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Film Review: Lolita Vibrator Torture (1987)

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SYNOPSIS:

In her search for a missing friend, a young student crosses paths with a private detective who offers his services. Once her guard is down he is able to abduct her, and she wakes up in his lair – a shipping container on the back of a truck perched atop a tall building in Tokyo. It turns out that his main preoccupation is photography, and Kozue is his latest subject. Usually, after molesting his victims with a vibrator, he force-feeds them poison and within minutes they are dead. With Kozue, however, he develops a relationship that ultimately sees the balance of power change, as he discovers she has far more value to him alive than dead.

REVIEW:

Lolita Vibrator Torture (aka The Secret Garden), which Nikkatsu released towards the end of their Roman P**no cycle, is as depraved and scandalous as its title proudly proclaims. It is also a reflection of prolific pink film director Hisayasu Sato’s uniquely twisted vision, as evidenced in such sickeningly captivating films as Splatter: Naked Blood (1996) and The Bedroom (1992), with their emphasis on gruelling body horror and themes of voyeurism and sadomasochism.

In this film, Sato’s instrument of physical abuse is more commonly associated with sexual pleasure: a large rotating dildo. With his victim chained to a bed, the photographer molests her in various ways with the rubber rod. When playtime ends he makes her swallow poison, which results in her choking on her own blood. All the while, he takes numerous shots of her face and body, contorted in agony. The interior of his hideout is completely papered over with enlargements of these portraits, and it is not hard to deduce that his actions achieve more than just the satisfaction of sadistic impulses; he is clearly searching for something more than just kicks.

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As wet and warped as the film is, and despite the low budget and tight shooting schedule typical of the genre, the film is quite polished and artfully lit – like so much of Japan’s exploitation and softcore output. The main set, a single room chamber of horrors that exists to both honor and debase the human form, recalls that of Yasuzo Masumura’s classic Blind Beast (1969), in which an abducted model awakens to find herself surrounded on all sides by her captor’s sculptures, reflecting his obsession with bodies and modes of expression.

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In both films, the lurid subject matter barely masks something far more subtle and elusive. These men are utterly devoted to their art – the fact that this might involve kidnapping, subjugation, rape, murder, acid baths and battery-operated bean ticklers is beside the point – and in their exploration of extremes are driven to further extremes themselves. This intriguing undercurrent offsets the nihilistic tone, which is often distressing for viewers unaccustomed to the no-holds-barred approach of delirious and uncompromising Japanese films such as this one.

Of course, given the restrictions of censorship laws of the time, the weiner-wielding psychopath in Lolita Vibrator Torture somehow manages to defile his victims in all sorts of ways without feeling the need to remove their panties – the image of a topless woman being “tortured” with a dildo, still wearing her panties, is quintessentially Japanese. In defiance of this strictly enforced prudishness, the film mows through a checklist of taboos, particularly for Western audiences.

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The victims are all uniformed high school girls, and they often seem to enjoy their treatment (the main character, supposedly a virgin, even goes so far as to bring her own sex toy to the party in a later scene). That shameless Japanese menstrual fixation shows up continually, and even a fresh corpse is subjected to a golden shower.

Like countless other erotic/sleazy/grotesque films in the Japanese exploitation canon, Lolita Vibrator Torture defies easy classification every step of the way. The mystery set up by the prologue develops into a full-blown head-scratcher by the end of the film, which adds another layer of intrigue to the theme of ruptured and fused identities.

Too bewildering and perverted for anyone expecting standard torture P*rn, and too challenging and probing for those just looking to get off, this film is clearly reserved for those who can groove on its weird vibe. Oh, and in case you or a partner are suffering from impotence – apparently a dildo up the poop chute will cure it.

Lolita Vibrator Torture (1987)

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