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Secret Hot Spring Resort: Starfish at Night

(Maruhi yu no machi: yoru no hitode)
  • Japan 1970
  • 73 min
  • video
  • Japanese with English subtitles

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Director: Mamoru Watanabe
Screenplay: Wataru Hino (Atsushi Yamatoya)
Cast: Reiko Otsuki, Tomomi Sahara, Jun Yoshida, Hiroshi Nikaido, Yuichi Minato
Producers: Daisuke Asakura
Distributor: Stance Company

Part of...

Behind the Pink Curtain   

Behind the Pink Curtain


This humorous film provides a fascinating insight into Japanís pornographic underworld, following a band of itinerant smut-peddlers, consisting of Hisao, his wife and main model Saku, and their partner in crime Tori, as they arrive, penniless, at a hot spring resort and attempt to make their money selling nude photos, staging live sex shows and screening homemade blue movies. The film plays like a mixture of Yasujiro Ozuís FLOATING WEEDS (UKIGUSA, 1959) and Shohei Imamuraís THE PORNOGRAPHERS (EROGOTOSHI-TACHI YORI: JINRUIGAKU NYUMON, 1966), with affectionate homages to Japanís silent film era, notably the early films of Daisuke Ito.

Alongside Koji Wakamatsu, Mamoru Watanabe is considered one of the most important and popular of the first wave of pink film directors, although their works couldnít be more different. Whereas Wakamatsuís films were marked by their avant-garde aesthetics, a punkish, rough improvisational style and radical political content, Watanabeís were more polished, cinematic affairs that drew upon the directorís love of world cinema. He often copied or referenced plots, scenes and images from both foreign and Japanese films, transforming them into something else in the process. SECRET HOT SPRING RESORT is a relatively late example of a film made using the part-colour format, though its use here, as with Masao Adachiís GUSHING PRAYER (FUNSHUTSU KIGAN, 1971), is particularly inventive. The screenwriter, Atsushi Yamatoya, hiding under the pseudonym Wataru Hino, was one of the figures behind Seijun Suzukiís pop-art gangster movie BRANDED TO KILL (KOROSHI NO RAKUIN, 1967), and also a director in his own right. With the majority of titles from the 1960s and early 1970s considered lost, this film is one of Watanabeís earliest in existence, made possible only due to the fact that the director himself kept a 16mm print

Born March 13, 1931, Mamoru Watanabe has literally hundreds of films credited to him following his debut with HUSSY (ABAZURE) in 1965, with titles including SLAVE WIDOW (DOREI MIBOJIN, 1967), DESPICABLE MAN-KILLING BENTEN (OTOKO GOROSHI GOKUAKU BENTEN, 1969), SECRET PICTURE! TIGHTLY BOUND TORTURE (MITSU-SHA! KINBAKU GOMON, 1979), VIRGIN ROPE MAKEOVER (SHOJO NAWA GESHO, 1979) and APARTMENT WIFE BONDAGE (DANCHI-ZUMA O SHIBARI, 1980). He directed his most recent pink film, PARTING PRESENT (OMIYAGE) in 2008, at the age of 77.

—Jasper Sharp, MIDNIGHT EYE

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