Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rubber's Lover (Shozin Fukui, 1996)

According to my exhaustive research, the cyberpunk genre is known for depicting a world where high tech collides with low tech. And while this particular film does meet some of that criteria (computers are used by degenerates), I would classify the overall aesthetic as steampunk. It's not really that big a deal. It's just that I see the word "cyberpunk" bandied about so much in correlation to Shozin Fukui's Rubber's Lover that I feel the need to point out that it's not really a cyberpunk movie. The film's fetishistic obsession with old technology practically oozes steampunk. Or, I should say, it literally oozes steampunk, as almost everything in this oozes something at one point or another. Gauges ooze, people ooze, it's one big ooze-fest. Get it, "ooze-fest," Ozzfest, the heavy metal festival tour... (I don't want to interrupt your flow, but I must commend you for not using the phrase, "what the fuck," or the equally obnoxious, "what did I just watch"? in your review.) Well, it's still early. But thanks, nonetheless. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, the film literally oozes steampunk. No matter what aesthetic it oozes, Rubber's Lover will, no doubt, test the patience of some viewers. Unfolding in a manner that is, let's just say, unorthodox, the film is pretty much ninety minutes of spastic twitching. My God, there's a lot of spastic twitching in this movie. However, you'd twitch too if you were repeatedly subjected to Digital Direct Drive (a.k.a. D.D.D.) and pumped full of ether whilst sheathed in rubber. And not only would you twitch, you would spew copious amounts of viscous liquids from every orifice possible.

If what I just described sounds in anyway appealing to you. Congratulations, you're this film's target audience. As for the rest of us, we could be in for a long ass ninety minutes.

Thankfully, there's a scene where Kiku's corporate pantyhose are torn asunder by a psychotic, muscle-bound scientist named Motomiya (Sosuke Saito). Wait, that didn't come out right. The scene is deplorable. It's just that I wasn't sure if Kiku's legs were adorned with nylons, and Motomiya's assault enabled me to properly assess what was going on with Kiku's shapely gams. And it's clear, judging by Motomiya's frenzied tearing motions, that he was clawing at her corporate pantyhose.

In a similar vein, Akari's white knee-high, garter-assisted stockings also served as a sort of tonic. Even though Akari (Mika Kunihiro) spends the bulk of the movie injecting Shimika (Norimizu Ameya) with industrial-strength ether, I was comforted by the fact that the lower portion of her legs were encased in white stockings.

What I'm doing right now is exactly what I recommend all you non-masochists out there do while watching this film. I know, you could simply not watch it. But you could use that logic when approaching every film in existence. I mean, why watch anything for that matter? What's the point? Unless it's Liquid Sky or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, there's no real reason to bother with other movies.

As I was saying. What non-masochists need to do is focus on something that interests you. As you can tell, I've chosen to focus on the nylons worn by the film's two female characters, Kiku (Nao), an employee who works for some shadowy organization, and Akari, the assistant to a trio of demented scientists.

If, for some bizarre reason, nylons aren't your thing, you could try focusing on all the antiquated technology that appears throughout the film. Honestly, I have no idea what half the machines (all covered with knobs and switches) are supposed to do in this movie. But I'll admit, watching them overheat and spew smoke was kind of interesting.

The film's bondage aspect will definitely appeal to some viewers. Every scene seems to feature one character dominating another. And one of these characters (typically Shimika) is usually dressed in rubber... and wearing the latest in steampunk headgear (the shots of Shimika wearing these elaborate props are some the film's most indelible).

Speaking of headgear, I gotta add Akari's welding goggles to the list of things I liked about this movie. The way the Test Dept. vibe of her googles clashed with the Gothic Lolita temperament of her overall ensemble was quite alluring.

Despite all things I liked about this movie (the harsh industrial/techno score by Tanizaki Tetora is amazing), Rubber's Lover is still a bit of a chore to sit through. Basically ninety straight minutes of torture, the film is best suited to be played on a loop at a long closed industrial-goth nightclub. In other words, I cannot recommend it as the kind of movie you sit down and watch from start to finish... while sober.


  1. Your description of this movie reminds me of another weird Japanese one called Tetsuo: the Iron Man. For all I know it could be the same people; I'm horrible with names at the best of times. It's worth a watch if you haven't seen it already.

    1. Yeah, I've seen Tetsuo... I need to re-review that sucker. I remember it being cyberpunk, steampunk, industrial body horror goodness.