5
A nothing short of legendary Edogawa Rampo adaptation combining multiple source stories into a single narrative. The tale begins as an enjoyable mystery that later turns into a Japanese version of The Island of Doctor Moreau during its final and most remarkable third. It is during this segment that Teruo Ishii excels with some of his career-best sequences. While the film may not be half as gory as some expect, it's an atmospheric movie with a great mysterious score, great imagination, and a wonderful antagonist played by the unearthly Butoh dancer Tatsumi Hijikata. The film was elevated to cult reputation partly because Toei withdrew all prints just weeks after its release in 1969 following complaints about the film's politically incorrect nature. The original Japanese title, which more accurately translates as "The Horrifying Malformed Men" or even "The Terror of Malformed Men" depending on interpretation, was part of the issue in the post WWII, nuclear traumatized Japan. Up till this day the film has never been distributed on home video or broadcast on TV in Japan, although there are 35mm screenings almost every year.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:31

Mini reviews: 1970s films

Prisoner's Black List (監獄人別帳) (Japan, 1970) [35mm] 2.5/5
Teruo Ishii returns to the genre that originally made him a successful director: gangster films. This film basically plays out like an unofficial Abashiri Prison sequel with lots of added scatological humour. It even features Kanjuro Arashi as Onitora, the supporting character he played in Abashiri Prison. The rest of the cast is different, however, as this is technically speaking a loose follow up to another Ishii film, Killer's Black List (1970). The first 2/3 of the film is set in a prison (housing both male and female convicts, both equally silly), followed by an action packed escape. Modestly entertaining and at times very stupid, but the last 15 minutes is disappointingly by-the-numbers bang-bang action without anything particularly stylish about it.

The Red Silk Gambler (緋ぢりめん博徒) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 3/5
Teruo Ishii's female gambler film has several good moments, but suffers from a messy script. Eiko Nakamura is a yakuza searching for a man (Bunta Sugawara) who once saved her life. Unfortunately he is now affiliated with her enemy, including the daughter (Reiko Ike) of a man she killed. This was intended as the first in a new series, but no sequels followed. It's easy to see why. Not only was the ninkyo yakuza genre past its prime, this one doesn't use the genre elements very effectively. There are also too many characters and Nakamura lacked the charisma of Junko Fuji. Ishii does, however, manage many visually stylish scenes and some nicely staged action. He also throws in some nudity and ero guro elements similar to his 60s shock cinema, although in a toned down form. Based on a storyline by Oniroku Dan, btw.

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Bohachi bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (ポルノ時代劇 忘八武士道) (Japan, 1973) [35mm] 4.5/5
A stunning exploitation chambra based on super violent comics by the Lone Wolf & Cub author Kazuo Koike. Tetsuro Tamba plays nihilistic swordsman who joins a depraved yakuza gang whose life consists of nothing but sex, torture and prostitution business. He is hired to wipe out their competition by killing the other clan's customers and shaming their women. This initiates a counter-attack and Tamba becomes target for ninja assassins. Ishii creates a wonderfully decadent world full of sleazy yakuza, deadly swordsmen, psychedelic colours and ridiculously awesome action scenes such as the one where naked female bodyguards are attacked by a Kurokawa ninja (the same clan that haunts Ogami Itto in the Lone Wolf and Cub series). The screenplay must have been exceptional as the film comes with terrific pacing, entertaining cut-to-the-bone plot, and badass dialogue. It's also a rare treat to see the charismatic Tamba in such a film (original: Porno jidaigeki). Usually movies like this were marketed purely with female stars and their assets - of which there is no lack in this film. I must've seen this movie half dozen times, and now for the first time in 35mm. This is exactly the kind of fascinating, sexy, sadistic and mysterious world that only gets more awesome in movie theatre.

