Sunday, December 7, 2008

Madame O (Seiichi Fukuda, 1967)

Michiko Aoyama preying on her next victim in Madame O (1967).

Madame O is an independently produced, pre-pink, eroduction film, made in 1967 and directed by Seiichi Fukuda. Most of these early, pre-pink, sex films seem to be lost and unavailable even in Japan. The reason for Synapse Films being able to release Madame O is that it was sold to Audubon Films in the US and preserved by them, and that is why it's only available with an english dub.

Seiko (Michiko Aoyama) is the Madame O of the title, she works as a doctor and runs her own practice. When she was younger she was raped by three man who left her pregnant and infected with syphilis. The event has left her emotionally empty, except for wanting to take revenge on all men. She does that by walking the streets at night to pick up men and transfer the disease to them. One day she hires a male doctor and ends up falling in love for the first time in her life after he finds her passed out after performing an abortion on herself. When he also becomes a witness of Seiko killing and dismembering one of her late night pick-ups who tried to extort her, and doesn't report it, they soon get married. To no one's surprise though, it turns out that the good doctor may have a hidden agenda of his own.

For being described as a film that will "paralyze audiences with gore, nudity and shocking violence" as it is on the cover for the dvd, the film is very tame. Expecting any of the three will make the viewer come up short. Also, even at 81 minutes in length the film feels overlong and gets frustratingly boring, making the ending come as a relief rather than an intense finale. The most interesting things in the film are the cinematography, it does look good, and the actors who, even while being dubbed, come off as doing solid work. I'm still not sure on whether the decision to make some sequences in the film in color, while the main bulk of it is in black and white, was good or not. It seems like the scenes shot in color are mainly the ones with nudity or blood in them, or both, and it just makes it feel more exploitive instead of artistic.

While I appreciate that Synapse has given this film a dvd release and making it available, I also wish distributors would put the same effort into releasing better films from the early eroduction and pink film era. It feels like Madame O got the attention more because of it being available than anything else.