Any regular fewer of pink cinema will likely be sadly familiar with Japanese visual censorship, namely the blurs known colloquially as beaver blockers. Japan was for centuries known for its erotic art with classics such as tentacle fetish originator The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife but there came a time where it was decided it should clean up its image, some time around the turn of the 20th century or thereabouts, which led to the aforementioned beaver blockers. Its possible that these restrictions actually influenced the creative marvels behind some of the best of pink cinema, but that's another story, what's at issue here is a potentially great film screwed over by frustration. Writer/director Tatsumi Kumashiro has crafted here a delightful Sadean tale of a young innocent's corruption, of rape, bondage, death and even philosophizing, but he fists up the most significant segment in cocking a snook at the censors. Instead of discreet blurs or hiding action behind convenient furniture or drapery, Woods Are Wet uses the less intuitive tactic of putting socking great black blocks or blobs over any patch of image that might conceivably have been censored. At first the film cuts out whole portions of the screen, censoring with a certain amusing style, but when the film gets into its crucial sex and bondage session the whole screen is invaded by an array of blacks, really spoiling the scene. I get the intention, the raised middle finger at a requirement that not merely hides obscenity but violates the integrity of the image itself and so abuses cinema as a whole, but I would really have preferred something more subtle. Plus on various occasions the boxes seem to obscure that which wouldn't even have been censor worthy, just to make a point. I believe that's called cutting off your dick to spite your face, or maybe overkill. Still, if you can get over the (for me considerable) irritation this is generally a neat film. Slow burning, at first stilted but building to a considerable head of erotic menace before getting heavy, with a trio of fine performances at the middle (Hiroyoko Isayama as our unfortunate innocent, Rie Nakagawa as her sultry and duplicitous rescuer, Hatsuo Yamaya as the films twisted heart), this is solid stuff. Things are all pretty dark owing to being set in a hotel with no electricity but the gloom works well and some of the lighting is stylish, with the erotic scenes nicely done and the direction is unflashy but on the money. I can't say as I was convinced by the arguments proposed in favour of sadism but they at least ring true to the self rationalising psychology of the smartly sick so I wasn't too put off by the slightly glib statements, some may be more irked than I though. Those darn boxes are the main problem, they made me really freakin' mad and frankly if you can get over them you can probably get over anything (though I do have an extremely short fuse when I can't see sleaze properly). A possibly generous 5/10, worth a peek at least for pink enthusiasts but take my warning.
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