– Sachiko has just committed a crime. She is helped by a couple to whom she grants her confidence. Quickly this couple blackmails her and threatens to deliver her to the police. Sachiko has no other choice but to obey them. –

Japanese pink movie territory can be a fairly murky and frightening place. In the early 1970s Japanese sex films accounted for 50% of the countries cinematic output and the classic pink films really show the dark underbelly of Japanese patriarchal culture at its most alarming. Some of these films are almost unwatchable. Although they don’t feature actual sex they have what some have termed a “polymorphous perversity”, suggesting human emotions and desires that are far more shocking than a simple penetration shot.

Tatsumi Kumashiro is my favourite of the pink film directors and I would rank him well above Koji Wakamatsu as a true visionary of “guttural desires”. His late 1970s film THE WOMAN WITH RED HAIR (which I’ll upload once I discover how to separate subtitles from image) was voted 3rd best Japanese film of the year by the respected ‘Cinema Jumpo’ magazine. The director’s take on life, sex and filmmaking is forebodingly dark but hints at essential, if hard to stomach, human motivations and desires. Of the Kumashiro films that I’ve seen to date WOODS ARE WET ranks as easily the most unforgettable and certainly the most shocking.

Running at just over an hour the film begins with a generic premise (a young girl, on the run from the police, takes refuge in a hotel run by a seemingly friendly woman and her peculiar husband) before descending into a nightmarish world of perversion and abuse, psychedelic in its intensity. An outrageous twenty minute section in the middle of the film must represent the most Sadean vision ever committed to film. The politics of the film represent the essential struggle of living in a highly organized society (whether to conform or rebel) but dilute this struggle to its absolute purity of essence.

Woods Are Wet is a beautiful film, a troubling film, a shocking film. As a cinematic experience it’s absolutely unforgettable and largely one of a kind. I can only hope that one day a proper version of the film will be released so that it can be appreciated in its full glory.


Subtitles:english (.srt)

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