Monday, May 22, 2017

A RETURN TO THE MOVIES! Seeing Toho Flicks Again in Asagaya!

Tickets for tonight's double feature. Photo by Brett Homenick.

It's Monday, so that must mean I went back to the Laputa Asagaya for another double feature. On tonight's menu was a pair of Toho features, which couldn't be any more different from each other. One was the screwball romantic comedy The Dangerous Kiss (1960), and the other was the eerie vampire tale Lake of Dracula (1971). 

Prior to the screenings, another audio recording by none other than Shinichi Yanagisawa was played, describing the background of The Dangerous Kiss. It's always a treat to hear Yanagisawa-san's familiar voice. 

 A poster for The Dangerous Kiss (uh, the one on the right). Photo by Brett Homenick.

The Dangerous Kiss stars Akira Takarada, Reiko Dan, Ichiro Arishima, Sachio Sakai, and several other Toho regulars (most of whom didn't appear in the studio's monster films). It's a lighthearted, over-the-top comedy that doesn't take itself seriously for one second. Takarada-san plays a popular, handsome boxer named Akira Takada (get it?) who, after a car collision, is photographed by the paparazzi trying to revive a high school student (played by Reiko Dan) using an unusual combination of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and ramen broth. The photo (looking more like a make-out session than a life-saving attempt) ends up on the cover of a gossip magazine and causes all sorts of shenanigans among the multiple women in Takada's life.

There's a lot happening in this film, everything from a food-fight sequence to a stage show at a nightclub featuring a guy in a yeti suit menacing a dancer. (The suit looked a bit like the one used in Half Human but, to my eye, was demonstrably different.)  Takarada-san was at his most charismatic here, and the entire cast was obviously having a lot of fun with the material.

Poster art for Toho's Lake of Dracula. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

After The Dangerous Kiss, it was time for a movie about a different kind of dangerous kisses -- you know, the kind vampires give you when they're trying to eat. Lake of Dracula was screened in all its glory, and it has obviously never looked better. I've never seen it in 35mm before, but the detail of the images was fantastic. Watching Shin Kishida's death scene at the end was quite intriguing. I never noticed before that the makeup used on Kishida's face during his death scene wasn't applied to his neck, making it plainly obvious to the viewer that it's all just a touch-up job.

And so ends another eventful Monday night. I'll be back at the Laputa Asagaya soon, but on a different night from my usual routine. Why the change? Stay tuned to this blog for the exciting answer!

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