• Zoom Up: Murder Site (Impulse Pictures) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Impulse Pictures
    Released on: February 9th, 2021.
    Director: Koyu Ohara
    Cast: Erina Miyai, Yuki Yoshizawa, Yoko Azusa
    Year: 1979
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    Zoom Up: Murder Site – Movie Review:

    Zoom Up: Murder Site, which was originally titled Zoom Up: Rape Site in Japan but which has been given a ‘softer’ retitling by Impulse Pictures for its North American home video premiere, opens with a very dark, night time scene where a woman leaves the Takahata Fudo train station only to be hit by a car on an unlit road. No one else is around to see this. The driver, who wears flip flops but whose face we never see, gets out of the car, drags her into the back seat, cuffs her so she can’t get away, and then rapes her, eventually violating her not only with a black dildo but a light bulb as well, verbally abusing her as he goes about his foul business.

    From there, cue the opening credits, during which the camera explores an abandoned building before focusing on the rape victims’ body, now a corpse. A male tutor tries to help a girl named Yoshimi with her math homework but she gets frustrated and splits to her friend's house. After she leaves, she tells the girl's stepmother that he loves her and tries to have sex with her but she protests. Despite that, she walks him to the train station and they pass a familiar abandoned building where they talk about a murder that took place there recently and as they do, she becomes aroused and he takes advantage of it, raping her on a dirty bed on the send floor. After the act, they lie in bed and talk – their relationship is confusing – and she asks him to rape her again. They’re interrupted when a second couple – Fumiyo (Yôko Azusa) and a man she refers to as ‘Chief’ - shows up to use the place as a love nest of their own. The first couple hides and watches as their sex gets kinkier when the woman asks him to choke her. He obliges, and accidently kills her in the process. The other two watch as ‘Chief’ disposes of her body and flees the scene of the crime.

    Turns out the female witness a woman named Tomoko Ukai (Erina Miyai) and that she is married to a guy named Isao (Tatsuya Hamaguchi), who she expected to be gone for another day. The tutor is Kentarô Ômori (Takeshi Shimizu), and Tomoko isn’t the only woman he’s sleeping with. We see him in bed with another woman named Maya (Yuki Yoshizawa) and when things don’t go his way, he chokes her. She calls him a ‘pervert’ and pushes him away. Later that night he has a graphic fantasy about a woman with long, curly hair choking him with her bra only to then emerge out of something that looks like a bizarre horrifying vagina before waking up in a sweat. The next day, while grocery shopping, Tomoko sees ‘Chief’ and realizes he’s the manager of the supermarket she’s in, quickly becoming concerned that he saw she and Kentarô the night of the murder. Things quickly spiral out of control from there…

    This first entry in Nikkatsu’s Zoom Up series is frequently shot using angles that put the audience in the seat of a voyeur watching these events play out, this movie can and should make you feel uncomfortable as you watch it (particularly when ‘Chief’ decides to use acid on the nether regions of one of his victims)! Directed by Kôyû Ohara, who was quite prolific in this arena during this era in the studio’s history, the film is briskly paced and at times pretty suspenseful. The film also features some pretty impressive cinematography, with some very deliberate lighting used sporadically but very effectively to accentuate certain elements on screen during a few key sequences. The story features some solid twists as well, the ending is pretty surprising and you don’t likely see it coming, and as grim as it is – and it’s very grim – the movie manages to tell a pretty gripping story.

    The sexual assault scenes are pretty rough, as is the norm in these films, so know that going in, but the performances are pretty strong. Erina Miyai, as the female lead, is the best of the bunch. She’s pretty convincing here as her understandable fear or being either killed or exposed as an adulterer starts to impact her psyche. Takeshi Shimizu is also very good here as Kentarô, a fairly mischievous and noticeably younger playmate for the border housewife.

    Zoom Up: Murder Site – Blu-ray Review:

    Impulse Pictures brings Zoom Up: Murder Site to Region A locked Blu-ray taking up just over 16GBS of space on a 25GB disc featuring an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. This is, stylistically speaking, a very dark movie with scenes frequently playing out in rooms that are dimly lit or barely lit at all. The transfer handles this well enough, with good shadow detail and no noticeable issues with crush or compression. Colors are reproduced well and detail is generally pretty strong here, certainly rising above what DVD would have been able to provide for the material.

    The only audio option provided on the disc is a 16-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.

    Zoom Up: Murder Site – The Final Word Review:

    Zoom Up: Murder Site is isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s pretty rough stuff, but it’s also quite tense and at times legitimately suspenseful. It’s also well-directed and features some pretty strong acting. The Blu-ray release from Impulse is, sadly, devoid of any extras but the presentation is a strong one.

    Click on the images below for full sized Zoom Up: Murder Site Blu-ray screen caps!