• Watcher In The Attic



    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: 10/28/08
    Director: Noboru Tanaka
    Cast: Junko Miyashita, Renji Ishibashi, Hiroshi Cho, Aoi Nakajima, Toshihiko Oda
    Year: 1976

    The Movie:

    Based on the story by Edogawa Rampo (not to be confused with the 1994 film of the same name based on the same story) and directed by the late Noboru Tanaka (who also helmed She Beast Market), this twisted Japanese sex film is set in the 1920s and tells the story of a man named Goda (Renji Ishibashi) who runs a boarding house and enjoys spying on the various people who live there by peeking through conveniently placed holes in the ceiling. He crawls around above them and looks in on them quite often, enjoying such sights as a certain promiscuous rich female named Lady Minako (Junko Miyashita) having sex with a clown, a sexually repressed priest feeling up a girl in the name of the Loard, and another female boarder masturbating while covered in animal fur and wearing hooves.

    His voyeuristic tendencies land him into trouble when he sees Lady Minako strangle her harlequin love toy between her thighs, ending his life the way we’d all probably want to go! Rather than report her to the police and land them both in hot water, he decides to approach her and we soon realize that he believes her to be his soul mate. Together they explore their dark sides while Lady Minako’s chauffeur confesses his love to her (he wants to be her chair, he says!). Things come to a strange boil as their lives intertwine with the rest of those who use Goda’s house resulting in a head-scratchingly odd but somehow completely appropriate ending.

    As sublimely artsy as it is gleefully sexy, The Water In The Attic is a pretty odd little picture. Directed with plenty of style, the first twenty-minutes or so don’t really go anywhere, they’re simply a montage of unusual sexual set pieces. Once Goda and Minako start their relationship, however, the film treads down some genuinely interesting roads as it explores the perverse depths to which human sexuality can coerce us down.

    The film isn’t particularly violent in comparison to many other Nikkatsu films of the era but what it lacks in blood and violence it makes up for in sheer weirdness. The sex scenes are played more for creeps and for the setting of an uneasy mood than they are for titillation and in many ways the picture seems to be anti-eroticism despite the fact that the film never goes more than a few minutes without someone screwing someone else, masturbating, or hiding in a chair and getting rubbed up on for kicks!

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Mondo Macabro presents The Watcher In The Attic in a goody 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen progressive scan transfer that’s ever so slightly window boxed on the left and right hand side of the frame. The first scene in the attic looks a bit on the soft side but that improves after a couple of minutes indicating that it may have been shot that way on purpose. Colors look nice and natural while black levels stay consistently deep. There’s a coat of grain noticeable in some spots but that’s a good thing, really. There’s very little to complain about in terms of print damage, edge enhancement or mpeg compression artifacts. Again, a couple of shots look a little on the soft side but it’s more than likely that the movie was shot with that ‘look’ in mind. Really, there’s very little to complain about here. The picture looks quite good.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital Mono comes complete with optional English subtitles sounds just fine. Dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are all well balanced. Being an older mono mix this isn’t a track that has a ton of range but considering the limitations of the original source material, really, it sounds quite good. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and everything sounds nice and crisp.

    First up, as far as the extras go, is an excellent documentary, The Erotic Empire (23:50, anamorphic widescreen, interlaced – this documentary also appears on Mondo Macabro’s release of Assault! Jack The Ripper), that begins with some footage of the 2001 Roman Porno festival in Japan where attendees give their thoughts on some of the films screened. Jasper Sharp talks about the history of Nikkatsu while Seijin Suzuki talks about the two different kinds of films that the studio specialized in and why. Japanese film critic Toshiyuki Matsushima explains who ‘porno’ became introduced into the studio’s vocabulary while artist and filmmaker Romaine Slocombe gives his thoughts on the genre. Actress Kozuko Shirakawa talks about how she didn’t want her parents to find out she was working at Nikkatsu and about working on some of the roman porno movies that she appeared in and some of the director’s that she worked with, Tanaka in particular. The influence of Edogawa Rampo’s writings is covered as is the odd take on sexuality often on display in these films. Plenty of archival clips from various genre entries appear alongside a great selection of poster art to give this documentary plenty of visual flair. Interesting stuff!

    From there, check out the interview with Jasper Sharp (10:26, anamorphic widescreen, interlaced) where the author of Fab Press’ Behind The Pink Curtain discusses Watcher In The Attic in a fair bit of detail. Sharp provides some cultural context for the film and explains some of the more controversial aspects of it in addition to providing some welcome biographical information on its cast and crew.

    If that weren’t enough, there’s a killer selection Nikkatsu trailers (here’s hoping these are future Mondo Macabro releases and not just cock teases!!) for the following films: The Assault! Jack The Ripper (also out on Oct. 28, 2008 from Mondo Macabro), Naked Rashomon, The Sins Of Sister Lucia (hooray for Japanese nunsploitation!), and Female Prisoner: Caged! The trailer for the feature itself is also included. All of the trailers are in anamorphic widescreen and flagged for progressive, but sadly, there are no subtitles for any of them.

    Rounding out the extras? An essay on the film and it’s relationship to the works of Edogawa Rampo and another on Nikkatsu Studios from Pete Tombs, animated menus, chapter selection, and the ever expanding Mondo Macabro promo reel (bring on The Warrior!)!

    The Final Word:

    A twisted mix of sex and murder, The Watcher In The Attic is at times unsettling, at other times darkly humorous, but always perversely entertaining. Mondo Macabro has done their usual bang up job on this release – here’s hoping there’s more Japanese exploitation waiting for us in their catalogue.

    Want more info? Hit the Mondo Macabro website by clicking here!