Yasuharu Hasebe during his 1999 interview with Asian Cult Cinema
|Born||April 4, 1932
|Died||June 14, 2009
Yasuharu Hasebe (長谷部安春 Hasebe Yasuharu , April 4, 1932-June 14, 2009) was a Japanese film director best known known for his movies in the "Violent pink" subgenre of the Pink film, such as Assault! Jack the Ripper (1976), Rape! (1976), Rape! 13th Hour (1977) and Raping! (1978). Earlier genre films directed by Hasebe include Black Tight Killers (1966) and the Stray Cat Rock series (1970).
Hasebe recalled a trusting relationship with his father, whom he considered the biggest influence on his life. In the post-war years, Hasebe was influenced strongly by American and French films, particularly American "B" movies, and the films of John Huston and Samuel Fuller. After studying French literature at Waseda University, he began working at Nikkatsu studios in 1958. For eight years he worked as an assistant director, including a lengthy apprenticeship under Seijun Suzuki. He was given his first chance to direct in 1966 with Black Tight Killers. He directed more action genre films in the 1960s including the fourth film in the Singing Gunman series, starring Akira Kobayashi, and The Massacre Gun with Jo Shishido.
In 1970, Nikkatsu wanted to create a youth-oriented series and chose Hasebe to supervise the first film in what would be the popular Stray Cat Rock series. The studio gave him considerable freedom in the direction of the film, and, under the pseudonym "Takashi Fujii," Hasebe co-wrote the story as well. Meiko Kaji was the supporting actress in the first entry in the series, but became the star of the remaining films. Though mainly known for his later "violent pink" films, some call this series Hasebe's best work, "ultra-chic, yet surprisingly grim."
The Stray Cat Rock series came to an end when Kaji left Nikkatsu to join Toei studios and star in the Female Prisoner: Scorpion series and Lady Snowblood (1973). Hasebe also left Nikkatsu in late 1971, when the studio decided to compete with the Pink film genre, and produce almost nothing but softcore pornographic films which Nikkatsu labeled "Roman Porno". Hasebe later commented, "to be honest, I am not good at making sex films."
Hasebe worked mainly in television in the early 1970s, including the series Spectreman He returned to Nikkatsu to make Naked Seven (1974), a financially and critically successful parody of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, and an informal sequel to the Stray Cat Rock series. Also in 1974, he directed an homage to Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry character in Sukeban Deka: Dirty Mary. Though well-regarded today, this film was a major financial failure at the time, and damaged Hasebe's reputation for a couple of years.
When Nikkatsu offered him a chance to leave TV and create a new genre of pink film in 1976, Hasebe was at first reluctant. Not interested in directing typical sex films, Hasebe instead conceived of the "Violent pink" genre. The Weissers, in their Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films describe the Violent pink" films as "vicious and mean-spirited productions, without delving into the more traditional whip-n-bondage aspects of the S&M genre," and compare the genre to the American "roughies." Warning the studio about his intentions, Hasebe asked "Are you sure you want me? You must be aware--my craft is very bloody." Nikkatsu, desperate at the time for a new direction for their Roman porno films, agreed to give him creative freedom. Though "highly controversial and recommended with some obvious reservations," most critics judge Hasebe's "violent pink" films the best of his career.
Hasebe's first true Roman porno, the "violent pink" Rape! (1976) became a hit, and Nikkatsu let him continue making similar films. Hasebe recalled, "In '76, I made three genre films back to back, Rape!, Assault! Jack The Ripper and Rape! 13th Hour. I'm not sure these were great films, but the ticket sales were remarkable. It was wonderful to be a busy, successful director again."
The last of these three films has been called, "the pinnacle of this genre, a movie long-considered the most offensive, the most grotesque movie of all time." Nikkatsu, fearful of governmental action if Hasebe continued becoming more extreme in his films, assigned producer Ryoji Ito to watch him on the set. Recalling this situation later, Hasebe laughed and said, "Rape! 13th Hour... remains one of Producer Ito's favorites. Ultimately, I guess the company misjudged our tagteam effect."
Some contemporary critics interpreted these films as commentaries and satires on the state of film-making in Japan at the time. Hasebe denied such intentions on his part, but did not rule out the possibility that producer Ito and the script-writer may have had this in mind. Hasebe rejected the idea that cinematic violence incites violence in the audience, saying, "I believe [film violence] has no effect on an audience. Personally, I can attest to this fact. I do not become aggressive when I watch a violent movie. I can not imagine such a correlation... When I was very young, we admired Humphrey Bogart for his dandyism, but not for his killing. We did not accept the formula. We knew that killing somebody wouldn't make us become him. Why? Because we knew it was just a goddamn movie and he was just an actor and none of his victims were really dead."
