Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 23rd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, May 23rd, 1967
Director: Seiichi Fukuda
Writer: Tomomi Tsukasa
Cast: Michiko Sakyô, Yuichi Minato, Akihiko Kanbara, Naomi Tani, Michiko Aoyama
Approximate running time: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Saeko was raped by three boys when she was sixteen. In the aftermath of the assault she discovers that she is pregnant and has contracted syphilis. Years later Saeko has become one of the most prominent doctors in her field. Business is so brisk that she brings in a second doctor named Teakow to help her out with the influx of clients. Saeko has developed an insatiable sexual appetite because of the violation she suffered when she was sixteen. After hours she walks the streets at night looking for men to satisfy her sex drive and in return she infects them with her syphilis. Circumstance forces Seiko to trust Teakow whom she falls in love with. Just when things are going smoothly a man from Saeko’s past who she infected blackmails her. Will the blackmailer take his money and go away quietly or will Saeko have to silence him forever?
Is Madame O a revenge film, a sex film or a murder mystery? It is all of the above and so much more. Most viewers will be drawn to Madame O because of its ties to Pink cinema and while it does feature one of Pink cinema’s most prominent stars Naomi Tani (in one of her first roles) the overall bulk of the film is not centered around the sex scenes. In fact all the sex scenes are with actress Michiko Sakyô except one scene late in the film involving Naomi Tani. The story for Madame O is as strong as any that I have across in any Pink film.
The film revolves around a character named Saeko whose rape at the age of sixteen ignites her hatred of all men. The rape also provides her with a way to get back at as many men as she can lure into her sexual den of desire and poison with syphilis. The film also has two main subplots one involving a man who Saeko infected who tries to blackmail her and a doctor named Teakow who she conveniently falls in love with. Teakow like all the males characters in the film have ulterior motives that eventually reveal themselves.
Visually director Seiichi Fukuda mixing of color and black & white is quite striking. Fukuda perfectly frames each composition like a painter composing there latest painting. One minor complaint about Madame O is its pacing. Even though the film is only a mere eighty-one minutes some scenes feel overlong. In the liner notes Jasper Sharp mentions how Madame O was original release in Japan under the title “Continuation: Vice Doctor – Female vice Edition” and it is the sequel to the 1966 Seiichi Fukuda film “Vice Doctor – Maternity and Gynecology Department Dairy”.
The acting for Madame O is very strong all around with the most memorable role being that of the film’s star Michiko Sakyô who gives a truly demented performance as Saeko. Naomi Tani is unrecognizable in a secondary as Saeko’s nurse. The two male leads are both very convincing especially the actor who plays the sleazy blackmailer. The two most memorable moments in the film are the scene where Saeko tries to give herself an abortion and a bloody bathroom sequence that is gruesome and brutal.
Ultimately Madame O is twisted oddity that serves up plenty of sex, double crosses and a few corpses.
Synapse Films presents Madame O in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The source used for this transfer is the only known print in existence and the overall results are stunning. Outside of a noticeable print damage that occurs around the thirty one minute mark the transfer is free of any distracting print damage. This film was shot in black & white and color. The black & white footage looks detailed, grain looks natural, contrast and black levels look solid throughout. The colors footage looks nicely saturated and at times it is so vividly prominent that it heightens these moments in the film. Overall this transfer is in line with Synapse Films usual high standards.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. This English dubbed audio mix is in exceptional shape. There are no audio defects and the audio sound evenly balanced and it is easy enough to follow. This English audio mix is really good dub job and it is on par with some of the better English dubbed tracks that I have ever come across.
Extras for this release include Madame O’s original English language release trailer. The only other extra is liner notes about Madame O, director Seiichi Fukuda and 1960’s Japanese erotic films. These liner notes were written by Jasper Sharp and they give a thorough overall of an era of Japanese films that are all but forgotten. Overall Madame O is another superb release from Synapse Films who continue to release interesting films and present them in their most definitive editions to date.