As one of the 37 films being screened by The 49th New York Film Festival in celebration of Japan's Nikkatsu Studio's centennial, Tatsumi Kumashiro's The Woman with the Red Hair (1979) has one thing certainly going for it: it's never boring. Just sample the dialogue:
"I can't stay panty-less forever."
"My prick's still aching."
"Ever try heroin?"
"Dicks are unreasonable."
"It tastes like crackers."
"My tits ache. Your socks smell. Your underpants smell." (This is meant as a compliment, by the way.)
With the above lines spouted with zest by a group of not totally unimpressive actors, this sexually exploitative and misogynistic little offering is meant to be exactly what it is: sexually exploitative and misogynistic. It’s part of genre known as "pink film," softcore pornographic theatrical movies produced to regain audiences for Japan's then dwindling cinema. And they succeeded, mainly from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, at least until adult videotapes stole their reason for existence.
Well, not to distract from the continuous orgasms and its low budget, the tale here is simple and nasty from the get-go. Kozo (Renji Ishibashi) and his inane buddy Takao (Kai Ato) rape their boss' virgin teenage daughter, who immediately gets pregnant and falls in love with Takao.
Meanwhile, while driving the company truck, Kozo picks up the titular woman with the red hair (Junko Miyashita), who's menstruating while eating noodles in the pouring rain by the side of the road. He takes her home, and they have sex and chat about the string attached to her tampon.
A few scenes later, in the midst of more sex, Ms. Red Hair starts fellating Kozo, whose privates are covered with her menstrual blood. With her lips smeared with her own vital fluids, she then kisses Kozo, who could consequently benefit from an EZ Wipe.
Well, life can't be nonstop copulation, so when Kozo is off to work, Ms. Red Hair washes her panties and while placing them on a railing to dry, drops them on her downstairs neighbor's head, which causes the woman to run upstairs and try to strangle Ms. Red Hair, who by the way we discover has run away from her husband and two children.
Now it's song time, so Kozo sings to his penis a tune that begins, "Not a cow, yet it produces milk."
The moral of the film seems to be: To win the affections of a female, just slap her around, rape her, and if that doesn't work, lend her out to your pals. Ah, doesn't it make you just yearn for the Seventies? - Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell is currently teaching "Gay Identity in Literature" and "The Arts in New York City" at The City College of New York and is Coordinator of The Simon H. Rifkind Center. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire.com, The New York Daily News, Soho Style, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's A Member of the Family (Dutton).