Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

Unread post by HungFist » 04 May 2014, 17:35

Forgive me for some double posting... I've adressed parts of this topic before in the Japan thread, others in the JP cult cinema thread, and some even in the 35mm thread... so it's all over the place now. Let me try this one more time to get the old and future posts in just one thread.

I’ll try to introduce some of the most interesting cinemas in Tokyo, especially those places where you might be able to catch a Sonny Chiba film or a pinky violence movie on 35mm, post pictures, and give recommendations what cinemas to visit if you’re ever planning a trip to Tokyo.

Classics and Genre Films
Laputa Asagaya (JP movie retros only, late show often with genre flicks. All 35 mm or 16 mm. The best cinema in Tokyo!!!!)
Shin bungeiza (Mostly Japanese film retrospectives, lots of genre stuff, also some new films. Fantastic program and large screen. Usually 35mm. All program double features. All nighters often feature BD screenings, beware!!!)
Cinema Vera (various retros from pinky violence to silent films. 35mm. All program double features)
National Film Center (retrospectives on classics, 35mm)
Jinbocho (retros from Ozu to Godzilla and Seijun Suzuki. 35mm)
Art Center (classics, 35mm or digital).
Porepore (indie, arthouse, sometimes old films on 35mm)
Kineka Omori (otherwise mainstream, but interesting weekly double features, e.g Tsukamoto flicks on 35mm)
Meguro Cinema (plays 35mm prints of older films from time to time)
Cine Roman (pink theater, sometimes roman porno included)

Indie, Arthouse, New Genre Films, Occasional Classics
Eurospace (arthouse, occasionally genre films. Roman Porno retros played here in 2012! JP + foreign)
K's Cinema (new arthouse films)
Uplink Factory (indie, arthouse, docs)
Image forum
Human Trust Shibuya (new films, inc. genre films)

Mainstream Cinemas That Sometimes Have Genre, Indie or Classic Films
Cinema Rosa
Kamata (usually latest hits, occasionally old films on 35mm, like Red Peony Gambler)
Cinema Avenue
Waseda Shochiku
Humax
Shinjuku musashino
Ginrei Hall
Shinjuku Cinemart
Roppongi Cinemart
Qualite

R.I.P
Theater N
Ginza Cine Pathos
Shinjuku Milano
Auditorium Shibuya (indie)
Baus Theater
Cinema Rise
Shinbashi bunka (mainstream + pink cinema. See Roman Gekijo section. Roman Porno's frequently. All 35 mm)

For an excellent resource on cinemas in Tokyo area that show non-mainstream films and old movies, see this great Japanese website.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Tokyo

Unread post by HungFist » 04 May 2014, 17:36

Theater Introduction

Laputa Asagaya

I must start with Laputa Asagaya which is absolutely my favourite place on earth (after a good love hotel, that is). If you want to see 1960’s Nikkatsu action films or 1970’s Japanese karate flicks or yakuza mayhem on 35 mm, this wonderful small retro theatre is your choice!

Laputa is located in Asagaya in a small district filled with tiny old roads (no heavy traffic) full of neon lights, small restaurants and bars. Just walking these streets is like time leap back to the good old Japan!

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The theatre itself is a cosy two storey building. The first floor facilitates the ticket desk, a waiting area, and a small theatre café. Lots of movie related books, such as books on Koji Wakamatsu or Toei yakuza films, are offered for reading while waiting. The CD player in the back is always playing movie soundtracks from films that are currently screening, so depending on the time you’ll be welcomed by the voice of Meiko Kaji, Yujiro Ishihara, Yoko Minamino and so on. The walls are decorated with newspaper articles from the currently screening films, and movie posters.

The screening room is in the second floor, which you access via outdoor wooden stairs. Only 48 seats in there. All films screen from 35mm (or in rare cases 16mm) film. Program consists entirely of retrospectives on Japanese films, with 75% of the program being 1960’s and 1970’s film, and the remaining 25% covering the 1980’s and pre-1960’s cinema. The program is divided into three different retrospectives:

Morning Show (at 10 am)
Mostly golden age comedies and dramas, usually starring a popular 1950’s or 1960’s actress like Ruriko Asaoka. Examples of retrospectives include:
- The Drama Films of Ishiro Honda
- Junko Fuji Retrospective (Red Peony Gambler etc.)
- Ruriko Asaoka retrospective (Nikkatsu's biggest femake star of the 1960s)

Day and Evening Screenings
Massive retrospectives with 3 or 4 screenings per day. The focus is usually a studio, a genre, a producer, or a prolific screenwriter. Examples of retrospectives include:
- Ninja Movie Retrospective (1960's and 1970's ninja movies)
- Rare Nikkatsu Films (action, yakuza, comedy and drama films never released on video or DVD)
- Art Theater Guild (rare films such as Sadao Nakajima’s yakuza film Aesthetics of a Bullet)
- Screenwriter Koji Takada (anything from The Defensive Power of Aikido to Bounty Hunter 2)
- The World of Old School Special Effects (Sci-fi, horror, and other special effects movies from late 1940s to 1970's)
- Toei Ninkyo Yakuza Film Master Kosaku Yamashita (Red Peony Gambler etc.)
- The Wonderful World of Nikkatsu Action (A Colt is My Passport, Youth of the Beast, Stray Cat Rock 5, Crazed Fruit etc.)

Late Screening (at 9 pm)
For genre film fans this is a dream come true. Karate, yakuza, pinkuy violence and other genre movie retrospectives featuring films by Toei, Nikkatsu, Daiei, and other studios. Examples of retrospectives include:
- Etsuko Shihomi retro (all her 1970’s karate films, including 13 Steps of Maki)
- Terrifying Girls’ High School (the entire film series)
- Female Prisoner Movies (from Toei pinky violence to Nikkatsu pink and Daiei exploitation)
- Prison Escape Movies (including Sonny Chiba’s Dasso yugi)
- Yuji Makiguchi Films (the film's of Toei's notorious exploitation director, including the cannibal nun-film Torn Priestess)
- Meika Seri films (Nikkatsu pink starlet’s best films)
- Bad Girl Retrospective (Nikkatsu, Daiei, Toei girl gang films like Nad Girl Mako, Bankaku Rock and Delinquent Girl Boss)
- Toei Jitsuroku Anarchy & Violence (1970's Toei yakuza films like Graveyard of Honor)
- Professional Killer Retrospective (60's and 70's films about assassins)
- Sukeban Retrospective (all 7 of Toei's Sukeban Girl Boss films)
- 1970's Biker Retro (Toei biker gang movies like Explosion: Violent Riders, an Wild Sex Gang)
- Toei's Female Yakuza Stars Reiko Ike & Miki Sugimoto (Criminal Woman, Zero Woman, Sukeban etc.)
- Kazuhiko Yamaguchi Nights (Wolfguy, A Haunted Turkish Bathouse, Oh - Wonderful Utamaro, Karate Warriors, Delinquent Girl Boss etc.)
- Tsunehiko Watase Nights (Violent Panic: The Big Crash, Jeans Blues, Wicked Kempo, True Account of Ginza Tortures etc.)
- Toei New Porno retrospective (Makiguchi films like Virgin Breaker Yuki, and a films you've never heard of and certainly have no English title)
- Toei's Female Bees (School of the Holy Beast, Sex & Fury, Red Silk Gambler, Modern Porno Tale etc.)
- Screenwriter Chiho Katsuura retro (Zoom In: Rape Apartments, Secret Honeymoon: Rape Train, Rape! 13th Hour, Assault! Jack the Ripper etc.)

Theater Access:
Take JR Chuo Local (not rapid!) line from Shinjuku Station to Takao/Hachioji/Nakano direction and get off at Asagaya Station. It only takes about 10 minutes. Use the north exit. Laputa is about 150m from the station. Map.

Note: On the way to Asagaya you can stop in Nakano for some DVD and movie poster shopping. Right next to the station there’s a big shopping mall called Nakano Broadway. There’s a very good used DVD shop called Recommints, which focuses in genre films, and a movie poster shop which sells original posters for Sonny Chiba films and other genre stuff.

Etsuko Shihomi Retrospective! Poster for 13 Steps of Maki (1975)
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Art Theater Guild Retro. Eros + Massacre poster
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Art Theater Guild Retro. Preparation for the Festival (1975) poster
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Aru koroshiya no kagi (1967) and Kenjū mushuku datsugoku no blues (1965)
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Female Prisoner retro. Material from Daiei's Woman's Prison series
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Sukeban Deka Special
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Theater website introductions for past programs
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Tokyo

Unread post by HungFist » 04 May 2014, 17:37

Holy motherfucker! Anyone who loves seeing movies from 35 mm film prints is in for an epic treat in Tokyo in May (2014). As a result of an unbelievable amount of coincidences, there’s an incredible set of Japanese classics and cult films screening in different theatres around the same time. Most of them play in large retrospectives, so you if you stay for longer time you could catch tons of movies.

