The serial-killer subgenre is pretty limited and, recently at least, not particularly fertile. But Imamura’s 1979 case history of a murderous con-man on the loose in 1960s Japan is, like ‘Roberto Succo’, free of facile psychology and moral judgement; and like ‘M’ or ‘10 Rillington Place’, it’s concerned less with the individual than with how his acts illuminate the society that spawned him. The discovery of two victims prompts a police investigation that reveals the apparent root of Iwao Enokizu’s sociopathy: a childhood incident involving his devoutly Catholic father. Imamura chronicles the growth of his unpredictable, brutal behaviour: Japan may have undergone a remarkable postwar revival, but Enokizu (Ken Ogata) introduces us to an underclass involved in prostitution, blackmail, fraud, rape and murder. We’re finally left wondering: is anyone here not in pain, not living a lie? Are compromise, oppression, madness, violence and a death wish par for the Japanese course? At once darkly comic and quasi-tragic, Imamura’s often brilliant tale of Eros and Thanatos is perverse, powerful and subversive.