The notion that the Japanese (and the Germans too) produce a ridiculous amount of perverse pornography is as much a part of popular culture as the common image of Americans as obese and stupid.
The 1991 film OORU NAITO RONGU or, as it’s known in the West, ALL NIGHT LONG has all the earmarks of stereotyped Japanese perversity – graphic bloody murder, rape, porno-type sexuality, sadistic violence, and a general overall feeling of unhealthy weirdness.
Its status as a cult film is based on its perception by film fans (mostly those who haven’t seen it I imagine) as a sort of Japanese STRAW DOGS or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE but I think it’s a lot more than that.
The three main characters, a wealthy college dropout, a nerdy brainy student, and an average joe vocational school student meet by accident at a train crossing where occurs a scene of grisly violence- a crazy man attacks and kills a young woman with a knife, a random attack as he does not know her. The three soon to be friends make no effort to save her and only get involved when the crazy man tries to attack them.
Eventually, their association leads to a brutal rape and then revenge violence taken in turn and the deaths of two out of the three heroes.
So what are we supposed to make of all this?
Well first off, revenge movies in which something terrible happens to the narrator and he spends the rest of the film exacting revenge against those who have wronged him so that’s all there is aren’t so much movies but titillating exercises in violence and sex that have the audience conditioned to respond at certain moments.
However, ALL NIGHT LONG is a more complex animal. This is a movie about aloneness in a highly developed society. Many of the exterior shots are of wide open spaces but without many people around (surprising when you consider how crowded Japan seems to be). Much of the action takes place by the ocean and a lot seems like an illusion. The end does hint that the whole film might be occurring in the brain of the nerdy student.
Another thing about this film are the really twisted secondary characters especially the evil rich tease girl the dropout meets and Tamae, the twitchy fat student with the ability to talk any woman into doing perverse things.
All in all, quite a good film, an unsettling but still interesting take on youth, frustration, violence, and perception.