I considered posting a lengthy "this could damn well offend some readers" tag at the start of this post, but y'know what? You're all over 18 (you'd better be...) so you're adult enough to handle this entry the same as the rest of them. So...
Consider that mere consideration a warning in and of itself!
Atari Dog Level 1
If you can still tell what's going on, congratulations!When my regular source for Japanese tapes was on the hunt for SATO Hisayasu's Horse, Woman and Dog he stumbled upon a tape for something called 馬と犬と人間/Horse, Dog, and Human, a film who's original Italian title was Il Capriccio di Paola (The Whims of Paola). The stills and description on the box promised something pretty saucy, but as is the case with old Japanese porn tapes, you really don't know what you're getting into until you hit play...
And yes, you watch far too much Japanese porn.
And yes, you watch far too much Japanese porn.
Turns out this was quite literally a vintage hardcore porn film directed by a Giorgio Maimone, which had to be drastically re-edited for Japanese release in accordance with EIRIN sensibilities, which naturally demand no frontal nudity on the screen. This led to all sorts expected airbrushed fog, optical zooms to obscure the naughty bits, hilarious animated .GIF style footage loops(!), and even recurring sudden fade-to-black effects to avoid actually showing off a peenie by accident.
Here's a fantastic example or two:
But, of course, they missed a spot:
No, I don't get it either. As you can see above, clearly sucking on horse wang is verboten... is it that animal husbandry regularly calls for equine handjobs, and thus nobody considers this sex anymore? Is it because Tom Green did it in Freddy Got Fingered? What the hell, EIRIN?! Not that Japanese censorship ever makes a lot of sense, but obscuring one scene involving horse dick and leaving another uncensored makes about as much sense as the NEVA not obscuring an anus until a tongue is pushing its' way inside of it. And yes, they do that too.
Censored or not, the fact that the chick actually massaging the stallion while getting reamed by her human co-host is constantly fearing for her life, leaning back to look at the director with miserable "do I HAVE to...?" eyes, makes the film worth watching alone. Too bad she sort of looks like Charlie Manson's inbred daughter...
The film itself is typically goofy vintage hard-porn of a seemingly mid-to-late 1970s vintage I can't pin down. Neither the film title nor even the director give me anything to go by, and the singular scrap of information Amazon.co.jp has on it is that it was last released on VHS in April of 1995. At the very least, the similarities in the Japanese title to Horse, Woman, and Dog may have been less a clever knock-off than I thought: 1995 puts Il Capriccio di Paola's home video debut some 5 years after the theatrical release of Sato's Horse, Woman and Dog feature, and 4 years before its' shoddy looking video release.
Perhaps any similarities between horse penis epics was solely coincidental? Whatever the history of this bizarre gem of Eurotrash pornography might be, the tape was a real mess. As you can see above it's simultaneously very soft and noisy, with the optical effects - zooms and loops and all that - looking particularly worse for wear. The whole film is too dark thanks to constant airbrushed fog editing, and there's absolutely zero 3:2 cadence to be found in what was probably a very cheap telecine. Strangely, the pixelation censorship infecting Atari Dog seems to have been made BEFORE the film based Japanese subtitles were added to the print, which means that if this ever had a theatrical release, viewers were staring at a 15 foot pixelated pooch on the big screen... I can't decide if that's awesome, or depressing. I wouldn't be shocked if this were a direct to video affair though; Japan was making enough of their own cheap sexploitation films in the 1970s that I can't even fathom why anyone would bother buying the rights to a foreign film they'd just have to edit the crap out of in post anyway. There's nothing resembling a theatrical date of copyright on the cover either (as you can see), so whatever mysteries this title may hold, I'm not the guy with the answers... just the prerecord.
With a tape in this bad a shape, restoration is almost a moot point... but come on, Kentai Films NOT make a new anamorphic transfer out of hilarious horse porn? Anyway, this will be the first time I've used a straight-up deinterlacer, and I don't feel too bad doing it, because there's absolutely nothing I, or anyone else on the planet can do to restore 3:2 pulldown that's been temporally smeared into oblivion, so the usual 24fps based decombing I use on upscaled material is not an option.
The current deinterlacer-of-choice is what's called a "Smart BOB", and only deinterlaces the parts of the screen that are actually in motion at the time. Neat, huh? The result is a sharp and mostly aliasing-free image... but not one totally free of artifacts, I'm afraid:
Those little black dots eating into the ringing at the bottom of the screen are confusing random video noise with actual movement, and smearing pixels together that should be left alone. It seem to be the Achilles Heel that affects *all* 3D motion-adaptive deinteracing solutions, including TomsMoComp, Kernal Deint, SmartBOB and others, I'm sure. Of course, if you turn off the thresholds for area-based deinterlacing and deinterlace the entire frame, these issues disappear, and that's exactly what I've decided to do. Retaining "resolution" on this pile of crap is barely a priority to begin with, since if anything deinterlacing the image using a "Dumb BOB" algorithm will only serve to soften up the image and help eliminate the endless parade of heinous VHS analog-noise. It's just like using a 2D NR filter without actually needing to run a second line of code! It will up the ghosting you see during movement slightly, but not blending vaguely-remated information from one frame to the next means we'll get less smeared chroma, so as always, you simply trade one problem for another.
The data is technically 30fps, but watching it all frame-by-frame, you can see repeated frames TRYING to emulate 3:2 cadence - they're just sucking at it. Decimating the image from 30fps to 24fps will cut down on the repeated movement, and thus improve motion (not to mention compression) without drastically affecting anything else in the process. The BOB filter I'm using, even in "Dumb" mode, is very sharp and doesn't have any of that irritating vertical 'shake' that some crappier BOB deinterlacers have, so I'm convinced I've found the best compromise I'm going to get out of this transfer. It's not a perfect solution by any means, but it's better than anything else out there short of getting my hands on the Japanese film print.
Various noise reduction, sharpening, and color correction combinations have been experimented with, but I'll be honest in saying that all of them are varying levels of FAIL apart from the usual level-fix, boosting the contrast levels to DVD standard 16-235 and carefully raising the gamma to help with the numerous darker-than-hell scenes from poor lighting and hot contrast. Don't expect much, just know that this is still nicer looking than the source tape, and sometimes that's about all you can pray for.
Atari Dog Level 2