Rape! 13th Hour
(Reipu 25-ji: Bokan) (1977)
Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe

Artistic Value: * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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After giving a ride to a man wearing a red leather jacket (Akira Takahashi), a filling station attendant (Yudai Ishiyama) is convinced by his new acquaintance to rape a ballerina. This unnamed pair then go on to rape various other women while the man in the red jacket is pursued by three homosexual thugs, one of whom, the leader of the others, wants to have sex with him.

Yasuharu Hasebe's Rape! 13th Hour is a vicious, sleazy, and entertaining film. The story the director tells is amoprhous, and it is related without any impressive imagery, but it has a sufficient number of intriguing qualities so that it does retain the viewer's interest.

The great bulk of the movie consists of the two protagonists breaking into a series of homes belonging to various woman, each of whom they proceed to beat, strip, and then rape. The scenes showing these attacks are, not surprisingly, pretty nasty, but they are never so extreme that the viewer will be made to flinch in horror. Nor is it likely that he will be aroused by them. Although the scenes clearly are meant to be titillating, they are not. The nudity in the film, as with that in virtually all Japanese films, is limited to the performers' torsos and backsides, and the only sexual act portrayed is the monotonous pumping of one of the leads' crotch while he lies on top of his current victim. All of this said, the assaults Hasebe depicts are not boring, either. In fact, they can be a little disturbing thanks to the way the director reveals how the women being raped come to enjoy that attack. Each of the women, when the men first appear, is presented as being terrified, while she struggles and tries to escape, but after the protagonists have had a few moments of sex with her, she comes to desire more. For instance, one women clearly becomes sexually stimulated as she watches her friend being raped, and another woman becomes a far more energetic sexual partner than is the man assaulting her.

These various attacks, brutish and exploitative as they are, and as unpleasantly engaging as each is on its own, can, after a while, become tiresome to watch. Fortunately, the director has interspersed his presentations of them with a story about a trio of gay hoodlums pursuing one of the protagonists, the man with the red jacket, so that this individual can be made to have sex with their leader. Several of the scenes relating this portion of the narrative are actually infused with a sense of excitement. The protagonists lead the gay men on a car chase; the latter stalk their intended victim at different locations, and, eventually, having caught him, get into a fight with him and his friend in which they kill the former. After that, one of the gay thugs anally rapes his leader's erstwhile object of desire and a second thug, having knocked out the corpse's teeth, rapes him orally. The scene is pretty vicious. It is not, however, played as a comeuppance for the violent hero. In fact, after having watched his accomplice being murdered and his carcass being abused, the other lead goes on to commit more rapes on his own.

Besides these two elements, the heroes' raping of women and their being pursued by the homosexual gang, the only other aspect of the movie is that comprised of a handful of scenes in which the man in red questions his friend's sexuality and the other reveals his cautiousness and lack of spontaneity. Although these scenes do set up the film's conclusion, in which the filling station attendant overcomes his hesitancy and becomes as accomplished a rapist as his former teacher had been, they do little to expose the personalities of the lead characters and are pretty forgettable.

I cannot say that Rape! 13th Hour is a good movie. It is visually flat, lacks any narrative trajectory, and fails to develop its characters. It is, however, fairly engaging, nonetheless.

Review by Keith Allen

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