Sunday, September 16, 2012

DVD Review: ZOOM IN: SEX APARTMENTS (1980)



ZOOM IN: SEX APARTMENTS (1980)
Zûmu in: Bôkô danchi 


Label: Impulse Pictures
Region: Region 1
Duration: 68 minutes
Rating: Unrated 

Audio: Japanese 2.0 Dolby DigitalMono
Video: 16x9 Widescreen (2.35:1)

Director: Naosuke Kurosawa
Cast: Erina Miyai, Youko Azusa

Synopsis: Saeko, a woman with a mysterious past, is hit with a rock and brutally raped by a man wearing a dark mask and black gloves. Her life is spared, but soon brutal murders befall the residents of the Kibougahara Apartment building. The victims are beaten, killed, and their genitals are set on fire. Saeko has her suspicions about the killer’s identity, but will she live long enough to unmask the pyromaniac?


The Film: This is volume 5 of Impulse Picture's Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collecton and it's also the debut feature film from director Naosuke Kurosawa. The film is better known in some circles as the more appropriate Zoom In: Rape Apartment and is a sequel of sorts in a series Nikkatsu Zoom Up films. It's an interesting blend of Asian erotica, misogynist violence and Giallo inspired thriller  elements - it doesn't always make a lot of sense but it's a doozy of a watch for the exploitation set.

The film centers around a young married woman named Saeko (the quite attractive Erina Miyai) whom decides to take up with her former lover when her befuddled husband leaves town for a few days to partake in a cycling race. Before he goes they engage in some awkward apartment floor sex in which he grunts something about "coming first" repeatedly, I am assuming this is a reference to cycling and not just a reference to beating his wife to the orgasm, hilarious. No sooner has he left the apartment than she hops on her own bicycle and heads off to the apartment of her lover. On the way she cuts through a vacant lot and is knocked-off her bike by an assailant dressed in a long black coat and black leather gloves - clearly inspired by the Italian Giallo's of Dario Argento. The attacker rapes her with while threatening her with a distinct tool that looks like an ice pick. After the faceless attacker flees the scene Saeko picks herself up off the ground, pisses out the unwanted semenal discharge and continues on to her lovers apartment where she says nothing of the attack, instead she casually wipes the attackers residual cum from her inner thigh and immediately gets it on with him. The two have a great sexual chemistry and the lover truly sets her loins on fire with passion as the two engage in tons of submissive sex, it's steamy and erotic stuff. 


However, the black-gloved faceless serial rapist is now stalking the area and raping young women and then setting their groins on fire - literally. Coming into this film expecting erotic delights I was a bit repulsed at first by the misogynist attacks on the women, it's brutal stuff and while the camera does truly not show all the burning of genitals it is still disturbing stuff by its very nature, the killer applying a flammable solution and setting them afire while still alive, it's grotesque A particularly well done scenario features a woman running between two apartment building screaming for help, in indifference the lights start to turn off one by one, no one wants to get involved. She runs into a barbed-wire fence tearing her eyeball in a nice display of Fulci-esque eye gore before her snatch is set up in flames as she screams in agony, another victim is found nude, torched and elaborately strung up on a jungle gym at the playground. The deaths are extremely fetishistic in nature, another has the black-gloved killer simulating oral sex with his gloved finger before tweaking her breasts and ultimately taking a blow-torch to her labia, just awful stuff. It gets more and more depraved as the killings go on, including one wherein he disposes of a woman who is still alive in a fiery dump incinerator - this particular kills is witnessed by a young woman who stuffs her face with rotted veggies while she watches the horrific events, her presence adds a new twist to the films confounding finale. 


It doesn't take long for Saeko to start suspecting that here piano-tuner lover just might be the culprit in the grisly string of rape-arson-murders but she's so turned on by her lovers sexual prowess she keeps her suspicions to herself that is until she catches him setting fire to a would-be victim. This is a strange one to be sure, reconciling the films erotic delights of rampant lust, lesbianism and group sex with the lurid misogyny onscreen can be a chore. not so much a erotic horror film as an exploitation flick with tons of nudity, some meant to titillate while others are clearly meant to disturb - and it work on both levels.

There's a strong hallucinatory quality to the film, at times it recalls Deep Red era Dario Argento by way of David Lynch and  I believe it's meant to call into question the psychological stability of Saeko especially during the final reel of the film when things just spin outta control ending in a double-suicide and a gloriously extended female masturbation scene that leaves her crawling on the floor leaving behind fiery pools of cum just before the immolation of pregnant woman - oh yeah, it's fucked-up... enjoy. 

DVD: Impulse Picture's DVD release features a wonderful 16x9 transfer from a very nice print of the film, it looks quite good with decent black levels, it's fairly sharp and colors look saturated and natural, particularly all that lovely skin tone, very natural indeed. The Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio sounds great, crisp with no discernible noise. The disc features optional English subtitles and liner notes from Japanese film historian Jasper Sharp just like the other Nikkatsu titles from Impulse. Bonus content is limited to a trailer but it's pretty great.

Special Features:
- Newly Translated Removable English Subtitles
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Liner notes from Japanese film scholar, Jasper Sharp


Verdict: A stylish giallo-inspired Japanese exploitation film with some truly depraved horror elements, for this reason I must say it's my favorite of Impulse Picture's Nakkatsu Erotic Films Collection, a definite recommend for fans of dark erotica, exploitation and Japanese horror, a sleazy delight of sex, the grotesque and nudity. 3.5 Outta 5 

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