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Female Yakuza Tale (やさぐれ姐御伝 総括リンチ) (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 3.5/5
Fun but hastily made sequel to Sex and Fury. Teruo Ishii directed the film, but it seems he didn't have much of a script to work with - more like a plot draft written in a hurry. There's a lot of incoherent nonsense between the opening and ending scenes. Ishii makes up for it with colourful images, a plot that revolves around a yakuza gang using girls who smuggle drugs in their vaginas, and a number of fantastic set pieces including the apocalyptic final massacre with two dozen naked ladies slaying yakuza with swords, nails, guns and hand grenades. There's a certain charm to seeing trash like this done with relatively amazing production values, something that would never happen in modern cinema.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:31

Mini reviews: 1970s films - Part 2

The Executioner (直撃!地獄拳 ) (Japan, 1974) [DVD] - 3.5/5
By mid 1974 karate films had proven so popular that even directors who didn't want work with the genre were ordered to make some. Such was the case with madman Teruo Ishii, who made The Executioner one of Chiba's trashiest pictures. The hit squad flick features ninja descendant Chiba, ex-cop Makoto Sato, and death row convict Eiji Go hired to wipe out a drug cartel. Ishii was bored with the project, so he filled it with extreme violence, sex, and crude jokes - and let's not even get started with the hilariously degrading treatment of every single female character in the film. It's not a pretty movie, but that's exactly where it's appeal lies. The heroes are sadists and perverts, and the bad guys... well, the same but even worse.

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The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno (直撃地獄拳 大逆転) (Japan, 1974) [35mm] - 4/5
Much to director Teruo Ishii's dismay, his previous, reluctant attempt at a karate film was a hit and Toei ordered him to make a sequel. Ishii responded by turning it into a madcap action comedy. There isn't quite as much action this time around since half of the film consists of Chiba (asshole ninja), Makoto Sato (asshole ex-cop) and Eiji Go (asshole pervert) taking the piss out of each other and molesting Yutaka Nakajima. The jokes are crude but funny, the soundtrack is fantastic, and there’s some great action at the end of the film. Oh, and this is the film that features Chiba saving his pal, whose clothes have caught fire, by pissing on him. Top grade entertainment.

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Great Jailbreak (大脱獄) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Teruo Ishii and Ken Takakura return to Abashiri several years after the original Abashiri Prison series which had launched them both to superstardom However, the times had changed by 1975. Takakura is no longer a romantic gangster hero swinging a samurai sword, but a desperate death row inmate who breaks out with a group of insane killers and tries to escape through the freezing Hokkaido wastelands. It is a bit ironic that Ishii, the king of Grand Guignol, delivers one of the more humane and old fashioned Japanese crime films of the mid 70s. Ishii and Takakura both disliked the overly nihilist and documentary style yakuza films if the new era. The Great Escape mixes grittiness with a bit of humanity. The film's best part sees Takakura temporarily settling down in a small village and nursing a sick woman back to health - while constantly ready to kill anyone who might threaten his freedom. While not the finest film in its genre, its layered protagonist, good use of locations and quiet, atmospheric moments echoing a lonely man's psyche, make it an enjoyable movie; the final collaboration between two crime film legends who did not quite belong to this era of yakuza cinema anymore.

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Detonation: Violent Riders (爆発!暴走族 ) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 2.5/5
Violent Japanese biker gangs were all over the news in the mid 70s. They were mostly aimless young men seeking excitement in gang life and tuned bikes, a sort of next generation from the post-war thunder tribes who had done the same with cars. Toei was quick to smell easy box office revenues, and much like with karate films (The Executioner), Teruo Ishii got assigned to the job despite his lack of interest for the genre. That shows in good and bad. The film has a magnificent start with Ishii filling the screen with leather dressed bikers and motorcycle stunts, sex and nudity, anarchy and violence, anything he could think of. The long intro climaxes with Rebel without a Cause style "who's got bigger balls" race towards a cliff while blindfolded. Unfortunately, from here on the film gets progressively worse. There is almost no plot, and the storyline about a troubled mechanic boy (rocker / bike maniac Koichi Iwaki) falling in love with a girl who hangs out with a dangerous biker gang is messy to say the least. There's some wild and anarchic street racing footage, but the action at the end is sloppily filmed and edited. Beard-faced Sonny Chiba has a small but enjoyable role as the girl's charismatic, ex-biker brother. Much of the supporting cast are likely real gang members.

