Director: Hidehiro Ito
Cast: Ryoko Watanabe, Mizuho Nakagawa, Serina Nishikawa
Impulse Pictures / Region 1 / Unrated / 1.85:1 widescreen / Japanese 2.0 mono / English subtitles / 70 minutes / PURCHASE
Disk Extras: Original theatrical trailer / Liner notes from Jasper Sharp
The incredibly sexy and sensual Ryoko Watanabe (Female Prisoner: Caged!) plays “Ami”, a bored and undersexed Japanese housewife who is looking for something to fill the void left by her inattentive doctor husband. After a sweaty game of racquetball with her husband’s hated boss, Ami and her girlfriend go to the bar for some girl-talk. Her friend brings up how a lot of unfulfilled wives get their kicks working at the local brothel. Overhearing the conversation, hubby’s boss tells the girls of “Madame Machiko’s Society Club”, a whorehouse he has been to before. This piques Ami’s interest and she quickly moves in to get her feet wet.
Instead of sticking her toes into the pool of perversity, she dives right in and her first customer for Madame Machiko is one of the most notorious; a giant bald man who is known for his rough, sadistic treatment of the girls. After their session, she is filled with mixed and confused emotions. She is shocked by the violence, but delivers my favorite line of the movie, “I’ve never felt like that before, it’s like I was being torn in half!” Things do not get any better from there, in fact they get much worse. The hated boss finds out she is working there and forces her to be his submissive slave, to use as he will… and he does. By this time, Ami is rethinking her old life with her husband, who still is in the dark about everything, but how will she escape with her marriage and life still intact?
While I was in the midst of watching Debauchery, my wife (after reading the back cover of the DVD) said, “So basically this is porn.” Instead of going into it at the moment, I decided to think about this before writing this review and this is what I’ve come up with; no, not at all. The one thing I have learned from watching Japanese pink cinema is you rarely get just “porn”. These filmmakers, while titillating us, also tell a much deeper story. In this case, it’s a story of desire, need, love and the overwhelming depths one will go through to satiate them. I am in no way saying that Debauchery isn’t graphic, salacious sleaze, but there is more there if you look for it. Writer/director Hidehiro Ito, who went on to be well known as a producer, tells the story with very vivid sexual and light S&M imagery complemented with gorgeous use of color.
The sexual content is as far as you can go without crossing the hardcore barrier. There are a couple of scenes with the stupid damn “fogging” the Japanese are infamous for, but those are basically used when there is actual fucking going on. Most of the really graphic (and violent) sex is shown and most of the time, in close-up shots. “Ami” is beaten into unconsciousness, gang-raped by a horde of dirty bums and a long string of beads is shoved into her ass. She is put through the wringer in very stark scenes of depravity, or more to the point, debauchery. This is exploitive, sleazy cinema at its finest and from what I read in the liner notes (by Japanese film scholar Jasper Sharp) there is a sequel also starring Watanabe called Debauchery: Salome’s Lips made the following year (1984). I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Impulse puts that out as part of their Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection.
Debauchery is the first movie in said collection and the DVD transfer for this sordid gem is remarkably good, relatively speaking. The soft, almost blurry look of the film is on par with many other Roman Pornos I have seen and is apparent here as well. Luckily there is little to no damage to the print and the colors that are so important to the aesthetics of the movie are very rich. The completely red room in the sex club is very vivid and comes off as almost surreal. The Japanese 2.0 mono soundtrack sounds very clean and the whimpering associated with every woman in every Japanese exploitation movie ever comes through nice and clear. Unfortunately there aren’t any disk supplements except the aforementioned liner notes and the original theatrical trailer but who the fuck cares, this movie is sick and wonderful all on its own.