Thursday, February 25, 2021

ZOOM UP: MURDER SITE (1979) (Impulse Pictures Blu-ray Review)


Label: Impulse Pictures
Duration: 67 Minutes
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Audio: Original Japanese DTS-HD MA 1.0 Original Mono with Newly Translated Optional English Subtitles
Director: Koyu Ohara
Cast: Erina Miyai, Yuki Yoshizawa, Yoko Azusa, Tatsuya Hamaguchi

The Nikkatsu erotic film series from the seventies are a wild bunch of seedy, softcore exploitation films that were often violent and full of softcore kink, and this gem was the first of a handful of films in the Zoom Up series. The film opens very darkly with a scene featuring a young woman woman exiting a train and walking home alone. She detours through a dark alleyway which almost always is a bad idea, and sure enough it is, a man drives a car at speed behind, knocking her unconscious with the fender of his vehicle. He then handcuffs he to his steering wheel and proceeds to rape her with a lubricated dildo before throwing her onto the ground outside the car, where he crams a lightbulb he finds in the trash into her vagina, and then stomps on her abdomen with his sandaled foot, shattering the glass inside!

The next day a math tutor named Kentarô (Takeshi Shimizu) is at the home of a teenage student named Yoshimi who doesn't show much interest in her lessons. Bored with the tutoring she leaves and the tutor now alone with her mother Tomoko (Erina Miyai, Sex Hunter) attempts to seduce her, but the married woman refuses him. Nonplussed by the come-on she accompanies him on foot to the train station, along the way they talk about a recent murders that happened at an abandoned building nearby. They stop off to tour the building as it is on their way and Tomoko becomes aroused while discussing the murder rapes, I guess that's her kink, and the tutor throws her onto the floor and begins to rape her, which turns into rapey consensual sex. 

Apparently this abandoned building is a popular place for lovers in the area, as their tryst is interrupted by the arrival of another couple looking to canoodle. They quickly hide away and observe the new couple having sex, and what starts off as a kinky bit of voyeurism turns them into witnesses to a murder, when during the increasingly rough sex the man accidentally 
strangles her lover to death, then disposes of the body before fleeing the scene. 

Kentarô and Tomoko debate what to do about the crime they have just witnessed and decide to keep it hush-hush as Tomoko fears that informing the authorities will expose her strange affair to her husband Isao (Tatsuya Hamaguchi, Love Hunter: Lust). The tutor turns out to be a bit of a playboy with at least one other regular lover, the lovely Maya (Yuki Yoshizawa, Clam-Diving Ama), with whom he also spends a lot of his free time in bed with. 

While at the grocery store the next day Tomoko takes notice of the store manager, who appears to be the same man she saw murder the woman in the abandoned building, and she begins to fear that he knows that she saw the murder. From here things quickly begin to unravel for the adulterous wife and her tutor-lover as they investigate the continuing string of murders and become targets themselves. 

Directed by the prolific Kôyû Ohara (Fairy In A Cage) Zoom Up: Rape Site (1979) is an engaging bit of pinky violence chock full of misogynist crimes against women, titillating kink and pervy voyeuristic sex, all the stuff you would expect from a wild Nikkatsu production of this era. It is also a well shot film with some imaginative use of the camera, including a sudsy shower sex scene, and a surreal nightmare had by the tutor of being strangled by a woman with a bra and them an image of him emerging from a large, meaty looking vagina. The violence against the women is pretty strong stuff, that opening scene sets a tone that will turn your stomach, as does a later scene with the killer upping his sadistic malice by pouring corrosive acid onto the legs and naughty bits of his victim. It's dark stuff, so steel yourself before giving it a watch, there's certainly more to the film that the violence, but it's a strong component that tempers the onscreen titillation with menace. 

Audio/Video: Zoom Up: Rape Site (1979) makes it's worldwide Blu-ray from Impulse Pictures presented in 1080p HD and framed in 2.35:1 widescreen. It offers a lovely looking image with a fine sheen of film grain throughout with plenty of fine detail. The colors scheme is largely muted but greens and reds shone and the oft-seen skintones look warm and natural. It's a very ark film with a lot of the action taking place either at night or within dark interiors, so thankfully the black levels are solid with some pleasing shadow detail. Audio comes by way of original Japanese 1.0 mono with optional, newly translate English subtitles. The track is clean and well-balanced, it sounds natural throughout with no sibilance or distortion, it's a solid uncompressed audio track. Be sure to checkout the thirty-five naughty screenshots from the Blu-ray at the bottom of this review! 

The single-disc release arrives in a standard keepcase with a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring both the Zoom Up: Murder Site and the Zoom Up: Rape Site titles, with basically the same artwork on both sides, but the Zoom Up: Murder Site option airbrushes away the exposed nipples seen in the uncensored option.  

Special Features:
- New HD restoration from the original camera negative provided by Nikkatsu Studios.
- Newly-translated removable English subtitles
- Reversible cover art with original uncensored artwork and original title.

Zoom Up: Rape Site (1979) is a seedy bit sexual exploitation from Nikkatsu, the violence committed against the women is hard to watch but it also has plenty of kinky eye candy and a fairly engaging story that has a nifty twist. If you're a fan of voyeuristic, violent, erotic films of this sort this is a great looking Blu-ray from Impulse.

Screenshots from the Impulse Pictures Blu-ray: