Zoom In: Sex Apartments (1980) – By Duane L. Martin

Ever watch a movie, and then when it’s over, you find yourself sitting there thinking, "Dafuq did I just see?". Well that was the reaction I had after seeing Zoom In: Sex Apartments.

This film as well as others from the Nikkatsu film collection that I’ve been reviewing from Synapse’s Impulse label, have taught me a few things about Japan. First, Japanese people all apparently have sex like agitated twelve year olds who don’t really know what they’re doing. Second, Japanese women, despite their protestations, don’t apparently care too much about being raped, and typically won’t tell anyone about it when they are. They may hunt you down for revenge after if you happen to rape one of the rare ones that will actually be that upset about getting raped, but that’s pretty rare. Third, and I learned this from this film, sometimes when Japanese women masturbate, fire comes out of their crotch, and if you run into a fire crotch Japanese chick, it’s probably better to not burst into flames next to her, because she just won’t care…even if you’re pregnant.

By now you’re probably thinking, "Dafuq did I just read???". I mean really, who can blame you. I saw the film, and I’m still trying to figure it out. Basically the film is about a bored housewife named Saeko who’s having an affair with a piano tuner who uses his hammer felt pick to threaten women into submission as he rapes them, and then when he’s done, he pours flammable liquid in their crotch and sets them on fire. She’s raped by him as well, but doesn’t figure out he’s the rapist, and he doesn’t set her on fire. Then again, maybe it’s not him. There might just be other guys running around in the same black outfit with the same hammer felt pick raping women and setting them on fire. In any case, she keeps flip flopping back and forth between being horrified by it and totally turned on by it. The story in the film is confusing at best, and the ending will have you making this face. o_O

I mean hell, I even made that face in my notes after I saw the ending.

These Nikkatsu films so far have ranged from quite good to downright confusing in the quality of their stories, and the sex is never really all that erotic, though it is quite often rather kinky, and sometimes even messed up. Because of that, the quality of these films really has to come down to the story in each one. The best one so far, in my opinion, has been True Story of a Woman in Prison: Sex Hell. That one had a good story that was coherent and some decent sexual situations. This one, while I did understand the story to a point, was just a confusing mess at times, especially regarding the main character Saeko. Part of the film had her seeming fairly sane, while in other parts she came off as a nutty slut.

While this film does contain a few interesting sexual situations, the lack of coherence in the story and in the main character really hurts it. A film needs more than just shock value to be successful, and while this film is a bit more than that, the strangeness and lack of coherence in the story never really allows it to rise up to its potential.

I typically get bored with these types of films, because the sex is rarely good and they blur out the naughty bits due to Japanese censorship laws, but I will say I have been generally enjoying these Nikkatsu films. This particular one however, and number six in the series as well, also reviewed in this issue, both left me rather cold. This one felt like it was trying too hard to be bizarre, and The Story of a Woman in Jail: Continues, a sequel to The Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell, just rehashed a lot of the same situations from the original film and left me rather bored. Again, you’ll find the review for that one, also in this issue.

This is the fifth release in the Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection from Impulse, and while the completists will want to add it to their collection, I can’t really say how someone viewing it casually would react to it, or how eager anyone would be to see it more than once. If you’re a fan of these types of films, then you’ll likely find it interesting the first time, and may even want to see it again at some point. For the casual viewer though, I’m thinking once will probably be enough.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Synapse Films website here, and if you’d like to grab a copy for yourself, you can pick up the DVD from Amazon here.