Archive for May 18th, 2012

The Youth Killer (1976)

Jun is a young man in his early 20’s who works in a small bar given to him by his father to run close to Narita Airport. He manages the place with his young, playful and free-spirited girlfriend Keiko who is deaf in one ear. Jun’s parents are not happy that he’s gotten involved with her as they believe she’s seduced him. When he visits his parents who run a tire shop in the town of Narita itself, he is given another earful from them about Keiko. His father is adamant that she’s a liar and bad for him as he’s hired a private detective to look into her past and found out that she seduced her mother’s lover. She’s nothing more than a temptress. He urges Jun to dump her. He’s not happy at all with his parents interfering with his love life. When his mother goes outside to the tire shop yard and his father still going on about Keiko, Jun’s anger soon comes to the boil and he stabs his father to death. His mother comes in and finds his bloodied corpse on the floor. As Jun insists of turning himself in to the police, his mother opens up that she has been harbouring feelings of murdering him as well. She tries to persuade Jun that they can run away and go somewhere else as long as he finishes with Keiko. When he doesn’t say anything, his mother goes nuts and tries to kill Jun with the same kitchen knife that he killed his father. Jun overpowers his mother and she urges him to kill her swiftly which he does. He dumps the bodies into the bath tub and decides that the following day he’ll get rid of the bodies by dumping them into the sea . He goes back to the bar to see his girlfriend with the intention of firing her from her job so that she’ll go away but she cannot as she has nowhere else to go. As Jun’s behaviour becomes more erratic due to what he’s done, it seems he’s set on a path to self-destruction.

You might think that by reading the plot that this movie might go on to be like the Japanese version of Badlands (also made in the 70’s) with a young couple on the run from some cops but this movie doesn’t follow the same path. This rebellious youth movie apparently based on a real-life incident was directed by Kazuhiko Hasegawa who made the surreal but brilliant black comedy The Man Who Stole The Sun so I was expecting this to be a cracking movie but alas it turned out to be a bit lacklustre. It started out well enough but after the murders, the plot doesn’t really go anywhere. The couple go to the beach where they have some fantasy induced reconstruction of their past played out, there’s plenty of angst from Jun before a fiery finale where he tries to torch the bar he runs with himself still inside. The director takes the familiar problems of youth apathy, generation conflict, and domestic violence to a shocking new level and he doesn’t flinch with the realistic, emotionally brutal scenes of murder in all their bloody glory.

I did like Yutaka Mizutani’s portryal of Jun – a young man slowly losing his grip on reality who turns suicidal but there’s only so much you can see of a person trying to kill himself until it starts to get tiresome. You understand why he wants to commit suicide when he realises that what his father had told him about Keiko was true so he feels guilty. Nothing seems to have resolved itself for him by the time the end credits comes round – he hasn’t managed to kill himself, the cops won’t listen to him when he confesses to the murder of his parents (they think he’s crazy) so he runs away on his own in the back of a truck to an uncertain future. There seems to be no salvation in sight for him. Mieko Harada gives a competent performance as the teenage temptress Keiko though I would say that some viewers will find her character rather annoying.

Overall, this movie wasn’t particularly special and although it’s a bit of a favourite with Japanese audiences it didn’t do anything for me.

There seems to be some scenes in the trailer that I don’t remember seeing in the actual movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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