Toshiharu Ikeda is best known in the U.S. for Evil Dead Trap, but he was making adult films in Japan for years that were horror-influenced before going all the way there wwith films that have giallo in their DNA like XX: Beautiful Beast, XX: Beautiful Prey and The Man Behind the Scissors. He also directed a remake of the Female Prisoner Scorpion series called Female Prisoner Scorpion: Death Threat, which has legendary Japanese female wrestling heel Dump Matsumoto in it.
Many point to the influence of Dario Argento’s Suspiria on this movie, seeing as how it takes place in a dance academy that is way more than meets the eye. That said, Ikeda did claim in an interview never to have seen any of Argento’s films, as he hated horror and had never even watched his own Evil Dead Trap.
Miki, much like Suzy Bannion, is a talented dancer who has been accepted into an exclusice and mysterious dance academy by a woman named Akiko, who is the sister of her boyfriend Genichiro. Seeing as how he’s been missing since an accident, she decides to accept the offer in the hopes that she’ll improve her skills while finding the man she loves.
But kind of like a Japanese funhouse mirror version of one of those randy tales, Akiko has plans to keep Miki against her will and use her henchmen to transform her from the virginal dancer she is now to a sex-craving being that her brother will reject and run right into her loving arms.
By the way, if this upsets you, turn back now.
As for Genichiro, he’s also kept hidden inside the school, in a wheelchair since a recent car crash. He has no idea what’s happening, which goes from BDSM games to outright torture.
Nikkatsu studios, who made this movie, were certainly no puritans, but even they were upset by this movie, demanding that Ikeda tone things down for his next film and sending him to Okinawa with the demand that his next movie, Blue Lagoon: A Summer Experience, have some actual romance.
I debated including this movie in this week of giallo, but decided to include it as it fits in alongside other films we picked like Bizarre and Eyes Behind the Wall. I would definitely include the warning that this is beyond reprehensible in moments, yet still includes some moments of high art, such as the scene where Miki and Genichiro reconnect and make love in the mountains, which you should never do if you’re in a wheelchair. Let this film be a warning (and don’t let it ruin Coca-Cola for you forever, as this has perhaps the most upsetting product placement for that beverage of all time).
Sadly, Ikeda fought depression in his later years and ahis body was found floating in the sea near Shima on December 26, 2010. There was no note and his death could have been an accident, but he had expressed a wish to die in this area in the past.
As for the aforementioned Suspiria comparisons, outside of the setting, the inversion of the characters at the end, with Miki rising above her torment, and the climactic rainstorm feel like they could have been inspired by the film. Otherwise, this is a dark film that hints at the talent that Ikeda would use in his career as he moved out of adult and into more mainstream films.