||Plot Outline: Nami works as a nurse in a local clinic. After spending her nights being up all the time developing film with her photographer boyfriend though, she rarely feels rested when going through the rigors of her job. While daydreaming through her job one day however, the ultimate wrong is committed against her. When checking a patient’s room, she is attacked by him and his best friend and raped. She escapes the assault eventually, but not before they have had their way with her. She makes her way home to her boyfriend, only to discover him at play with one of his models if you get my drift. Her heart broken, mind decimated and feeling this agony, she runs into the streets trying to leave this world behind. If all of this isn’t enough though, she is struck by a car driven by a salaryman who is having his own troubles. After stealing money from his investors, he is caught and the phone calls from angry customers start rolling in. His wife and family leave him, his employers ask for him to quit and his life is all but over. Then he runs into her. Thinking she is dead, he sits her up in his car and contemplates what to do. After a while though, he discovers she is not dead. His curiosity, lust and primal instincts take over – and this isn’t the nicest thing a guy can do to a girl he likes – he begins to fondle her while she is sleeping. She awakens, even more astonished at the horrors of her life and the two set themselves up in a ruined building. As the film progresses a bond builds between the two.|
Red Dizzyness seemed an applicable title in my mind somewhere around five minutes into the film during a scene where our lead heroine was being masturbated by her boyfriend amidst an apartment that looked as if it were lit by a volcano just somewhere out of sight. It’s a catching visual, not only for it’s graphic sexuality (not to be explicit, but I don’t want to shy away from the sexual content of the film either, it might be worth noting that the act is done with nothing but the actresses underwear blocking our view) – but the set and lighting for the scene is breathtaking in it’s expression. Not exactly something someone would expect from a film with such potent sex sequences. The whole sex sequence is hypnotic, and although it is not, it seems as if it would be easy to believe the subtitle for this sequel to the famed Angel Guts series sprung simply from this one series of moments. You may ask though, what importance does this serve? Well, you got me. Takashi Ishii, writer of the series and manga from which it is based (as well as director of this entry and many other popular films) seems like a bit of an oddball director – I of course mean that in the most positive way possible. When I first sat through Evil Dead Trap back in the days of old, I felt both repelled and attracted to his style. The film felt like an offbeat ode to the Giallos of Italy, but with a definitive Japanese flavor. I didn’t find it to be an exceptional film, but looking back – it certain had it’s moments (though I must admit Red Dizzyness helped open my eyes to more of Ishii’s stylistic traits). Then came Gonin, which I could hardly believe came from the same director. To this day I consider it one of my absolute favorite crime films ever made. You can read more of my ranting over that film in my review. Now here I sit with Red Dizzyness, and I really don’t know what to think. Watching it, it feels like the most experimental soft-core porn flick ever made. Now, keep in mind that I have very little experience with the Pinku films of Japan (the only two flicks I can think of that I have seen were both made in 60/70′s era, and were both fairly tame), but using the term ‘soft-core’ is bound to open a whole can of worms. After all, what defines pornography over a film that delves heavily into sexual relationships? It only strikes my brain because of the frequency of the sex scenes. Mind you, excluding one scene where we are treated to some classic Japanese mosaic crotch blurring, the majority of the sex is not of the full-frontal variety. As a film, Red Dizzyness is fairly baffling. It’s a surreal and disturbing journey into the psycho-sexual. I’m not sure if it’s the bravest film to tackle the issues that are set forth, but there’s no denying how absolutely ambitious it is. The gutsyness (and no that is not a pun) of the whole affair is enough to demand my respect, but it’s the artistry and the delivery that makes me love it as a creation.