However, even if you were like me and could only drop by for one extended weekend, you’ve still got more Japanese 40 classics to choose from in a dozen theaters. May 15th – May 18 (Friday-Sunday) especially is good time. I’ve listed below only what’s playing during that time. I've reserved my flight already...

Laputa (Day Show): Screenwriter Koji Tanada Retrospective
The Defensive Power of Aikido (Shigero Ozawa, 1975) (35mm)
Silk Hat Boss (Norifumi Suzuki, 1970) (35mm)
Ikasama bakuchi (Shigero Ozawa, 1968) (35mm)
Shimaizaka (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1985) (35mm)
Onimasa (Hideo Gosha, 1982) (35mm)
Otoko no shobu: niou no irezumi (Norifumi Suzuki, 1967) (35mm)

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Laputa (Morning Show): Ishiro Honda Drama Retrospective
People of Tokyo, Goodbye (Ishiro Honda, 1956) (35mm)
An Echo Calls You (Ishiro Honda, 1959) (35mm)

Laputa (Late Show): Meika Seri Retrospective
Wet Lust: 21 Strippers (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1974) (35mm)
Man and Woman Behind the Fusuma Screen: Enduring Skin (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1974) (35mm)

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Pole Pole: Special Screening
Woods are Wet: Woman Hell (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1973) (35mm)
The Embryo Hunts in Secret (Koji Wakamatsu, 1966) (35mm) (Guest: Masao Adachi)

Kineka Omori (Normal Distribution)
No. 10 Blues – Goodbye Saigon (1975) (format unknown)

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Cinema Vera: Director Yoshitaro Nomura Retrospective
Tokyo Bay (Yoshitaro Nomura, 1962) (35mm)
Hakuchû dodo (Yoshitaro Nomura, 1968) (35mm)

Cinema Vera: Actor Shin Kishida Retrospective
Utamaro’s World (Akio Jissoji, 1977) (35mm)
Demon Spies (Takashi Tsuboshima, 1974) (35mm)

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Theater Shinjuku: Pia Film Festival Presents
Japanese 8mm 16mm Films from 1970′s & 1980′s (format unknown)

Cine Qualite: Karikore 2014
- Horrors of Malformed Men (Teruo Ishii, 1969) (35mm)

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National Film Center: The Birth and Development of Japanese Color Film
Yuhi to kenju (Kiyoshi Saeki, 1956) (35mm)
Hokkaido no hanran (Kunio Watanabe, 1956) (35mm)
Bridge of Japan (Kon Ichikawa, 1956) (35mm)
The Taira Clan (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1955) (35mm)
Hadashi no seishun (Senkichi Taniguchi, 1956) (35mm)
River of the Night (Kôzaburô Yoshimura, 1956) (35mm)

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Meguro Cinema: Shunji Iwai Series
Love Letter (Shunji Iwai, 1995) (35mm)
Swallowtail Butterfly (Shunji Iwai, 1996) (35mm)
All About Lily Chou Chou (Shunji Iwai, 2001) (35mm)
Hana and Alice (Shunji Iwai, 2004) (35mm)

Shin Bungeiza: Yuzo Kawashima retrospective
Ojosan shacho (Yuzo Kawashima, 1953) (35mm)
Burden of Love (Yuzo Kawashima, 1955) (35mm)
Suzaki Paradise Red Light (Yuzo Kawashima, 1956) (35mm)
Noren (Yuzo Kawashima, 1958) (35mm)
Onna wa nido umareru (Yuzo Kawashima, 1961) (35mm)
The Graceful Brute (Yuzo Kawashima, 1962) (35mm)

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Jinbocho: Screen Beauties Retrospective
Mukashi no uta (Tamizo Ishida, 1939) (35mm)
Sincerity (Mikio Naruse, 1939) (35mm)
Hideko, the Bus Conductor (Mikio Naruse, 1941) (35mm)
A Broken Drum (Keinosuke Kinoshita, 1949) (35mm)
Till We Meet Again(Tadashi Imai, 1950) (35mm)
Aijo (Kiyoshi Horiike, 1956) (35mm)
Garasu no naka no shôjo (Mitsuo Wakasugi, 1960) (35mm)
Tears on the Lion’s Mane (Masahiro Shinoda, 1962) (35mm)

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Of course, there’s dozens of more films playing in the same retrospectives before and after, like many Kinji Fukasaku yakuza films, more roman pornos, more Ishiro Honda films, Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House, many Sogo Ishii films, or this Keizo Kanie set that closes on May 15th.

