Quote from Matt Kennedy
"I just picked up another handful of Toei titles. I listened carefully to what some of you had to say, and I decided to sign a couple of complete series. I didn’t feel it was feasible to do this with the Sukeban films, because I felt that those films are wildly uneven in terms of quality from one film to the next, but with the two series I recently acquired, I am proud to say that each film is excellent. Each can easily stand alone, and each is an extremely fulfilling viewing experience. The two series I selected are proto-Pinky Violence films; these are the films that actually launched the genre.
The Yoen Dokufuden trilogy which starred Junko Miyazono is the series that actually ushered in the Pinky Violence genre. Sex & Fury was a take-off on the popularity of this series and Reiko Ike had won a contest to replace Junko in an as yet unnamed film back in 1968. These types of star-making contests were just as popular in Japan in the late 60s as they appear to be now in the USA, and many of the entrants would go on to star in their own series. Two were helmed by master director Nobuo Nakagawa, who was every bit as important to the evolution of the Pinky Violence film as Teruo Ishii and Norifumi Suzuki were, but Nobuo didn’t have to wait decades for his acclaim. He was heralded as a genius back then, and remained popular throughout his career without compromising his artistic vision. He is perhaps the closest thing to a Kurasawa that one could find in the genre of female yakuza cinema at Toei during this era.
I’ve also acquired the two Meiko Kaji Lady Yakuza films known as Gincho Wanderer, which were the films that made her a star at Toei, and you’ll know why when you see them. These films paved the way for Lady Snowblood, and just about every other film that would soon follow. It’s no big secret that Reiko Ike is my favorite actress, but when it comes to full-on Iconoclast, Meiko Kaji is the original. She was the single most influential force in Japanese culture, fashion and music in the late 60s and early 70s, and was an outspoken feminist who helped usher in the social changes taking place at that time. Studio Voice ran an article a few years ago on the impact she had on the fashion industry in Japan back in her heyday, and the article caused a complete resurgence in her popularity that has lasted through today. There’s a reason why Quentin Tarantino has named her his favorite actress, and she can be heard singing on the soundtrack to both Kill Bill films.
I also picked up a couple of Pinky Horror titles. The two most important, actually:
Horror of the Malformed Men & Snake Woman’s Curse (which is known by so many different titles that this one might change by the time I release it).
The first is among the most notorious films in Japanese history. More controversial upon it’s release than Battle Royale and Audition combined and multiplied. It is an often discussed and rarely seen film, and it is without a doubt Teruo Ishii’s masterpiece. It was his favorite of his own films, and contains his signature Grand Guignol style taken to levels heretofore unseen. In short, it is a masterpiece in the cinema of transgression whose only peer is perhaps El Topo.
Snake Woman’s Curse is another Nobuo Nakagawa classic that takes horror film conventions and turns them on their head. An eerie masterwork on par with Eyes Without A Face, it is a very jarring film experience, and will make a great companion to the release of Malformed Men.
There will be even more to come as I negotiate with the studios on still more titles. I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t set any release dates for these, as IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve yet to receive the materials, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m confident that 2006 will see the release of at least two of them.
In the meantime, look forward to two more Teruo Ishii titles in July:
Screwed & Blind Beast Vs. Killer Dwarf, which will continue to push the envelope of Asian Cinema as only Panik House can."
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