• Flower And Snake (Impulse Pictures) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Impulse Pictures
    Released on: March 16th, 2021.
    Director: Masaru Konuma
    Cast: Naomi Tani, Nagatoshi Sakamoto, Yasuhiko Ishizu
    Year: 1974
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    Flower And Snake – Movie Review:

    Based on Oniroku Dan’s novel of the same name, Masaru Konuma’s 1974 cinematic adaptation of Flower And Snake is quite famously the first of Nikkatsu’s roman porno films that tackle BDSM head on.

    The story revolves around a man named Makoto Katagiri (Yasuhiko Ishizu) who shares a home with his mother, Miyo (Hiroko Fuji). Makoto clearly has issues with his own feelings on sex. He’s very clearly repressed and his own mother tells him that he’s impotent during a dinner they share together. that stem back to his childhood. As a young boy, he walked in on an American G.I. having sex with Miyo and wound up shooting him (a scene we see play out as a flashback with a strong red tint over it to give it the appropriate emphasis it needs) when he saw him choking her. Miyo, on the other hand, runs the local adult book and novelty store and is involved in some pretty kinky activities of her own.

    Makato’s life takes a decidedly unusual turn when his aging employer, Senzô Tôyama (Nagatoshi Sakamoto), a BDSM enthusiast who enjoys giving enemas to his maid in the garden, coerces the younger man into staging a kidnapping of his beautiful young wife, Shizuko Tôyama (lovely, petite Naomi Tani, probably the most recognizable actress to come out of the Nikkatsu run of the era, and rightly so!), who refuses to have sex with him. The reason Tôyama, who is seemingly unaware of at least some of his employee’s sexual repression problems, wants Makato to do this is so that he can train Shizuko and turn her into the submissive that he wants her to be.

    Makato is hesitant at first, but soon takes to Shizuko’s training like a fish to water, literally experiencing a sexual awakening of his own as he turns her boss’ wife into the ultimate sexual plaything.

    The BDSM set pieces that comprise much of the film’s brisk running time are elaborately staged and frequently quite kinky, even going so far as to bring some green caterpillars into the game at one point. The lighting really brings out the intensity of these scenes, shadows keeping things rather mysterious in appearance and tone while the very deliberate lighting accentuates where our focus is intended to be. It’s also interesting how the film plays with the sexual politics of its story, leaving it up to the viewer to decide if Shizuko has been broken or if she’s come to like the treatment she receives at the hands of the men in the film (she is, for all intents and purposes, raped a few times). The film’s clever ending offers a clue, of course, but it stops short of really spelling it out.

    Flower And Snakes is as beautiful a film as it is twisted. Prolific director Masaru Konuma loads the film with style, carefully framing everything so that we see all that we should see (and not a millimeter more, given that Japanese censorship laws dictate no genitalia be displayed in film) in interesting and creative ways. While Tani’s body is very much on display, it’s often times her facial expressions that really resonate. She throws herself into the performance with no obvious regard humility, really letting Yasuhiko Ishizu work her over in increasingly unusual, not to mention very painful looking, ways. It’s easy to see why this movie is both as controversial and as enduringly popular was it is, even by modern standards, given just how committed Tani’s performance is in this picture. Ishizu is very good here too, really doing a great job of relaying his character’s pent up sexual frustrations, and dialing things up to some pretty intense levels as he finds how well his character takes to his new task. Hiroko Fuji and Nagatoshi Sakamoto are very good in their respective supporting roles as well, but it’s Tani, and to a lesser extent Ishizu, that really steal the show here. It’s no wonder Konuma worked with her again only a year later on the equally excellent Wife To Be Sacrificed.

    Flower And Snake – Blu-ray Review:

    Impulse Pictures brings Flower And Snake to Blu-ray taking up just over 18GBS of space on a 25GB disc featuring an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen, which would seem to be enough space for the seventy-four-minute feature to exist without compression issues. This is, by and large, a very nice presentation and the picture quality here holds up nicely. Detail is quite strong throughout and we get a lot of appreciable depth and texture in the image. There are no problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement and the picture retains the expected amount of film grain but doesn’t show much of anything at all in regards to noticeable print damage. The picture looks considerably stronger in every way you’d want it to when compared to the previous North American DVD release that came out via Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters some years ago.

    Here are a few comparison shots, with the Blu-ray up top and the DVD underneath.

    The only audio option provided on the disc is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in the film’s native Japanese language, with optional subtitles offered up in English only. The track is clean and properly balanced, free of any problems with audible hiss or distortion. No issues here, and the score has some nice depth to it.

    Extras? There are none, save for menus and chapter selection. The DVD release had a still gallery and a theatrical trailer, but those have not been included on this Blu-ray release.

    Flower And Snake – The Final Word Review:

    Flower And Snake holds up very well, a deliciously twisted BDSM themed piece that serves as a fantastic showcase for the considerable talents of the lovely Naomi Tani. On top of that, the film is loaded with style, and quite slick with its visuals. Impulse Pictures’ Blu-ray release is disappointingly devoid of any extra features, but it does look and sound very nice indeed, making this one easy to recommend for fans of Nikkatsu’s specific brand of twisted eroticism.

    Click on the images below for full sized Flower And Snake Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. agent999's Avatar
      agent999 -
      And we only have to wait until March! Good old Synapse.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      I honestly wonder if there's an error in the release date as the copy sent for review is a finished copy, so clearly the manufacturing is done!