Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Re-Wind

Re-Wind
(Aka Celluloid Nightmares)
Original title: Abunômaru Ingyaku
Directed by: Hisayasu Satō
Japan 1988
Pinku/Horror, 64 Min
Distributed by: ShinToho (VHS) Oop, (Japan Eiga)

Static frizzles on a monitor… industrial post punk music plays on a repetitive loop… a fuzzy image almost shows a woman being assaulted by a masked man… a close up of an eye… an extreme close-up of skin… then a stylish, almost commercial, shot of a digital film camera spinning round ever so slowly…finally the camera rides a dolly past a metal wire fence, up to an abandoned refrigerator, where a severed arm holds onto a video tape.

The opening montage to Hisayasu Satō's weirdly disturbing Pinku Re-Wind is an unsettling but effective introduction into the sick, violent and gory world he takes us to this time. Following the montage, time is spent with a detective and his girlfriend Kiyomi Ito - who starred in several Satō films, such as the acclaimed Uwakizuma: Chijokuzeme (Unfaithful Wife: Shameful Torture) 1992, aka The Bedroom which I actually remember hitting art-house cinemas here in Sweden, and Kurutta Butokai (Kitami) 1989 -… Ito turns out to be a self proclaimed “crime hunter”, and takes up an amateur sleuth role in the movie as soon as the main characters are introduced. The detective and Ito discuss the tape and finally get it off as she’s declares being turned on by the “snuff-tape” he borrowed from the evidence room for the night.

She becomes obsessed with the tape and starts her own investigation into the identity and origins of the contents… well at least that’s what we are led to believe to start with.

On the other side of town Akira works at VideoBox - a smut parlour where tapes are rented in the locale and taken to the booth of customers choice. For some reason the “UVT – underground video tape” has become one of the favoured tapes at VideoBox and even Akira has become obsessed with the woman on the tape. His lolita-ish sister taunts him for being obsessed with the tape, but being a Pinku movie, that doesn’t stop them from engaging in some taboo shattering incest together.

I have an idea that goes along the lines that the Japanese are so steered by tradition, respect and heritage which outwards, in public, makes them such a stiff and stern country that they let it all go wild in their escapisms, which may be why they have some of the most fantastic sub-genres of film, music, literature, comics etc.…

Kiyomi and Akira’s paths cross, and together they take up a joint venture to solve the mystery of the videotape. This mission takes them to Cross – a sinister TV producer who’s connections to the female clerk at VideoBox are soon to disclose a shocking revelation.

For each of his movies I see, I find that I’m becoming more and more obsessed with the films of Hisayasu Satō myself. I find them fascinating and addictive. There’s a darkness, perversion and cynicism, which almost comes out in a concentrated form throughout the average one-hour playtime. But there’s also a dedication to telling a story in there, which I find rather fascinating with the Pinku genre. The narrative and plot are just as important as the scenes of carnal content.

Being something of sexually depraved take on Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom 1960, Schumacher’s 8mm 1999, and the cult of the Hideshi Hino’s Guinea Pig movies, Shirô Yumeno’s Script is one of the darkest Satō ever put on film. After two lengthy segments of intimacy in the best Satō style, the movie practically wanders away from Pinku and into Nippon Noir as Kiyomi continues to investigate the tape. At the same time, an unseen antagonist is introduced when someone starts stalking her. I really liked the fact that instead of simply connecting random scenes of eroticism, Satō (or perhaps I should say Yumeno) weaves those few scenes together with the use of an investigation plot that completely draws me in – Satō movies usually do have some sort of investigation plot at their core to balance against the voyeuristic themes.

I become totally engaged in Kiyomi and Akira’s quest for answers, and the climax that ties all characters and arcs together is truly satisfying. There’s a dedication to the storytelling that I rarely find in eurotrash, which often feels like it uses the plot to randomly get to the next flesh wrestling session. Satō uses it the other way around, and at times the scenes of sexual activity gets in the way of the narrative – but with out the intimacy, it wouldn’t be Pinku, and then I most likely wouldn’t be watching it.

Re-Wind, like so many other Satō movies, delivers an interesting rush of insight at the end, which at least explains Kiyomi’s obsession with the tape. This is a moment that also establishes her as part of the Satō universe. Many of his characters are people who have been violated, abused or had some form of wrong done to them – like having your god damned arm cut of during a heavy session of underpants licking - and now are out for revenge, yearning for re-connecting with the violator, such as Kitami or Hitozuma Korekutâ (Wife Collector) to give you a few other suggestions.

There’s always an enjoyable level of perversity in Satō's movies, and thanks to an interesting paradox, Satō's inventiveness came up with some truly weird moments of kinkiness. Laws prohibiting graphic genitalia generated, what I’d definitely call a Satō trait, the weird practice of undergarment licking. Yeah, the licking of underpants and knickers is apparent in most of Satō's movies and in a certain way it more or less disqualifies the movie from being anything else than heavy petting. I must confess that it does almost become kinkier than graphic nudity and at the same time brings a strange comedic tone to the movies.

Undoubtedly one of Satō's most violent films, Re-Wind is dark, seductive and captivating. This one comes with my highest recommendation, and I know that this is a movie I will be returning to, and possibly even judging the rest of Satō's canon by.


Image:
4:3 Full frame, Video Source.

Audio:
Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0

Extras:
None.

2 comments:

Mick said...

Sounds like a good film! I do like a lot of the 80's Japanese Horrors. This film almost btings "Evil Dead Trap" to mind, where a tape is sent to a late night television presenter who then investigates with her small team of co-workers. Also a big fan of the guinea pig films. "Flower of Flesh and Blood", also supposed to be a recreation of a tape sent to the director (in reality a film based on one of his not too popular manga series). There seems to be a lot of Japanese films with this common theme of videotape, even today. The popular "Ringu" series is an obvious inclusion, but also other recent less well known films like "Noroi: The Curse" and "Ab-Normal Beauty" continue the video tape theme to some extent. I'm rambling now so I'll leave it at that, but I really enjoyed your review!

Michael.

CiNEZiLLA said...

thanx michael
It's definately inspired by the Guinea Pig flicks... who know's may even be a critique against them...

But whichever way, it's a great movie.

J.