Watching a film from Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno line of releases is likely to give exploitation movie fans a rush of the most disorienting variety. Under the guise of making softcore erotica, these films often delved into the deepest, darkest realms of sexual fantasies and obsessions. Usually those sorts of transgressive explorations are done in an underground, no-budget style but these Nikkatsu films had professional production values, real actors and studio-tested craftsmanship behind the camera. This witches’ brew of craft and kink gives them a highly distinctive feel.
Female Teacher: In Front Of The Students is a good example of this elegantly expressed cinematic deviance. The premise revolves around the suffering of Reiko (Rushio Santo), a prim and proper teacher whose life is thrown into turmoil when a stocking-masked aggressor attacks and rapes her in the school’s faculty shower. All her attacker leaves behind is a piece of jigsaw puzzle. Humiliated and confused, she keeps her ordeal a secret as she tries to figure out who assaulted her.
However, there will be no easy solution to her problem. Seemingly everyone around her is sexually active and harbors some sort of predatory impulse towards her. She begins to investigate one student she suspects, a popular kid that she has had a conflict with, and what happens leads her into a depraved realm much worse than her original attack. As she struggles to find the culprit, she is forced to confront her repressed desires.
As this synopsis suggests, Female Teacher: In Front Of The Students comes at the viewer with both barrels blazing. On the content side, the film is packed with nudity and sexual encounters of both the hetero and lesbian varieties. Much of the sexual activity is steeped in violence, with heavy bondage and rape themes that were common in Nikkatsu’s latter-day Roman Porno output. It goes after its highly specialized audience in a truly uncompromising fashion on this front.
However, the element of Female Teacher: In Front Of The Students that might even throw Nikkatsu fans for a loop is its odd narrative approach. The storyline goes so far past rational character behavior or plausible storytelling that it frequently shifts into pure softcore surrealism: you’ll lose count of all the characters who want to sexually assault the beleaguered heroine and some unorthodox jump-cut transitions suggest that some of the attacks in the midsection may be fantasies existing in her overheated imagination. If that wasn’t enough to blow your mind, the film closes with a “happy ending” that takes the film’s psycho-sexual ethos beyond the pale.
The final touch to top off this sinister, sexed-up cocktail is the skill with which it is made. The direction by Yasurou “Yasuaki” Uegaki has a chilly, effective sense of style that uses moody lighting to atmospheric effect. The actors play their increasingly bizarre roles in a straight-faced manner, which makes the kinky goings-on all the more disorienting. Lead actress Santo earns top honors, maintaining a sense of poise no matter how sleazy her travails become and delivering a sincere, skillful dramatic performance. As always with a Nikkatsu production, the production values give things an oddly mainstream sheen.
Simply put, Female Teacher: In Front Of The Students is a wild ride for the exploitation film fanatic on multiple levels. If you can take its confrontationally twisted style, it will give you a memorable trip through the darker side of softcore filmmaking.
DVD Notes: This film has just been released as part of Impulse Films’ Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection. As is usually the case with this series, it boasts an excellent anamorphic transfer with impressive color and detail as well as freshly translated English subtitles. The one extra on the disc is the film’s wild theatrical trailer but the insert booklet of liner notes by Japanese film expert Jasper Sharp truly ups the value. His notes not only touch on the film itself but offer a brisk, informative discussion of how Nikkatsu’s output changed in lockstep with the financial and business changes the studio experienced during the ’70s and ’80s.