Though the controversial Rape! 13th Hour had been a box-office hit, Nikkatsu decided to curtail the ultra-violence in their Roman porno films after its release. Kōyū Ohara's Zoom Up: Rape Site (1980) would later begin another wave of "Violent pink" Nikkatsu Roman porno films. Hasebe softened his touch for his next film, Secret Honeymoon: Rape Train (1977), which was more typical of Nikkatsu's Roman porno style, and called an "erotic film emphasizing warmth and human drama." His next film, Attacked (1978), compared to Rape! 13th Hour, has been judged "still deplorable, but not nearly as repulsive as the former notorious entry." Also in 1978, Hasebe directed Erotic Liaisons, a modern adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos's 18th-century epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, which pink film director, Koji Wakamatsu would also film in 1992.
After leaving Nikkatsu in the late 1970s, Hasebe worked for Toei, where he directed several V-cinema films in the 1990s. When interviewed in 1999, Hasebe was a grandfather, living in comfortable semi-retirement in Tokyo. Hasebe died of pneumonia on June 14, 2009.
|Black Tight Killers
Ore ni sawaru to abunaize
|Nikkatsu||February 12, 1966|
|The Singing Gunman
Bakudan-Otoko to Iwareru Aitsu
|Nikkatsu||June 28, 1967|
|The Massacre Gun
Minagoroshi no Kenju
|Nikkatsu||September 6, 1967|
|I Own Your Turf
Shima wa moratta
|Nikkatsu||October 5, 1968|
|Savage Wolf Pack
Yaju o kese
|Nikkatsu||February 22, 1969|
|Nikkatsu||June 14, 1969|
Kōiki bōryoku: ryūketsu no shima
|Nikkatsu||July 2, 1969|
|盛り場仁義||Nikkatsu||January 24, 1970|
|Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss
Onna banchō nora-neko rokku
|Nikkatsu||May 2, 1970|
|反逆のメロディー||Nikkatsu||July 22, 1970|
|Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter
Nora-neko rokku: sekkusu hantaa
|ホリ企画||September 1, 1970|
|Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal
Nora-neko rokku: mashin animaru
|Nikkatsu||November 22, 1970|
|A Man's World
Otoko no sekai
|Nikkatsu||January 13, 1971|
|渡世人 命の捨て場||Nikkatsu||June 10, 1971|
Sengoku rokku hayate no onnatachi
|Nikkatsu||December 27, 1972|
|Female Convict Scorpion: Grudge Song
Joshū sasori: 701-gō urami-bushi
|Toei||December 29, 1973|
|Sukeban Deka: Dirty Mary
Sukeban deka: daati Marii
|Nikkatsu||April 20, 1974|
|Nikkatsu||February 7, 1976|
|Assault! Jack the
Bōkō Kirisaki Jakku
|Nikkatsu||July 7, 1976|
|Rape! 13th Hour
Rape! 25-ji bokan
|Nikkatsu||January 22, 1977|
|Secret Honeymoon: Rape Train
Maruhi honeymoon: boko ressha
|Nikkatsu||October 15, 1977|
|Nikkatsu||February 4, 1978|
|Nikkatsu||July 8, 1978|
|Nikkatsu||November 18, 1978|
|皮ジャン反抗族||Toei||December 2, 1978|
Kaseki no kōya
|Toei||April 17, 1982|
|あぶない刑事||Toei||December 12, 1987|
|悪人専用||Toei Video||December 14, 1990|
|傷だらけのライセンス||Toei Video||January 11, 1991|
|ベイサイド・バイオレンス 群狼||Back In Video||June 28, 1991|
|ＤＡＮＧＥＲ ＰＯＩＮＴ 地獄への道||Toei Video||October 11, 1991|
|ろくでなし ＬＡＳＴ ＤＯＷＮ ＴＥＮ||Toei Video||February 12, 1993|
|ろくでなし２ ＬＡＳＴ ＤＯＷＮ ＴＥＮ||Toei Video||May 21, 1994|
|製作委員会||June 25, 1994|
|チンピラ仁義 新・極楽とんぼ||Toei Video||November 8, 1996|
|チンピラ人生 むしむしころころ||Toei Video||February 13, 1998|
|組織暴力 流血の抗争||Toei Video||January 8, 1999|
|組織暴力 流血の抗争||Toei Video||March 12, 1999|
|組織暴力 流血の仁義||Toei Video||March 12, 1999|
|組織暴力 流血の仁義２||Toei Video||November 12, 1999|