Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tani Naomi and Yamamoto Shinya

Cruel History of Women's Torture, Shintoho, 1976
I feel pretty silly but, until now, I hadn't realized that the highly motivated adult film director of the 1960s and '70s, Yamamoto Shinya, was the same guy I used to watch on Japanese TV years ago.

I don't own a TV these days, and haven't for many years, but I used to see Yamamoto on risque, late-night TV programs all the time and probably wondered more than once who the little fellow with the sunglasses and mustache was.

Here's a photo in case you're as clueless as I was. Man, this guy's a legend.

Yamamoto was born in Tokyo in 1939 and he's still around. Whether or not he's still on television, I don't know.

The thing that brought Yamamoto to my attention was this 1976 Shintoho film variously translated as Cruel History of Women's Torture and Cruel History of Prisoners. In Japanese it's Zangyaku Onna Kei-shi.

Scene from Cruel History of Women's Torture
Directed by Yamamoto Shinya
Tani Naomi in one segment of the film
Another thing I hadn't realized was that Tani Naomi was in this film. This was less than two years after she had appeared in Nikkatsu's Flower and Snake and Wife to Be Sacrificed.

When I first saw her I thought, gee, that kinda looks like Tani Naomi. But I wasn't sure. And she had such a small part, and it was a Shintoho film, and she had already become a big Nikkatsu star. Well, I had my doubts.

But that is indeed Ms. Tani sharing the screen with several other actresses who get naked, bound and, er, mistreated in this collection of short stories that take place in feudal Japan.

Tani Naomi checks out the artist's handiwork
The segment Tani appears in has an artist who ties up and tortures his models in order to get the right emotions and facial expressions to create his sketches. This idea seems to have been lifted from one of Ishii Teruo's epic torture films from his days at Toei. And the whole anthology thing, that was put to use a year earlier in Wakamatsu's 100 Years of Torture.

The Ishii films I have seen and 100 Years of Torture are better than this Yamamoto flick. It's funny but I read a review of this film that whined about it being filled with all these dreadful torture scenes.

Kunoichi in distress
To me, what did appear onscreen was too little -- or maybe the cuts were just too fast. Most scenes would have benefited from longer takes, especially the segment involving a couple of ninjas torturing a female ninja. The best part of the movie had the female ninja hanging naked by her wrists in a cave but the whole thing was over in the blink of an eye.

Kunoichi hanging by her wrists
And the Tani segment? As I recall, she was only bound in one scene and that, too, just flew by.

I mentioned that Yamamoto had directed a shit ton of films. Here's his filmography in Japanese. By the way, the characters don't show up right for me in Firefox or Chrome but they do appear correctly in Safari.

Scene from Cruel History of Women's Torture
In 1977 Yamamoto directed another film with a similar title: Brutal Torture of Japanese Women. There are other translations. In Japanese it's Nihon Zangyaku Onna Goumon.

Brutal Torture of Japanese Women, Shintoho, 1977
It's hard to keep all these films straight sometimes.

Tani Naomi did not appear in this one but Yamamoto did direct her in several other films, mostly for Shintoho.

The list includes:

  • 10 Years of Evil, 1967
  • Degenerate, 1967
  • Memoirs of a Modern Love -- Curious Age, 1967
  • Skillful in Bed, 1967
  • Season for Rapists, 1968
  • Special Triangle Affair, 1972
  • Japan Bizarre Incident, 1973
  • Joen Yobai Hiwa, 1975
  • Amai Taiken Aijin Kankei, 1975
  • Zankoku Baku e Denki, 1976

(The above courtesy of Ms. Tani's Wikipedia filmography in English.)

I should buy a TV just to see what Yamamoto Shinya is up to these days. But then, what do I tell the NHK tax collector?

Cruel History of Women's Torture available here
Brutal Torture of Japanese Women available here

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