Shozin Fukui has a new film!!!

Well, sadly, it's only a 30' short, but damn, it's 30' of Shozin Fukui madness!

You can read the film's review here, and on this blog this is a perfect opportunity to be reminded of his two major feature length films!

Country: Japan

Genre: SF Horror

Running Time: 90'

Director: Shozin Fukui

Cast: Kawase Youta, Nao, Ameya Norimizu, Saitou Sousuke

GHOUL RATING: ***(*) 4-

Story: A group of (literally) underground researchers use human guinea pigs, and subject them to extreme noise, pain and lack of oxygen in order to awaken their primal energies - to make them psychic, or some such. When their funding is in danger, they become desperate and start doing even crazier things than before in order to produce results – which only creates more mayhem.

Review: Key phrases: cyberpunk; mad scientists; clandestine operations; secret powers of human body and mind; drugs; nudity; rape; gore; evisceration; mutation; lots of screaming… How could you possibly go wrong with these? This is what the Japanese do best, and Shozin Fukui has already proved himself in the similar vein with his previous PINNOCHIO 964 (also available from Unearthed).

RUBBER'S LOVER could be mistaken for an earlier work, since it's in black and white, and is more extreme and experimental than its predecessor, but that's Fukui for you: while other similar directors, like Shinya TETSUO Tsukamoto, moved from grungy underground towards mainstream, Fukui's second effort is even weirder than PINOCCHIO. While PINOCCHIO had a reasonable semblance of a more or less linear plot and a sympathetic protagonist to guide you through it, RUBBER'S LOVER is lacking in that regard. Whether you take it for a more 'avant-garde', praiseworthy approach, or a fault which makes viewing experience more difficult, depends on your ability to enjoy a non-linear structure in which motivations and reactions of characters are not really explained, and a plot in which a lot of the stuff comes out of the left field. Personally, I like to be surprised, but surprise is based on expectations; RUBBER'S LOVER, however, at the very beginning sets its main strategy as 'Expect the unexpected'. For some viewers, this would translate as 'Anything goes' kind of plot.

Still, the things that go on in this film are mostly intriguing and weird enough to captivate an open-minded viewer and challenge the most jaded sensibilities, which is always a good thing. The crisp black and white photography provides a lot of eye candy to equal the best parts of TETSUO: the cyber-gear and techno-paraphernalia intermingle with the screaming human flesh which sizzles and smokes in pain (and pleasure as well) and are treated as equally fetishistic as the more conventional sights of torn clothes and writhing naked bodies.

More erotic and more perverse than PINOCCHIO 964, RUBBER'S LOVER still lacks the emotional punch that goes with such a stock device as 'a sympathetic protagonist', and the ending is even more frustratingly cryptic and hermetic than in Fukui's first film. Also, the sound design is pretty rudimentary and the sparsely used music score leaves a lot to be desired; it is passable, but with a subject matter like this, and the director's background in the musical underground, one would hope for at least the melodic stuff of Chu Ichikawa if not the downright sonic assault of a project like THE DISSECTING TABLE.

At least as a director Fukui hasn't lost his punk sensibilities in his second feature, and he's back with lots of quick cuts, weird angles and extreme close-ups as well as his trade-mark: a hysteria of almost incessant screaming of all grimacing characters. One would expect at least the scientists to be more restrained and reasonable, but the ones you find in this film are the closest cinema progeny of Dr Benway, the amoral doctor from the novels of William Burroughs. And, while we're at Burroughs, one should also mention welcome outbursts of dead-pan humor, in lines such as 'Rectal injection for immediate effect!' or 'Torture sways records – Stay to low-tech stuff!' There are many visual jokes as well, the best of them being a cyclopean syringe which would scare off an elephant, used to inject ether into (mostly) unwilling subjects.

RUBBER'S LOVER is a thoroughly satisfying example of Japanese underground cinema and provides an inevitable dose of their idiosyncratic weirdness for all those already addicted to such material. If you're new to this kind of filmmaking, maybe you should start with slightly more accessible stuff like the already mentioned TETSUO, or Fukui's own PINOCCHIO 964, and see if you can take it. Then come for more.

DVD [ NTSC, Region 1 ] : Although RUBBER'S LOVER was originally filmed on 16 mm, the video transfer (in original format of 1:33 : 1) makes it look as perfect as can be. The same goes for the Dolby Digital 2.0 sound which provides the maximum the original recording could produce. The supplements include the second part of the interview with the director (in which he explains that this film was made in black and white solely because the rubber suit did not film well in color!), trailers for other Unearthed Films goodies, and another short film. This time it's GERORISUTO (which translates as 'Vomit Terrorist', or something like that). It's much shorter than CATERPILLAR on the PINOCCHIO 964 DVD, but it may not be short enough for those not able to enjoy a prolonged vomit sequence, even more repellent here than the one in PINOCCHIO's subway (since it's filmed in broad daylight here).

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