Archive for teruo ishii

HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN (1969) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Japan, movies with tags , , , , , , , on January 11, 2011 by goregirl

BANNED!! I’m not sure there is anything that gets horror fans more curious about a film than it being banned in its country of origin. Horrors Of Malformed Men falls under the unique sub-genre “erotic-grotesque” (Ero guro), a tag that certainly evokes all manner of strange, sexual and horrifying images. It is certainly a quirky film that does indeed touch on a number of taboo topics like incest, torture and bestiality and there are more than a few bizarre and occasionally disturbing visuals but I doubt fans of eclectic cinema would be terribly shocked by the images and themes in this film. I had never heard of Teruo Ishii before a few months ago. After reading a review for this film over at Japan Cinema I became instantly intrigued and attempted to rent the film which was considerably more difficult to find than I thought it would be. I did trip over a couple other Ishii titles along the way including Female Yakuza Tale: Inquisition and Torture and Shogun’s Joy of Torture (review pending), both of which I quite enjoyed! Horrors Of Malformed Men definitely did not disappoint! Once again, Teruo Ishii creates a flick that is a unique, weird, mesmerizing and violent trip worth taking.

Usually I would include a brief plot summary before diving in, but it just seemed like too daunting a task to try to explain Horrors Of Malformed Men. I try to avoid comparisons to other films in my reviews, but it is difficult not to compare Horrors Of Malformed Men’s second half to H.G. Well’s Island of Dr. Moreau. The film is actually based on the writing of Edogawa Rampo and borrows from several different stories. This probably explains why the film is so disjointed and downright illogical at times. At its heart Horrors Of Malformed Men is a family drama and it’s got a complete madman named Jogoro who inhabits an island where he has surrounded himself with deformed men, women, and creatures, deformed by his own hand. Now that’s my kind of family drama! Jogoro is completely insane but he is an intelligent, passionate psycho. The films central character is medical student Hirosuke. Hirosuke escapes a placement in a mental institute and assumes the identity of his twin brother, eventually traveling to the island in pursuit of his father. There are plenty of strange and interesting twists and oddities among its wandering plot. The films story does come together in the end and is tied up with an absolutely perfect finale. The film is a bit of a slow-boil and the pace won’t be to everyone’s taste but it definitely adds to the films dream-like mood.

If you ever thought, “I just don’t see enough Butoh dancing in horror films” than Horrors Of Malformed Men is for you! I actually thought the use of the dance style was extremely effective here. Particularly the scenes with the mad doc scurrying about the rocks looking much like some human-crab hybrid against a backdrop of roaring waves. Jogoro’s long black hair hanging in his face almost completely obscuring his crazed eyes and wearing some manner of peculiar looking frock as he moves erratically about. The makeup and effects are simplistic but decent and there is a lot of creativity used in the various “malformitites”. Ishii includes some pretty twisted little bits that will certainly get your attention such as a woman eating the crabs feeding off of her dead lover’s body. There isn’t much in the way of graphic violence here as there just isn’t much of a body count. There is however some truly bizarre and original visuals that nonetheless deserves to be celebrated!

Horrors Of Malformed Men is a little oddity that is both grotesque and beautiful. It has a dream-like feel that cast a spell over me with its strange and horrible images. It’s a circus side-show, full of perversity, a disturbing family drama and a completely unique experience. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Teruo Ishii

Starring: Teruo Yoshida, Yukie Kagawa, Teruko Yumi, Mitsuko Aoi, Michiko Kobata, Kei Kiyam, Michi Tanaka

FEMALE YAKUZA TALE: Inquisition and Torture (1973) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Japan, movies with tags , , on July 12, 2010 by goregirl

After reading Japan Cinema’s review for Horrors Of Malformed Men I immediately attempted to add it to my zip.ca queue (the Canadian Netflix). As has been the case far too often lately, zip.ca did not have the title I was looking for. They did have a small selection of other films from director Teruo Ishii, so I went with one of the early 70’s choices. Female Yakuza Tale: Inquisition and Torture is an entry in the Pinky Violence Collection. Pinky Violence is a term used to describe violent and sexual Japanese films that feature a female(s) protagonist. One of my favourites of this lot is Sex and Fury. I must admit, I wasn’t aware Sex and Fury had a sequel, it was a complete fluke that I stumbled upon this title. Female Yakuza Tale is the sequel to Sex and Fury and Reiko Ike is back in the role of Ochô Inoshika. Female Yakuza Tale is less artful than Sex and Fury and Ishii amps up the nudity and the slapstick considerably. The sequel didn’t quite live up to the original but it is nonetheless entertaining and full of memorable moments.

