The Succulent Succubus Review
Over the years the pink film industry has proven to be fertile ground for parodying Japanese and Hollywood cinematic greats. The opportunities in delivering a good pun are endless amongst these low-budget productions, with distributors Pink Eiga having released affectionate odes to hits like Silence of the Lambs, Deep Impact and Sukeban Deka. The trend continues with this latest release - 2011’s The Succulent Succubus - directed by Mototsugu Watanabe.
Momo (Shou Nishino) is a sprightly young woman but often finds herself unlucky in love, still finding herself lost as to what her purpose in life might be. Terrible misfortune befalls her when she receives news from her doctor that she’s been struck down by an undisclosed terminal illness, which has left her with a six month life expectancy. Her boyfriend, Keisuke (Atsushi Tsuda), seems to dote on her and asks for her hand in marriage, but when she tells him the bad news he balks and asks if he can still have her money in order to invest it in a business startup venture. Realising that he’s a bit of a dick, she goes off to collect her thoughts but is soon met by a mysterious woman (Asami) who introduces herself as the VP of Sales and Marketing for Hell. This devil woman is tasked in bringing devious and lustful beings to her boss and tries her utmost to tempt Momo with acts of revenge in exchange for her soul. However, Momo wants only happiness - a wish that leaves the demon a tad bemused and reluctant to grant.
Indeed, there’s an instant appeal to this deal with the devil storyline, which parks itself somewhere between the Faust legend and Stanley Donen’s Bedazzled (later remade in 2000 by Harold Ramis), with its serious subject matter and helpings of light humour. In the right hands The Succulent Succubus might have benefitted as a great lampoon following the tow of previous Pink offerings; however, in the demonic possession of Watanabe, it struggles to really say much of value.
Part of the problem here stems from its prevalent misogynistic attitude, which often finds itself plaguing the director’s work, belying the fun atmosphere alluded to in its trailers. Momo finds herself constantly surrounded by appallingly selfish men who have designs only on her money and body; later on a reunion with a former crush - her school P.E. teacher (Hideki Nishioka) - spells for a promising outcome, yet Watanabe and his writer Hiroharu Yamazaki can’t resist the idea of making her life a perpetual misery, regardless of soul sacrifices spelling out eternal damnation for her old flames. Momo’s own sacrifice is rather pointless by the end of the film, owing to an eye-rolling denouement when our lead’s true happiness comes from a left field desire to become a robotic-like idol singer, worshipped by mass consumers of this odd phenomenon. It’s a tired form of cynicism, one which may be a non-deliberate ploy, but nonetheless shows up the feature for having a total lack of sincerity and emotional investment toward its hapless protagonist. Try as he might, Yamazaki's script is unfocused, occasionally offering some worthwhile concepts with the idea of Hell being a corporate entity and God having final say on who is worthy to ascend the stairs of Heaven’s elite club, but just when it feels like it’s about to get interesting it swiftly diverts to make way for a few functional sex scenes, the biggest draw involving AV idol Shou Nishino locking limbs with cult star Asami.
And if there’s truly something worth savouring here it’s on account of the two female stars. Asami - semi-gothed up - laps it up and provides the bulk of comedy as our devil girl struggles in all futility to convince Momo to follow a life of revenge, whilst Shou Nishino, despite ironically looking uncomfortable when trying to act like an Idol, has some moments of genuine emotional integrity, which has seen her ascend into more mainstream fare as a respectable television actress.
PresentationPink Eiga takes a bit of a step back, after the fairly impressive treatment given for their previous release of Milk the Maid. Here we have an NTSC non-anamorphic presentation, framed approximately around 1.85:1. About the worst part of this is a substantial amount of vertical wobble, which proves to be particularly distracting on faces. I can only guess that it’s some sort of telecine issue - inherent to a source which has been poorly mastered. Otherwise the image is fairly clean, with good colour reproduction and fairly solid detail.
Audio wise, there’s a simple Japanese DD track. As with the majority of Pink Eiga releases, dealing with these 2.0 tracks, there’s very little to get excited about. It’s clean enough, delivering clear dialogue and complimenting the film’s score, while the hard English subtitles provide a fine translation.
For extras, things are pretty light again. Pink Eiga tends to reuse a lot of its packaged material, so here we have the What is Pink Eiga? featurette, along with trailers for other releases. There’s also a slideshow of photos from the film, along with an international trailer and original poster art to view. The only notable edition is a 7-minute interview titled Why the Hell?, which features Asami talking about her love for Pink Eiga and her adoration for Pinky Violence star Reiko Ike.