• Sex Hunter: 1980

    Released by: Impulse Pictures
    Released on: February 11th, 2014.
    Director: Toshiharu Ikeda
    Cast: Erina Miyai, Ayako Oota, Teruo Matsuyama, Seru Random, Noboyuki Inoue
    Year: 1980
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    The Movie:

    Toshiharu Ikeda’s 1980 Nikkatsu directorial effort Sex Hunter: 1980 tells the seedy, sordid tale of a young woman named Miki Maekawa (the lovely and genuinely graceful Ayako Oota), a ballerina with enough skill that she’s invited to come to perfect her talents at a prestigious dance academy run by a woman named Akiko Kaibara (Erina Miyai). Akiko approaches Miki after seeing her dance but they’re not strangers – in fact, Miki used to have a relationship with Akiko’s brother, Genichiro (Noboyuki Inoue) but a nasty car accident ended all of that. Miki is not without hope that rekindling her relationship with Akiko will help her get in touch with Genichiro again, so her acceptance of this invitation is not without an ulterior motive.

    So with a big opportunity at hand, Miki packs her bags and heads to the academy. She settles in and soon realizes that all is not as it seems. Jealousy quickly rears its ugly head and Miki learns that there is a whole lot of twisted sexual torture and degradation going on behind the scenes at this illustrious school and that someone has their eyes on her… someone’s gonna get tied up and slapped around.

    Directed by the man who gave you such twisted Japanese exploitation classics as Evil Dead Trap and who directed Takashi Ishii’s The Brutal Insanity Of Love, this early directorial offering from Toshiharu Ikeda is a stellar example of the way that Nikkatsu allowed its talented stable of directors to deftly blend art and exploitation in fascinating ways. Owing a little bit, thematically at least, to Dario Argento’s Suspiria (something that Impulse isn’t afraid to mention on the DVD packaging for this release, and that’s fair enough - though the whole 'inerracial swing' scene reminds us of Behind The Green Door!) this sixty-eight minute picture is a beautifully shot and wonderfully acted exercise in sadomasochism hits all the right taboo smashing notes – mandatory lesbianism, rough sex, degradation, rope play and more.

    Ikeda, however, isn’t content to just offer up a simple exhibition of various kinky behaviors and, like the best of his counterparts in the Roman Porno category, manages to get quite artistic in his portrayal of all of this. While the plot is admittedly a little thin there’s some fantastic visual style on display here, not just in terms of what is shown but more specifically in how it’s shown. Sure, we get some obligatory footage of a beautiful Japanese woman bound in red rope and hung helpless from the ceiling, that in and of itself is interesting in thematic and compositional ways, but so too do we get some interesting shots that take great advantage of the placement of mirrors and which emphasize the humiliation and deprivation that occurs in the film. On top of that there’s the creative use of a soda bottle, a golden shower and inevitably the clever but expected exploitation of some incestuous plot lines – but it’s all shot so nicely and with such a careful eye for composition that you can’t help but admire it. Adding to all of this is the dedication shown by the cast involved in the production. Ayako Oota is fairly sublime in her portrayal of the unsuspecting Miki, drawn into a world she scarcely new existed only to find she has very conflicting feelings about all of what she experiences. Erina Miyai as the deceitful Akiko is also quite good and Noboyuki Inoue as the ‘brother’ character also delivers strong work. No one here is shy, that much is obvious, but give credit where it’s due, Oota at least makes you think she might be.

    Ultimately Sex Hunter: 1980 plays things very straight indeed and as such, it makes for a fairly disturbing foray into the world of forbidden fetish and kinky cruelty. There’s enough depth to what the central characters go through to give the film some depth and that depth in turn adds to the film’s hyper-sexualized appeal.


    Sex Hunter 1980 looks good in this 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are handled well and look quite natural as do skin tones. Black levels aren’t quite inky deep but they’re strong and detail is pretty good across the board. There are no issues with print damage to complain about and overall this is a clean, sharp, good looking picture though it should be noted that a few scenes were shot with some softness in mind and that comes through in the transfer (as it should).

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is crisp and clean though occasionally just a tiny bit shrill. The levels are well balanced and there are no issues with hiss or distortion. The optional English subtitles that are provided are free of any typos and easy to read. This won’t floor you but it sounds fine, there are no problems.

    Extras on the disc are limited to a menu, chapter selection and a gleefully trashy trailer for the feature. Inside the case, however, we once again find an insert booklet containing some the movie’s original poster art and some interesting liner notes from film scholar/author Jasper Sharp. The essay provides some welcome background information on the film and on some of its principal participants and makes some interesting comparisons to other Nikkatsu films in the line. The prinicipal focus of the essay, however, is on the film's director and it does a good job of detailing his career before his death a few years ago (assumed to be a suicide).

    The Final Word:

    Dark, twisted and kinky Sex Hunter: 1980 is one of the best entries in Impulse Pictures’ Nikkastu Erotic Films Collection line so far. It’s a picture that delivers all of the wanton perversions you could ask for but so too does it deliver some impressive art direction and bold, even brazen, performances. The DVD, like most in the line so far, is light on extra features but the presentation is strong and if you’ve enjoyed what the line has had to offer so far, you should consider this recent entry essential.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. sukebanboy's Avatar
      sukebanboy -
      I like this one too.I had an old bootleg copy from many years ago.In a similar vein to STAR OF DAVID BEAUTY HUNTING in that everything is played straight..no humour here!...and I seem to remember this having a weird ending...