True Account of the 300 000 000 Yen Case - Statute of Limitations (実録三億円事件 時効成立) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 2/5
This true account of a 300 million yen heist epitomes the Toei mindset. It was brought to the attention of producer Shigeru Okada that the crime, which took place December 10, 1968, would expire as unsolved at the end of the year, and now would be the perfect time to cash in. So was born this "true account" where almost everything is fictional since the police, despite the largest investigation in the history of Japan (110 000 suspects / 170 000 policemen participating), never found out who did it. Teruo Ishii was brought in to helm the picture, and the son of the producer, Yusuke Okada, cast as the robber. The film suffers from vapid characterization that produces some boredom, but Ishii knows how to direct stylish and suspenseful scenes once the storyline starts rolling and we see the criminals prepare and pull off the heist. Unfortunately things get less interesting again once the film shifts its focus to the police investigation (led by Nobuo Kaneko). The film also lacks the exploitative edge of most other 70s Teruo Ishii films (there is a brief bathhouse scene thrown in for random nudity, though!).

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Violent Warrior (暴力戦士) (Japan, 1979) [DVD] - 3/5
In 1979 Toei president Shigeru Okada saw the future. More precisely, he saw Walter Hill's The Warriors in the US prior to its Japanese opening. Okada rushed back to make his own version. "Towards the 80! Our era! Now filming!" the trailer exclaimed. The plot is roughly the same as in The Warriors except this time the chased gang has to make it from Kobe to Tokyo and the leader's got the enemy's sister handcuffed to him. The film runs on a logic of its own (gang mates seem to teleport to convenient locations, escapees have time to stop jamming every time they hear music etc.) and one gang in particular, the man eating amazons, make Italian gang and post apocalypse films look like art in comparison. Hardly great cinema, but undeniably entertaining with frantic pacing, loads of music and even a massive roller blade street chase! As a vision of future, it wasn't too far off if the future was defined as 80s rock, bad fashion and comic book films. As for rating, throw the dice, any will do, even 6 out of 5. Teruo Ishii's last theatrical film until the early 90s.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 15:31

Mini reviews: 1990/2000s films

The Hit Man: Blood Smells Like Roses (ザ・ヒットマン 血はバラの匂い) (Japan, 1991) [DVD] - 1.5/5
Teruo Ishii's only V-Cinema film. "Violence and Eros" was printed on the VHS cover. That was true enough, but there's little of the style and excitement of Ishii's better films to be found. The dull storyline is about an avenging hitman going Yojimbo on two gangs. The scene where he loses his suitcase and gun because he leaves it in a cafe when he goes to bathroom, and then has to chase the (irritating) girl who took it, sums up how the film's plot (does not) function. But it's not all bad: the closing credits sequence, which plays like a photo collage from a high quality porn magazine, paired with a rock song, is superb. This film was, btw, Ishii's return to films after more than a decade of TV work.

Japanese Hell (地獄) (Japan, 1999) [35mm] - 3/5
Oddly fascinating trash by Teruo Ishii. A messenger from hell gives us a walking tour to the inferno, where silly looking demons are torturing and dismembering evil doers. As a sign of true inspiration and delightfully poor taste, the "victims" in the film are obviously real persons: otaku murderer Tsutomu Miyazaki and the perpetrators of the Tokyo subway sarin attack, all of whom were still alive (some awaiting trial) at the time. The film then proceeds to show what lead these men to hell. Inadequately budgeted and not convincing in the least, but strangely satisfying, and compared to modern exploitation, even well made. No CGI or tongue in the cheek humour, but instead fun sets, light and practical effects. Also, it's impossible not to smile at the closing credits which feature pretty women undressing against colourful sets - in hell! Good old Ishii. There's also a clever cameo by Tetsuro Tamba!

Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf (盲獣VS一寸法師) (Japan, 2001) [DVD] - 1/5
It is tragic that this shot-on-video travesty was Teruo Ishii's final film. It was only a few years earlier that he still managed entertaining if a bit sloppy "real cinema" with Japanese Hell (1999). This Edogawa Rampo adaptation on the other hand looks and feels like a home video, with awful production values and a 90 minute running time that feels like 5 hours - or at least would've felt had I endured it without fast forwarding. It was made largely with the help of film students and devoted Ishii fans. Shinya Tsukamoto plays one of the leading roles, Tetsuro Tamba appears briefly and Sion Sono is supposed to be somewhere as well. For fans of the director as well as the author there are much better films available. Yasuzo Masumura's 1969 psycho-drama Blind Beast is based on the same story, and Ishii's grand cult classic Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) is a compilation of several other Rampo stories.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 09 Jun 2017, 16:42

The soundtrack for Horrors of Malformed Men is coming out in Japan June 21.
https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B071CFW97M/

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Jun 2017, 13:49

I heard a great story about Ishii from my friend who attended the Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf screening this week with Shinya Tsukamoto as a quest. Tsukamoto explained that he was very surprised to learn that Ishii had never applied for location shooting permissions for any of his films. Tsukamoto himself had always applied for permissions ever since the police had came to stop Tetsuo shooting because he had no permission. Ishii was different. When he saw the police, he just ran, and he ran faster than anyone else from the cast and crew!

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 26 Jul 2017, 08:51

I added two mini reviews

Great Jailbreak (大脱獄) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 3.5/5

Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf (盲獣VS一寸法師) (Japan, 2001) [DVD] - 1/5


And let me re-post this info that I originally posted in the other thread (I forgot we have Ishii thread):

Toei will be releasing three Teruo Ishii films on DVD 2017/10/04
- Orgies of Edo (1969)
- Yakuza's Law (1969)
- Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008381
http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008377
http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008380

Although these will be DVD releases, they will almost certainly utilize new HD masters (since Toei never released them on dvd before, it's unlikely they had SD masters available). Which means that if Arrow and others have any interest in these titles, now is your chance!

The funny thing, is they've updated the ratings as well. All of them played in theaters as "adults only" films (R18), but Edo and Yakuza have now been downgraded to R15 and Malformed Men is PG-12!!!

In a way, the PG-12 makes sense for Malformed Men. After all, while it is quite a freak circus there isn't really any explicit gore or sex, just lots of boobs and malformed men and indirect cannibalism (if crabs ate your lover, and you ate the crabs, does it count?). Besides, Dirty Harry, Versus and Leon are also PG-12 in Japan. Still, it is terribly ironic that after 48 years of self-imposed de facto ban (due to political incorrectness) it comes out with a PG-12 rating and a warning text saying "adult guidance is necessary when showing the film to elementary school age children!" :D
- http://www.toei-video.co.jp/special/ishii13/

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 30 Aug 2017, 05:49

I watched 3 Shintoho films

Girls Without Return Tickets (女体渦巻島) (Japan, 1960) [DVD] - 3/5
Action packed exploitation noir with some wild, colourful sequences. Teruo Yoshida is a tough guy affiliated with a Hong Kong syndicate running a drug and woman trafficking ring on a small island in Japan. Yoshida travels to the island with an intention free his loved one Yoko Mihara, whom he hasn't seen for three years, only to find out she's been promoted to a managerial position and is enjoying her job commanding the other drug addicted hookers. Decently stylish and entertaining, with an ace running time of 75 minutes, but ultimate quite routinely written. Although the English title makes no reference to it, the film is part of the Jotai / Woman's Body series, which was similar to the better known "Line" series.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 30 Aug 2017, 05:50

