Call me a nerd, but statistics fascinate me. When I became a moderator-slash-contributor for ScreenAnarchy, like "Big Brother" I could see stats on the visitors of this site. Stuff like: how did they get here? What search engine did they use? What keyword brought them to ScreenAnarchy of all places?
And that last question is often answered with: Sora Aoi.
Yes, believe it or not, every hour some of the people who are looking for clips and pics of Japanese porn star Sora Aoi arrive on this site. All because years ago Gom posted news about some movies she starr... eh... with her in them.
Most of these hopeful fans were sent to Gom's announcement for the movie "Erotic Ghost: Siren"
Well, such a steady trickle of visitors demands a reward of sorts. So here is, finally, a full review of the Hong-Kong R3 DVD.
Truth is, most people won't be seeing this film for the story about a gang of bank robbers who are one-by-one picked of by a possibly supernatural creature. Rather, they'll be hoping to see much of the titular Siren as played by...
Well, guess who.
More of Sora Aoi will be revealed after the break, including that one shot with the ScreenAnarchy logo (only now without the logo...).
Yaguchi (Junichi Kawamoto) and his gang successfully rob a bank and escape with a van full of money to an abandoned goldmine in the middle of nowhere. There they'll have to lay low for a few days until they get contacted by friends who can smuggle them to safety.
But when they first pick up some food a girl (Sora Aoi) accidentally sees the contents of the van, upon which the gang decides to abduct and kill her.
Not immediately of course: she's a cutie and it's going to be a long wait, so the gangsters want to have some fun with their unusually calm prisoner. Starting with a poker game to decide who gets to rape her first.
Little do they know that she may be a mythical she-ogre attracted by greed, and when the first dead victim is found the distrustful gangsters turn on each other rather than suspect their sultry catch...
"Erotic Ghost: Siren"
starts with a naked Sora Aoi slowly rising out of the sea. Bam! Ten seconds into the film, and you already got what you paid for. That was quick! Question is, what to do with the other 75 minutes?
This is not the first pink I've reviewed here for ScreenAnarchy, but as always I'm baffled. The cast and crew seem hell-bent on showing that they're able to create a piece of art, a real horror thriller and an edgy action flick. It's like they thought they would only get a camera in their hands once in their lives, and want to prove to the rest of the world that they can do this.
But this is a softporn flick, oops, "erotic thriller", and once again the desire to make a supernatural horror hurts the eroticism, while the silly gropings and fumblings completely destroy what might have been a nice little gangster drama.
Director Satoshi Torao especially seems to hope this will reveal him to be the next Quentin Tarantino, borrowing copiously from "Reservoir Dogs" and making the gangster interactions the focus of the film. At times he gets close enough to wonder what would have happened if this had been a straight, normal, thriller. Using color filters, crazy camera angles and plenty of movie references, all tricks are used to keep the attention of the audience. The film even gets pretentious, with the gangsters openly discussing "Un Chien Andalou" (always dangerous, openly referring to movies that are better...). Unfortunately the end result is just not entertaining enough, which is a deadly failing in an exploitation flick.
A shame, because there are some glimpses of real competence to be seen. The hostage situation starts of as thrilling because you're wondering if all gangsters will agree to the planned rape-and-kill. A fight between two survivors later in the movie is surprisingly well staged, with good action, good camerawork, some nice twists and a suitably gruesome end. There is a valuable lesson on display about what NOT to do with a gun. And Junichi Kawamoto shows that he can carry a scene, provided he is not misused. After "Erotic Ghost: Siren" he secured himself some bit parts in better productions like Mamoru Oshii's "The Women of Fast Food", so he didn't kill his career with this film.
But these are only a few moments in a movie which fails to impress on all other fronts. Sure, Sora Aoi is in it and she's undeniably cute, but here she's given virtually nothing to do but stand in the corner and smile. And while she's playing a fearsome ogre she is just about the least menacing presence in the world. Seeing her reveal her famed assets and then having them groped on camera a few times is certainly entertaining in itself, but there is an awful lot of badly paced thriller surrounding it.
As a horror movie it's laughably without any scares, as a "naughty" flick there is too little T&A on display (only one girl in the whole movie can be considered somewhat conservative in this genre), and as a gangster thriller it is below mediocre, although some moments are surprisingly good. Sorry, but only recommended if you're a hardcore fan of Sora Aoi.
Which, by the way, should not be confused with "a fan of hardcore Sora Aoi", as this isn't one of THOSE movies.
On to the DVD:
"Erotic Ghost: Siren"
has been released as an English-friendly Hong Kong region 3 NTSC disc. The video is heavily interlaced and tends to look somewhat murky, although the latter might be on purpose with all those green and blue filters being used. The original Japanese stereo track is the only one on the disc, and optional Chinese or English subtitles are included. These subs contain a fair number of errors, but nothing too serious (nothing near as bad as the back cover of the Amaray, which had me in stitches). All in all it won't win prices, but for this film it suffices I guess.
But lo-and-behold, there are some extras!
First there is a "making of", which lasts all of 5 minutes. While short it actually manages to show behind-the-scene footage of all of Sora Aoi's nude scenes, which is interesting because this time there are no color filters in the way. Not only does that seem to make her more nude than in the actual film, but it shows how day-for-night shooting works, how fake rain can look fake if seen in full daylight, and how cold the water was in that opening shot. Seriously, you'll feel for poor Sora, when she leaves the water she is shaking so hard that she's unable to even hold a cup of tea!
Second there is not one, but (gasp) TWO trailers for "Erotic Ghost: Siren"
, each of which gives away most of the movie for free.
Trailers for "Love, Kill Kill" and "Tokyo Desire" are also included, the last trailer being so sharp that you realize how soft the image on the main feature was.
And that concludes this review. Back to my statistics, to see how many of you will visit this review.