Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Watcher in the Attic (Naboru Tanaka, 1976)

Since I'm still, hours after having watched The Watcher in the Attic (a.k.a. Edogawa Rampo ryōkikan: yaneura no sanposha -- I think that's right), trying to wrap my head around the part of the film where the lovesick chauffeur of a leggy fancy lady spends time inside a comfy red chair, let's begin there, shall we? (First of all, I'm currently trying to wrap my head around what you just said.) Huh? (Okay, I get the part about the chauffeur having the hots for the leggy fancy lady; on top of being attractive, she has a tendency to wear every article of clothing a woman can technically have on in the early 1920s --she even sports veils. But you lost me when you mentioned the comfy red chair.) Well, it looks like we agree, 'cause that's the part I'm trying to get my head around as well. I think the lovesick chauffeur feels the only way he can get close to the leggy fancy lady is by entering her favourite chair. (I'm sorry, but the chair doesn't look big enough to house a lovesick chauffeur. Are you sure he wasn't hiding behind the curtains when the leggy fancy lady converses with the chauffeur chair?) I'm going to have to check the replay, but I don't think the room had any curtains. (Is he a little person?) No, I'd say he's regular-size.  Besides, the red chair seems to move whenever the chauffeur breathes. (You didn't mention that the chair breathes.) Yeah, it has a distinct respiratory rhythm. (Well, if that's the case, he's definitely in the chair.) In addition to wanting to get closer to the leggy fancy lady, the lovesick chauffeur is jealous of the chair. However, instead of sulking like a crybaby, the lovesick chauffeur joins forces with the chair, so he too can experience the crotch-expanding sensation that can only come after being sat on by a leggy fancy lady.

(While I dig the way you were able to get through the opening paragraph of your review with a straight face, I have to take issue when you call the woman everybody wants to have sit on them a "leggy fancy lady." You're right, she's fancy, her wardrobe is far-reaching in terms of femininity. And she's obviously a lady - whoa, whoa whoa, she's obviously a lady. But are sure she's leggy?) What did you just say? (Um, I wouldn't necessarily classify Junko Miyashita as "leggy," per se.)

It's clear you have no idea what words mean. And one of those words is evidently "leggy." You're probably thinking to yourself, how can a 5ft 3" woman with tiny doll legs be designated as "leggy." Well, for starters, legginess has nothing to do with length, it's all about attitude. Secondly, presentation is the key to establishing a leggy aura. And even the leggy averse have got to agree that Junko is putting on a leggy clinic in this Nikkatsu Roman Porno. I hope that puts an end to anyone else who dares doubt the structural fortitude of Junko's mouthwatering stems in this movie.

In a rare case of me speaking from a literal point-of-view, at least two men dine on Junko's legs like they were a tasty treat. "Were" a tasty treat?!? What am I talking about? They are a tasty treat, and don't you forget it.

You could also call Junko's gams a deadly treat. You know how Margaret in Liquid Sky kills with her cunt? Well, Junko kills with her legs; to be more specific, she kills with her calves.

This may come as a surprise to you, but the film, directed with an artful elegance by Noboru Tanaka, isn't only about lovesick chauffeurs who like to be sat on by leggy fancy ladies. Uh-uh, it's about voyeurism, lust, urban malaise and murder.

The landlord, at least I think he was the landlord, of a nondescript housing complex in early 1920s Tokyo one day discovers that his building has an attic that allows him to peer into the lives of his tenants via small peepholes in the ceilings.

While inspecting the attic, the landlord, Mr. Goda (Renji Ishibashi), declares it to be "perfect." As he's declaring this, he notices a woman walking towards his building. Carrying a white umbrella, the fancily dressed woman, a one Lady Minako (Junko Miyashita), is there to meet a clown (Shiro Yumemura) for sex. (Are you sure Lady Minako isn't a prostitute?) I don't know, I couldn't quite figure that out. Nonetheless, Lady Minako instructs the clown to undress.

If you think this sounds like an easy task, think again, the clown and Lady Minako are wearing a shitload of clothes. Call me deficient in the brain department, but I think Lady Minako was even wearing pantaloons.

