DVD Reviews: Eros School & Zoom Up

‘Both films will tantalize, shock, tease and confuse you until you are lost in a soul-vivisecting emotional netherworld…’

Devon Ashbyby Devon Ashby

 

If you thought the two premiere erotica reissues from Impulse’s Nikkatsu Roman Porn subheader that came out a few months ago were brain-melting and unpredictable enough, then strap yourself in, because the distributor’s two freshest Nikkatsu releases are even more devastatingly raw and tumultuously psychotronic than their comparatively rote and timid predecessors. Eros School: Feels So Good and Zoom Up: The Beaver Book Girl are both jaw-droppingly stuffed to the gills with inexplicable off-color humor, melodiously surreal and beautiful imagery, and intensely specialized notes of depravity. Effortlessly clearing the BDSM bar of their comparatively standardized predecessors, both films will tantalize, shock, tease and confuse you until you are lost in a soul-vivisecting emotional netherworld unsure of whether you should laugh, cry, puke, or jerk off.

In Eros School, a parody of traditional Japanese school stories and a warped twice-removed cousin of ‘80s teen sex comedies, the mundane day-to-day affairs of a group of adolescent schoolgirls is disrupted by the arrival of a dark and mysterious transfer student. Recently discharged from reform school, Ryu Katsugari operates proudly and publicly under the moniker “Ryu the Rapist,” and upon his arrival at the film’s eponymous Eros School, he immediately zeroes in on Misa, a star athlete with a spotless reputation whose graduating class is counting on her to land first place in the upcoming interschool track meet.

Between episodes of vaunting through the school hallways in a cape and sumo diaper cackling insanely and cradling a miniature pig, Ryu rapes a slash-and-burn trail through essentially all of Misa’s female friends and acquaintances, as part of a gradual, seething build-up to Misa’s own inevitable humiliating and grueling total subjugation – but hey! If that all sounds too heavy and dark for you, no worries, because it’s lightly interspersed with plenty of whimsic Porky’s style sex humor, including a scene where a sexually frustrated nerd impulsively has sex with Ryu’s pig mascot.

It’s hard to describe a film comprised almost entirely of crucifixion bondage and golden showers as “less offensive” than anything else, but compared to Eros School, Beaver Book’s rape obsession is fairly demure, and therefore less scorchingly immediate, diminished as it inevitably is by the film’s equally pronounced preoccupation with erotic urination and bondage. Beaver Book ostensibly deals with the sordid realities of pin-up photography, but as with Eros School, the kink on the cover is just a smokescreen for the movie’s actual, no-holds-barred thematic content.

Exiled from the porn industry for sexual assault, impotent and seedy photographer Sensei has been relegated to shooting Z-grade pin-up photographs. Sensei’s personal and professional life is jarringly altered by the arrival of a mysterious, allegedly amateur pin-up model demanding to pose for an increasingly kinky series of shots without monetary compensation. The Zoom Up series was one of Nikkatsu’s earliest and most popular long-running series, typically incorporating eyewitness accounts or, in this case, technical equipment to filter the action. The most memorable sequence in Beaver Book involves an extended bondage set-up in a field involving two separate female models being elaborately trussed to a huge wooden crucifix, then photographed and violated.

As these latest reissues demonstrate, Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno line was increasingly defined by boundary pushing excess, located safely within the confines of a still technically censorship-friendly softcore format. Both Eros School and Beaver Book are more confrontational, provocative, and weird than Impulse’s previous Nikkatsu reissues, reflecting the increasingly unpredictable, krazy quilt fetishistic emphasis that would become increasingly pervasive as the pink film genre evolved throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

 

Eros School:

Zoom Up: