Berlinale Blog 2018 #1: Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands – Forum

     |    Friday February 16th, 2018

With the Berlinale Blog 2018 Andrew Horn, film critic and filmmaker of WE ARE TWISTED FUCKING SISTER!, THE NOMI SONG, EAST SIDE STORY, DOOMED LOVE and THE BIG BLUE among others, looks at an absolutely subjective selection of films from this year’s Berlinale. INFLATABLE SEX DOLL OF THE WASTELANDS by Atsushi Yamamoto, which can be seen today in the Forum section of the festival. Good for all those who cannot be in Berlin today: Our partner RAPID EYE MOVIES will release the film afterwards – and thus it is quite possible that INFLATABLE SEX DOLL OF THE WASTELANDS will also be shown on realeyz in the near future. This is Andrew Horn’s review:

Back in the late 70s in NYC, there used to be an old movie theater called Variety Photo Plays that had over the years devolved into a grindhouse showing cheap soft core porn. I happened to go there because, somehow or other, for a brief time they started adding classic and foreign films to the programing – so you would go to see INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION and a porno. Or THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and a porno. And although this was in the days of DEEP THROAT and DEVIL IN MISS JONES, the pornos at this theater were so cheap and primative that there was hardly even nudity, never mind anything resembling actual penetration. Men and women would basically just roll around on top of each other with a lot of moaning and breast squeezing. All that with a minimal plot, bad post-dubbing and a cheap improvised jazz organ soundtrack.

On the surface, that’s what you get in the Japanese soft core, or “pink film”, INFLATABLE SEX DOLL OF THE WASTELANDS, by Atsushi Yamamoto, except that the jazz score is kind of interesting, the film is shot in super wide-screen, and there lots of plot – if only semi-comprehensible. This 1967 film is part of a 3 film mini tribute* to a prolific Japanese soft core producer Daisuke Asakura, which was the pseudonym for Keiko Sato, surprisingly enough, a woman.

It all begins with a scene in the barren wasteland of the title, where a crooked real-estate businessman named Naka meets up with Sho, a hit man he is about to hire. As a test of Sho’s ability, Naka puts a bottle in the crook of a small tree and says Sho has 3 shots to hit the bottle. Sho says he needs 13 shots. Naka looks surprised but Sho pulls out two revolvers and starts firing. He hits the bottle on the first shot, and with the next 12 literally chops down the tree. The final shot, he says, he’s saving for the hit. The fact that Sho has two six-guns and 14 bullets sets us up for the overall lack of logic in what we are about to see.

The set-up basically revolves around Naka’s girlfriend having been kidnapped by a gangster named Ko, who for reasons either unexplained, or incomprehensible, is coincidently the one who previously killed Sho’s former girlfriend. The rest of it consists of Sho punching out street punks, slapping around hookers, a few face offs and shoot-outs with Ko, a few betrayals between him, Naka and Ko (who we thought was killed but apparently not), a rescue of the wrong girl from some half naked guys in black hoods, and of course a bunch of rolling around, moaning and breast squeezing. And a little bit of spanking.

The narrative is full of flashbacks, digressions, plot holes and assorted random jumps bordering on the surreal. Now I am not someone who enjoys movies that are so bad they’re good. And anyway, I don’t think this is such a film, rather an example of entertaining – and arguably endearing – ineptitude. But done with the self assuredness of a cat skidding into a wall and walking away with an “I meant to do that” attitude.

So what about the sex dolls? Well it seems that the town where all this takes place is the hub of sex doll manufacturing and shortly before the end there is a montage of some of the various models – which true to form, ie no money, they don’t actually have any real sex dolls, just women frozen in various poses pretending to be sex dolls. And what do these sex dolls actually have to do with anything? Well, in the words of a noted authority, “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.”
Andrew Horn

*The other two films are GUSHING PRAYER, a radical student porn and ABNORMAL FMILY, a porno take on Ozu’s TOKYO STORY.