| Directed by Daisuke Yamanouchi,
1999, 68 mins., starring Hiroshi Kitasenju, Shiina Nagamori, Mayumi
Ookawa and Yuuki Tsukamoto.
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Made in 1999, and thanks in part to Unearthed Films' laudable
work in bringing Daisuke Yamanouchi's movies to a wider audience,
the notorious Red Room (aka the rather less catchy Akai
misshitsu (heya): Kindan no ôsama geemu) has risen
right to the top of its field and become one of the best-known
titles in the genre. Rather than being the horrific all-out
gorefest that most people might have pegged it as being, it's
trashy, sleazy, exploitative, light-hearted blood-splattered
fun. Compared to something as hardcore as Tamakichi Anaru's
Daruma, there is no contest as to which is the more enjoyable
film to watch for the casual gore fan. However, it's not necessarily
indicative of Yamanouchi's style: his splatter/sleaze repertoire
runs a fairly wide gamut, from the seriousness of his reportage
gore fantasy Muzan E, to the utterly bonkers Kyoko
Red Room seems to fit rather neatly inbetween those two polarities:
it's mostly a fun bit of featherweight fluff.
For a long-buried gore piece, something which normally does
not ensure great quality in either visuals or sound, it's actually
pretty slick: it's remarkably well-shot given what must have
been a somewhat low budget, with interesting composition, the
occasional arty shot and a fairly atmospheric, albeit unintrusive,
soundtrack. The one thing I do have to point out is the utter
ludicrousness of the sound effects: even right from the start
they are pretty stomach-churning and (possibly intentionally)
amusing: when two of the characters are French-kissing, it sounds
rather more like a broken vacuum cleaner trying to suck up dead
fish than a couple of young ladies snogging.
The acting quality isn't bad, either: the characterisations
may be nothing more than 2D cartoony sketches, but even so, Yamanouchi
makes the players' stories interesting and frequently laugh-out-loud
funny, and the cast carry themselves well.
Most interestingly of all, though, again Yamanouchi defies popular
perception of how misogynistic adult video titles usually are.
As with Muzan E, his strongest, most determined and
most all-round ballsy character is a woman. In point of fact,
the female characters are portrayed, if not exactly as pleasant
characters, at least as gutsy survivors, whereas the main male
character is shown as a submissive, pitiful loser whose only
way of asserting himself is by sexually dominating the female
characters. That is quite some departure from conventional AV
character drawing, and one for which Yamanouchi should be roundly
"This won't be any ordinary game..."
Red Room has a very basic plot, but a clever one, at that: four
participants in a new extreme reality show, "The King Game",
are locked in a small, red-lit room lined with plastic sheeting,
and have to take turns drawing cards from a deck. Whoever draws
the king card is allowed to order two of the other participants
to get into a cage and do whatever they command. There are no
other rules, other than each player should try to make the others
give up by ordering them to commit acts which they may well refuse
to perform. If they bottle out or don't perform the "king"'s
order properly, they are disqualified from the game. The last
player standing takes home 10 million yen in prize money.
It's a pretty simple premise, but it offers a wealth of possibilities
for perversion, torture, deviance and mutilation. The players
are all driven by mostly two incentives: avarice or desperation,
and there are seemingly no depths of depravity and cruelty to
which they will not sink in their bid to win. Their personalities
are either pathetic, or plain obnoxious, drawing the viewer into
a mischievous, vicarious and slightly guilty enjoyment of watching
them kick the crap out of each other.
Initially, we are introduced to the four contestants of this
-The first player: Hiromi, a 17 year old schoolgirl
with a peculiarly jaded and unpleasant attitude, who just wants
-The second player: Togashi Isawa, a rather nervous
man in his thirties, married with children, whose business collapsed,
leaving him with a 10 million yen debt - hence his participation
in the game.
-The third player: Togashi Masako, Isawa's wife who
is being pursued to the point of suicide by debt collectors.
-The fourth player: Yoshino Kanako, 27 years old, an
office worker who is willing to suffer pretty much any degradation
to get the money.
