As Jasper Sharp writes in his informative liner notes, Nikkatsu’s Female Teacher series eventually moved from the silly in-class antics of bawdy behaviour to increasingly darker material, with rape becoming the star attraction for connoisseurs wanting more than students lusting for morally tight-laced teachers.
Perhaps the diversion that signaled the shift into Wrong terrain could be seen in 1977’s Eros School: Feels So Good [M] (1977), a raucous rape comedy where a new transfer student announces to the school he’s out to get the institution’s most chaste women. Here rape was treated as an ‘amusingly’ aberrant indulgence among school teens, whereas in Female Teacher: Dirty Afternoon [M] (1981) a teacher’s past sexual assault stirs up improper emotions; a quest to find her attacker; and a highly ridiculous finale where victim and rapist reach a kind of closure.
Female Teacher: In Front of the Students (1982) offers up a dramatic premise – a conservative teacher attempts to seek out her rapist on her own terms after shower stall assault – but what begins as a drama suddenly shifts into the kind of absurdity inherent to standard porn. Dirty Afternoon has the underpinnings of a drama – there’s enough of a character arc to offset the preposterous finale – but Students strings together ludicrous encounters to humiliate Reiko (Rushia Santo) because she’s a) a sexually responsible adult; b) an authority figure; and c) an object of mature beauty in need of being torn to shreds.
While there’s nothing amusing in the lengthy shower assault - the sequence is elaborately filmed like a traumatic docu-drama sequence with an aftermath that evokes Psycho had Marian Crane survived Mother’s shower attack – some scenes do contain a palpable ‘Oh my!’ sense of humour.
For example, in an otherwise banal scene, Reiko has lunch with colleague & friend Akiyama (Kyoko Sagami), who tries to coax the right & proper Reiko into catching a new film that’s supposed to have a ‘great’ rape scene. According to Syoko, ‘it’s what all women really want,’ but Reiko still maintains her resilience, even when, quite unexpectedly, she’s teased in the teacher’s shower by a student professing (rather spastically) her intense love.
She then lures Reiko to her boyfriend’s home during a kind of reading week where parents apparently abandon their teens and leave them home alone where they can either study or kidnap teachers in peace. Shackled over the week, Reiko is assaulted by both teens in multiple rooms as revenge for a public scolding and kicking the boyfriend off the tennis team.
Reiko eventually recognizes her friend Akiyama was right all along, and the once prissy teacher quickly comes to terms her traumatic experiences as part of some personal growth journey. The results: the teen’s reinstated as leader of the tennis team; and being more perceptive of her students’ wily ways, Reiko walks with extra confidence when she’s back in class teaching English to the same students who assaulted her.
Masayasu Daikuhara’s script and Yasuaki Uegaki’s direction use a serious premise to launch their own satire of the Female Teacher franchise by combining excess and absurdity, and it almost works because Reiko’s ‘misadventures’ stem not from seeking police aide (the rational choice) or school aide (the other rational choice) but by remaining silent and managing her own private investigation using the one clue her assailant left behind: a piece from a jigsaw puzzle!
As she repeatedly re-examines the little cardboard clue, it seems to beckon the outrageous – a call from the rapist himself; a colleague’s husband getting drunk and attacking her with impunity; being abducted by sex-starved students until she cries uncle; and reaching closure when she voluntarily copulates with her rapist – and once the piece has been returned to its owner, Reiko has learned Syoko was spot-on about rape being, well, kind of therapeutic.
The film’s abrupt finale makes sense for a porn drama that can’t congeal into anything logical, pointed, or meaningful; it’s also consistent for a film made for a studio whose mandate is to out-shock the competition and its own audiences who may have become inured by less violate tales of prim pedagogues who experience violent masochistic assaults.
Impulse’s DVD features a clean transfer, plus a trailer and Jasper Sharp’s liner notes. Running 70 mins., this is a slightly longer franchise entry, and although the cinematography doesn’t transcend the material, the expansive school used by the production is strangely (and appropriately) seedy: whether or not the complex was slated for demolition, the grungy & decrepit rooms, brown sports field, and grim basement hallways evoke a cancerous decay that’s slowly infecting the characters.
© 2013 Mark R. Hasan