Lolita vib-zeme (1987)

Kozue (Sayaka Kimura) is a high school girl who goes around her city posting ‘SEEKING’ posters on light posts. She’s looking for a boy named Nasushi, though her few friends seem confused as to why. While doing this, she’s approached by a man (Takeshi Itô) who tells her that he’s a private investigator and that for a small fee he’ll definitely find him for her. She agrees.

What virginal Kozue doesn’t realize is that the man isn’t a private investigator at all, but actually a murderer and a photographer. We see this before she does when he kidnaps a school girl, tortures her with a large black vibrator strapped to a battery pack and then, once she’s dead, pours acid on her corpse. He takes plenty of pictures of this while he does it – in fact, it seems that he’s been doing this for a while as the freight container that he uses as his base of operations is covered in black and white photographs of his previous victims, all clearly being tortured in a similar manner.

Of course, it isn’t long before he kidnaps Kozue, using his toy on her and photographing her but not killer her. Instead, he kidnaps another one of her schoolmates – who isn’t as innocent as she looks – with her help and takes his aggressions out of her, with Kazue getting into the act as well. It gets even more bizarre from there…

Directed by Hisayasu Sato (the man behind Splatter: Naked Blood), this is sixty-three-minutes of pretty depraved stuff, relying more on sadism and degradation than on actual sex between two human beings (though there is some of that too). The photographer is a seriously twisted individual, not content just to use his strange phallic device on the girls he captures but submitting them to all manner of degradation as well. He spits on them, spray paints them, rubs shaving cream across their torsos and engages in other, equally twisted kinks as he goes about his nasty business. The whole thing is unsettling and at times makes for pretty uncomfortable viewing. It’s never erotic, but it is consistently confrontational, throwing regard for social taboos out the window and, by placing the container atop a high-rise in the middle of the society, making some pointed statements about how much attention we pay to what’s happening to those around us at any given time.

At the same time, there’s a weird artsy streak running through this. Sato almost goes for a mixed media vibe here, using black and white still photographs, eighties-era computer monitors and close ups of video screens and VHS tapes in addition to standard color film stock to make his seedy story even seedier. And while the whole thing may be an exercise in poor taste, it’s hard not to appreciate Sato’s technique here. The visuals are powerful, with the cinematography and editing using close-up shots very effectively and the dim lighting inside the container doing a solid job of making sure our eyes focus where they’re supposed to when they’re supposed to. The use of sound in the movie also adds an additional layer of weirdness to it all. Not only are we frequently subjected to the buzzing sound of the film’s titular device but there’s a strange, drone-y, almost industrial soundscape playing out behind all of this.

The performances are convincing. Takeshi Itô just oozes eerie, perverted menace. We know from the scene where he’s introduced that he’s bad news – you really shouldn’t be following school girls around taking their pictures… but regardless, his performance is nothing if not committed. Sayaka Kimura is also very solid here, surprisingly believable in all facets of her work in front of the camera.