I had read up on the Pinku subgenre of Japan in the past, but my experiences have been limited to say the least. I knew the backstory, about how the Japanese film industry hit bottom somewhere a few decades back and left many of the studios making the only types of films still selling; pornography. Giving directorial jobs to many creative directors, the films may have all had tons of sex in them – but supposedly they were works of artistic creation as much as they were films of titillation. Sitting through Red Dizzyness has made me a believer. Dealing with complex themes of rape, emotional betrayal and the stereotypes of Japanese society – this isn’t exactly Deep Throat nor Bikini Carwash. Red Dizzyness strikes with a velocity I’ve never witnessed before. The sexual overtones run the gamut of perverse to sensual, and anything in between. Although the series may be centered around rape, my feeling was that rape was just used as a set-up to explore the lead characters emotional rock bottom. This isn’t a fetish film, and although I haven’t seen the whole series yet, I would urge people not to judge drastically without at least reading up on them first. The act its’ self was not gleaned over one way or another, not sensual in the least and sometimes depressingly desperate. So, for those who are easily disturbed by such topics, you’ll likely be more offended by the ample amounts of nudity than the actual scenes of forced sex. Still, despite all of this, the rape, the cheating boyfriend and the horrors of being dominated – I still believe there is still positivity to be found in Red Dizzyness. It’s not all depression an sorrow, although, I would be lying if I said those areas of life didn’t play an important role in the film as well. By the time the credits start rolling on Red Dizzyness though, there’s a hope in the air. Takashi Ishii’s explanation of the title Angel Guts as a play on words, basically meaning Angels with Guts (as in bravery), definitely comes into play towards the end. I won’t spoil it for you, but there truly is something hopefully optimistic about the film and its conclusion. Something that was desperately needed after all of the melancholy that built the foundation of the film. There are many ways to define Red Dizzyness, a love story, exploitation or even a psychological character study, but it’s fair to say the film is surprising no matter how you look at it.
The first thing that really strikes me about Red Dizzyness, and instantly gives it credibility as a true work of art – is the fantastic cinematography. It really is mind blowing how beautiful the film is shot, mainly because of the perfected lighting. A mix of blue and reds fill the screen throughout the film, with the occasional acrobatic piece of camerawork to settle things out – they really don’t make ‘em like this anymore. The majority of the film has a surreal quality to it because of all this, it’s as if the characters live in a dream sequence thought up in a David Lynch film. There is definitely a dreamy quality to the film, with the few exceptions popping up every now and then – like the distant and cold streets of Tokyo or white rooms of a hospital; but when the film wants to put on atmosphere it does so with gusto! This world we are shown is illuminated with dark figures, clashing colors and a sense of foreboding doom just around the corner, but somewhere at the heart of all of this a love tale unfolds. Much like the lead character Nami, it arises like a phoenix from the ground. There is definitely some power in Red Dizzyness, and I try my best to encapsulate it, but no film is without it’s flaws. Being that this film is just part of a larger series, it tends to feel like an ‘entry’ rather than something to stand on it’s own. Although it isn’t true, one feels as if they should see the rest of the series to better understand the themes throughout. This makes the film feel a bit episodic, maybe like one long and perverse Twilight Zone tale – and the short (well, comparatively, clocking in at 70-something minutes) running time doesn’t help dissuade this feeling. Still, these quirks are easily looked over in order to get the big picture. If you’re the least bit interested in the expression of sexuality on screen, even if it means crossing a few lines, it’s certainly worth checking out – and despite what it may seem from the outside looking in, the somewhat feminist look at a female being dominated in a world of men definitely works. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t get preachy.
So, with those few little problems I had with the film, I wasn’t sure whether to go with a high three or a lower than average four. I think I’ll swing towards the four this time around. It’s not that Red Dizzyness isn’t a fantastic film, but it’s probably not the one entry into the series that is going to blow my mind. It certainly has it’s advantages and is a great piece of work on it’s own, but there were moments that could have been improved. It’s a highly memorable film however, certainly bearing a selection of shocking moments. I recommend it, and highly await my chance to check out the rest of the film. Red Dizzyness may not be perfection, but it’s a morbid ride through the darkness of the human experience – and who could ever have enough of that!?
You might also be interested in: