The following review of A Night In Nude originally appeared in my column “Trash Taken Seriously” in Asian Cult Cinema Issue #35 in the spring of 2002. The film had been shown at Japan Society as part of “Dark Visions: Japanese Film Noir & Neo-Noir,” one of three overlapping film series in New York City that I was covering at the time. It’s being provided here as background for the sequel, A Night In Nude: Salvation, which will be shown on Sunday, July 17th at 9:00 PM as part of Japan Society’s upcoming Japan Cuts: Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema. For information about that screening, visit the Japan Cuts event page here.
One of writer & director Takashi Ishii’s early screen credits is as the writer of the 1988 horror film Evil Dead Trap. He is perhaps best known in the West as the writer and director of Gonin (1995) and Gonin 2 (1996).
A Night In Nude (no “The”) is the story of Jiro (Naoto Takenaka), a factotum for hire who advertises that he is available to do “anything that needs doing.” A beautiful woman (Nami Tsuchiya) has him show her around town, but this is simply a ploy to set him up for involvement in a murder. She is enslaved both financially and sexually by the owner of a nightclub that is going bankrupt. Since he will not release her so that she can get married, he must be done away with.
She accomplishes this in a shower scene reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), the ending of which also come to mind in the final scene of this movie. Finding himself implicated, Jiro crams the corpse in a suitcase with dry ice and sets off to discover his employer’s true identity and whereabouts so he can return her “luggage” to her.
Thrown into the mix are the club owner’s jealous “protégé,” a drag queen who knew Jiro years ago, and a distraught salaryman who is desperate to get back at least some of the money he invested in the club. Ishii manages to successfully combine very funny and quite violent elements in weaving this tale. While we’ve all witnessed many movie scenes where a person has a gun put to their head, I don’t recall ever seeing one slowly pushed inside a cranium and then pulled out, accompanied by perfect, squishy audio effects. Top drawer entertainment.