Yasuharu Hasebe
Mondo Macabro

In the mid 1970s, Nikkatsu studios decided to tweak the formula on their already successful Roman Porno line, by adding graphic ultra violence into the already torrid sexual mix. Director Yasuharu Hasebe, initially averse to continuing the traditional yet decidedly popular pink film line, proved to be a perfect choice in instituting a series of more visceral films that would come to be known as violent pink. While the subgenre was short lived, it did provide for a number of memorable efforts, and several unforgettable titles.

After a trying first day of work, a chubby faced young waitress persuades the diner's quiet cake chef to give her ride home, so she doesn't have to walk alone in the rain with no umbrella. Along the way, the pair happen across a young woman dressed only in a long blue t-shirt, wandering aimlessly across the darkened rain strewn street. A maniacal grin across her face, the chef pulls over and insists that the woman get into the backseat to dry off. Dazed and soaked to the bone, the woman strips off her undergarments and proceeds to rub a discarded slice of wedding cake all over her exposed chest while the two coworkers stare back at her from the front seat, mesmerized by their crazed passenger's bizarre actions and strangely euphoric demeanor. Satisfied that her bosom is fully adored with icing, the woman takes a cake knife to her wrist, to the shock and horror of the on looking waitress and chef. Grabbing the knife from the demented woman's hand, the chef quickly jumps out and throws the undesirable hitchhiker from his car. Latching herself to the side of the chefs vehicle, the woman is dragged at high speed until she is eventually shaken off, falling to her death. Panicked, the waitress and chef rush the girl's body to a nearby junkyard, where they ditch the remains before continuing to their original destination. Upon arriving at the waitress' home, the two devour each other sexually, as strong emotions of fear and adrenaline over power the couple.

The next day the duo attempt to return to their everyday lives but find that their passion for each other and for killing are not easily forgotten. The chunky waitress encourages and provokes the chef with threats of future victims, and is in no way averse to using herself as bait. Conning an older, regular patron into a joy ride through the county, the waitress sets up the old man by initially subduing to his heavy petting, only to leave him in the car behind, alone and naked, for the waiting chef to provide the anticipated bloody climax. While the repeat lethal act certainly gets the juices flowing in the deadly duo, it isn't until the chef finds his true calling, kidnapping and torturing female victims that his true sadistic self begins to shine. With an affinity for eviscerating his victims with a sharp cake knife to the crotch, it isn't long before the waitress begins to bore the chef and his deadly desires take on a life of their own.

Director Yasuharu Hasebe has an impressive body of work that is familiar and admired by many a Pinky Violence fan, myself included. Hasebe began his career at Nikkatsu with the go-go spy picture BLACK TIGHT KILLERS and would continue to find work helming numerous youth oriented films, most often populated with gangs of female juvenile delinquents. After helming three entries in the STRAY CAT ROCK series and a brief affair with Toei studios to direct Meiko Kaji in FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: #701's GRUDGE SONG, Hasebe took a break from Nikkatsu, finding little desirable about their blossoming Roman Porno line. However, the opportunity and freedom to incorporate violence into the popular pink film proved to be a tempting and prolific endeavor for the director as he returned to Nikkatsu in 1976, where he subsequently produced back-to-back pictures for the studio, including RAPE!, SECRET HONEYMOON: RAPE TRAIN and RAPE! 13th HOUR. Notice a pattern? While the Violent Pink subgenre would prove both popular and profitable, it was short lived as the Japanese government began to crack down on such questionable content, fearing it would be seen overseas and inadvertently provide a less than appealing view of their culture.

Those used to the tough, often hard headed females of the STRAY CAT ROCK or GIRL BOSS series will find strong similarities in ASSULT!'s lead actress. While not the type you would typically consider for such a sexual role, especially considering her face favors the Moon with a rocket in its eye from VOYAGE TO THE MOON, her bountiful figure and crazed quaff of hair proved to be an appropriately antagonistic catalyst for the demure and unassuming cake chef. While the comparisons to Jack the Ripper are minimal, the film does take a decidedly male dominating turn as the chef's anger and frustration to the opposite sex is wholly apparent given his proclivity to stab his female victims in the groin. Highly intriguing, walking a thin and slippery line between erotic and sadistic, ASSAULT! JACK THE RIPPER is never dull and should be on the radar of fans of Teruo Ishii, Norifumi Suzuki and Koji Wakamatsu.

ASSAULT! JACK THE RIPPER is presented with a brand new anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer taken from the film's original negative. The source print must have been kept in ideal conditions as the picture is remarkably clear and completely unsoiled of any grain or debris. Presented with its original Japanese language track, the audio sounds clear without any noticeable flaws to distract from the unusually jazzy, killer-lounge score. Optional English subtitles are easy to read and overall you would be hard pressed to find any flaw in the film's presentation.

Extra features include two brief but informative essays about Nikkatsu Studios and the film itself. "The Erotic Empire", a 24-minute documentary on the Nikkatsu Studios Roman Porno era, is fascinating and introspective featurette that can also be found on Mondo Macabro's other Nikkatsu release, THE WATCHER IN THE ATTIC. Those already familiar with the Mondo Macabro series of documentary shorts, found on several of their past releases, can expect the same level of entertainment and education toward the wild world of foreign exploitation cinema. Film historian Jasper Sharp, author of Behind the Pink Curtain: The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema provides back-story to both the film and its director in a brief on camera interview. A collection of original Nikkatsu Studios trailers, including ASSAULT! JACK THE RIPPER, THE WATCHER IN THE ATTIC, NAKED RASHOMON, THE SINS OF SISTER LUCIA and FEMALE PRISONER: CAGED, are presented along side Mondo Macabro's impressive promo reel which gives several glimpses of titles to come, including THE WARRIOR with Barry Prima and the Philippines-made SNAKE SISITERS. (Jason McElreath)