Assault! Jack the Ripper (1976)

Nikkatsu Violent Pink.
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Assault! Jack the Ripper - Nikkatsu Violent Pink

Time for some hyper-real 70s Nikkatsu "roman porno" in Assault! Jack the Ripper (Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku) - here is a world of jaded sexual appetites, bad hair and gratuitous patisserie, brought to you by the inimitable worldwide-weird specialists Mondo Macabro.

We start by meeting a disgruntled, rather bolshie waitress who works in a busy Japan tearoom. This girl really isn't enjoying her time in customer services - hurling a drink at a sleazy businessman and openly challenging the brat who throws something at her. Well, we've all been there. Only a fellow worker - the talented cake chef who works downstairs - seems to have any sympathy for her. Cue a gratuitous, err, cake-icing scene, which prepares you for the self-same waitress to deliberately wreck his handiwork with a nearby knife. This definitely gets his attention: in fact, this isn't the first time they'll handle a knife together.

He offers the girl a lift home. On the way, their journey is interrupted by the presence of a woman in the middle of the road. If this seems a strange place to hitchhike, then it gets worse when this woman gets into the car, strips, smears herself in cake and then cuts her wrist with the cake knife. Oh dear - the co-workers throw her out, accidentally killing her in the process - but find that the combined events of the day have left them feeling undeniably frisky. They bond by hiding the corpse and using their fear and excitement to initiate sex. Well, every cloud...

So begins a game of sexual cat and mouse between the two. She tries to maintain the chef's interest by seducing another man, but it just doesn't work. It seems this pair need violence to get it on - but how long can this bloodshed be maintained, and how can they find, then conceal their victims?

This is lurid, ludicrous, lunatic fun from start to finish - although, with a heft dose of nastiness too. Ultimately this is about a young couple who murder young women to make their sex life more entertaining: as campy as the style is, the theme isn't exactly light and fluffy. Think of it as a sort of pop art De Sade - like a lot of the roman porno films, Assault! Jack the Ripper combines gruelling violence, high production values and slightly uncomfortable humour. This is actually a stylish, well-shot film: the camera-work is innovative, with an impressive array of locations, solid performances (especially from afro-styled actress Tamaki Katsura) and incongruous psychedelic music. Some of the shots here are both clever and grim: one which sticks in my mind is the sex scene which is shot from between the visible, bloodied legs of a recent victim.

Assault! Jack the Ripper is unforgettably strange; the characters are both ridiculous and brutal all at the same time, and the tone of the film changes often, making this one a definite, albeit welcome culture shock. The Mondo Macabro release also features an interview with Behind the Pink Curtain author Jasper Sharp, a read-only feature on the Nikkatsu films, and a collection of trailers for your further viewing pleasure!

(Oh, and - the Jack the Ripper reference in the title? Jack the Ripper has absolutely no bearing on the plot whatsoever, other than for the fact that a spot of uterine- and abdominal-unfriendly knife-work takes place...)
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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