Shintoho's SM Film Legacy
Ages ago (back in the days of VHS) there was a company in Los Angeles called Orchid (or Orchids) International that was importing Japanese films. Among them were three or four SM pink movies from Shintoho. Each one started with the words: Violence Porno!
I have never seen these films in Japan, much to my consternation. Each one had the lovely Oka Naomi, also known as the other Naomi, and each one was crammed full of excellent shot-on-film bondage action. Tani Naomi gets all the press while Oka Naomi seems to have faded into oblivion. Every now and then I wonder where she is and what she's doing.
There was also an actor in these films whose name I did not know until just recently. He is Shimomoto Shiro (下元史朗) but is sometimes credited as Hazime (Hajime?) Shiro. He is still around. His PR company doesn't mention the long list of pink films he made, but it does look like he's staying active in both film and television.
Shintoho are an interesting case. They've been around for decades and are an off-shoot of the old Toho company, the ones who made Godzilla. They have re-invented themselves on a few occasions.
Even though I have not seen these particular films in Japan, I have come across some older Shintoho movies. The only problem is, the ones I'm showing here weren't the cream of the crop. Also, even though they are on DVD, it looks like they were transferred from the lower quality VHS rather than doing a transfer from the original negative.
But who knows? There were so many of these films made -- maybe the original prints have been lost. That would be a shame. The ones I'm showing here are relatively recent -- I'm estimating from the late 70s to the early 80s. I really wish someone would re-issue the lost classics of the late 60s and early 70s. We know there were a ton of SM films made then. Where are they?
The only thing that makes sense (other than the prints having been lost or destroyed) is that Shintoho feel there isn't a market for these films anymore. And the films that were put out by the smaller companies such as Yamabe Pro, Oni Pro, Tokyo Koei, etc., etc. -- who knows what the story is?
Nikkatsu have done a good job of maintaining and marketing a fairly beefy list of 70s SM films. Quite a few of these films have become cult classics in the West. I've read that you can get some of these old films through Netflix, for example.
And so, I guess it should come as no surprise that a company in the US called PinkEiga has put out a sub-titled version of a 1986 Shintoho film called SM Hunter, Japanese title: Roper Hell, 18 Years Old.
Much to my surprise (and delight) I discovered that Shimomoto Shiro starred in this movie along with the lovely Saotome Hiromi.
I've never seen this on DVD in Japan although a friend of mine seems to think it's out there. Nevertheless, an internet search came up with no Japanese DVD, only the export version. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places.
This is a must-see film for me since it has Ms. Saotome stark naked, bound and hanging from a crane way up high. I've written before that Ms. Saotome once hung in bondage from a bridge in Shibuya. But I don't believe I've mentioned that she was in a Shima Shikou video a long time ago wherein she dangled from a bridge high above a raging river. Amazing. Is it any wonder I love her so?
One thing that may be of interest to you is the fact that the other great SM photographer in Japan, Tanaka Kin-ichi, took the still photos for this movie. In fact, it appears that he had a regular gig working for movie studios. Check out his site. If you poke around long enough, you should come across some of his old photos of Oka Naomi and Shimomoto Shiro.
Tanaka Kin-ichi is an amazing photographer in his own right. He has had a long, illustrious career and is still going strong. He has a new book out but has also been responsible for taking some of the most famous SM photos ever to be posted to the internet by pirate scanners.
One of these days, someone needs to find as many of these old classics from the 60s, 70s and 80s as possible, encode them in high quality, and sell the downloads. Assuming some of these are still around, they aren't doing anyone any good sitting on a shelf.