The players are given a box full of - well, if not exactly weapons,
then props of a kind: somewhat mundane items which, given a little
imagination and creativity, could prove to be capable of inflicting
all kinds of nasty on the other players. The game starts off
fairly slowly, as you might imagine: Isawa is the first 'king'
and orders Kanako and Hiromi to suck each other's faces off,
which they do, quite easily and without much protest.
Kanako draws the second winning card, and her order is a little
less pleasant: she has Isawa tie Hiromi to an office chair and
spin her around for five minutes straight - something which would
cause even the most stable and calm of folk to lose their lunch
fairly unequivocally. And so it goes with Hiromi, who does the
most wonderful bit of projectile vomiting I've seen since Linda
Blair let rip in The Exorcist ;-)
In the meantime, the players are starting to use some major
psychological tactics against each other. Masako tries to get
Kanako to quit with emotional blackmail, threatening to kill
herself and all her children; Hiromi takes a different tack,
trying to persuade the others to give up because she thinks it's
all a con and they won't get the prize money anyway. As the game
progresses, the "tasks" that the increasingly
desperate and vicious players devise become more and more evil,
and the depths of depravity to which they sink seem to know no
limits - but who will come out on top, and what has happened
to their victims?
Make no mistake, there is absolutely nothing of any depth or
worth about Red Room, and in context, that really doesn't matter
a bit. Simply put, it's an eye-watering, nasty, entertaining,
thoroughly dumb bit of gross-out fun, something to whack on
the DVD player with your mates when you've had a few too many,
there's no porn on telly and you're too twatted to watch anything
that requires mental effort. The story is 100% lightweight
and the characters are so horrid and awful you'll be mostly
laughing and cringing at what Yamanouchi dishes out to them.
The whole piece clocks in at just over an hour long; it never
outstays its welcome, and it never drags.
That's not to say, however, that there aren't any unpleasant
or difficult to watch moments in the entire movie. Yamanouchi
is clearly very deft at handling plot dynamics: like Takashi
Miike, he can switch between Tom and Jerry-style cartoon violence
and unnervingly realistic brutality without missing a beat, which
gives Red Room the occasional genuinely chilling moment.
Interestingly also, the movie features a great deal less gore
than you might imagine, in much the same way that Yamanouchi
relied on very small amounts of the red stuff in Muzan E and
got the very most mileage out of the limited gore he used by
featuring it in the most unpleasant ways possible. Here, again
there is precious little in the way of rivers of gore and guts:
instead, Yamanouchi creates incredibly clever, sharp and genuinely
repulsive scenarios without having to resort to the cheap splatter
techniques of lesser AV-horror directors. Thanks to this, some
very inventive scenes and some truly hilarious moments (including
one particularly astonishing character revelation that had me
in stitches), Red
a real scream, a pop-culture gem and an essential addition to
any gore fan's collection.
Snowblood Apple Rating for this
Entertainment value: 8/10
Sex: 10/10, for quantity rather than quality
Plastic Sheeting: never, ever, ever, ever a good sign
in an AV-horror film ;-)
Litres of tomato ketchup: Surprisingly less than you might imagine,
though one character gets a faceful of Cream of Tomato Soup near
the end ;-)
Films in a similar style: Stacy,
He Never Dies, Ichi
the Killer, Visitor Q
*** Recommended for those of an unsqueamish nature ***
Red Room Wallpaper
please note: the actual paper does not have the Snowblood
Apple logo on it.
You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600] [1024x768]
Wallpaper credit: Alex Apple, 2007
Snowblood Apple Filmographies
http://www.unearthedfilms.com/ - The
movie's been officially released by Unearthed Films, who
have done a brilliant job bringing obscure gems like this
to a wider audience. Good on you, Unearthed!
http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/008634.html - extra info
and a trailer from Twitch
http://www.variedcelluloid.com/reviews/redroom/review.shtml - Varied Celluloid give it a neutral review
http://www.asianfeast.org/recensioni/redroom.htm - review
in Italian, with screenshots