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86 min. Japanese.

Meeting in a blasted, barren wilderness, the hitman Sho is hired by wealthy real estate agent Naka to track down his kidnapped lover, Sae. Naka shows him a poor quality film of the girl being attacked by a gang of four yakuza, which sends Sho on a journey that brings him back into contact with the gang leader, Ko, who was responsible for the murder of his own girlfriend five years before. As he embarks on his quest through the dreamlike cityscapes of the late-60s Tokyo underworld for a fateful 3pm barroom rendezvous with his nemesis, Sho becomes increasingly unsure as to whether the girl really existed in the first place.
Yamatoya wrote Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands concurrently with his anonymous contribution to the script for Seijun Suzuki’s legendary Branded to Kill, which was released four months earlier. Similarly shot in stunning monochrome scope, it is as hallucinatory, fragmentary and surreal as its companion piece, and stands as a testament to just how flexible the pink film formula could be in its first decade.

Atsushi Yamatoya was born in 1937. He joined the Nikkatsu studio in 1962 as an assistant director before leaving in 1966 to work with the ‘pink film’ company founded by producer-director Koji Wakamatsu. He made his debut in 1966 with Uragiri no kisetsu (Season of Betrayal) and scripted a number of films for Wakamatsu Productions, including Joyoku no kurozuisen (Black Narcissus of Lust, 1967) and Kin pei bai (The Notorious Concubines, 1968). In two of the four features he directed – Koya no datchi waifu (Inflatable Sex Dolls of the Wastelands, 1967) and Aiyoku no wana (Trapped in Lust, 1973) – he used elements from Koroshi no rakuin (Branded to Kill, 1967), a thriller he co-wrote with its director, Seijun Suzuki. In the following years, Yamatoya largely worked as writer and co-writer for Nikkatsu, on films such as Hachigatsu no nureta suna (Wet Sand of August, 1971) and Hachigatsu wa erosu no nioi (August is the Smell of Eros, 1972). He later wrote screenplays for a number of Suzuki’s films, including Kapone oi ni naku (Capone Cries a Lot, 1985). Atsushi Yamatoya died in 1993.

Production Daisuke Asakura, Kazuto Morita. Production companies Kokuei (Tokyo, Japan), Interfilm (Tokyo, Japan). Written and directed by Atsushi Yamatoya. Director of photography Hajime Kai. Editing Shogo Sakurai. Music Yosuke Yamashita. Production design Toshihiro Asakura. With Noriko Tatsumi (Sae), Yuichi Minato (Jo), Miki Watari (Mina), Shohei Yamamoto (Ko), Seigi (Masayoshi) Nogami (Naka), Hatsuo Yamaya (Doctor), Mari Nagisa (Rie).

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1966: Uragiri no kisetsu / Season of Betrayal. 1967: Koya no datchi waifu / Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands. 1968: Mo no haeta kenjû. 1973: Aiyoku no wana / Trapped in Lust.

Photo: © 2018 Kokuei / Rapid Eye Movies

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