• Marquis De Sade’s Prosperities Of Vice



    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: 6/30/2009
    Director: Akio Jissoji
    Cast: Yasumi Hara, Renji Ishibashi, Seiran Li, Kimiaki Makino, Koji Shimizu
    Yaer: 1988
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    The Movie:

    Set in the Japan of the 1920’s, Akio Jissoji’s Marquis De Sade’s Prosperities Of Vice tells the story of a twisted nobleman who obsesses over the life and the lifestyle of the late Marquis De Sade to the point where the late author’s writings are starting to hold great influence over his day to day activities. He decides that he’s going to honor his ‘hero’ by building a theater to reenact many of the Marquis’ most infamous works.

    Unsure of how to fill his theater with performers, he opts not to recruit professionals but instead to populate his company with a myriad of criminals – thieves, robbers, prostitutes, and general dirt bags - figuring that they’ll be more likely to act out the harsher bits of the material without objection. As the Marquis’ works are acted out in the flesh on stage for an audience of the man’s snobby, wealthy and perverted friends, he finds that like any drug he needs more frequent and larger doses to keep the high coming. Before you know it, he’s threatening the lives of his performers, forcing them to have sex with his wife while he watches them go at it, and bringing whips into the bedroom that his stage has become, all with some rather unexpected results.

    Nicely shot, and quite colorful thanks to a wide range of period costume, Marquis De Sade’s Prosperities Of Vice is about as far removed from the Ultra-Man movies that Akio Jissoji is known for as you can get. Sure, those films are also very vibrant and colorful but that (admittedly incredibly entertaining) kid friendly fare isn’t exactly cerebral. This is a film that is just as intent on getting a rise out of your cerebellum than your loins and while there’s no shortage of skin on display and more than a few steamy set pieces to hold your attention, there’s an interesting and very classical story here of a man’s rise and fall thanks to his increasing hubris and brazen sense of loathing for his fellow man. Jissoji’s cinematographer coats it all in a fantastic array of colors, green in particular, but as varied as the hues may be this film is, at its core, very dark.

    As the reenactments play out and the life of our privileged central character evolves, we learn through flashbacks about the lives of the criminals who populate his stage plays. This allows us to understand and even feel for the people who he takes advantage of, making his actions all the more sinister and his nihilism all the more potent.

    Nicely put together from a technical stand point, the film also uses a rather distant and unusual sound mix to highlight and punctuate certain key moments in the film. Using clocks as symbolism for what’s happening in the film and to foreshadow the man’s eventual fall, and contrasting this with some odd imagery involving candles, dolls and the overtly theatrical, Marquis De Sade’s Prosperities Of Vice is pretty impressive stuff. It’ll keep you interested in more than just the skin on display here. If the story is a little bit predictable, so be it, the film makes up for it with some interesting social commentary and some truly impressive visuals.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Mondo Macabro presents Marquis De Sade’s Prosperities Of Vice in a nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen progressive scan transfer that is, at times, a little bit on the soft side but otherwise very good. Colors look nice and natural while black levels stay consistently deep. There's a coat of grain noticeable in some spots but perfectly acceptable. There's very little to complain about in terms of print damage, edge enhancement or mpeg compression artifacts. All in all, the movie looks just fine here.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital Stereo mix comes with optional English subtitles sounds just fine. Dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are all well balanced. Being an older low budget film, 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 and the score sounds nice.

    Mondo Macabro has carried over their documentary, The Erotic Empire (23:50, anamorphic widescreen, interlaced), 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 (anamorphic widescreen, interlaced) where the author of Fab Press' Behind The Pink Curtain discusses Marquis De Sade’s Prosperities Of Vice in a fair bit of detail. Sharp provides some cultural context for the film and provides some welcome biographical information on its cast and crew and he also talks about why this is a landmark film in the Nikkatsu catalogue and what sets it apart from other film’s of its ilk. If that weren't enough, they've also carried over the Nikkatsu trailers for the following films: The Watcher In The Attic, Assault! Jack The Ripper, Naked Rashomon, The Sins Of Sister Lucia, and Female Prisoner: Caged! 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 from Pete Tombs, animated menus, chapter selection, and the ever expanding Mondo Macabro promo reel!

    The Final Word:

    Arthouse exploitation at its finest, Marquis De Sade’s Prosperities Of Vice receives a very nice Region 1 DVD debut from Mondo Macabro who continue to do great work releasing all manner of obscure foreign offerings.