|Vintage Pulp||Jun 22 2010|
If there’s one indisputably true statement about Japanese cinema, it’s this: they will try anything. 1974’s Hana to hebi, aka Flower and Snake, is a bondage comedy based on a novel by Oniroku Dan, who specialized in S&M fiction. For the screen version, Nikkatsu Studios recruited reliable sexploitation queen Naomi Tani, who had already appeared in a previous version of the same film entitled Hana to hebi yori: niku no shiiku, aka Flower and Snake: Rearing the Flesh. Where that version was a mere pinku film, this new version would be a Roman porno—which simply meant Nikkatsu would spend more money in an effort to elevate the genre into something mainstream Japanese would accept. In the film, Tani plays an aristocratic wife who asks for a divorce but instead is forced into bondage and submission by a man hired for the task by her husband. She experiences a sexual awakening, the employee forms an emotional bond, and complications ensue from there. We haven’t read the novel, but apparently it’s very different from the film and its adaptation was a source of friction between studio and author. But it didn’t matter—Hana to hebi was a smash. It was the first of Nikkatsu’s many Roman porno flicks, and the first of what would become a Hana to hebi franchise. It premiered in Japan today in 1974.