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Vermilion Pleasure Night

Directed by Yoshimasa Ishibashi

Written by Yoshimasa Ishibashi

Starring Starring an array of actresses and several mannequins

Produced by Takeshi Yokozawa, Masataka Izumi, Yoko Nakanishi

Rated TV-MA

100 minutes

****

If you’ve been reading my work for any length of time, you’ll know that, entertainment wise, I’ve often believed the Japanese to be a couple rice dishes short of a bento box. These are the guys who made the mannequin a viable series actor thanks to “The Fuccons.” These are the guys who orchestrated the mass death of fifty schoolgirls via subway car impact in “Suicide Club.” These are the guys that brought you the nonstop insanity fest that was “Crazy Lips.”

These are the guys that got kicked off of Showtime.

And now, the Japanese firmly establish themselves as the nuttiest egg rolls in the entertainment game by offering up “Vermilion Pleasure Night.”

“Vermilion Pleasure Night” is similar to dozens of stateside shows—“Saturday Night Live,” “MAD TV,” and “Blue Collar TV” are all solid examples of the kind of sketch comedy format that “Vermilion Pleasure Night” uses. However, there’s an even better example here, “The Tracey Ullman Show.”

It’s a safe bet that very few people actually REMEMBER this flop-in-the-making, but one major cultural phenomenon emerged from its ashes: “The Simpsons.”

And in much the same way that “The Simpsons” was birthed into a full-length series from the short filler material it started out as on “The Tracey Ullman Show,” so too did “Vermilion Pleasure Night” give birth to its own full-series spinoff from filler, “The Fuccons.” Otherwise known as “OH! Mikey!”

“Vermilion Pleasure Night”, much like Ullman’s long-since-defunct comedy, is a sketch show revolving around any of a number of topics, offering up recurring characters and great heaping doses of sexually-driven insanity. Which isn’t to say it’s all sex on “Vermilion Pleasure Night”—there’s more than a share of violence here too, and lots and lots of laughs.

However, content-wise, “Vermilion Pleasure Night” will not be immediately comparable to any sketch show you’ve seen before or are likely to see any time soon. This is all Japanese humor, folks. Just for a walkthrough, we kick things off with a spear-bald drag queen surprising a woman getting ready for an evening out by screaming the name of the show. They follow this up with, among other things, a cartoon revolving around an interview with someone named Natsumi-chan interspersed with a guy in a bathtub chanting “nice body” repeatedly, a stand-up comedy act composed entirely of clay, several chicks acting like mannequins and slapping hell out of each other followed by dancing, and then the adventures of a juvenile delinquent named Takako who terrorizes a neighborhood comprised totally of herself and a bunch of mannequins.

What is WITH the Japanese fixation with mannequins?

And I haven’t even told you about the English lesson yet. Let’s just say, fellas and some ladies out there, you’re going to wish you were Toshi by the time it’s over.

If you showed up here looking for things that made sense, or some kind of rational overarching point, then you’re going to leave sorely disappointed. But for those of us who love a good laugh, then you’re not going to have a problem in the least with the crazy, sexy, and ultimately cool (just to be a bit derivative) antics of “Vermilion Pleasure Night.”

I found myself laughing, and laughing quite a lot, at this dosing of strange Japanese humor. Sketches like “Starship Residence” hearken back to earlier models of Japanese humor, and sketches like “Cathy’s House” show the most recent version. Whether you like your comedy physical, psychological, psychosexual, or just plain nuts, you will find a laugh in “Vermilion Pleasure Night.” Somewhere. This broad appeal gives it extra appeal.

The disk I got came without special features, though the full version is likely to have several. Hopefully some deleted scenes.

All in all, “Vermilion Pleasure Night” is packed full of weird and bizarre situations that ultimately yield laughs in even the poorest sense of humor. They may be a couple rice dishes short of a bento box, but man, what they pack in is well worth the trip.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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