Color, 1980, 67m.
Directed by Toshiharu Ikeda
Starring Erina Miyai, Ayako Ôta, Teruo Matsuyama, Seru Rando
Impulse (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Color, 1985, 62m.
Directed by Yoshihiro Kawasaki
Starring Jun Izumi, Chiaki Kitahara, Yukari Takeshita, Shu Minugawa
Impulse (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Sex Hunter 1980 Back in 2012, Impulse Pictures released a great little erotic noir from Sex Hunter 19801972 called Sex Hunter: Wet Target about a quest for revenge that goes completely off the rails. Now here's a similarly titled genre bender called Sex Hunter: 1980, which likewise takes the Nikkatsu erotic perversion approach and applies it to an unusual setting and storyline -- in this case a look at infernal doings within the prestigious Sakura Ballet School. A fresh young student named Maekawa Miki arrives to meet the predatory headmistress, Kaibara Akiko (Ôta), who wants to make the new arrival her prima ballerina in a new upcoming production. Everyone lives on the premises and follows their directress' instructions to the letter, even when she's being disrobed by her manservant and drugging her students with liqueur. Oh, and all the ballet students have a habit of stripping down and jumping into a big lesbian pile after they're finished practicing. From there it's all downhill as our naive heroine plunges into a world of jump rope bondage, highly inappropriate use of a full Coca-Cola bottle, foot fetishism, flogging, and a nasty secret involving her wheelchair-bound boyfriend.

Climaxing in a deranged finale involving blood, nonconsensual sex in the classroom, smashing mirrors, and a thunderstorm, this is one film this really has to be seen to be believed. The packaging compares the proceedings to Suspiria, which makes sense given the setting, but this is really a whole different animal altogether Sex Hunter 1980thanks to the stylish, breakneck direction by Toshiharu Ikeda, who later helmed the Argento-inspired slasher favorite Evil Dead Trap. Unlike much of Nikkatsu's '80s output, this one was still lensed in scope and fares all the better for it; from the dreamlike Swan Lake opening through the show stopping Coke bottle scene (which is both aesthetically stunning and hilariously sick). As usual, the Impulse DVD looks great with nary a scratch or scuff in sight and perfectly vivid colors from start to finish. Sex Hunter 1980No complaints here whatsoever, and the optional English subtitles are, as always, extremely quotable. Apart from the typically excellent liner notes by Jaspar Sharp (focusing entirely on Ikeda's unusual career), the sole extra is the rowdy theatrical trailer, which pitches this as "Draped in the scent of semen - A solitary house of pleasure." Definitely one of the supreme highlights of the Impulse/Nikkatsu line so far, especially if you like some gothic flair thrown in with all all the writhing naked bodies.

As usual, this one was released simultaneously with a second Nikkatsu offering, in this case another study of institutionalized girls going through a string of erotic misadventures. Nurse Girl Dorm: Sticky Fingers has been long anticipated since the trailer debuted back in 2010 on Impulse's Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailer Collection bearing the more accurate title, Nurses' Dormitory: Assy Fingers (translated from Kango joshiryô: Ijiwaru na yubi). Sex Hunter 1980Obviously that name wouldn't fly with most retailers, but fortunately you get the raunchier name on the actual disc menu and print, a nice touch. You know you're in familiar territory right from the beginning with a frisky young nurse enjoying herself with a vacuum cleaner nozzle, a gender-switched reprise from 1979's Nurse Diary: Wicked Finger. Yep, there's a bunch of nurses living in a dorm while they work at a hospital, and everyone's abuzz about "the legendary" Yuki (Izumi), who's gotten a divorce and is coming back to work. The establishment's past is already apparently sordid with supervisors busted by the police, and the current director isn't having any misbehavior. The solution apparently involves strapping a flashlight to her bulldog's head for some reason, and soon enough guys are trying to hop the security Sex Hunter 1980fence to get in the nurses' pants (or at least get a peek through the bathroom window). When the girls aren't busy smuggling booze in a teddy bear named Nak-kun, they're swapping sex stories, trying out positions on each other, and doing their rounds at work including servicing the doctors; however, things take a strange turn when Yuki's ex (who may not be such an ex after all) shows up swathed in bandages. Rampant comedic misunderstandings, couplings, and vice raids ensue.

Definitely one of the sillier Nikkatsu titles to make it to U.S. shores so far, this is still spicy fun with a few surprises in store. Chief among them is the fun synthesizer score, which occasionally blasts into crazy John Carpenter territory, and as usual, the gorgeous Izumi (who enlivened two of the Angel Guts films) carries the film on her slender shoulders with pride. There's more pop culture ephemera on display, too, including a priceless moment with a couple getting it on under some Duran Duran posters and pin ups. Then there's the comic relief with that bulldog, which feels like something out of a certain Dirty Harry movie from the same era. It's easily one of the shortest Nikkatsu/Impulse titles to date (barely clocking in over an hour), but nobody will ever complain that they didn't get their money's worth. The flat 1.78:1 anamorphic presentation (listed as 1.85:1 on the packaging but apparently opened up slightly at the top and bottom) looks comparable to other '80s titles; technically nice if not as vivid as the slicker scope '70s entries. The infamous trailer is included here, of course, and there's another set of Sharp liner notes delineating how the line between pink films and Roman Porno became very blurred in the mid-1980s.

Buy Sex Hunter: 1980 from Diabolik.
Buy Nurse Girl Dorm: Sticky Fingers from Diabolik.

Reviewed on January 25, 2014.