All the Colors of Lady Avengers: Giallo, Pinku Eiga and “Taiwan Pulp Films”a video essay by Birdy Wei-ting Hung
In the five years from 1979 to 1983, more than 117 lowbrow, sensational films lured Taiwanese audiences to the big screens. Suffused with brutal violence and alluring female bodies, film scholar Ting-Wu Cho termed these popular yet understudied films: “Taiwan Pulp films.” This project surveys Taiwan Pulp films, as well as the ob/scene cinema viewing experience in Taiwan’s 38 year long martial law period (1949-1987). Throughout this period, female pleasure onscreen was deemed “obscene,” thus repressed by the nationalist government. However, if we take a look at the etymological root, as film scholar Linda Williams reminds us, the word “obscene” literally means “off-stage.” Gender studies scholar Hsuan-En Chan offers a Foucauldian framework to investigate the complex power dynamic beyond the so-called sexually repressed past. Chan notes, American exploitation films, Japanese Pinku eiga, West-Germany softcore sex-educational films, and Italian giallo films and Nazi sexploitation films were smuggled into Martial Law period’s Taiwan.How do Taiwan’s ob/scene screenings affect its audience and the domestic filmmaking? To examine the cinematic affinities among these ob/scene films, this video essay finds cinematic affinities among giallo films, pinku eiga, and Taiwan Pulp films. Specifically, it juxtaposes three alluring “sexy goddesses” on Taiwan’s big screens: Edwige Fenech, in All the Colors of the Dark (Sergio Martino, 1972); Meiko Kaji, in Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Shunya Ito, 1972); and Shao-feng Lu, in Lady Avenger (Chia-Yun Yan, 1981).
Birdy Wei-ting Hung is an M.F.A. Candidate at the School of Cinema, San Francisco State University. Her creative work in music videos, narrative fiction, and documentaries is inflected by her interests in experimental aesthetics. She has screened at the University of California Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive, the San Francisco Independent Film Festival, and the Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan. Her research interests include affect theory, body genres, and the abject. She has published in the online journal cinemedia. Hung is a contributor to professor Aaron Kerner’s forthcoming book, Abject Pleasures.