Saeko's life took a turn for the worse one day when she was 16 years old. She was gang-raped on a beach and from this she not only got pregnant, but she also got infected by syphilis. Now, she works hard a nurse but is living a double life where she, at night, goes out to look for men to spread the disease to as a revenge. When she finally finds a man she wants to be with, she settles down and the double life is a thing in the past. But this man is hiding something from Saeko.
"Madame O" is one of the earlier trips into exploitationville, and I think it might to this day feel as a wind of originality in the subgenre. Sure, it's not exactly in the same league as some of the exploitation films that laid the path, because the exploitation bit of it is kept rather small and much of it is in the character's past rather than the actual story. Nevertheless I want to classify it as such, but it's just as much a mix of drama and noir, which creates an entirely different breed than the typical rape and revenge film.
We're introduced to Saeko, a woman whose life was shattered many years ago. At the age of 16 she was raped, which led to her becoming pregnant and infected by syphilis. Having this done to her at such a young age messed her psyche up completely. She is now a nurse, but as night comes she's out prowling for men who are lusting for the flesh of willing women, only to infect them with the same disease she has carried for all these years. She suddenly finds herself falling in love with a man whose characteristics is the opposite of her otherwise raw version of what men are like. At least that's what she thinks, until she starts noticing something fishy going on with her man. She just doesn't know what.
I think the thing I was the most surprised about with this film was how it looks and acts like a typical drama mixed with the noir genre, but in reality it has a pretty dark story and something that (like I said earlier) is definitely in exploitation territory. It also has some very noir-ish features, even if shallow. The film goes between color and black & white, which is something I always enjoy. It doesn't give it much of effect, because I sometimes didn't notice when it even switched, but having most of it in b/w helped some things I believe. I wasn't completely sure when it switched though, but it might be that the scenes in color was things in the past, and everything in b/w was present. If only I had focused on that from the beginning so I would've kept up with the changes. Oh well!
It's not a graphic or brutal movie because of what goes on, but I think it was pretty raw when you consider what this woman is doing and going through. The entire story of her growing up hating men and infecting them with her disease, and then falling for a nice man only to have him be a jerk too, was psychologically brutal at least. And I think the fact that Seako is a woman we feel sympathy for already from the beginning made everything work even better.
Sadly, the movie doesn't really stand the test of time. The music, while enhancing the noir feel of the film, doesn't really fit in and became sort of stupid in the context it was used. Much of the music, at least. The few scenes that called for something powerful weren't exactly that either, so many things have been lost since the film was originally made. But I do think it is still a very good movie and, as I said earlier, still feels very original. It mixes a few genres perfectly, and the most impressive one being how it became more like a noir story with rape/revenge features instead of exploitation. It's something to watch if you're interested in checking out some pre-70's exploitation that helped shape the genre. It's more stylish than your usual stuff as well, so if all else fails there's that.