That other (or, rather, pink) "SLIT-MOUTHED WOMAN" movie DVD review
In his "KUCHISAKE-ONNA" review James had already warned me about this being a tepid horror movie with some stellar bad acting, but he never said anything about all the people having sex!
Could this be because there are actually two recently released slit-mouthed women on the DVD-market?
Although it is also known as "The Slit-Mouthed Woman" this is not Shiraishi Koji’s recent horror/thriller “Kuchisake Onna” (released in the US as "Carved"), but rather Takuaki Hashiguchi's soft porn flick "Kannô byôtô: nureta akai kuchibiru”, which was in Japanese pink cinemas in 2005.
So will the added thrills of promised naughtiness make this movie more thrilling than its lack-luster namesake? Read on (I've tried to keep it SFW, pictures and all, honest)!
It seems an odd case of the porn version predating the REAL movie for a change, until you realise both are pre-dated by another Slit-Mouthed Woman film from 1996. And that one wasn't the first either...
Actually, all of these movies are loosely based on the often told legend of the "Slit-Mouthed Woman", which has been doing the rounds for centuries. It basically warns you for the ghost of a beautiful woman whose mouth was horribly disfigured by slitting the corners of her mouth into her cheeks. When you meet her, she asks you whether or not you think she's still beautiful, and when you answer "No" she'll kill you in rage. Answer "Yes, you're beautiful" and she'll do exactly what you asked.
Which is unfortunate, as "Yes, you're beautiful" and "Could you please eviscerate me with that rusty pair of scissors?" apparently sounds the same in Japanese.
Your only chance to survive lies therefore in answering with a "Meh..." or "Dunno really". This might confuse her so you can run off at the speed of sound.
In an abandoned hospital is a closed room where, legend has it, the ghost of the Slit-Mouthed Woman roams. This doesn't stop some thrillseekers from daring each other to go in there and have sex. The ghost attacks with deadly results and reporter Hitomi is sent by her magazine to research this strange story. When she hears about the ghost she tries to discover who it was and why it is so angry. Unfortunately a coincidence has brought the curse of the Slit-Mouthed Woman already much closer to home than Hitomi thinks...
What to make of this?
As the Belgian exploitation-cinema expert Jan Verheyen said about one of Jess Franco's less beloved experiments: "A sex movie with zombies is as unwanted as a cooking show with lepers!".
The same applies here: the combination of J-horror and softcore is as clunky and awful as it sounds. The very last thing I want to see when watching porn is a Sadako-like ghost suddenly attacking the camera!
Not that you're likely to eh... hurt yourself when startled, as the ghost looks really lame. While Sadako from "Ringu" was terrifyingly thin and white, this ghost looks plump and healthy to the point of me not recognizing her as a ghost in some of the scenes. The scary black hair is now obviously a bad wig, and the spider movements stolen from "The Grudge" look laughable and clumsy.
The slit-mouth effect is remarkably good though. This is impressive because you can still see the real mouth (painted red but clearly not slit) underneath the mask .
With the horror failing, what else is left? Being a pink erotica film it's only 63 minutes, as pinks generally have to be short because they're shown in triple-bills. Nevertheless it manages to drag whenever tension is supposed to be mounting. It doesn't help the story that most characters are horny as hell and keep screwing each other at the most inopportune moments!
Acting falls either in the "emotionless mask" or "exuberant Kabuki" category based on which actor you're talking about.
As for the sex, any exploitation movie can keep the viewers' attention if you have enough pretty girls undressing, and this movie wholeheartedly follows this route. It helps that the cutest girl has not one but two big scenes. By the way, I assume she is Minami Aoyama although I'm afraid I can't be sure, the credits being un-subtitled and searching for the names mentioned on the cover nearly gave my computer a bad infection.
This being a Japanese movie it means not too much can be shown but even given those limitations "The Slit-Mouthed Woman" is very tame. Nearly every sex scene starts with some extensive tongue-ing in close-up and ends with... the ghost arriving! Both do not really turn me on.
As for hidden content, these movies are a known proving ground for new directors and crew, and often some gemstones can be spotted. Site favorite Kiyoshi Kurosawa is known to have started out in this business (a very amusing interview with him can be found in the documentary "Pink Ribbon"), and some famously use this genre to try and tell a message.
Lo and behold: director Takuaki Hashiguchi's tries the same here.
The 1996 videofilm by Teruyoshi Ishii gave the Slit-Mouthed Woman a new origin story as a victim of bad cosmetic surgery, driven mad by pain and grief for her lost looks. This same angle is being exploited by this pink version. Some mention is made of the suffering caused by the exaggerated importance of appearance. It's all done in a very heavy-handed manner though, so don't expect to discover some hidden genius storytelling.
I'll put hypocrisy aside, be honest and confess that I occasionally can enjoy exploitation and even soft-porn. This movie however seriously tries to destroy whatever fun you can get out of such an endeavor. Sex and horror need not bite each other, but in this movie they are so clumsily mixed that they do.
On to the DVD:
"The Slit-Mouthed Woman" is being distributed by Salvation Films as a region-free PAL disc. Salvations motto is spotted on their contact page in the menu: "Destroy Constraint - Smash Censorship - Live Excess".
Lofty goals, all of them! Well, the middle one at least...
They also provide two websites, both NSFW (add "www" and "com" where you see fit): one for Salvation and one for Satanic-Sluts. Pardon??
Note: neither site mentions this title as being part of their catalogue.
There are lots of things wrong with the video-image as it's not only a standards conversion, but also overscanned. So you get black borders on all sides while the resolution is already a paltry 640 by 480!
It suffices though, watching it on the telly didn't give me much to complain about (bar the movie itself) and the colors look OK.
Audio is... well, good enough. A positive thing has to be said about the subtitles, which were excellent. A shame they didn't continue when the credits started, as I now literally have no clue who did what.
The extras contain some surprises. First you get a gallery of stills from the movie and a few short liner notes for the genre "pink cinema" as a whole, but that's where the sanity ends. Al other extras are totally unrelated to the main film.
Even though its not mentioned on the cover, you get a 13 minute short British film from 1997 called "Birds of Prey" about an old man keeping a bird and trying to develop a relationship with an old hooker, until the tale develops a nasty sting. It stars Timothy Bateson, Susanne Hitchmough and a REAL eagle, and is directed by Tim Conrad. It feels like one of Roald Dahl's stories when they were done as a television series and the end result is actually far better than the main movie!
It's the weirdest extra ever as it has no connection whatsoever with anything else on this disc.
After that comes a gallery of stills from a Salvation-published book called "Blood and Dishonour: the Dark, Bloody and Perversely Erotic Worlds of the Satanic Sluts". Ah, that explains the earlier link...
You also get a couple of trailers for other movies by Salvation: "Hurt", "Black Mass" (looks like a taped live performance by a group of Gothic strippers) and "The Witching Hour" which promises some trashy fun. No trailer for "The Slit-Mouthed Woman".
And this concludes my review of this DVD: it contains a short softcore pornmovie with a very bad idea, coupled with some bizarre extras.