Okasareta hakui

(Violated Angels, Japan - 1967)

by Mike Lorefice

Cast: Juro Kara, Keiko Koyanagi, Miki Hayashi, Shoko Kido
Genre: Drama/Pinku
Director: Koji Wakamatsu
Screenplay: Masao Adachi, Juro Kara, Koji Wakamatsu, Haruno Yamashita
Cinematography: Koji Takamura
Composer: Hideo Ito

A melancholic montage of stills reveals a young man’s (Juro Kara) apathy toward images of naked women, and he remains as unmoved amidst the peaceful shores he brings turmoil to by dispassionately firing his gun. A tracking shot of a night at the White Lily Nurse Dormitory begins typically enough with the angelic students reading in bed or sleeping, but quickly reveals the seedy underbelly as two lesbians are going at it and a nurse looking forward to this possibility alerts all her friends to join in gawking at the scandalous spectacle through a peep hole. A nurse who didn’t jump out of bed to gape notices the detached loner of the previous scenes wandering the premises and invites him to the spectacle, we guess as some sort of twisted remedy for a deviation thought to be brought on through isolation from the opposite sex, but the film is based upon Richard Speck’s murder of eight nursing students, so the frustrated delusional man who envisions images of women’s cruel taunts instead begins his spree of rapes and murders.

These initial scenes set the tone with man greeting sex and violence with seeming indifference while women are at best helpless submissive bystanders unable to pull themselves away and at worst aggressive enablers who cooperate to the point of throwing themselves at him. Koji Wakamatsu drives at something beyond the sexism inherent to the pinku, the whimsically inexplicable nature of violence as well as love. But perhaps it’s a bit more obvious than we realize, as when violence is a biproduct of a goal, however ridiculous it may be, for instance killing to unearth who is worth saving, we can force ourselves to shut off all the aspects that might summon our humanity by concealing our goal from the world and distancing ourselves from the pleasure or horror of any aspect of life.

Wakamatsu’s symbolism and metaphors that point to capitalism as the root of evil often misfire, but his somber doom laden film is startling and disturbing for many reasons. The women don’t fight back and generally make little effort to save themselves, instead watching intently with an utter stillness that’s unbearable for the viewer, which is increasingly interrupted by weeps and groans of terror that, as seen through the eyes of the killer, come off as pathetic. And these are nurses, women who represent the best and most devoted humans. While we can see them as selfless to the point of being willing to die for the slight hope someone else will be spared, I think the point lies with man’s ability to undetectably alternate between being an innocent among them and a cold force of destruction. Though the man is known only as Boy, a sure sign of his stunted mental growth and immaturity, when the women identify his deadly intentions they can only cluelessly project every reason and meaning that could possibly be half “logical” onto his heartless actions. Unable to dissuade him, for lack of a better reason they are killed for their failure to understanding him.

Cinematographer Hideo Ito, best known for lensing the Wakamatsu produced Nagisha Oshima classic In the Realm of the Senses, utilizes murky black and white to highlight the nurses confusion and seeming inclarity of the murderers actions punctuated by still very posed color shots that seem meant to evoke paintings. Sex scenes were normally interspersed in color in the Japanese exploitations of the time period so they’d be more aesthetically pleasing, but Wakamatsu uses Eastmancolor to highlight the disturbing nihilism, despite actually shooting what little violence is depicted at all from a distance. Violated Angels isn’t particularly sleazy considering, as Wakamatsu was one of the many Japanese directors who used genre to smuggle art. That doesn’t mean it isn’t off-putting, but when your take on human nature is as dark as Wakamatsu’s is here, that’s at least partially by design.


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