Hellish Love (1972)
AKA (Seidan: Botandoro)
Director: Chusei Sone
Cast: Setsuko Ogawa, Hijime Tanimoto.
An unemployed young samurai, working meantime as an umbrella maker, meets the young daughter of a wealthy and powerful samurai, and falls head over heels for her.
He visits her at home, and the father finds out. The father scorns this courtship, and tells the young samurai to stay away from his daughter and his house. Both the young mistress and he are distraught and in her grief she commits suicide (that’s what it looks like to me, it is also possible she dies, getting ill after being out in a storm, but this is not clear in the film) and visits him a couple of nights later during the o-bon festival (the festival of the dead) they consummate their love, and she leaves vanishing into the fog.
The neighbour of the samurai alerts him that the girl is a ghost, after which he takes steps to protect his house from her. The young mistress visits again and is unable to attain entry to the house. So her maid bribes the frightened neighbours into removing the charms from the young samurai’s house.
The ghost returns another night and enters the house with ease, the nosy neighbour is terrified when he sees the two making love, this time for the last time as the couple walk off into the fog. The greedy neighbour and his wife fight over the bribe money they have obtained, in an amazing display of selfishness and greed.
This ghost story & love story genre is huge, though how many were done in the “romantic porno” style like this one I don’t know. But for straight Kaidan (ghost story) in one book I found more than 10 films (some listed below) for just over the space of two years.
Hellish Love was interesting enough, though I did not find it particularly scary. Maybe that’s because it was in the soft core style and they concentrated more on the sex than they did on the scares. There are a couple of frights in the film, but not ones that would cover you from head to toe in Goose bumps (if you are lucky enough to be one of the people that that happens to!).
The film is beautifully shot, and does have a haunting atmosphere to it. It also contains a weird mix of music, beginning with a plinky kind of Rosemary’s Baby (which by the way was driving me mad trying to remember what film it was from!) style music, then moving into something like a Lynchian Twin Peaks style, and then god knows where after that.
The so-called Nikkatsu (a company that specialised in “romantic porno”) genre is not one that I am familiar with, this is really my first film in the genre. I do not know if the genre would include Nagisa Oshima’s Realm of the Senses (1976), as it seems like “romantic porno” seems to mean, soft core, and well Oshima’s film is certainly not soft core!
But it’s certainly an area worth a look. I guess a great deal of Japanese Anime/Manga would come under the “romantic porno” banner I know there are a hell of a lot of Manga out there that tread the thin line between soft core and hard core. Of course a lot of people ignore anime because they associate it with Pokemon and other Anime made for children. But dive into Urotsukidoji, Akira, Fist of The North Star, Tank Police, Ghost In The Shell and thousands of others, made specifically for adults. Neither of these areas should be ignored, and you should make yourself dive into them now! And many thanks to Pagan Films for bringing us this genre in the UK.
Other Chusei Sone movies:-
- Angel Guts High School co-ed (Jokousei Tenshi No Harawat 1978)
- Angel Guts Red Classroom (Tenshi No Harawata Akai Kyoshitsu 1979)
- Female Ninja Magic: 100 Trampled Flowers (Kunoichi Inpo Hayakka Manji-garimi 1974)
- Delinquent Girl Alleycat In Heat (Furyo Shoujo:Noraneko No Seishun 1973)The first three being more Nikkatsu productions, and all four being hard core blood and guts Japanese viewing.
Thanks to Martainn Russell for help in finding these titles!
Other Japanese ghost stories:-
- Kaidan Botandoro (Aka, The Bride From Hell, 1968)
Director, Satsuo Yamamoto
- Kaidan Yukigoro (Aka, Ghost Of the Snow Girl Prostitute, 1968)
Director, Tokuzo Tanaka
- Kaidan Zankoku Monogatari (Aka, Curse Of The Blood, 1968)
Director, Kazuo Hase
- Kyukestu Dokurosen (Aka, Living Skeleton, 1968)
Director, Hiroshi Matsuno
These titles, many more and good reviews for them can be found in The Aurum Horror Encyclopedia, edited by Phil Hardy.
Review by Giovanni Pistachio, Giovanni can be contacted at:-
© Owned Giovanni Pistachio .