Impulse Pictures // 1982 // 70 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // March 14th, 2013
The students really like her in every position imaginable!
It's not at all surprising that when it comes to sexual shenanigans, teachers and students are frequently cited. The years that most of us are stuck in school overlap completely with the years in which we develop sexually. We see teachers and fellow students while the hormones are raging, and this no doubt leaves a strong impression in the preferences of many. Female Teacher: In Front of Students probably goes quite a bit further down the teacher fetish road than many viewers are comfortable with, but along the way, it's a gonzo example of Japanese "pink" cinema, given a loving DVD release.
The new teacher at the old high school is accosted in the showers by a stocking-masked man who leaves a single jigsaw puzzle piece. Since she doesn't know her rapist, Reiko is suspicious of everyone at the school, and her problems only increase when a pair of perverted students enact a separate revenge for Reiko's dismissal of a student from the tennis team.
With a film like Female Teacher: In Front of Students, it's worth asking what a viewer hopes to get out of it. This is not mainstream fare, and though it does fall generally into the realm of soft-core films, there are enough of those floating around to make us still ask what In Front of Students offers that's different.
The first is a really, really weird vibe. The film is obviously related to the world of high school, which most of us have some experience with. Barring the cultural differences between Japanese and American schooling, there's still a feeling like there's something to grasp for non-Japanese viewers. In that regard it's like an alternate-dimension school. There are all the usual things we associate with high school -- classes and sports teams primarily -- but with even more mystery and sexual tension than anything I remember about high school. It doesn't hurt that the students don't look that much younger than Reiko, so the school has a "free for all" feeling about it that's fascinating.
The film is also interesting as an historical artifact. It was released long after the golden age of Japanese studios, and it shows clear evidence of trying to please a niche market so the Nikkatsu studio could keep itself alive with the sadomasochistic elements and schoolteacher plot. Though these elements are the hallmarks of many a sleazy direct-to-video feature (especially in the early era of video), Female Teacher looks kind of amazing. It's shot on celluloid, in widescreen, with high production values. That makes it fairly remarkable in the continuum of films that combine erotic and violent elements.
This DVD makes a pretty good case for the visual appeal of the film. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is taken from a well-cared for print of the flick. Colors are appropriately saturated, detail is reasonably sharp, and no significant digital trickery has marred the image. The mono Japanese track (accompanied by English subtitles) is a simple affair, but the dialogue is audible and decently mixed with the effects. The original theatrical trailer is included, as well as liner notes with a nice contextual essay by scholar Jasper Sharp.
Of course the skeptical reader may well be wondering about the obvious appeal of a film like Female Teacher: In Front of Students, which is to say its erotic appeal. Obviously everyone has very different tastes, but if you want to be aroused by Female Teacher, you have to put up with a lot. First, there's the violence. The rape scene clocks in at almost four minutes, and various other degradations visited upon Reiko also take up a lot of screen time. I guess that's okay, if that's your thing, but though the film's thematic material is pretty strong (rape and revenge) it's a very soft-core film, both in terms of sex and gore. The violence doesn't seem to leave a lasting impression on anyone's body, and much of the sex involves clothed bodies and lots of grinding. I don't have anything against the soft-core approach, but when scene after scene of clothed or semi-clothed grinding goes on, it gets tiring -- even at only 70 minutes with credits.
Female Teacher: In Front of Students is a niche release -- fans of that era of Japanese "pink" cinema will, of course, want to upgrade their old VHS bootlegs (that probably had burned-in subtitles) for this well-presented DVD. However, if you're ignorant of Japanese erotica from the period, this is probably not the place to start.
Guilty of being slow.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Impulse Pictures
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Not Rated