Written by: Ron Cotton on March 7th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan 1996
Director: Shozin Fukui
Writer: Shozin Fukui
Cast: Kawase Youta, Nao, Ameya Norimizu, Saitou Sousuke
DVD Released: December 28th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 90 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital 1.0
DVD Release: Unearthed Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
“Psychic Power is realized when Mental Anguish Exceeds Physical Pain” — Shozin Fukui
Hitotsubashi (Ameya Norimizu) and Motomiya (Saitou Sousuke) head a lab using psychic-enhancing drugs known as ether and a technology known as the Digital Direct Drive on human subjects, hoping to create a human with measurable psychic results. Unfortunately, both failed to send any documentation or progress reports to their major contributor, Tanizaki (Zeeko Uchiyama). Ultimately because of this funding ends and by orders of Tanizaki, Kiku (Nao) investigates the medical facilities. She uncovers much more than she can manage and becomes overwhelmed. Shimika, (Kawaze Youta) a fellow researcher turned ether-junkie saves her, now that the two scientists created exactly what they’ve been looking for. Between the strife and the mayhem, destruction seems to be the only solution.
Shozin Fukui’s directorial and screenplay breakthrough began with Pinocchio 964 with a technique and flare that continues with Rubber’s Lover. This unification of the dark sexual counterculture, psychic phenomenon, and his own self-destructive nature makes Rubber’s Lover unique.
It edges on the sexual macabre. However, many of the stronger messages are kept in a subliminal undertone rather than presenting itself blatantly on the big screen. Shimika forces a pipe down Hititsubashi’s throat behind strobe lighting, reminiscent of sexual elements found in the movie Alien. An injection of the drug ether is placed closer to sexual areas upon the body as the film progresses. Relationships bind together in bizarre love triangles that none of the characters admit until one has met their maker. Torture becomes yet another motivation in Rubber’s Lover, pushing Shimika to realize his psychic powers. Everyone in the medical facilities pushed too far, and begins to have mental breakdowns. Both undertones of sexuality and torture unify to become a theme of S&M without admitting this fact. Many refer to Shozin Fukui’s films as cyberpunk, yet this encompasses only his tendency to choose industrial themes and events taking place in an undated future. Shozin Fukui’s results shined in his compositions, his intelligent use of a full frame, the timing of his cuts between scenes, and his brave camera angles. All of this created a setting the mood of this film without making the mistake of creating an uncontrollable roller coaster ride that some directors tend to do. Fukui demands his actor’s act out strong primal emotions, and many viewers might find this a bit amateurish. These horror-like effects seem to work in his films. Fukui can create great lighted landscapes, balancing light and dark spaces are quite grand. The techno music crafted by Tanizaki Tetora was befitting to the film and was quite telling of mood. When I reached the middle of the film, I thought the film was just about over. Fukui’s great use of time shows his skill of distilling his film’s script to the basics.
The animated menus are quite nice utilizing some of the best scenes from the film. The feature film is quite grainy but is to be expected from a 16mm source.
This DVD transfer is progressive scan.
The subtitles are done in yellow, the color making it quite easy to read. Subtitles have some misspellings, but not enough to ruin the performance of this film. Dolby Digital 2.0 make this film sound hollow, but works for some of the techno that’s highly-trebled. The B&W at times would be washed out, like the contrast was raised at a much higher levels. This was mostly noticeable scenes outside of the laboratory. The film short Gerorisuto (11 Minutes) from 1987 shows some of the primal physical action that later becomes Fukui’s style. Print damage and especially grainy, don’t expect much except for experimental film making in real crowded environments, making observers into unwilling actors. The interview with Shozin Fukui (22 Minutes) delves further into the twisted mind of the director/writer who gives some creed to psychic phenomenon. There is a small gallery of six images that appear directly from the film, nothing special to speak of. Finally, 3 trailers: Rubber’s Lover, Electric Dragon 80000V, and Junk. The packaging and jewel case looks professional with exception to a photo insert that’s somewhat useless. I would have preferred to have more information about Shozin Fukui or insight to the film itself. This movie has great artistic merit and appears to be created on a small budget, depending more on actor’s skill rather than Hollywood special effects. Most audiences will not appreciate what Shozin Fukui’s blended together. If a major complaint could be made, the resolution of the film is quite lackluster and leaving me to hang. Yet, many Japanese titles have permeated this feeling like it’s but one episode, unfinished. With this said, this movie is perfect for those in film study, especially those who aspire to create films on a shoestring budget.