November 29, 2005


Pinkyviolence There is no forbidden fruit more intoxicating than Japanese female exploitation flicks from the '60s and '70s. Just thinking about them gets me dizzy. From the deep-dipped visual fireworks of FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION: JAILHOUSE 41, to the soul-abrading CARMEN FROM KAWACHI by the incomparable Suzuki Seijun, these movies find freedom in the razor-blade stares, eyeliner-caked eyes, and outrageously shocking short shorts of their lead actresses.

When I heard about Panik House’s PINKY VIOLENCE COLLECTION it sounded like the best idea I’d heard in a long time.

I tremble just thinking about a DVD box set packed with everything I think of when I think of '60s Japanese girl gang pictures: zazzy zooms, topless catfights, classroom knifings, vengeance castration in the hot pink back room of a go-go joint. You know, the usual. But the four movies here are a lot more stylistically conservative than one would think, definitely not in the same league as FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION: JAILHOUSE 41, and two of them are only so-so. Two phenomenal flicks out of four isn’t bad but when you’re dealing with a pink vinyl box called THE PINKY VIOLENCE COLLECTION, that may not be quite good enough. Fortunately, the two movies that deliver deliver like UPS: fast and sexy.

Starting with a scream, TERRIFYING GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL – LYNCH LAW CLASSROOM is a high school end times chronicle that opens with death by blood donation and ends with a full scale riot featuring plenteous teargas-smogged schoolgirl on riot cop action. Directed by Norifumi Suzuki who also directed the “not my cup of tea” SEX & FURY, this flick is a high school drama gone deeply wrong. The “School of Hope” is a stained humping post for the perverted old men who hand out the diplomas, but the student-run Disciplinary Committee is the real danger. These gimlet-eyed upper grade women are murderers, torturers, closet lesbians, and literally bloodthirsty guardians of school spirit. But their sins come back to haunt them and everything can only be resolved by revolutionary action. An intoxicating brew of '60s sleaze and solidarity this is the best movie in the box and will reward every one of your viewing minutes ten-fold.

Giving TERRIFYING GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL – LYNCH LAW CLASSROOM a run for its money as the leader of the pack is CRIMINAL WOMAN – KILLING MELODY which doesn’t feature many melodies but does feature heaps of killing, and one tuff criminal woman who dishes it out. It's also so similar to Park Chan-Wook’s SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE that if Japanese movies hadn’t been banned in Korea until recently I would have suspected that Park crafted his recent critic-tickling flick as a modern day response to Atsushi Mihori’s 1973 revenger.

Gorgon-eyed Reiko Ike goes to prison for trying to take out the boss of Oba Industries because he killed her dad whom she didn’t like anyways, but still he’s her dad, you know, so she's gotta make the effort. She gets caught and sent to prison, meets some co-conspirators, gets out wearing natty fashions and with her hair in a fierce ‘do and then teams up with her gal pals to turn the crank on her precision revenge machine, oiled and greased with the sweaty juices of her black, black heart.

Sound familiar?

Unlike Park’s movie, which puts the focus firmly on a thoughtful examination of whether revenge is worthwhile or not, director Mihori declares revenge the worthiest of endeavors practically from the first frame and spends the rest of the movie pressing the pedal to the metal. The one thematic concern he slows down to linger over is endurance: endurance of torture, making sure your hate endures long incarceration, and enduring one of the longest, grottiest knife fights in the history of women-in-prison movies. It all winds up being an unlikely whiff of girl power and far more narratively satisfying than LYNCH LAW CLASSROOM, while being stylistically more sedate. But it’s got plenty of pretty poison for every viewer.

Historically the first of Toei’s pinky violence films, DELINQUENT GIRL BOSS – WORTHLESS TO CONFESS is a by-the-numbers film that has a hypno-center that keeps you watching despite your better judgement. It could be the movie’s finely-tuned sense of melodrama, or its relentless piling up of incidents leading to an inevitable bloodbath, but I think it’s lead actress Reiko Oshida’s unbeatable charisma that keeps this movie watchable. A long-limbed, lopsided Amazon, Oshida carries this entire movie around on her broad shoulders and doesn’t show the strain for a minute.

Coming out of reform school and settling in with the estranged father of one of the really bad girls she bunked with, Oshida comes across as fresh as a flower no matter how many times she’s on the wrong end of the pounding fists of yakuza thugs. In its last third this stingy movie finally cuts loose with the action and makes up for the relatively sedate pace of the previous reels. Full disclosure: I did shed a tear during the touching reunion of the reformatory school girls at the end as they get ready to slice and dice the knuckle-draggers who’ve made their lives a living hell. It was like reading a really good “American Girls” book only with more violence.

GIRL BOSS GUERILLA has the opposite problem: a rad beginning but an ass-dragging end. The insanely intense Miki Sugimoto is the leader of the Red Helmets, a female bike gang that heads for the supposedly soft-touch paradise of Kyoto. Once there they discover that Kyoto already has a girl bike gang of its own and outrageous insults and drawn-out catfights ensue.

Unfortunately, just as things are settling into a satisfying groove, director Norifumi Suzuki decides that what we want to see is these two gangs make peace. And worse than that, he saddles Miki with a boyfriend. This punch-drunk lug is a loser boxer looking for his big break and, as in DELINQUENT GIRL BOSS – WORTHLESS TO CONFESS, the addition of a bit of man meat only serves to make our female barracudas sluggish and boring.

Towards the end, Suzuki ditches the love story trappings for gruesome torture, but it’s too late. By that point I was totally off the movie thanks to the lame-o love story and I struggled through to the end out of a sense of duty. I love you, Miki. I hate you, Boxer Man.

Each of the movies come with bios and audio commentaries from a variety of Japanese film loving round eyes, like journalist Andy Klein, some of the folks at Panik House and Chris D. of the American Cinematheque. These guys are all delighted to be watching these movies, and are entertaining talkers, but the amount of information they convey isn’t great, and most of it is already covered in the disc’s bio info. I also have to say that Chris D and I parted ways when I was dipping in and out of his audio commentary for Norifumi Suzuki’s SEX & FURY and, during a scene when star Reiko Ike had been tied up topless and was being severely beaten, I heard him say, “It’s amazing how Reiko Ike keeps her dignity in these movies.” Dude, what planet are you on? There’s all kinds of different ways to watch these films, but I don’t need to defend my enjoyment of them by pretending that the half-naked, tortured actresses are somehow monuments to female empowerment. At times they can be, but in a movie like SEX & FURY which uses every opportunity to strip and mutilate its lead actresses I just don’t see it.

Anyways, crawling off my soapbox, the commentaries are fine, but you’re here for the movies.

Packed in pinky vinyl and with extensive liner notes (aggressively formatted so that they look like pages out of the late, unlamented “Raygun” magazine) written by Chris D, the PINKY VIOLENCE COLLECTION may not be something you wanna show your mama but it’s worth owning. 

THE PINKY VIOLENCE COLLECTION from Panik House Entertainment has been delayed until Dec. 6 but sources deep within the company confirm that nothing can stop this barrage of vintage 60’s sleaze from spilling out onto the world on the 6th. The Box is complete, now it just needs to be opened.

(And check out the price over at Amazon! The set is marked around $100 but they’ve got it for just over $50. Go, go Cyber Monday!)

November 29, 2005 at 07:22 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink


I bought my set at the nearby Border's a week ago for $99.99. I hear Panik House has delayed the mass release as some review copies had playback problems on some machines. That is why it is hard to find at the moment in the US.

Posted by: glenn | Nov 30, 2005 1:36:23 PM

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