Violated Angels (1967) By Kôji Wakamatsu (T)

An essential watch for fans of exploitation films

By Adam John

Never one to shy away from controversy Koji Wakamatsu released "Violated Angels" shortly after the real life killing spree of Richard Speck, from which the film draws its inspiration. Wakamatsu was already under scrutiny by some, for being anti-feminist, misogynistic and sadistic, but this movie remains one of the most polarizing entries in his filmography, but, at the same time, one of the most most notable and discussed films.

The story takes place in a nurses' dormitory, over one night, where an unnamed man is invited to observe two of the nurses caught in the act of sex. Witnessing this act drives the man into a murderous rage, leading to the death of one of the women. He proceeds to go after the five remaing nurses in a slow and calculated fashion, spending a lot of time playing a silent role as he judges them as they attempt to convince him to let them go.

Each nurse ends out playing a sort of archetype, reflecting what the attacker sees as being deplorable within the female character . It is through the interactions with each nurse that we come close to understanding the psychological profile of the killer. However, because his role is largely silent, we rely more on his actions. A moment of introspection, confusion or lashing out in violence is what the viewer has to go on to try to decide for themselves who the killer is.

As the film progresses, the tones changes, from exploitation to a movie with more artistic flair, due, in part, to the selective use of colour flashes and an interaction with one of the nurses which could possibly lead the viewer to believe the man had some justification for his acts.

It is important to note that, although this was based on the case of Richard Speck, beyond the setting and the selected victims, this story plays out differently than that of the horrific killing spree, which will forever place this film within the realm of controversial exploitation cinema.

Jūrō Kara is effective as the silent unnamed man. A rather simple role, given the lack of dialogue, but his ability to emote through facial expressions is a strength of his, which is not surprising given his background in classical theater. The nurses were hastily cast with most of them having no professional experience. This is not really a hindrance though, as each of their roles is limited and exist just to try to deepen the character of the unnamed man.

The film has a claustrophobic feel to it. Mostly shot in one set with the constant sound of a storm raging in the background, the dormitory feels more like a dungeon. Wakamatsu shot mostly in black and white because of budget restraints. When colour is used, it is timed for a profound effect, highlighting an important moment or visual. This tactic turns the darkened dormitory into a brightly visual feast, highlighting Wakamatsu’s flair to capture either the erotic, the violent or the serene, depending on what he wanted to emphasize within the film. The later half of the movie, which is more loaded with colour, offers a great shift in the general tone, not just changing the look, but successfully changing the narrative.

"Violated Angels" does lack some of Wakamatsu’s strengths that are showcased in his other films, most notably the script by his steady collaborator Masao Adachi, which, this time, is not presented so well, particularly when compared to a film like “Go Go the Second Time Virgin” (1969), which tells its story with clear social views through superior script writing. On the contrary, "Violated Angels" is very vague in what message it is trying to convey. Where it does succeed is showing Wakamatsu’s talents to tell a story through visuals, and to do it so well, within both a limited time frame (the film was shot over a three day period) and budget.

This movie is an essential viewing for fans of Asian exploitation film, given Wakamatsu’s influence in the genre.



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Asian Film Vault: Violated Angels (1967) By Kôji Wakamatsu (T)
Violated Angels (1967) By Kôji Wakamatsu (T)
An essential watch for fans of exploitation films
Asian Film Vault
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