Flower and Snake was Nikkatsu’s first attempt at making an S&M movie. Sadomasochism has had a fun life in the cinema, but what did our Pink Cinema friends bring the table? If you said the low-level worker version of Fifty Shades of Grey, you’d be partially right? It’s much worse than that.
Nikkatsu brings a lot of oddity into my world. I chalk that up to these films not widely being available during my early formative film watching. Now, they just feel like these naughty little secrets of 70s world cinema. Each film follows a kink and then works out a substantial narrative to make sense of it. But, it’s almost always about society, economics and class.
Erotic Cinema can either play it too safe or venture straight into porn territory. But, what about those films that wants to drag you into the creep arena? Flower and Snake is about Makato, a lonely man who lives with his mother. When Makato’s boss discovers that the young man has a taste for S&M, he invites the fella to break his wife.
Director Masaru Konuma has a knack for these kinds of movies. Having directed site favorite Woman in a Box 2, Konuma cut his teeth bringing S&M to the Japanese mainstream. But, what the director makes in this film is something I’ve never seen before. There is a scene where the “hero” of Flower and Snake shows off his semen graveyard closet to the audience.
When I start watching these movies, I never know what I’m getting. But, I didn’t expect having to write about a semen graveyard in 2021. So, creeper man gets together with the boss’s wife and the actress playing her is too good for this movie. She plays a believable person that wants to partake, but is scared of what it involves.
Inhibition is a tricky thing to portray onscreen within the realm of eroticism. The wife is never portrayed as a prude, but she’s interested a little into what’s happening to her. Then, creepy Makato starts taking to the kink with aggressive glee. While some people are cool with a lot, what follows next is quite flooring.
Flower and Snake doesn’t shy away from making a woman poop on command. The film builds for 70+ minutes and ends with a whimper. What I’d love is a time machine to see the fanbase for this film upon release. You know there were casual Nikkatsu fans that checked this out, but that’s not interesting. I want to see the people that actively sought out this film.
While the American attempts in the 1970s to mainstream porn are fascinating as hell, Nikkatsu was working on a different level. The Japanese censorship laws didn’t let them show pubic hair or penetration. But, that restraint pushed them into filthier areas. After all, the worst thing you can do is repressed the sexed up mind. That energy is going to appear in the strangest of places.
S&M movies are still in their infancy in terms of mainstream cinema. While there are many online “experts” that will lecture the merits and belief systems behind S&M, it translates differently in a visual medium. Sadomasochism is about power and subservience in its most primal of forms. One party is submitting to be bound to the will of another. Consensual S&M is a formality to appease moral and judicial codes that we uphold as part of a society.
But, behind closed doors…there is a difference between the bound and the captor. Watching Makato slip into the role of dom so easy played as unsettling. What could be loving or sexy in another way is shown as yet another man taking over a woman’s autonomy. She might be shy and quiet, but that doesn’t mean that the guy playing Jizz rag Pokemon Go has a right to tie her up.
Sex in the cinema is something that I don’t have the time to expound upon here, but it’s something I hope to speak more about throughout 2021.
There is so much at play in Flower and Snake that I can see how some viewers end up hating the movie. Flower and Snake isn’t the easiest or hardest film to watch. It’s an experience that snarls at you and demands that you watch ala Jackie Earle Haley coming home from a date in Little Children.
What’s really odd about Flower and Snake is the fascination with small business. So much of the film happens like that classic Whitest Kids U Know sketch about the boss drawing his evening for his employee. The driving force for Flower and Snake is not just odd as hell, it’s borderline criminal.
I get playing into the off-color fantasies of a sexual sort, but it plays weird. Such is the results of forcing a sexed-up population to monitor and redirect their sexual fantasies on film. It could’ve been worse, it could’ve been hentai.
Impulse Pictures brings Flower and Snake to Blu-ray with no special features.