After mock strangling him with her stocking encased legs, Lady Minako allows the clown to go to town on her inner thighs and vagina. And just as the clown's tongue strokes were starting to push all the right buttons, Lady Minako notices an eyeball staring at her through a small hole in the ceiling.

Instead of recoiling in horror, Lady Minako's orgasm seems to grow stronger when she realizes that she is being watched.

Judging by what occurs in the next scene, I think Lady Manako is married to Koichiro (Hiroshi Chô), they can be seen eating frog meat together. At first I thought he was a John, but that doesn't seem right. If anything, she's his mistress. Anyway, while being driven home by their chauffeur (Toshihiko Oda), Koichiro insists on rubbing Lady Manako's stocking-covered thighs with his cane in the backseat. This bit of pre-sex foreplay doesn't seem to work, as Lady Manako simply lies there motionless as Koichiro smothers her with kisses. As he's doing this, Lady Manako stares longingly at the ceiling.

(Did you say, "longingly"?) Yep. And you know what that means, right? (Lady Manako can't achieve sexual satisfaction unless Mr. Goda is watching from the attic?) Exactly.

As the lovesick chauffeur is driving Lady Manako back to Mr. Goda's building, we learn why the word "lovesick" is in his name. Telling her that he is jealous of piece of furniture, the lovesick chauffeur explains to her that he has made a few modifications to the red chair that sits near her bed.

You'll notice when Lady Manako arrives at Mr. Goda's building that there's no clown waiting there to perform cunnilingus on her. The reason there's no clown waiting is because Lady Manako plans on putting on a private show for the pervert lurking in the crawl space. Wearing a white veil with white gloves, Lady Manako puts down her white umbrella, hikes up her orange dress and starts to fondle her legs and torso-based erogenous zones while staring directly at the small hole in the ceiling.

When Mr. Goda tries to recreate the experience of being with Lady Manako by dressing up as a clown during his encounter with another prostitute (Aoi Yashiro), it falls flat.

Since it's obvious that Mr. Goda and Lady Manako are made for each other, it only makes sense that they meet face-to-face. And if you thought their relationship was weird before, wait until they start murdering people; she using her much-ballyhooed gams to asphyxiate her victims, he using poison administered via an eyedropper.

Despite the fact that she's forced to remove some of clothing, I liked how Junko Miyashita managed to still seem fully-clothed during the film's many sex scenes.  And since the idea watching naked people fornicate makes my skin crawl (I would rather watch dogs fuck in the park), I was totally down with this film's approach to erotica. Dreamlike and, thanks to Junko Miyashita, sexy as hell, The Watcher in the Attic is arty smut at its finest. With only a handful of dull patches, I would highly recommend this film to people who prefer their porn to be a tad more cerebral.


  1. I read the original Edogawa Rampo story, in Japanese even, and it so didn't go down like this. The guy hiding in the chair bit is from a completely different story, the aptly titled "The Human Chair" (人間椅子, "Ningen isu", 1925). "Yaneura no sanposha" was published the same year but is much longer. Most Rampo inspired movies (and there are hundreds of these) usually squish a bunch of stories together. Actually closer to the original works than the Poe inspired stuff in America that just takes a title, although I fucking love those Corman-Price films.

    I think naughty Naboru and his screen writer just went all bat-shit crazy. Satan bless their filthy little hearts. I haven't seen this and it sure looks all kinds of uncomfortable. I was probably too busy watching respectable Japanese period dramas and the more actiony films about stern men killing each other with swords, their bare hands, and stuff. I'm all in to that. But this needs to be seen.

    Ok, now you go and watch Ishii Teruo's "Horrors of Malformed Men" (1969). Honest. Its Ankoku Butoh (bad-ass experimental dance) pioneer Hijikata Tatsumi being all awesome, tons of Edogawa Rampo inspiration, plus a sick amount of creepy sexual undertow. Woo!

    1. Thanks for the additional info. I love the idea of a lovesick chauffeur hanging out inside a chair. And love it even more now that I know there's a whole book dedicated to a lovesick chauffeur who hideout in a chair.

      I watched Horrors of Malformed Men recently. While I share your woo... Unfortunately, I wasn't able to review it. What can I say, I need to have a certain amount of time to a review the movies I review and I just didn't have any to spare for this flick. It happens a lot. :(