Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Endangered List (Case File #158)

HENTAI (1966)

Sayuri Sakura
Kyôji Kokonoe
Kôtarô Mori
Masayoshi Nogami
Kuniko Masuda
Noboru Misawa
Ken Sugiyama
Kenji Hagi
Ken Akaishi
Noboru Takeishi
Shigeo Sone
Jirô Urashima
Miki Jô
Hiroko Okamoto

Directed by
Hiroshi Nishida
Takashi Shiga

Written by
Hiroshi Nishida

Produced by
Noboru Nishiyama

U.S. Version
Felix Lomax [Bob Cresse]
R.L. Frost [Lee Frost]

Music by
Noboru Nishiyama

Minoru Chiba

Re-Recording Mixer
Sam Kopetzky

Nihon Cinema Film K.K.

Olympic International Films

B&W / 81 minutes / U.S. version: 71 minutes

Los Angeles - September 2, 1966


An important and respected Tokyo industrialist named Kasama hires Kyoko and Sugita, two young and eager detectives, to find his missing daughter. The few clues he is able to give them reveal that the missing girl had recently made friends with an unsavory group of people, one of whom appears to be connected with a powerful and mysterious nightclub owner called Takami. Kyoko, a brave and lovely girl, goes to work for Takami in order to learn more about his organization, even though he forces her to submit to his passionate advances and eventually delivers her to a special client for peculiar sexual experiments.

She and Sugita gradually learn that Takami operates a large narcotics ring headed by an unknown "Big Boss" who always appears masked, that together they abduct pretty young girls, addict them to heroin, rape them and put them to work as prostitutes. One of these seduced and addicted girls, she discovers, is Kasama's missing daughter. With the help of an international narcotics agent, Kyoko manages to escape from Takami and his goons, and while the Tokyo police track down and arrest the members of the gang, she and Sugita rip the mask of respectability from the brutal "Big Boss' - Kasama, their prominent client. To his utter horror, this ruined man learns that he has unknowingly raped, drugged, and prostituted his own child. Hentai is not a pretty story, but neither is the condition of Kasama's beloved daughter when she is finally returned to him, her body ravaged and her mind destroyed by her father's abnormal lusts.


The boom in Japanese movie production during the last ten years has established the Japanese as masters of the craft in at least two major areas: tastefully made sex/violence pictures, and imaginatively mounted science fiction films. An excellent example of the former is HENTAI (Abnormal), a recently completed product of the Japan movie mills that was brought into this country by Olympic International Films for U.S. distribution.

HENTAI is a pulse-pounding detective story which incorporates all the elements of a successful mystery: drama, intrigue, suspense, strong characterization, and a shocking, completely unexpected twist ending. Add to this a quartet of stunningly beautiful Japanese girls and a hard-hitting screenplay that features plenty of action and wild scenes of all types.

HENTAI is basically about a man-woman team of detectives that is retained by a wealthy industrialist to locate his missing daughter. During their search they encounter many dangers and accidentally uncover a nest of evil that stretches throughout all of Asia. The heroine in the story is the lovely Kyoko, half of the detective team. Her partner is Sugita, a private eye with a roving eye who flips for every pretty girl he meets along the road.

Effectively combining narration by both halves of the detective with dialogue, HENTAI tells a powerful story. It is an exceptional picture and should not be missed when it opens all over America.

                                                    -- Wildest Films, October 1966

BOB CRESSE said...

I was getting the Japanese films so cheaply it was a joke. I'd buy the rights for America, Belgium, and England for $4,000. Then I'd sell the Belgium and England rights for $4,000, and we'd have America for free. Unfortunately, the Japanese films did not go over well here. The American audiences liked the Japanese women, but they couldn't relate to the Japanese men. The funny part is that these were often very well made films. And to show the depth of Lee's talent, look at one of these Japanese films, which Lee would dub himself. He'd get three or four actors and actresses and sit in the sound studio and direct the dubbing and he'd do a good job. Because of the vowel and consonant sounds, it's much easier to dub a German or Italian film than it is to do one from Japan. But Lee could do it pretty well.

                           -- Interview by Mike Vraney (Cult Movies #9, 1993)

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