BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Feb 16th, 2009 •

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Not being a connoisseur of Japan’s ‘pink films’ I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up a recent release of 1978’s SINS OF SISTER LUCIA, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. The story is fairly straightforward: Rumiko seduces her English teacher, stabs her mobster dad’s friend, and is sent to a reform convent. The sisters of the convent are themselves rather corrupt, and conceal all manner of sexual debauchery behind the thin veil of a cloistered religious order. Rumiko, now renamed Sister Lucia, takes the debauchery to new heights by rejecting the secrecy of the sister’s practices and introducing men, in the form of two escaped convicts, to the sexual escapades of the normally Sapphic sisters. Conflict between Rumiko and the Mother Superior escalates until it erupts into a disturbing sequence of fantastic violence.

The film is well-crafted, and makes interesting use of symbolism, including a surrealistic sequence involving the nuns weaving a spider web. It is interesting to watch how carefully the filmmakers had to work around genitalia, as a law written in Japan’s Meiji Era (1868-1912) still restricts the appearance of images ‘injurious to public morals’. Director Koyu Ohara (FAIRY IN A CAGE, WHITE ROSE CAMPUS: THEN EVERYBODY GETS RAPED) seems to be neither at his best nor his worst, and manages to craft an excellent example of the Japanese ‘pink’ genre. Fans of the genre will be pleased by veteran pink actress Rumi (LUSTY WIDOW) Tama’s performance as the Mother Superior (Ms. Tama went on to direct a number of pink films of her own), and Tamaki Katsura who is featured in the Nikkatsu classic ASSAULT! JACK THE RIPPER.

SINS OF SISTER LUCIA seems a solid example of the late 70’s pink films, and is perhaps a good entry point into the genre, as it was mine. The film is highly watchable, especially in a group setting, and is neither too violent nor too erotic to turn away the casual viewer, but does whet the appetite for some of the more over-the-top films. This actually brings me to the special features on the DVD, which I found to be excellent. Included are a number of trailers for other Roman Porno’s and Violent Pink films (both sub genre’s of the pink film category) and I found myself wanting to view all of them as soon as possible. There is also a short documentary, ‘The Erotic Empire’, which details how Nikkatsu, Japan’s oldest film studio, successfully created the genre to stave off impending bankruptcy. This is reminiscent of the X-rated horror films of England’s Hammer Film Productions, with the notable exception being that Nikkatsu’s films tend to be of a sexual nature. The documentary will be fascinating to anyone with an interest in film history. There is also a featurette in which Jasper Sharp talks about the work of director Koyu Ohara, with particular attention paid to SINS OF SISTER LUCIA, which is at least as fascinating as the documentary, if not more so. I should mention that the film’s opening credits are without subtitles, so unless you read kanji, you’ll have a very difficult time knowing any of the performers names.

For the most part, you’ll probably know if you want to watch this movie or not the minute you look at the cover of the DVD, however for those of you still on the fence, I urge you to give it a shot. The movie is quite fun, and the special features are fantastic. At the very least you’ll learn something about the history of Japanese cinema beyond the work of Kurosawa.

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