Black Line (黒線地帯) (Japan, 1960) [DVD] - 3/5
An investigative reporter (Shigeru Amachi) getting too close to a narcotics syndicate wakes up in a hotel room with a dead prostitute in his bed. He flees and tries find the real killer while on the run from the police. Entertaining Teruo Ishii / Shintoho noir is yet another dive into the seedy night of modern Japan. Gangsters, transvestites, hot girls, some stylish black and white cinematography and somewhat daring for the era, one does however get the feeling the storyline is a bit over-plotted. This was the 2nd film in the Line series. The films were made at Shintoho in 1958-1961, Ishii helming the first four of the five. The 1st movie, Secret White Line (1958), is quite difficult to see because the film materials are partially lost / damaged, and it was only released on DVD as a bonus feature in the Line Series DVD box set in 2008, that version lacking 15 minutes of footage.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 30 Aug 2017, 05:50

Sexy Line (セクシー地帯) (Japan, 1961) [DVD] - 2.5/5
The 4th film in the Line series. This was Teruo Ishii last movie for Shintoho before moving to Toei. Teruo Yoshida is a company employee whose OL girlfriend is secretly working for a yakuza prostitution ring that hires nude models and sends them out with customers for extra money. When the girl is murdered, he becomes the prime suspect. He flees and hooks up with pickpocket Yoko Mihara to go undercover and find out what's going on as he's blissfully unaware of the whole racket. Semi-sleazy (for the era) noir is entertaining and suitably short at 82 minutes, but ultimately a bit pedestrian. The storyline does not seem entirely credible: there are too many (un)lucky coincidences and Mihara's willingness to risk her life to help Yoshida is not believable. Visually the film is also not as wild as Ishii's better movies. However, the film can be praised for its strong female characters, especially considering the topic. Victims they may be, but none of them are portrayed as weak or passive.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Sep 2017, 03:01

HungFist wrote: Toei will be releasing three Teruo Ishii films on DVD 2017/10/04
- Orgies of Edo (1969)
- Yakuza's Law (1969)
- Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008381
http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008377
http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008380

Although these will be DVD releases, they will almost certainly utilize new HD masters (since Toei never released them on dvd before, it's unlikely they had SD masters available). Which means that if Arrow and others have any interest in these titles, now is your chance!
Horrors of Malformed Men will be on Toei Channel next month, in HD as expected.
- http://www.toeich.jp/program/1T0000011631/201710

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 06 Jan 2018, 18:14

True Account of the 300 000 000 Yen Case - Statute of Limitations (実録三億円事件 時効成立) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 2/5
This true account of a 300 million yen heist epitomes the Toei mindset. It was brought to the attention of producer Shigeru Okada that the crime, which took place December 10, 1968, would expire as unsolved at the end of the year, and now would be the perfect time to cash in. So was born this "true account" where almost everything is fictional since the police, despite the largest investigation in the history of Japan (110 000 suspects / 170 000 policemen participating), never found out who did it. Teruo Ishii was brought in to helm the picture, and the son of the producer, Yusuke Okada, cast as the robber. The film suffers from vapid characterization that produces some boredom, but Ishii knows how to direct stylish and suspenseful scenes once the storyline starts rolling and we see the criminals prepare and pull off the heist. Unfortunately things get less interesting again once the film shifts its focus to the police investigation (led by Nobuo Kaneko). The film also lacks the exploitative edge of most other 70s Teruo Ishii films (there is a brief bathhouse scene thrown in for random nudity, though!).

