Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom Review
Note: The following review is taken from my coverage for the Pinky Violence Collection, released last December.
The School of Hope is a place where troubled girls can learn to become disciplined in order to live rich and fuller lives, or so it would seem. This is one school that manages to use the most unorthodox methods of training and in charge of handing out punishment for naughty girls is the disciplinary committee, assigned by corrupt Vice principal Ishihara (Kenji Imai). When a girl is murdered by the committee and falls from the school rooftop the police dismiss it as an accident, despite her nakedness which is never even brought into question, and why? Because Ishihara has them eating out of his pocket. In addition he keeps Chief of school board Sato (Nobuo Kaneko) under his thumb by supplying him with fresh young girls. Soon three juveniles, Noriko (Miki Sugimoto), Remi (Misuzu Ota) and Kyoko (Seiko Saburi) are sent to the School of Hope due to their petty crimes. Noriko soon learns that the girl who died at the hands of the disciplinary committee was none other than her old friend, which then forces her to take matters into her own hands by finding out the truth behind this crime and many others taking place under her very nose. She finds help in the form of a reporter whose interests lies primarily in making a fast buck and manages to avoid a deadly confrontation with an old rival (Reiko Ike), who has just driven into town to settle a score.
This time around Reiko Ike takes a noted back seat for what is essentially a starring vehicle for Miki Sugimoto. In fact it isn’t until past the half way mark that Ike rides in on a motorcycle, wearing tight leather pants. We soon learn that she’s Miki’s enemy, but of course the friendly smiles and banter and willingness to help each other doesn’t quite strike up the fierceness that we might have expected otherwise. With both girls playing hard as nails characters it’s at least interesting to watch the back and forth rebellious nature of the two, and more importantly given their backgrounds the respect toward each other that is evidently apparent.
The second in the Terrifying Girl’s High School series, Lynch Law Classroom opens unlike any of the other features in the “Pinky Violence Collection” by presenting a disclaimer which assures us that all persons and events in the story are fictitious, so it’s covered its own back should any of its content begins to upset the education board. I’m sure it probably did anyway. Following on from this we hear a jarring scream coming from the latest victim of the Hope School, by way of exsanguination. It’s the most unsettling scene of the feature, largely because of the way it’s drawn out, along with the very desperate portrayal of the sufferer; it sets up what is going to be a nasty, yet fun film that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
So Norifumi-san, you mad old dog. I don’t know what the hell he was trying do here, having come up with his own concoction of humour, horror and nudey antics. As far as exploitation goes it’s clear that the director continually wishes to take things further, and to be frank terrifying would be the right word for this final, sadistic and seedy entry into the “Pinky Violence Collection”. You see the girls of the disciplinary committee aren’t normal; they’re ruthless harlots who love to come up with all kinds of terrible torture schemes for the sake of school honour. It’s gonna take some very special ladies to dish out the slaps, and who better than The Boss with the Cross, Razorblade Remi, Junko the Jacker and Nobue the Pipe Basher? Yes it’s all very amusing and too cool for school, which is what makes it so damn entertaining. When we’re not seeing some flinching scenes of torture we’re viewing downright dirty soft porn between high school girls and the majority of the school committee made up of horny old men. “Oh they’re in skirts too!” they cry in joy as one scene sees them being lured into a dark room where upon a group of girls cajole them, before taking compromising photos. Nobody escapes the ridicule and embarrassment that is handed out every ten minutes: Teachers, students, principals, policemen, yakuza; everyone is but a pawn and there are no winners in such a disgustingly corrupt society that’s simply beyond reproach. Certainly Suzuki touches upon certain subjects; the idea of a corrupt education system that tries to teach young girls how to live properly is interesting, though to be perfectly honest I’m in no way inclined to sit back and defend any of it. It’s simply trash and bloody good trash at that. Oh and there are lesbians too.
Panik House have issued Lynch Law Classroom on a single dual sided disc that comes in a white amaray case with simple, yet effective artwork. Inside you will find a sticker reproduction of the DVD cover and a postcard featuring the same image, with other Panik House titles listed on the reverse.
Lynch Law Classroom is presented in its original 2.35:1 ToeiScope ratio, complete with anamorphic enhancement. For a film that’s close to 35 years old this looks in fantastic shape; it’s great to see Japan look after its cult exploitation material, but in fact they have gone further to restore the Toei negatives. Panik House has managed to get a great source for this release and despite it showing a few white specks it almost looks brand new. There’s a slight softness throughout, particularly on wider shots, but that’s not uncommon with directors using these aspect ratios at the time. Otherwise detail is very fine, blacks and contrast levels are solid and flesh tones appear to be fully natural. Marring the overall quality of the print is some edge enhancement and aliasing here and there.
Our audio option consists of the original Japanese 2.0 mono track only. There are problems here which are to be expected, namely the occasional pop and hiss, but I’m not going to fault that as you can’t expect everything to be fixed. This probably sounds as good as it did when it aired in cinemas. Dialogue is fine, but it should be noted that there’s a slight hollowness to the sound, which is simply down to the specific post dubbing process, it’s certainly not enough to distract and will come across perfectly natural to those used to seeing films from this era. Music is nicely channelled, having a distinct enough beat and it copes fairly well with loud action on screen.
Optional English subtitles are also offered. These read very well, are nicely timed and aside from the odd punctuation error I spotted hardly any problems.
The main feature is an audio commentary with Chris. D: film programmer for the American Cinematheque’s Japanese Outlaw Masters Series. My main criticism is that Chris. D covered more ground with his Sex & Fury and Female Yakuza Tale commentaries. That leaves him with little else to say here. While he touches upon its symbolic content and social commentary he sticks to points that echo his previous sentiments on other films and spends. There’s some brief actor info when it’s called for, but nothing too extensive. Slightly repetitive and drawn out with long pauses, this isn’t a highly recommended track, though it no doubt makes for a good primer piece.
The rest of the bonus features are pretty much small potatoes. We get the original theatrical trailer which has also been given anamorphic treatment, a poster and stills gallery featuring colour and b&w photos, production notes by Chris. D which don’t offer a great deal of insight and finally biographies for Norifumi Suzuki, Reiko Iko and Miki Sugimoto, Yukie Kagawa and Yuko Kano.
Well what can I say? Not a lot more really. All Suzuki wants us to do here is go with the flow and enjoy yet another maddening ride. He certainly delivers on that front with Lynch Law Classroom.