Saturday, February 09, 2008

Itai! Nikkatsu screenings bloom in springtime

Stuff has been percolating for a while in the world of the Nikkatsu Action retrospective screenings, with several venues across the US committing to show some or all of the films between March and the summertime. While more specific details will remain unannounced until the venues themselves update their schedule pages, here are some sneak peeks at No Borders, No Limits screenings coming soon to a theater near you!

Saturday, February 23rd - previously announced here

The series started earlier this month, but continues with Red Handkerchief & Glass Johnny - University of Wisconsin Cinematheque, Madison

April - May

All 8 films in the series will be screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, one per week beginning at the start of April, until the end of May

April 10-13

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts - San Francisco, CA
It's a long Nikkatsu weekend with A Colt is My Passport, Roughneck, Gangster VIP, The Velvet Hustler, Red Handkerchief and Glass Johnny

April 18-20

Brattle Theatre - Boston, MA
Screenings include A Colt is My Passport, The Warped Ones, Plains Wanderer, Velvet Hustler, and Red Handkerchief

April 25-27

American Cinematheque at the Egyptian - Los Angeles, CA
Nikkatsu comes to one of the best cinemas in America with Gangster VIP, A Colt is My Passport, The Velvet Hustler, Glass Johnny, Roughneck, and The Warped Ones

May 2nd & May 16th

The Wexner Center for the Arts - Columbus, OH
Two double-features of A Colt is My Passport / Red Handkerchief and The Velvet Hustler / Roughneck


Fantasia Film Festival - Montreal, Quebec
Details aren't set yet, but there will be some Nikkatsu Action presence at one of North America's best fantastic film festivals this summer

Screenings are also being worked out for Philadelphia, Seattle, Vancouver, and maybe a couple of other cities. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email us.

And let's not forget the ongoing series at Japan Society in New York City:

Friday, February 22nd
Gangster VIP
Friday, March 14th
Plains Wanderer
Friday, April 4th
Glass Johnny: Looks Like a Beast
Friday, May 2nd

We hope we made some Nikkatsu fans happy with some of these announcements!

And if we didn't list your hometown, don't fret - deals are currently being discussed that will bring nearly all of the films in the retrospective series - as well as quite a few others - to home video in the US sometime in 2008.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

DVDs on the way

Time for a DVD update!

It doesn't officially street until February 19th, but the upcoming Media Blasters / Exploitation Digital release of Norifumi Suzuki's GIRL BOSS REVENGE (aka Sukeban) has already started to show up for sale at some online retailers.

Back in November
, we shot a video interview with Suzuki that will be included as a 14-minute supplement on this disc, and overall we're really happy with how it turned out. Suzuki discusses how he came to work on the series, its impact in Japan and abroad, and what he thinks of its enduring popularity. He also tells some tales about stars Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto, including how he discovered them in a bar one day.

Let us know what you think of the interview, and
please buy or rent the disc, or borrow it from a friend who purchased it—don't download it! Small companies devoted to marginal releases like this have it hard enough, and need every buck you can give them, if you're a fan of what they do. So if you like the film and you want to see more Pinky Violence on disc, search around online to find the cheapest price, and cough up the dough. You pay for what you love, right?

Another title we worked on in Japan happened to be one of my own personal favorites among Japanese exploitation classics: Teruo Ishii's astonishing Porno jidaigeki: bohachi bushido, aka Bohachi - Code of the Forgotten Eight, which is coming March 25th from Discotek Media. I don't think the specific release info has appeared on Discotek's website yet, so here's an early look at what the special features will be.

• Audio commentary by J-Taro Sugisaku & Takao Nakano

J-Taro and Takao are both big Ishii fans, and exploitation filmmakers in their own right. J-Taro is chief of Otoko no Hakaba Productions, a writer/director, and a cult film expert who edited the essential Toei Pinky Violence Roman Album, and a similar book on the Battles Without Honor series.
Takao is also a writer/director, having been responsible for Sexual Parasite (aka Killer Pussy), Sumo Vixens, and the Exorsister series. He also wrote the screenplay for the cool pink film The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai, directed by Mitsuru Meike.

These two maniacs got together with me in early December and recorded a hilarious commentary - moderated in Japanese by our good friend Yoshiki Hayashi - that's half information about the film and its personnel, and half enthusiastic fanboy appreciation of the madness onscreen. Both Takao and J-Taro knew Ishii personally and appeared as actors in some of his later films, and have great reverence and respect for the man and his films. So underlying all the laughs and fun is a serious belief that
Bohachi is truly one of the best films ever made.

• New video interview with J-Taro Sugisaku on the Pinky Violence genre

As mentioned above, J-Taro's a major writer on the subject of cult Japanese cinema, and his book devoted to the Pinky Violence genre (which he both co-edited and himself wrote the sections devoted to Ishii) is a classic. So we took the opportunity to put him in front of our cameras and quiz him on the subject, asking him what makes a Pinky Violence film, what his favorites are, how the genre got started, and whether he feels it's still lingering around today in some way. And wait until you see his apartment, every space on the walls plastered with Japanese exploitation posters!

• New video interview with actress Yuriko Hishimi

The final major supplement on the disc is a video interview we did with lovely and still vivacious actress Yuriko Hishimi, who appears in Bohachi as the main woman of the clan. Hishimi started in the industry in Ultra 7 and Godzilla vs. Gigan, but moved on to fleshier roles in Bohachi, Ikuo Sekimoto's Story of a Nymphomaniac (aka Koshoku genroku monogatari), and other Toei extravaganzas. Hishimi talked to us about working with Ishii, Tetsuro Tanba, and the perils of wearing a maebari (you'll have to buy the disc if you don't know what that is yet).

• Theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• Liner notes by Japanese film expert Chris D.
• Written Teruo Ishii reminiscence by writer and film programmer Mark Schilling

And here's a special peek at one of the gallery images, a scan of the original screenplay used by Teruo Ishii during the making of the film, complete with his hand-written notes. I was lucky enough to be able to hold this near-holy item in my hands while in Tokyo, and it's incredible to look through it - you really feel a connection to something great.

All in all, it's going to be an amazing disc and I can't wait to hear the response of Japanese film fans who've never seen the movie before. It's a jaw-dropping combination of chanbara swordplay and outrageous sexploitation action, featuring possibly more naked flesh onscreen than in any other big-studio Japanese film of the time. You think Reiko Ike taking on a crowd of villains in the buff in Sex and Fury was a big deal? Wait until you see the women of the Bohachi!

One last note: we were just hired to produce the supplements for whopping package of ten (plus!) titles from Shochiku Studios that a US DVD label picked up for release later this year. Watch this space for more details on the titles as we start to work on them.