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 06 Jan 2018, 18:19

Shin Bungeiza in will have a Teruo Ishii night in Tokyo Jan. 20, 2018!
- http://www.shin-bungeiza.com/allnight.html

Inferno of Torture (1969) (35mm)
Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) (35mm)
Porno jidaigeki: Bohachi bushido (1973) (35mm)
Karate Inferno (1974) (35mm)

Program starts at 22:30 and is scheduled to end around 5:10.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 22 Jun 2018, 15:19

Holy shit. Arrow just announced Horrors of Malformed Men BD for September
- https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/h ... ay/FCD1788

Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original negative
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio
Newly translated optional English subtitles
Two audio commentaries by Japanese cinema experts Tom Mes and Mark Schilling
Malformed Movies: a new video interview with Toei exploitation movie screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda
Malformed Memories: Filmmakers Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo the Iron Man) and Minoru Kawasaki (The Calamari Wrestler) on the career of director Teruo Ishii
Ishii in Italia: Ishii and Mark Schilling visit the Far East Film Festival
Image Gallery
Theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Jasper Sharp, Tom Mes and Grady Hendrix


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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by Guro Taku » 23 Jun 2018, 08:36

Holy Shit is the correct response. I appreciate that they are porting over all the extras from the Synapse release in addition to their own new content. Kind of doubt that this will indeed be a "brand new 2K restoration" though since Synapse already scanned it in HD in 2007.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Jun 2018, 12:27

Guro Taku wrote:
23 Jun 2018, 08:36
Kind of doubt that this will indeed be a "brand new 2K restoration" though since Synapse already scanned it in HD in 2007.
I'd assume they will be using the new Toei scan that Toei put out on DVD. I haven't seen it though, and I'm a little worried if it will look as good as the Synapse one other than being in HD...

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by Guro Taku » 23 Jun 2018, 12:37

Did the Toei DVD really use a different scan than the Synapse one? If so, you're probably right but Arrow may be able to use Synapse's transfer as well, seeing how they must have made some sort of deal with them for all their extras.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Jun 2018, 13:56

Guro Taku wrote:
23 Jun 2018, 12:37
Did the Toei DVD really use a different scan than the Synapse one? If so, you're probably right but Arrow may be able to use Synapse's transfer as well, seeing how they must have made some sort of deal with them for all their extras.
Not having seen the Toei disc / Toei Channel broadcasting, I can't say for sure, but I'd assume it's different. Toei have always done their own (and frequently inferior) transfers for films that already came out in the US before (e.g. the Panic House Pinky Violence releases... the Toei discs that came out years later are all much inferior and clearly different scans).

But since Arrow is importing the Synapse extras, who knows, maybe that's where they got the master as well. That could be good news.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by Guro Taku » 24 Jun 2018, 11:39

Just realized that this will be a UK/US/CAN release, which indicates that Synapse no longer owns the US rights. Makes sense since they released it on DVD 10+ years ago and explains why they let go of their extras for the film.

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Re: The Teruo Ishii thread

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Jul 2018, 15:16

I watched the two Abashiri Prison films I had not seen yet.

Abashiri Prison: Duel in the Wilderness (網走番外地 荒野の対決) (Japan, 1966) [DVD] - 2/5
Part 5. A mediocre-at-best entry. The first 15 min is dedicated to Toru Yuri and others goofing around in the prison (typical for the series, and Ishii, unfortunately) before things take a bit more serious turn. Once out of the slammer, Takakura befriends horse breeders harassed by the yakuza. I initially thought this was one of those southern entries with summer setting but it seems it was shot in Hokkaido after all with a bit of spring snow and scenery here and there. There's not much else to write home about, except perhaps the unusual ending which is void of excessive bloodletting.

Abashiri Prison: Challenging the Wicked (網走番外地 悪への挑戦) (Japan, 1967) [DVD] - 3/5
Part 9. A summer set Abashiri Prison film with no scenes set in neither the prison nor Abashiri was usually a bad sign. Not this time, though. This one's got a dynamite opening with credits where Takakura's name explodes on the screen in the biggest red font you've ever seen. The next scene is a hostage situation with armed delinquents. The storyline that follows (Takakura with delinquents) is an unexceptional melodrama but there's a bit of that jazzy touch you find in late 50s and early 60 Ishii films (e.g. the Gang series). The ending is great again with violent action and a great tie up to the next film. Not quite top tier Abashiri (1, 3, 8) but probably the best of the rest.

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