Yasuharu Hasebe


Yasuharu Hasebe

Infobox actor


imagesize = 150px
name = Yasuharu Hasebe
birthdate = April 4, 1932
birthplace = Japan
deathdate =
deathplace =
restingplace =
occupation = Film director
yearsactive = 1966-1999
influences = John Huston
Samuel Fuller
awards =

nihongo|Yasuharu Hasebe|長谷部安春|Hasebe Yasuharu|extra=born April 4, 1932 is 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).

Life and career

Early life

Hasebe recalls a trusting relationship with his father, whom he considers the biggest influence on his life. [Hasebe, Yasuharu. (1998). Interviewed by Thomas and Yuko Mihara Weisser in Tokyo, 1999, in "Asian Cult Cinema", #25, 4th Quarter, 1999, p.41.] In the post-war years, he was influenced strongly by American and French films, particularly American "B" movies, and the films of John Huston and Samuel Fuller. [Hasebe, p.33.] 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. [cite book |last=Cowie|first= Peter (editor)|title=World Filmography 1967|year=1977|publisher=Tantivy Press|location=London|isbn=0-498015-65-3|pages=pp343, 383|chapter=Japan]

"Alleycat Rock"

In 1970, Nikkatsu wanted to create a youth-oriented series and chose Hasebe to supervise the first film in what would be the popular "Alleycat 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." [cite book |last=Weisser|first=Thomas|coauthors=Yuko Mihara Weisser|title=Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films|year=1998|publisher=Vital Books : Asian Cult Cinema Publications|location=Miami|isbn=1-88928-852-7|pages=p.41]

The "Alleycat 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 enter the "Pink film" genre, and produce almost nothing but these softcore pornographic films. Hasebe later commented, "to be honest, I am not good at making sex films." [Hasebe, pp.32-36.]

Hasebe worked mainly in television in the early 1970s, including the series "Spectreman" [imdb name|id=0367915|name=Yasuharu Hasebe] He returned to Nikkatsu to make "The Naked Seven" (1974), a financially and critically successful parody of Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai", and informal sequel to the "Alleycat Rock" series. [Weisser, pp.284-285.] 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 resulted in some damage to Hasebe's career for a couple of years. [Weisser, p.422.]

"Violent pink"

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." [Weisser, p.53.] Warning the studio about his intentions, he 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.Hasebe, p.39.] Though "highly controversial and recommended with some obvious reservations," most critics judge Hasebe's "violent pink" films the best of his career,Weisser, p.328.]

Hasebe's first true "pink film", the "violent pink" "Rape!" (1976) became a hit, and Nikkatsu let him continue making similar films. Hasebe says, "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." [Weisser, p.52.] 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."Hasebe, p.40.]

Some contemporary critics interpreted these films as commentaries and satires on the state of film-making in Japan at the time. Hasebe denies such intentions on his part, but does not rule out the possibility that producer Ito and the script-writer may have had this in mind. Hasebe rejects 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." [Hasebe, p.38.]

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. Koyu Ohara's "Zoom Up: Rape Site" (1980) would later begin another wave of "Violent pink" Nikkatsu "Roman porno" films. [Weisser, p.327.] 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." [Weisser, p.368.] 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." [Weisser, p.53.] 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. [Weisser, p.98.]

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, p.32.]

Filmography

Films

Television series

* "Spectreman" ("Supekutoruman" aka "Uchû enjin gori") (1971)
* "Special Investigation Frontline" ("Tokusou saizensen") (1977)
* "Detective Story" ("Tantei monogatari") (1979) (episodes 8 and 10)

Notes

ources

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* Hasebe, Yasuharu. (1998). Interviewed by Thomas and Yuko Mihara Weisser in Tokyo, 1999, in "Asian Cult Cinema", #25, 4th Quarter, 1999, p.32-42.
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