aka 女真珠王の復讐 aka Onna Shinju-o no Fukushu 1956 Screenplay by Isao Matsumoto and Jun Sagara
Story by Yoshihisa Shimizu
Directed by Toshio Shimura Revenge of the Pearl Queen is one of the first of the Japanese Topless Pearl Diver films – called ama (woman diver) films by those in the know. These films caused a sensation upon release due to the fact the starlets would whip off their clothes, giving audiences brief glimpses of nudity that was almost impossible to casually come across in 1956. The ama films became the equivalent of the US’s nudie cutie flicks that were filmed on nudist colonies. The ama films tried to compensate for their lack of plot possibilities by combining with other film genres, thus there were pearl diving dramas, action films, and even horror flicks! The ama films began to get phased out when it became more acceptable to have more sexual films in general, and are now just quaint historical artifacts (aside from some throwback films over the years that used the ama theme!)
Revenge of the Pearl Queen stars Michiko Maeda, who is often wearing clothes that get ripped off by the weather or by random jerks. Part of the suspense scenes are the wondering if she will fall out of her low-slung clothing, which she does just enough to keep audiences paying attention and paying to come back to the next several show times.
The island segments are loosely based on the true story of 19 Japanese men on the island of Anatahan after World War II, who did not believe the war was over. There was one woman on the island, and over time several of the men mysteriously disappeared or were found violently murdered as the woman switched her affections around. She escaped on an American ship in 1950, and finally the men left the island in 1951 after being sent a message from the Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture. More information is available here.
Screening as part of a double feature (with Yellow Line) at the Shintoho retrospective, I saw Revenge of the Pearl Queen at the YBCA with duriandave from SoftFilm, as Todd from FourDK had to take off. And that was the best decision Todd made in years! Let’s just say the Pearl Queen’s greatest revenge was how sleepy she made us! Continue reading →
1970 Directed by Kenneth G. Crane
Written by Edward D. Wood Jr.
Ed Wood Jr. strikes again! One of his most creative scripts, due to the uniqueness of the monster, not the plot, which is just a Frankenstein rehash sans the hash. At this time Ed Wood was writing for films both insane and perverse (see the review of One Million AC/DC for more of his nutty writing) as he was unable to direct anymore films. Ed Wood loved filmmaking, even though he was terrible at it. That alone makes him stand out above the rest of the current crop of dime store directors, many lack the passion Ed Wood put into each and every movie he made. Even films involving a Venus Flytrap Man still had the traditional Ed Wood dialogue and wonky spirit that made his films cult classics decades later. Yes, a Venus Flytrap Man is created in this film, who predictably runs amok and eats people until destroyed. It is a take on the old Frankenstein story, except with plants and made in Japan. Produced with Toei, the film company probably best known here for the Gamera films and the Super Sentai series (the shows Power Rangers are based on.) The original opening credits have been lost on the public domain releases, mistakenly replaced with a revamped title sequence for The Mad Doctor of Blood Island. Thus we don’t even know any of the actors’ names! Luckily, James Craig is pretty well known, and people have figured out another actor and the director and writer. However, some of the other cast is totally left out in the dark. Part of the problem is they are most likely Japanese actors, and as I am not too familiar with Toei’s film library, I wouldn’t even know where to begin trying to track them down. We are going through Ultra Q and may hit another Japanese series soon in addition to movies, so maybe she’ll show up. Until then, I guess Noriko will have to remain anonymous for now.
The script for this film was originally written in the 1950’s, but dusted off and revamped to be sold during the period when Ed Wood was putting out pulp novels filled with sex and sleaze to make ends meet. Director Kenneth G. Crane had helmed a few prior B movies, including the US portions of Abominable Snowman as well as The Manster and Monster from Green Hell. He never directed again after this film. Lots of padding to fill up the film is Crane’s trademark. As for the cast, ROLL CALL!!!