Twilight Dinner (1998) by Yutaka Ikejima

A young man gradually finds out his neighbors are bloodthirsty vampires.



One of the genre's biggest and most prolific names, Yutaka Ikejima has rightfully earned the nickname 'Mr. Pink' for his dedication and devotion to the genre, crafting some of the best efforts released under the label. Originally released as "Chô-inran: Shimai donburi" back in 1998, this is one of Ikejima's most profound horror/erotica entries and emerges as one of his finest entries.

Twilight Dinner is available from Pink Eiga

Facing murder charges, lonely Kazuhiko (Kyôsuke Sasaki, from "Tokyo Train Girls 2: Supervixen") finds himself under a police investigation and forced to revisit his past crimes. Recalling how he met Tsukiko Kurotani (Yumi Yoshiyuki, from "Crazy Lips") and her sister Mayako (Kanae Mizuhara) who move into the apartment complex across the street from him, the relationship between the three of them blossoms into a full-on romance the more time they spend together. Suddenly, after an encounter with them, he finds himself developing into a ravenous bloodthirsty killer and targeting more victims around the neighborhood, forcing him into a rather terrifying conclusion to his condition.

This is a rather high-brow type of pinku film. Rather than the out-and-out exploitation efforts usually featured here, this goes in a different direction by offering a touch of class to the proceedings. There are plenty of scenes here featuring more traditional camera-work and setups than would be found in other pink films of that time, from the stylized look of Shoji Shimizu's cinematography showing the sisters leaving the apartment and being out on the hunt to the scenes of Kazuhiko and Mayako making love in her apartment framed by a series of ornamental statues lying in the room. These shots, as well as intricately-arranged scenes spread liberally throughout the movie, make it feel much bigger and grander than a traditional pink film and really elevate the film. Likewise, production values are certainly high and most elements present, from the gore effects at the end to the strong sex scenes that have a hint of erotic charm during all the scenes featured.

On top of this, the cast delivers rather solidly. Kyôsuke Sasaki as Kazuhiko is extremely effective. Asked to play emotionally vulnerable in the flashbacks to feverish insanity during the investigative questioning, these two sides of his personality come off effectively and he manages to be quite convincing. Kanae Mizuhara as the younger sister Mayako comes off even better than her costar, generating plenty of sensuality and vulnerability. The chemistry with Sasaki is a large part of the success for their scenes and when mixed with the vampire traits makes her a genuinely sympathetic character. Yumi Yoshiyuki plays older sister Tsukiko rather coldly, as her distances and icy demeanor causes Tsukiko to be far more mysterious in her delivery. Obviously hiding the secretive nature of the sisters better than Mayako, she plays the part well and brings the central trio into a watchable group here.

While these work well for the film, it does have some major problems. The biggest is undoubtedly Kyôko Godai's script, which is wafer-thin and really lacks much of the smarts it thinks it has. The film's admittedly shocking finale works on the extreme it goes to rather than any sort of twist or turn of events. Going through the motion of the police-investigation-backstory as this plays out, the ending is telegraphed from the opening frames of the film and ambles on to this predictable finish. Furthermore, the sisters' erratic behavior and quirks telegraph their true nature from the start and Kazuhiko's inability to recognize this allows him to look foolish for not seeing what the audience knows all along. This is all the fault of the decision to do the whole film with this investigative angle. As well, the final twist has little resonance or impact having been used numerous times since which dilutes the impact it has, letting the film end on a somewhat sour note overall.

Despite some minor issues, there are more than enough positives to rally around that manages to hold this one up enough to be a strong feature in the genre. The fact that there are those issues means that this one will indeed be more appealing to pinku aficionados or fans of the creative side, while the horror-centric fans who aren't into the more extreme side could be let down here due to those elements.



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Asian Film Vault: Twilight Dinner (1998) by Yutaka Ikejima
Twilight Dinner (1998) by Yutaka Ikejima
A young man gradually finds out his neighbors are bloodthirsty vampires.
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