ADV Films // 2006 // 140 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // October 25th, 2006
Come on, touch it.
In 1991, BBC Two began broadcasting Liquid Television. This crude, surreal hodgepodge of cutting-edge animation and subversive stop motion was quickly snapped up by MTV to enhance its pop credibility in the burgeoning '90s. MTV parlayed Liquid Television into notable spinoffs such as Beavis and Butthead and Aeon Flux. Now, Japan has appropriated this precise blueprint to create Vermillion Pleasure Night.
If you've seen Liquid Television's manic mix of styles, humor, and oddities, Vermillion Pleasure Night will be instantly familiar to you. It shares the same cadence of "what the ...," followed by sporadic fits of laughter. It drains your psyche of energy in the same way. And if you ever get fully accustomed to the vibe, people might find you the slightest bit unhinged.
Vermillion Pleasure Night differs with its anime-like incorporation of live actors and decidedly sexier edge. Modern-art dance numbers feature themes that otaku will find highly suggestive. There's a warped variety act with singing geishas (and a fiddle and accordion thrown in for good measure). There are cooking show parodies, zombie sitcoms, and other live-action oddities. At times, it is difficult to differentiate the highly stylized live-action sequences from anime. Most of these live-action vignettes feature the same cast of actresses, which gives it a MAD TV vibe. Of course, there is also twisted animation, replete with a buxom Aeon Flux-like gal who is constantly being harassed by perverted cops. Psychedelic interludes are part of the formula as well.
Ironically, the most successful component of the show features mannequins portraying a live family. Vermillion Pleasure Night's counterpart to Mike Judge is Yoshimasa Ishibashi, whose disturbing psychodrama The Fuccons has gained a worldwide cult audience. The gist of The Fuccons is that the permanent smiles and perfect clothes of the mannequin family belie a seething maelstrom of selfishness. Each family member has an abject disregard for each other's well being. Daddy sleeps around...but as soon as he's out the door, Mama ushers in Mikey's "new daddy" and they all get acquainted in group bathtub sessions. The Fuccons lands big with some of its psychosexual sight gags, even if the basic premise quickly wears thin. I'll admit being turned on and simultaneously repulsed by an extended sequence where Mikey and his mannequin mom are bathing together. There isn't even movement, just a carefully posed, nude mannequin in a bathtub being awful to her son. When Mikey is later possessed by a demon, it comes as no surprise.
Volume Three is titled Crème de la Crème, presumably because it includes The Color of Life "Best Of" Movie. This movie culls the best moments of the series and wraps them in disturbing segments of narration (often featuring tortured and mutilated bodies in the background). If you consider that Vermillion Pleasure Night, Vol. 3 is itself a compilation of the show's best moments, you can see the problem: The Color of Life "Best Of" Movie constantly repeats segments you've just seen in the skits. To add insult to injury, some segments of the show recycle footage from previous skits. You're seeing stuff you already saw, and seeing recycled stuff you already saw again, too. This repetition hastens the burn-out factor.
The DVD menu makes it very hard to figure out what is content and what is an extra. There are unaired skits, which will matter to you if you saw Vermillion Pleasure Night on television, and won't matter so much if DVD is your introduction. Fortunately, a detailed submenu of chapter stops details what's what. The supplements are rounded out with footage of a live showing of VPN to what appears to be a college audience. Karaoke videos help complete the otaku vibe.
ADV has given us the original Japanese track along with an English dub featuring ADV veterans such as Tiffany Grant. The English dub might help you absorb the show more easily, and is a fine effort all around. But Vermillion Pleasure Night practically begs to be heard in Japanese. Fortunately, it is largely visual and contains lots of spoken English to boot.
In fact, spoken English accounts for the raciest segment of the show, when a prim Japanese woman spouts lewd phrases about licking certain anatomical parts. The show is not outright erotic, just perverse. This volume is overly repetitive for the reasons already stated, and sometimes the absurdity feels forced. But Vermillion Pleasure Night is a capable update of a very successful formula that has enough "what the hell?" moments to keep you busy for a few hours.
Review content copyright © 2006 Rob Lineberger; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 140 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Polyester Karaoke Video
* "The Color of Life" Best Of Movie
* Live Event
* Unaired Skits
* OH! Mikey