An introduction to the Stray Cat Rock films

Following the surprise success of Roger Corman’s 1966 biker movie The Wild Angels with Japanese audiences, Toei studios made the smart move to try and cash in on its popularity with their own example of the genre. Delinquent Boss was also a hit and spawned no less than sixteen sequels, four of which were released as soon as the following year.

Rival studio Nikkatsu wanted a piece of this pie and so they promptly commissioned a biker film from screenwriter Shuichi Nagahara and director Yasuharu Hasebe, both of whom had recently made their debuts with reasonably strong and, perhaps most importantly, low budget genre pictures – 3 Seconds to Explosion and Black Tight Killers respectively.

Though the origins of their project were about following in the footsteps of other filmmakers, Nikkatsu’s biker films would be different. Theirs would be about a female biker gang. Continue reading “An introduction to the Stray Cat Rock films”

Cruel Story of Youth – An introduction to the Japanese New Wave

The Japanese New Wave of the sixties is one of the most difficult movements in cinema to discuss if you’re attempting to pin down a particular group of filmmakers, or even a specific time frame.

This was definitely not the work of a group of determined individuals focused on creating a movement, there was no manifesto, and many of those involved deny that any such movement existed. On the other hand, when one surveys the cinema of Japan from the early fifties until the early seventies there is a very identifiable shift. It’s what could conservatively be called a gradual sea-change, or perhaps more generously, a bona fide New Wave.

This somewhat amorphous movement is nonetheless a fascinating insight into a specific period of Japanese cinematic history. Not only this, but it also provides us with way to contextualise the preceding years just was well as we might measure how its influence rippled into the following decade. Continue reading “Cruel Story of Youth – An introduction to the Japanese New Wave”