A Snake Of June

STUDIO: Tartan Video
MSRP: $24.99

RUNNING TIME: 77 minutes
Behind the Scenes Interviews
Original Theatrical Trailer
Photo Gallery
Tartan Asia Extreme Trailers

The Pitch

“We’ll make a heartwarming story about a concerned telephone counselor who saves a man’s life. In return he stalks her, takes pictures of her and forces her to act in ways she never imagined possible.”

The Humans

Asuka Kurosawa, Yuji Kohtari and Shinya Tsukamoto

The Nutshell

Rinko is your average career woman in her early thirties. She works as a telephone operator, giving the lonely and depressed someone to talk to in their times of need. One of her repeat callers, Iguchi, is a disgruntled photographer who can only take pictures of inanimate objects. On the verge of committing suicide, Iguchi is talked back from the edge by Rinko. Grateful for her help, Iguchi decides that Rinko will be his new reason for living. He begins taking pictures of her during her most private moments. He decides to help Rinko be the person she secretly desires to be by blackmailing her with the photo negatives.

Iguchi also begins to target Shigehiko, Rinko’s husband. Iguchi feels that Shieghiko doesn’t appreciate what he has and is hell bent on forcing him to do so. Iguchi wages psychological warfare upon Shigehiko, tempting him with photos of the secret activities his wife has been up to and taking him to bizarre clubs where businessmen are exposed to sex and violence. If Shigehiko and Rinko won’t express their true desires to each other, then Iguchi intends to force them to through his machinations.

Viewmaster decides to target a new crowd.

The Lowdown

A Snake of June is deceptive in how ordinarily it all begins. For the first twenty minutes it plays just like a typical thriller would. The sinister stalker begins blackmailing the object of his obsession, forcing her to do acts that she only dared to think about in the privacy of her own home. Of course, being a Tsukamoto film, there’s no way it could stay so pedestrian for long. The Tetsuo films already demonstrated Tsukamoto’s love of bodily mutation and A Snake of June is no different, spiraling out of control towards an ending that is as surreal as it is erotic.

Several of the events that unfold in the film are difficult to decipher. There are women being drowned in tubs, a robotic prehensile penis and a large woman banging a drum as men watch a sex act through funnel-like masks. Are all of these events necessarily a metaphor for something? Is it really that important? However confusing these scenes may be, the majority of them aren’t integral to the central theme of the film and are fascinating to watch. They enhance the message and tone of the film, much in the same way the film’s blue tint and constant rain effects do.

Margaret Cho in the role of a lifetime.

If the surrealistic scenes were removed from the film then most of the running time and reasons to watch would be gone. Clocking in at a brief 77 minutes, Tsukamoto seems to realize that this story has very small legs. The secret sexual desires of the married couple are slowly uncovered and they begin to act in the ways they want to. No important characters exist outside of the couple and their stalker, leaving little room for side-plots to pad the running time.

A Snake of June’s bizarre visuals in combination with its fast pace and erotic scenes make it a visually dazzling film that ends before it can wear on a viewer’s patience. The film doesn’t make a lot of sense upon first viewing and probably makes even less sense the more you watch it. However, no matter how confusing it gets, it will never be boring. After all, it has a prehensile robotic penis in it.

Why does Marvel keep rejecting my alternate universe Spider-Man story where Spidey receives the black suit after Dr. Octopus’ robotic penis coats him in ink?

The Package

The cover art for A Snake of June conveys everything the movie is about. On the top half is bizarre visual and on the bottom half is some erotic action. The title of the film is in embossed silver which means it’s sure to go up in value if you poly bag it. The case contains a small booklet that lists the film chapters and advertises other Tartan Asia Extreme releases.

The disc’s only meaningful special features come in two short documentaries on the making of the film. The film’s two leads sit down for interviews in the first documentary and talk about how they prepared for the film’s demanding erotic scenes. Tsukamoto pulled double duty on the film by directing it and playing the stalker. He talks about how he always fantasized about playing the stalker role and what he wanted to accomplish with the film.

The second documentary is focused on the technical aspects of the production. Various crew members talk about the production design, sound, writing and visual effects used to give the movie its distinctive look and tone. The disc also contains the original theatrical trailer for A Snake of June and trailers for other Tartan releases. The option to individually select the trailers is not offered. A token photo gallery is thrown in as well but it’s nothing more than a collection of screenshots from the film. The lack of special features is disappointing given the short length of the feature presentation.

7.0 out of 10