I LOVE IT FROM BEHIND: When Sexploitation Turns Satirical

The sex comedy is the one of the great minefields of cinema.  Making a film that is both sexy and funny is extremely challenging and when the formula goes awry, the results can be painful to watch.  However, when the comedy and the sex are both inspired and carefully balanced, the results can be entertaining.  The salaciously title I Love It From Behind is a particularly interesting example of a sex comedy that works.  It delivers bawdy laughs and bare flesh a-plenty but it also manages to satirize both sexploitation filmmaking and Japanese social mores at the same time.

The premise of I Love It From Behind is pure sexploitation fantasy material: bride-to-be Mimei (Junko Asahina) comes to Tokyo with a carnal mission on her mind.  You see, she has a collection of “penis prints” that she has taken from all her pre-marital partners and wants to bring her tally up to 100 before the wedding bells ring.  She’s got 30 slots left to fill so she enlists the help of old friend Rei (Yumi Hayakawa), who lives with a loving lesbian roommate named Masumi (Mari Kishida).

However, the rest of the story isn’t purely consumed with Mimei’s quest.  In fact, it becomes an afterthought as the film delves into subplots for each woman.  Mimei is gathering prints when she comes across a candidate who is the super-stud of all studs.  Surprsingly,  he plays hard to get – and he’ll make her jump through many hoops to get his print.  Rei is coping with an anti-male bias that she picked up after being taken advantage of by a secretly kinky co-worker.  Mimei helps her get revenge on that man but inspires a new kink in Rei as a result.  Meanwhile, the neglected Masumi, who has also never had a man, becomes addicted to, uh, any phallic substitute she can get her hands on.

As the above synopsis should indicate, I Love It From Behind is one randy, twisted rollercoaster of a sex comedy.  It is steeped in politically incorrect humor: for example, Mimei claims women only become lesbians because they’re scared of men and one plot thread involves a secretly hetero bar owner who pretends to be flamboyantly gay to attract business to his bar.  Other bizarre flights of fancy include Rei’s newly found kink of subjecting men to forced rectal probing  and a copulation contest finale that goes on for a few dozen hours(!).

There is also the occasional one-off gag, the funniest being Masumi trying to make Rei jealous by surrendering her virginity to a random man, only to discover said man is a porn addict who is just interested in masturbating while looking at her.  On a deeper level, Kazuhiko Ban’s script isn’t afraid to throw a few satirical barbs at Japanese society:  one funny moment involves Mimei seducing a man whose first instinct is to think she is a housewife looking for an “afternoon affair.”  The subplots take similar satircal aim at the conventions of the Roman Porno, whether it is Rei’s secret trauma or staging the final sex setpiece as a duel between rivals, as if it were a samurai film.

The film’s breathless cavalcade of kink works because the actresses are up for the task and dive head-first into the film’s excesses.  Better yet, the film boasts an enthusiastic director in Koyu Ohara, a journeyman in the Roman Porno world who did everything from women-in-prison flicks to naughty nun movies.  He seems to be having a blast behind the camera here, particularly when he gets to Mimei’s showdown with her lothario final target.  The beginning of their battle is staged like a spaghetti western standoff and their devotion to around-the-clock coitus is so intense that they even have a room service meal while doing the deed.  He also dives in head-first with the story’s barrage of fetishes, including an oddly steamy scene in which Mimei allows the swishy-but-secretly-macho bar owner to seduce her while still in his feminine makeup.

In short, I Love It From Behind succeeds in the sex comedy sweepstakes because it’s fast, fearless and gleeful in its pursuit of laughs and lust.  If you want to see the more colorful and purely fun side of Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno output, this is a good stop to have on that journey.

DVD Notes: Another fine transfer from Impulse with this title, part of their ongoing Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection.  The anamorphic transfer preserves the scope-format framing in style, with strong detail and vivid colors.  The (delirious) theatrical trailer is included.  Better yet, there is a typically insightful booklet of liner notes from Japanese film scholar Jasper Sharp that offer some worthwhile info about director Ohara’s career and the studio’s Roman Porno history.

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