• Wife To Be Sacrificed (Kino/Kim Stim) DVD Review

    Released by: Kino/Kim Stim
    Released on: November 6th, 2007.
    Director: Masaru Konuma
    Cast: Naomi Tani, Terumi Azuna
    Year: 1975
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    Wife To Be Sacrificed – Movie Review:

    A woman named Akiko (Naomi Tani) thought she'd left the past behind her after divorcing her husband but when he reenters her life, she finds out that the worst is yet to come. He abducts her and brings her to an abandoned house in the woods where he subjects her to his depraved sexual desires.
    Akiko resists as best she can at first but he's too strong for her and he keeps her bound with rope. An escape attempt proves futile and things only get more complicated once he brings in a pair of young lovers who had intended to commit suicide together. Akiko's emotions and her psyche slowly undergo a bizarre transformation until her initial apprehension turns into brazen lust. What neither party realizes, however, is that the police have connected Akiko's husband to a child molestation case and intend to bring him to justice.

    As twisted as you'd expect, Wife To Be Sacrificed somehow manages to transcend its exploitative roots and function just as effectively as a sexually charged arthouse drama than as a flat out trash film. Obviously the graphic portrayal of BDSM laced sex plays a huge part in the film (and makes up a large part of its running time) but underneath the rope play, multiple enemas, scatological events and the bondage lies an interesting story about a woman giving herself over to something she has trouble admitting or even realizing she wants in the first place.

    Key to the film's success is the brave (some may say unabashed) performance from Naomi Tani. The actress also worked with director Masaru Konuma on Tattooed Flower Vase but is probably best known for starring in Konuma's Flower And Snake (released domestically as Flower And Snake '74 in order to avoid confusion with Takashi Ishii's excellent 2004 remake starring Aya Sugimoto in the part originally played by Tani). Her work on the picture is not only convincing, it's almost eerie. Akiko resists as any normal woman would in her situation but once she's lets herself go and finally allows herself to submit, Tani's performance reflects this character shift with a decidedly more twisted take on Akiko. The film is light on dialogue but Tani's facial expressions speak volumes, particularly when Konuma has the cinematographer get in close to capture the intensity of her eyes as the boundaries between pleasure and pain cease to exist for her.

    Shot by Masaru Mori, who cut his teeth on plenty of other Roman Porno films for Nikkatsu including Tattooed Flower Vase, Angel Guts: Nami among others, the scope cinematography demonstrates some interesting compositions. Unable to show pubic hair or penetration, and made before optical fogging became common place in the genre, here we see Mori carefully obstructing the 'naughty bits' with cleverly placed household items and odd camera angels. This results in self-censorship that doesn't so much feel like an imposed decision on the part of a film board as it does classy camera work.

    At eighty minutes the film never overstays its welcome and Konuma keeps the pace moving well, taking us from one perverse sex scene to the next while dropping plot points and character development in place where it's appropriate. While certainly not a film for all tastes, there's no denying the artistry behind this film, a picture that many will undoubtedly call trash.

    Wife To Be Sacrificed – DVD Review:

    Wife To Be Sacrificed arrives on DVD in a very solid 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that presents the film in its original aspect ratio. Color reproduction looks nice and accurate as do flesh tones. Detail is strong and there are no major problems with print damage or noticeable debris. Some grain is present, which is to be expected, but otherwise the film looks very good.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital Mono track on the DVD sounds fine. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and the performers are always audible. The score from Taichi Tsukimizato sounds good but doesn't ever get overly loud and the levels are all properly balanced.

    The most substantial supplement on this disc is Sadistic And Masochistic, a ninety-three minute documentary on director Masaru Konuma shot by none other than Hideo Nakata (who considers Konuma a mentor), the man who directed Ring! This is an extensive look at the life and times of the aging director and it uses clips from Wife as well as from his other films to tell his story. Along the way we hear from quite a few people who have worked with him - actors, directors, producers, writers - and we even see him reunite with Wife's star, Naomi Tani, as the pair sit down to screen the film together. Opinions on Konuma's temperament vary from comments describing him as a kind man to comments describing him as a sadist and as such we're given a few different takes on the man and it's interesting to hear some stories firsthand about his antics on set from those who were there. It's also interesting to get Konuma's thoughts on the Roman Porno genre, as he was there from the start and continued to work in it through the last decade. This is a very welcome look at a genre that hasn't been explored or documented all that much, at least not in English friendly versions, and its inclusion on this DVD is quite a valuable addition to the package.

    Rounding out the extra features are the film's original Japanese theatrical trailer (1:45, non-anamorphic widescreen) complete with English subtitles, an interesting if overly concise biography of director Masaru Konuma, some static menus, and chapter selection.

    Wife To Be Sacrificed – The Final Word Review:

    Wife To Be Sacrificed is a fascinating blend of arthouse and exploitation filmmaking shot with an artisan's eye for detail and composition. The performances are uniformly strong all around and the story, while certainly graphic and provocative, moves at a good pace and actually proves to be quite engrossing. Kim Stim/Kino hase done a very nice job on the presentation and the inclusion of the Konuma documentary is the icing on the cake.