Shimbashi Bunka: Keizo Kanie Memorial Screenings
- Tattoeed Flower Vase (Masaru Konuma, 1976) (35mm)
- Rape (Yasuraru Hasebe, 1976) (35mm)
- Angel Guts: Red Classroom (Chusei Sone, 1979) (35mm)

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Tokyo

Unread post by HungFist » 04 May 2014, 17:38

Oh man, Cinema Vera is going to have Sonny Chiba Festival in June. I think I'll need to book another flight :tongue:

No program announced yet, but it will include the super rare SFX / earthquake movie Tokyo Daijishin Magnitude 8.1 (1980)

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Tokyo

Unread post by Tenchu1998 » 04 May 2014, 17:44

OMG! Look at so many those xplosions! So fire!

The Japanese do love their movie culture. I am glad they are preserving it. If I lived in Japan, I'd probably spend a lot of time in cinemas, for sure! Right now, it's too far away from me.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Tokyo

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 05 May 2014, 01:25

HungFist wrote:Oh man, Cinema Vera is going to have Sonny Chiba Festival in June. I think I'll need to book another flight :tongue:

No program announced yet, but it will include the super rare SFX / earthquake movie Tokyo Daijishin Magnitude 8.1 (1980)

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I could swear at least two of those explosions are from Godzilla movies!
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but I guess you're more intelligence than me.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Tokyo

Unread post by HungFist » 05 May 2014, 03:56

Ivan Drago wrote: I could swear at least two of those explosions are from Godzilla movies!
Now that you mention it, I also could swear the bottom left one is from a Godzilla movie...

... which is actually quote possible because the film seems to be owned by Toho. It was produced by NTV, but there seems to be some kind of connection between NTV and Toho, so you may be right!

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Tokyo

Unread post by HungFist » 23 May 2014, 13:34

Well, that was awesome four days in Tokyo!

Tokyo Day 1: Friday

I swear I’ll never take such an early flight again! I was so tired I fell asleep about five times during Akio Jissoji’s Utamaro’s World (1977). At least I woke up quick as each time the same scene was still playing. The film is an enjoyable period drama with some action, plenty of sex, moody atmosphere and very stylish cinematography. The theatre warned about poor print condition, but that was typical Japanese over-cautious statement: it was a beautiful print with some dirt here and there.

The film played in Cinema Vera, which is a nice film archive –like theatre playing double features. Utamaro’s World played in actor Shin Kishida retrospective. The second film was the awesome smutty ninja exploitationer Demon Spies (1974), also available on R1 DVD by Animeigo. The film is probably a bit underrated because the DVD came out after the amazing Lone Wolf and Cub films, which set the comparison too high. Demon Spies is, however, quite a fantastic mix of ninja spies, ultra-violent bloodshed, sex, nudity, and excellent action choreography. It was real treat seeing this on pristine 35 mm print.

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After a bit of rest and some good ramen I headed to my favourite theatre Laputa Asagaya for the evening screening. They were playing Meika Seri retrospective, and this week’s film was Tatsumi Kumashiro’s roman porno Wet Lust: 21 Strippers (1974). The film features some terrific cinematography and typically excellent (for Kumashiro) soundtrack, including the theme song from Delinquent Girl Boss and a few characters singing and whistling Meiko Kaji’s Urami Bushi (from Female Prisoner Scorpion). Very realistic drama with lots of exotic striptease by real performers, but towards the end there are too many dull sex scenes and the audio-visual treat is sort of toned down. Still quite a good film.

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Tokyo Day 2: Saturday

The day begun in Meguro Cinema with a Shunji Iwai double feature. The theatre is playing Swallowtail Butterfly and All About Lily Chou Chou back to back all day, so I jump in from the second screening. Great atmosphere; the theatre is packed to the last seat (despite this double feature playing 3 times a day for seven days). Between films they’re playing Swallowtail Butterfly and All About Lily Chou Chou soundtracks. As a nice little touch, the staff rings bells when a screening is about to begin.

Swallowtail Butterfly has always been one of my favourite movies. Despite some clumsy acting and Chara not getting her accent right in any language, it’s just such an amazing, amazing film that you never get tired of. It’s a wonderful coming of age take with awesome characters (personal favourite: Mickey Curtis as slum doctor tattoo artist), spoken mostly in English (also Chinese and Japanese), and featuring drama, “live” music, yakuza, bazookas, even horror elements!

