Rape! 13th Hour (1977)
Director: Yasuharu Hasebe
Writers: Yoshio Shirasaka and Chiho Katsura
Starring: Akira Takahashi, Yuri Yamashina, and YĆ«dai Ishiyama

The Plot: Rape! 13th Hour is the simple story of one man and his goal of continually raping everyone in sight. Okay, so maybe there is a little more to the story than that. Our story follows an unnamed man, credited as “Crimson,” who seems to rape a new woman every single day. Crimson runs into a doughy gas station attendant while trying to ditch a group of roaming homosexuals, some group who are chasing after him for unknown reasons, and these two become fast friends. Crimson intends to school the gas station attendant in his raping ways, and it seems that the attendant simply wants to have some form of authority in his life. As these two progress in their friendship, many lives are destroyed along the way.

The Review
I have written a lot about Yasuharu Hasebe in recent years. With a growing interest in 1970s Japanese cinema, he has stood out as one of my favorite filmmakers from this particular era. His work within the Violent Pink genre is particularly of interest to me, mostly because of the diversity and strange socio-political subtext found in his movies. Rape! 13th Hour is easily his most transgressive film, and in some ways it stands out as a favorite of mine. It is a favorite not because of how well developed the story is or how entertaining it is, it’s a favorite because it intentionally pushes buttons and it tries its very best to get a rise out of the audience. Described by Jasper Sharp, co-founder of midnighteye.com and author of Behind the Pink Curtain, as one of the only films from Hasebe that stands out as purely indefensible, I find this particular aspect of the movie very alluring. Looking at the movie, it appears to be a purely unrepentant rape movie with no true meaning or value, but it can also be read in other ways if the viewer is so inclined. As it is though, it is pretty obvious that Rape! 13th Hour is NOT a movie for all audiences.

Ultimately, there’s very little actual “story” being told in Rape! The 13th Hour, not from a conventional standpoint at least. There’s very little actual dialogue, and the movie moves from one rape scene to the next with few stopping points in between. The plot could easily be disclosed in a matter of three sentences, but the funny thing is how the movie manages to say what it wants without actually telling its audience anything. What little story can be found in the movie is told through visuals. Scenes of rape tell us varying things about the personalities of our characters and those who surround them. During the rape sequences, we see small narratives unfold for the camera that give us slight glimpses into the mind of these characters. Combined with the classical music, these erotic interludes play out in theatrical ways. The moments involving the secondary lead, the raping apprentice, are of most interest, because he is ultimately the one character in the movie who has a true arc. While this arc is highly offensive in many ways, I believe that you can derive more than just exploitation from Rape! 13th Hour. While Yasuharu Hasebe was quick to say that his films rarely had any other meaning than what was presented on the surface, if you study his filmography you find far too many themes that connect with one another. For instance, his entire violent pink run, including this movie, all feature similar themes and ideas that are simply expressed in different ways.

Although it is easily the most controversial and nasty film from within Hasebe’s violent pink run (a line of directed films that also included Rape!, Raping!, Assault! Jack the Ripper, and Attack!!), it is also the most easily misunderstood. Do not get me wrong, this is an exploitation film. This is a true blue piece of nasty filth, and Hasebe pandered to his audience in the most gratuitous way possible. However, in pandering this heavily, Rape! 13th Hour can also be seen as a way of taking this particular subgenre to its logical conclusion. If audiences wanted rape, the Hasebe was going to give it to them, and he would give it to them in the most shocking and over-the-top way possible. It might be a middle finger to his audience, but at the same time it also covers many of the same themes that were covered in the previously mentioned films. If you look at each of these movies, they all cover human selfishness in some manner. Afterall, this is the heart of the despicable act that is rape. The only difference this time around is that Hasebe instead focuses on the selfish individuals and not solely the victims of their horrid behavior.

Getting right down to the main idea behind the film, it seems to focus on the corruption of a regular person. The apprentice character is ultimately a regular Joe who is stuck in a rut and not very fulfilled with his life. When he sees the serial rapist of the film, he sees a man who has everything he wants. He’s a fashionable guy, he’s calm and cool, but most importantly he takes everything that he wants. The apprentice is far from this mold. He has no luck with the ladies, and he never gets what he wants. As he follows this serial rapist, he tries to become like him but has a hard time leaving behind his decency. He tries to rape women, but finds himself unable to do anything when he has no feelings for these women. The movie is ultimately a documentation of his transformation from a civilized being into a corrupted and selfish man. The roaming pack of homosexuals, a group that are semi-duplicated in Hasebe’s Attack!!, ultimately show that within this society of corruption there is only punishment at the end of this road. No matter who you are or what you have, there is the chance of someone being envious of it. There is a slight subplot going on between the serial-rapist and one of the homosexual men, but it is not very developed and doesn’t really offer much to the story. The main point is that our lead rapist is is tormented by other men who seek to torment him in the same way that he inflicts harm upon the world. It becomes a cycle of violence, selfishness, and total brutality.

With all of that said, the movie is also quite the amazing piece of cinema. Scored with classical music, Hasebe loves to create dichotomies within his film. In a movie that covers the nastiest possible content, he fills his movie up with beautiful imagery and a soundtrack that can only be described as “lovely.” Using a brilliant color palette, there are few scenes within the movie that feature standard framing or set design. Hasebe sets his movie in very odd locations, but he makes it all work in a cohesive fashion. When one character is kidnapped during the climax of the film and taken to an abandoned pool in broad daylight, logic states that this is the worst place in the world to commit the horrible acts that are about to unfold (they involve a hammer and mouth rape), but the look of this empty pool is too engrossing to ignore. Another standout bit would have to be the final sequence of the movie. Without going into too much detail, there is a epic shot that concludes the movie and the artistic qualities are far overshadowed by the disturbing content of the scene. Very similar to the general nature of this movie. It looks beautiful, but the things that it says are far from beautiful or nice.

The Conclusion
Ultimately, this is a love it or hate it sort of movie. Some people will be so disturbed by the content that they won’t be able to accept the movie. This is a very understandable reaction. I don’t think I can fault anyone for not being able to tolerate this sort of indecent behavior. However, for audiences who think they can handle the content, Rape! The 13th Hour is a definite button pusher. I give it a four out of five. It is in competition with Assault! Jack the Ripper for my favorite movie from Hasebe’s violent pink films and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something daring.