Rumi, an investigative journalist, prepares to interview a garbage collector. Her colleague has heard a rumor that the man is involved in the disposal of dead bodies for the yakuza, and persuades Rumi to conduct the interview alone, under surveillance. When the man’s suspicions are eventually aroused, he and his cohorts capture the reporters and take them to a secluded hideout, where they proceed to torture and kill them.
Japanese smut peddler Zeus, renowned for its fetish video lines, offered its take on faux snuff with the Sadi-Scream series. With a total of five volumes, all released in the same year (2007), each entry is fairly short, low on production value, and revels in the despicable depths of sleaze and sadism. An obvious point of reference would be the notorious Guinea Pig series two decades earlier, but Sadi-Scream ups the ante by adding the element of P*rn to the more widely accepted recipe of torture and splatter.
In the first entry, Sadi-Screem (sic), the setup of a team of reporters setting out to investigate some very shocking rumors recalls the ill-fated characters of Daisuke Yamanouchi’s inventive Muzan-E (1999). But once Rumi and her two male colleagues find themselves tied up in an underground torture dungeon about halfway through the movie, it descends into more familiar territory with little rhyme or reason. It becomes more reminiscent of Tamakichi Anaru’s audacious Tumbling Doll of Flesh (1998), which segued from hardcore p*rn into nasty gore-soaked horror.
Rumi is somehow convinced to conduct the interview in her bikini – but whatever advantages this was expected to achieve are nixed when her subject confides in her that he is impotent. He is certainly not afraid of the female form, though, since when he realizes that he is under surveillance he goes looking for the mike buried in Rumi’s snatch (she is wearing nothing but a bikini, after all).
The torture chamber she later ends up in is littered with severed limbs and the remains of previous victims, and after she loses control of her bladder (an event you could almost time your watch to in most Japanese sleaze), the axeman cometh – a gimpy brute kind of like an Asian cousin of Leatherface, with a hatchet instead of a chainsaw. Her colleagues are quickly dispatched, and then she is tied to a bed. The rest of the film consists of her systematic degradation and molestation. One of her captors fingerbangs her pixelated p**sy and then forces her to suck his fingers clean, her nipples are crushed in a clamp, her stomach is sliced open and, after her butthole is lubed up and fingered at length, she is laid on her back and screwed – while trying to hold her entrails in their rightful place.
More squeamish viewers should know to stick well clear of this kind of thing, while the initiated will probably agree that, between the tedium and unconvincing special effects, it really is nothing new – in fact, the unpredictable nature of the first half of the film, with its wonderfully foreboding (if minimalist) background music, is more enjoyable than the payoff. There is a perverse twist that sees Rumi starting to show signs that she is getting turned on by the torture, her captors walking off at the end leaving her spread open, intestines in hand, in the throes of ecstasy – a cheeky subversion of the charge that modern P*rn rarely focuses on the pleasure of the woman.
By the fifth and final entry in the Sadi-Scream series, the format had degenerated into meat-and-potatoes torture for torture’s sake, relentlessly grim and with the flimsiest of contexts. As in Devil’s Experiment (the first Guinea Pig), a captive woman is brutalized in myriad ways, this time by a mute man wearing a rabbit mask. After a few brief flashbacks in black and white, her captor reveals himself to be a guy she rejected in high school years earlier, who was evidently deeply scarred by the incident.
He beats, strangles and whips her, breaks her fingers, carves her up with a hand plane (echoing a similar scene in Tumbling Doll of Flesh), hammers nails into her hands, buries needles beneath her fingernails, cuts open her stomach and tears out her guts, rips out her eye and crushes it, and – to make sure she knows who’s boss – finally takes what he had wanted as a shy, horny teen. Aside from this final sexual act, the film ends up in the kind of territory marked out by the second (and most infamous) Guinea Pig entry, Flower of Flesh and Blood, without managing to top the formidable special effects of the earlier film.
A glaring difference when compared with the first Sadi-Scream is the almost total absence of sex and nudity. The helpless victim even remains clothed throughout the duration of the film. The violence, while truly hideous and unrelenting, remains unconvincing, and is restricted to acts of extreme cruelty that are easily faked. Watching the actress foam at the mouth, screaming and whimpering constantly, still manages to be distressing – at least until the Japanese pop song kicks in over the end credits. As was part of the repetitive formula of the somewhat similar Bottled Vulva series, she eventually makes a weak attempt at escape, but you’re left in no doubt that she will not survive the film. With material like this, I’m sure her career followed suit.