And even then, All About Lily Chou Chou is an even more impressive film. I’ve seen it at least 6 times and I was nearly crying in the theatre just because of how great a movie can be. Arguably the most breathtaking cinematography of the decade (by Noboru Shinoda), great soundtrack, and a well constructed storyline which remains challenging on repeated viewings due to broken chronology and “anonymous” chat conversations. Yu Aoi is just great, too, and Hayoto Ichihara isn’t as wooden an actor as he’d become in a few years. There’s no better film about Japanese youth.

No doubt, these two are both among the best movies ever made. On the negative side, worn-out yellowish 35mm print on Lily Chou Chou wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but the film still blew my mind.

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After 5 hours of Iwai I figured out just one more movie would probably be enough for the night. The last film would be Teruo Ishii’s excellent cult classic Horrors of Malformed Men (1969), which had a special screening in Cine Qualite. This has remained a rarity in Japan since its 1969 self-imposed “ban” by Toei who drew it from distribution soon after its release. It has never been released on video or DVD in Japan due it its “political incorrectness”. However, the film does play in special screenings and retrospectives every now and then, so it’s not impossible to catch on screen in Japan. The talk event after the film went on a bit longer than I expected, so I had no time to watch more films that night, which was perhaps a good thing.

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Then the bad news: my fucking capsule hotel was full; I had to find another one, and that was a piece of shit with pillows made of stone and even the AV channel didn’t work. Ugh! Not the most comfortable night, though you can’t beat the price: $25 for a night in central Tokyo (Ueno) is quite good.

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Tokyo

Unread post by HungFist » 24 May 2014, 03:45

Tokyo Day 3: Sunday

Sunday started in Laputa with Ikasama bakuchi, which played in the massive screenwriter Koji Takada retrospective. Laputa only has about 48 seats, so I knew when I’d be among the last people to choose the seat when I got ticket number 31. In the end, the screening turned out so full they carried extra seats for people. I was by far the youngest person in the theatre, sitting between two 70 year old guys, one of them mumbling to himself throughout the film…

Ikasama bakuchi (1968) is the 6th instalment in Toei’s popular Gambler series, which fall into the ninkyo yakuza (or old school yakuza) film genre. These films are all about honour, duty and friendship between men. Ikasama bakuchi doesn’t reinvent its enjoyable genre conventions, but rather mixes them with small changes. This time Koji Tsuruta, one of Toei’s three great yakuza stars of the era, plays a gambler who indirectly causes the death of another man in the hands his enemy. Feeling responsibility he then tries to win back the money the dead man (and his family) owned. Confronting him on the gambling floor is Tomisaburo Wakayama as a master card dealer and swindler working for a rotten yakuza gang. Intense gambling matches and a classy formula played by charismatic actors – a very enjoyable genre film.

Poster for Ikasama bakuchi (on the left)
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Since I was not in a hurry, I stayed little while in the theatre to enjoy the atmosphere and take some more photos. The CD player in the downstairs was playing soundtracks from Battles without Honour and Humanity, Hokuriku Proxy War, and Graveyard of Honour, all of which were screening in the Koji Takada retrospective. There was also a new film in the Meika Seri retro stating from that day: Man and Woman Behind the Fusuma Screen: Enduring Skin (1974) by Tatsumi Kumashiro.

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Man and Woman Behind the Fusuma Screen: Enduring Skin
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Hokuriku Proxy War (photo from Friday night, actually)
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Bookshelf with something to read (photo from Friday night, actually)
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And outside the theater: a big billboard for the Koji Takada retrospective
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My next film is Koji Wakamatsu’s vicious torture classic The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966) in a theatre called Pole Pole. Scripted by Masao Adachi and then filmed by Wakamatsu in just a few days it’s an odd movie consisting mostly of a troubled man (haunted by family problems) beating a woman he has kidnapped. It is very describing that the film still got rated 18 (16 after appeal) in France less than 10 years ago, when films like Rambo and Only God Forgives were passed with a 12 rating. In any case, the movie does have something to it.

The real highlight followed the film when none other than Masao Adachi walked on the stage. Adachi was Wakamatsu’s active collaborator in the 1960. In the early 70’s the duo filmed the propaganda film Red Army/PFLP: Declaration of World War (1971) in Palestine. While Wakamatsu returned to Japan, Adachi joined the battle in Palestine and stayed in the country for decades. He was considered somewhat a terrorist in both Palestine and Japan, and spent time in prison in both countries. He’s been a free man since 2003, though, and seemed very much energetic today. Adachi was joking how feminists hated The Embryo Hunts in Secret back in the 60’s because it shows an asshole man