• Orgies Of Edo (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: November 20th, 2018.
    Director: Teruo Ishii
    Cast: Teruo Yoshida, Masumi Tachibana, Kei Kiyama, Toyozô Yamamoto, Akira Ishihama
    Year: 1969
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    Orgies Of Edo – Movie Review:

    Directed by Teruo Ishii for Toei Studios in 1969, Orgies Of Edo was part of the ‘pink film' series that the studio was behind wherein stronger sex and violence in motion pictures was used to lure viewers away from the TV set and back into the theaters. The film is a three-part anthology picture that uses the doctor Gentatsu (Teruo Yoshida) of a small town to bridge together its separate stories as he makes observations about the decadence of the Edo period that lasted from 1603 through 1868 in Japan.

    In the first story, the doctor meets a young woman named Oito (Masumi Tachibana). She is pregnant but has been beaten severely and shows serious damage to both her stomach and her genitals. Her condition is bad enough that the life of her unborn child is in danger. As she struggles to stay away, she talks about how she and her sister, Kinu (Kei Kiyama), were severely beaten by a gangster intent on collection on a debt only to be saved at the last minute by Hanji (Toyozô Yamamoto). Soon, Oito and Hanji fall fast in love but when she learns that he has serious debts of his own that he is unable to repay, she is forced to take up the world's oldest profession to help solve their money problems. It doesn't go as planned for her or her new beau.

    After that, the doctor is visited by a servant named Chôkichi (Akira Ishihama) who needs him to examine his employer Ochise (Mitsuko Aoi). See, Ochise has an odd kink… she can only get aroused and make love to deformed men or men who have essentially been ostracized by proper Japanese society. As such, she can get aroused by black men and men with deformities but not by Chôkichi. When the doctor finds out what caused this condition in Ochise, Chôkichi takes it upon himself to make some unexpected changes to win her heart.

    The final story tells the sordid tale of one Lord Torakichi (Shôhei Yamamoto), a high-ranking nobleman who keeps a harem of beautiful young woman at his disposal so that they can satiate his various cravings whenever he sees fit. Torakichi's tastes are… unusual. We see this demonstrated when he decides to interrupt a performance by a group of female musicians by letting loose a few bulls whose horns have been light ablaze! When only one woman, Mitsu (Miki Obana), survives he and she find that have similar tastes, which comes in handy when it comes time to reveal the rather unseemly habits of a woman named Okon (Yukie Kagawa).

    Beautifully shot and featuring some genuinely striking production design and cinematography, Orgies Of Edo nevertheless is as twisted as it probably sounds. Like a lot of the director's output, the film has no problem mixing sex, often fairly kinky sex at that, with strong violence and sometimes some nasty bloodshed as well. There's very definitely an artistic slant to all of this, you can clearly see it in the costumes and the staging, but the film is as much an exploitation picture as it is an art film (no reason that they can't coexist in the same cinematic space, after all). The tone of the film is less than jovial, it takes us to some decidedly dark places, but it's an interesting and well-made picture. It also features an unusual score, one that incorporates a lot of almost jazz-inspired cues to interesting effect. It sometimes feels out of place with what's happening but then, that just adds to the film's unusual tone.

    Performances are generally pretty strong here, Teruo Yoshida as the doctor that ties all of this together is quite good in his part and Shôhei Yamamoto really stands out as the cruel and perverse Lord Torakichi. Some of the gore effects are less than perfect and not always on point, but overall this is a really interesting mix of sex, violence and strange pretense… the kind of thing that Ishii did very well throughout his career.

    Orgies Of Edo – Blu-ray Review:

    Arrow brings Orgies Of Edo to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and generally speaking it looks quite nice. The picture is free of noticeable compression artifacts. Color reproduction looks quite good and we get decent black levels as well. Skin tones look fine and there's only minor print damage noticeable in a few occasional instances here and there. Overall, this is a nice transfer.

    The only audio option on the disc is an LPCM Mono track in the film's native Japanese language. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. There is some minor sibilance in a couple of spots but otherwise the track is fine. The levels are balanced properly and there aren't any issues with any hiss or distortion. The subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read.

    The main extra on the disc is a sixteen-minute featurette with author Patrick Macias entitled The Orgies Of Ishii that explores Ishii's work within the Japanese ‘pink film' arena, how and why Ishii came to director for Toei, adapting Edogawa Rampo's work throughout his career and more. The disc also includes the film's original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. As to the packaging, Arrow provide some nice reversible cover art with their newly created artwork on one side and original poster art on the reverse as well as an insert booklet containing credits for the feature and the disc as well as an essay on the film written by Tom Mes.

    Orgies Of Edo – The Final Word:

    Orgies Of Edo isn't Teruo Ishii's best film but it's still very much worth seeing for fans of the director's remarkably bizarre output. It's got style to spare and the anthology format is exploited well. Arrow's Blu-ray looks and sounds quite nice and benefits from the inclusion of the Macias featurette even if it does feel a bit light in the supplements department. Overall, however, if you're intrigued by the crossroads that exist in Japanese between exploitation and arthouse filmmaking, this is definitely worth seeing and, as such, comes recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Orgies Of Edo Blu-ray screen caps!