Thursday, 6 September 2012

Flower and Snake 4: Rope Slave (1986) Shogoro Nishimura

The ever able Shogoro Nishimura brings us another Flower and Snake entry and is still going strong. I don't usually expect much from the fourth installment in a series but Flower and Snake: Rope Slave is an effectively twisted, fresh and cruelly poignant affair, while it lacks something of the charm and tension of its predecessor it makes up for the lacks with mean vibe and a fine finale. The plot follows deviant dentist Dr. Oba who has a habit of sexually molesting unconscious female patients, aided by naughty nurse and lover, the comely Naoe. It's a good racket he has going on, secure sex and plenty of room for abusive fun times, but then he takes a shine to Miki, student and lover of noble artisan widowed Lady Ito. So Dr. Oba steps up his shenanigans and pretty soon everyone is headed down a bad path...

It's a claustrophobic affair with only four key players and no important side characters, and only four or five locations, all confined with almost no time spent outside. There aren't many twists or complications either so the film doesn't have much tension. But things are lifted far away from potential monotony by by the rhythm of the construction, adeptly balancing the traditionally loving relationship and tender sexual moments of Miki and Lady Ito with the perverse connection of Dr. Oba and Naoe, their relationship murky in its power exchanges and mutually fuelling malevolence, their sex an expression of said murk. Also the dentistry setting makes for some rather good squirm inducing scenes that are a nice change from the standard sexual degradation, creepy exploration of a ladies lower mouth (as it were), and an inexplicit but potent bit of full on torture. There's a fair amount of regular sexual degradation as well (of course!) but it's mostly "seen it before" stuff. The lack of variety only hurts a little though as the film is very focused.

The cast sell it well too, Ran Masaki is great as the abused Miki, like her previous film for Nishimura (Beautiful Teacher in Torture Hell) she conveys innocence and tenderness that is poignant both in scenes of love and of abuse. Minako Ogawa (returning from Flower and Snake 3) does a good job as Lady Ito, sensual and dignified, while whoever it is that plays Dr. Oba (I lack a proper translated cast list) is a quality villain of the cold and arrogant kind, one can easily sense the calculations by which his pleasure becomes all, and anybody else just an object. The direction goes well as well, crisp and efficient with nary a wasted shot, the film is good slick stuff. It may not be especially advanced or thrilling stuff, but as far as 80's pinku cinema goes it's pretty much rock solid stuff. Recommended to thoroughgoing genre fans certainly, others may enjoy but could equally take a rain check. If I were still rating films I'd probobly give it a firm 7/10,  but, you know, results may vary and all that. Enjoy!

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