A Wife to Be Sacrificed | Chicago Reader

A Wife to Be Sacrificed

This 1974 feature from Japan's Nikkatsu studios represents a delirious high in its S and M films (aka “Roman porn”), which were a sort of indigenous last stand against the invasion of Hollywood. Much of the action takes place in an abandoned house high in the mountains, where a man subjects his kidnapped ex-wife (Naomi Tani) to a series of physical and mental tortures, each more depraved than the last. Director Masaru Onuma trots out the requisite paraphernalia of bondage, but he also tries to make some sense of the nexus of pain and pleasure, of domination and subjugation, through a fairly ingenious and claustrophobic mise-en-scene. The hackneyed script doesn't give the characters any psychological footing, though it does acknowledge that the man is a psychopath—it's a fulfillment of the male fantasy of debasing women who refuse to play along. Tani, who became a Nikkatsu star known as the bondage queen, suffers exquisitely and nobly in various stages of undress. Part of the fun—if one can call it that—is in anticipating how the filmmakers will satisfy the censors by covering genitalia in the explicitly erotic scenes.

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