December 4, 2012 – 4:35 am

When satanists invoke Lucifer to try and dominate the world, who do you call? Shimako Sato’s Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard Of Darkness (1995) offers a fun ride that takes in a teacher who molests students; another woman teacher who hits on girls and a gory showdown where students are trapped in school. Stephen Tan reviews.

It’s already bad enough when there is a sex maniac in the school but things can only get worse when there are two of them.

In the morning, teacher Numata is at the school gates frisking students as they pass through. While it is not known what exactly he is looking for, he focuses his bodily searches on the girls as he gropes and fondles their breasts, crotches and bottoms. Fearful of authority figures, none of the girls appears to have lodged any formal complaints though they grumble among themselves.

On the other hand, homeroom teacher Shirai tries to be discreet that she likes girls but the students know that she is currently having a fling with student Kazumi. During their breaks, the two seclude themselves in one of the empty classrooms for some sex, with Kyoko apparently the more dominant one.

Meanwhile, a cabal of satanists needs 13 victims to complete its ritual to summon Lucifer, whose power will enable it to rule the world. Studying the locations of a spate of killings, Mizuno feels that witchcraft is involved. Knowing of his interest in witchcraft, some of the girls approach Mizuno to put a curse on Numata. As they crowd around Mizuno, the group is joined by new student Misa, who is a witch and whose purpose is to thwart the satanists’ plan.

Bemused by what would have been Mizuno’s futile effort, Misa creates an effigy and places a spell on it, asking the students to place the voodoo doll in Numata’s drawer. The next day, Numata suffers from diarrhoea and Shirai gives the students a free period, during which she and Kazumi have some quality time together. Their sexual tryst is observed by Numata who is later killed in an accident.

Later the day, Shirai announces that some students will be required to re-sit a test and says that Misa will join the group. As the test begins, Shirai goes into another classroom where Kazumi is waiting for her. However, Shirai does not show up when the test is over. While the girls obediently wait for Shirai, the boys decide to leave but find that they are trapped inside the building - doors and windows cannot open and all routes lead back to the same rooms.

Chie, one of the girls, finds herself trapped in the toilet and is later found drowned. Seven students are mysteriously locked in a room and are gruesomely torn apart. Another girl manages to open a window only to be decapitated when the window closes on her. A boy falls down the stairs and breaks his neck. Mizuno draws a pentagram on the floor thinking that he will be saved. He becomes possessed and starts killing. After killing Shindo, a boy who was interested in Misa, Mizuno cuts his own throat.

Misa finds a half naked Kazumi dead, with nails hammered into her hands. Just then, Shirai shows up wearing a ritual cloak and bearing down on Misa with an axe. The struggle ends when Shirai gets impaled with the axe. Misa goes to look for Mizuki, thinking that they are now saved.

Mizuki kisses Misa, saying “I really like you”, before stabbing her. It is Mizuki who is the cult leader and it was she who has been directing Shirai all along. Being friends with Misa, Mizuki had used Misa’s hair to render the witch powerless against her spells.

Pulling out another effigy, Mizuki blows on it; and both the effigy and Misa “dissolve”. Calling upon Lucifer to come into her, Mizuki’s face tears apart and an energy surge shoots up into the clouds, leaving an empty room. A broken crystal amulet, which Misa had earlier given to Mizuki for protection, reconstitutes itself, forms a pentagram and regenerates Misa, who comments, “I told you it wouldn’t work, Mizuki.”

With a title such as Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard Of Darkness and based on a manga at that, it is easy to assume the worst of Shimako Sato’s 1995 film. But the movie starts off promisingly with a young woman running through the busy streets only to have a steel beam crashing through her head. Cut to the teacher feeling up a girl student and later, a teacher and student having lesbian sex, and viewers are hooked before they know it. Then again, how many times do viewers need to watch students wander through a “haunted” school? (Think Hirayama Hideyuki’s series of Gakkou no Kaidan or Haunted School movies.)

For genre fans, this is not a pink film per se though there is a fair bit of nudity and sex between Shirai and Kazumi. And there’s an eyeful in the tracking shot of schoolgirls in their white bras as they change in the locker room.

Undoubtedly, Sato has a limited budget and obviously has some tough choices to make. The head splatter at the beginning is convincing enough and the decapitation scene can easily fit into any of the Friday The 13th or Final Destination films. There are the by-now customary geysers of blood from sliced neck arteries but viewers will likely complain about the massacre in the locked room - a cheat, really, by just showing blood splattering on the walls!

Also problematic is the central character of Misa. Director Sato tries to make her mysterious and, in the first half of the movie, even the person behind all the killings. The lack of a back story or anything of her origins leaves her as much of a blank in the beginning as in the end. Who is she? What is she? How is it that she can be regenerated? There are no answers at film’s end - only that this is another movie open for sequels.

And it does rankle to see teacher Numata running his hands over the girls and getting away with it. His misfortune is to have encountered a witch, which seems to say, in director Shimako Sato’s view, that one can get away with anything… as long as you don’t offend the “wrong” people. Guess that’s teaching ‘em when they are young.

Note: The Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness DVD (Tokyo Shock) is banned in $ingapore.

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