Monday, July 6, 2015

Abunômaru: Ingyaku (1988)

... aka: Abnormal
... aka: Abnormal: Ugly Abuse
... aka: Celluloid Nightmares
... aka: Re-Wind

Directed by:
Hisayasu Satô

First and foremost, this is a sex flick that was made primarily for that purpose. However, as is customary with this particular director, you're given a more artistic, stylish, thematically interesting and better quality film than is the norm for the erotica genre... not to mention something darker, gorier and much more twisted! An "Underground Video Film" (snuff tape) is found in a trash heap along with the dismembered remains of its "star." A detective takes it home and watches it with his girlfriend (Kiyomi Itô) only to be surprised to find she gets turned on by it and wants him to break out the handcuffs afterward. Meanwhile, at a local sex shop, another snuff tape is dropped off anonymously and falls into the hands of Akira, one of the workers there who's also studying film in college. Akira takes the tape home and tries to watch it but is interrupted by his sister Tomoe, who plops down on his bed and nonchalantly says "Come on! Let's commit incest." And, for what's it's worth, that they do. Upon later inspection, Akira begins to believe the murder depicted on the tape is the real deal.

Akira eventually crosses paths with the detective's girlfriend, a self- proclaimed "crime hunter" who's strangely fascinated with this particular case and decides to launch a freelance investigation of her own. Posing as a magazine reporter, the girlfriend (who refuses to ever give out her real name and goes only by "The Crime Hunter" for reasons we will later discover) starts snooping around and begins to suspect that a mysterious former TV producer turned underground filmmaker named Cross (Kazuhiro Sano), as well as Cross' lover Mari, a former actress who now works alongside Akira in the porn shop, may somehow be involved with the tapes and a shady company called 'Studio Omega.' Whoever is doing the killings is using a specially-equipped camera with a retractable blade hidden near the lens to provide a POV of each death in what's a clear reference to Michael Powell's classic Peeping Tom (1960).

Abunômaru: Ingyaku (which has been making the bootleg rounds for years now under such titles as "Abnormal," "Celluloid Nightmares" and "Re-Wind") is an evocatively gritty and bleak mixture of sex and horror- thriller set in a neon-tinged urban environment and filtered through a fuzzy 80s video aesthetic. Director Satô caters to nearly every sexual fetish / perversity under the sun - S&M, rape, pantyhose, lesbians, incest, you name it - while simultaneously delivering some pretty vicious gore / murder scenes as well as a central theme about a filmmaker's complete emotional detachment whilst hidden behind a camera lens. This is also one of the director's more accessible works. I've seen a handful of his other films, like MUSCLE (1989) and NAKED BLOOD (1996), and this is by far the least-confusing and easiest to follow of the ones I've watched.

The sex in this film is about as graphic as a non-hardcore film can get but, sticking with Japanese censorship rules, there's no frontal nudity. That's OK. The director just tries to make up for it by showing pretty much everything else! There's tons of T&A, lots of simulated sex, crotch rubbing and licking, long close-ups of French kissing, nipple and tongue sucking, etc. There are also a handful of pretty gruesome moments to go along with that, including an arm being sliced open and spewing blood, a fingernail getting ripped off with a knife, numerous bloody stabbings, torture with a syringe and Tabasco sauce (!), a plate of spaghetti festering with maggots and a head bashed in with a tripod. There's certainly more than enough here to please exploitation fans. The fact it's well made and doesn't wear out its welcome at just 65 minutes are added bonuses.

The cast also includes pinku regulars Reika Kazami (Sexy Battle Girls), Sayaka Hitomi (Subway Serial Rape: Lover Hunting) and Rino Shimazi (Captured for Sex 2). It has never officially been released in America but there's a version online with fan-made English subs and that's the best we got right now.

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