Thursday, September 30, 2010

In short: Ero Kowai Kaidan Vol.1 - Iguana Onna (2010)

Office worker Ayaka (Akiho Yoshizawa) meets office worker Hiro (Mutsuo Yoshioka) on a blind date party. They hit it off well, and two scenes later, they're merrily humping away. But the couple's happiness is soon disturbed by an reptile-loving ex-girlfriend of Hiro's named Saori who proceeds to stalk Ayaka.

At first, it's nothing more than the expected threatening text messages and silent staring up the apartment building Ayaka is living in, but soon Saori hires an internet detective agency to dig up dirt about Ayaka.

When even the revelation that Ayaka worked as a prostitute a few years ago won't break the two up, Saori's actions get increasingly creepy. Saori won't even hold off from using the supernatural to get her characterless man back.

Iguana Onna is another attempt to mix light softcore sex (with fewer sex scenes than a true pinku of the same length would have) and horror, but as many other films who have tried that particular trick, it manages to already stray from the path of quality on the most basic level. That is to say, the sex isn't an intrinsic part of the horror nor the horror an intrinsic part of the sex. Basically, the sex scenes are just longer and a wee bit more explicit than they are in your average horror movie, but the film wouldn't change one bit if they weren't there at all.

Still, I wouldn't find much reason to complain if these sex scenes weren't more routine than they are erotic, lacking in creativity as well as in simple enthusiasm. Worse, the more copious horror scenes are too bland to work too well either, and are based on some problematic assumptions, namely that reptiles (be it iguanas, or - and I'm not making this up - turtles) are creepy and that the iguana woman Saori turns into in the end is frightening rather than funny. The former might be true at least for some people, but the latter is about as true as the German foreign minister is competent.

At least - and again very much like Herr Westerwelle - the iguana woman is quite hilarious, using her forked CGI tongue and the usual herkyjerky movements in a "big" attack scene so unthreatening it is pretty funny. As is some of the dialogue (personal favourite: Ayaka and Hiro earnestly discussing during a relationship quarrel what a street survey would find more reprehensible, him being "a player" or her being "a whore"), and the acting. Yoshizawa, who in theory carries the main load of the film, does not seem to be one of the idols with any acting talent beyond the dropping of her clothes, which is a bit problematic in a film that could only be saved by concerted efforts of the actors to camp it up outrageously. Instead, she, and everybody else, goes for the usual (and very bland) soap operatics.

It's probably less than a compliment to Iguana Woman when I say that I still have watched worse films produced for the contemporary Japanese DVD market than an indication of how deep the industry of the country has fallen, but at least I was able to watch this one all the way through in one sitting (all 70 minutes of it!) and am still willing to watch other films of its kind soon - if only in the hope for ridiculous iguana women - which is more than I can say of too many other films of its ilk.


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