When Ochô Inoshika arrives in the city she is escorted by a young woman to a rickshaw. When she arrives at her destination she is accosted by some men who strip, bound and examine her. They have seemingly mistaken Ochô for someone else and leave her unconscious beside a dead female body with a knife in her hand. When she awakes Joji, a former member of the Ogi Clan, (to which she also has affiliations) is there to greet her. The corpse beside her is another victim of a recent rash of crotch-gouging murders. After her experience Ochô is determined to discover the identity of the crotch-gougers. She tracks down the young woman she met on her arrival to a local bordello. After a brief battle she burns the place down and takes the woman for questioning. She later follows the woman and discovers she is one of a group of prostitutes acting as mules, smuggling drugs in their vaginas. Their benefactors have also gotten the women hooked on drugs so they keep coming back for the needle. It all goes back to the powerful Ogi Yakuza clan and Ochô eventually joins forces with Joji, a mysterious female assassin, a madam, and an army of drug-addicted prostitutes. What ensues is an unforgettable naked and bloody battle against the criminal underworld.

The vagina gets stuffed and gouged at regular intervals throughout Female Yakuza Tale. But it’s not just about vagina’s it’s also about boobs. Japanese men are continually seen fondling and suckling at the female teet. Director Teruo Ishii uses every possible opportunity to show female nudity he can, even throwing some in while the opening credits are running. Ochô is shown taking on several men in a downpour and she loses pieces of her clothing eventually fighting completely naked. There is considerably more nudity and sexuality than violence in this film, at least up to the final outrageous battle. In the end, the women do get a gratifying revenge. Ochô is a great character, she is strong and confident and even when she is naked and bound she is uttering threats. We spend time getting to know some of the secondary players as Ochô crosses their paths which made for some entertaining sub-plots. My major complaint about the film is its sleazy premise is lightened considerably by slapstick comedy that sometimes fell flat. The gags were pretty PG for a film that was otherwise rated R. I won’t deny there were a few moments that cracked me up. Most notably when a character THROWS a bullet into another characters eye! I really think the film would have benefitted from a little less cheesy humour. Female Yakuza Tale has some wildly perverse and even disturbing moments despite the humour that give the film some exploitative bite. Visually, the film is very watchable. Its colourful and cheery sets and strangely buoyant music add a twisted flair that gave the film a unique vibe.

Of course it all comes down to those nasty Yakuza! Among the criminal underworld there is double-crossing and dirty dealings and it all centers around the new boss of the Ogi Clan. We learn through a flashback that Ochô feels a debt of gratitude to the old boss for saving her when she was very young from losing fingers. After Ochô is caught cheating while gambling, he allows his own finger to be severed instead. The bad ass that did the severing is coming to see the new boss to collect on a gambling debt. Ochô challenges him to a game of cards to erase the debt and to do some finger collecting of her own. Besides his drug interests and gambling problems the new boss of the Ogi Clan has been hiding the old boss’ young daughter in a mental asylum. You’ll have to see for yourself how this all unfolds! I’ll tell you only this, it features what I can only guess is a mentally disturbed Kabuke theatre troop. Fighting naked would have some advantages. Regular street clothes wouldn’t do much to protect you from a weapon anyway, why not distract your opponent with nudity?! The final battle set in a warehouse features a group of Yakuza about to battle amongst themselves only to find an army of women have collected on the upper floor with their own agenda. The women remove their clothing one by one and soon we have a whole lot of naked women killing the hell out of a bunch of Yakuza in an outrageous and bloody spectacle! It really must be seen to be appreciated.

The extras on the DVD were a bit disappointing. I was really hoping for an interview with the director or Reiko Ike. You’ll have to be ready to do some reading if you want to learn any interesting little tidbits from the DVD’s special features. You get the theatrical trailer, poster and still gallery, director and star bios, production notes, and an essay called Toei’s bad girl cinema. Its awkward mix of sleaze and humour generally works well and sexy Reiko Ike kicks some ass, add more than enough bizarre and memorable moments and you have got a trip worth taking. Female Yakuza Tale: Inquisition and Torture is highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Teruo Ishii

Starring: Reiko Ike, Makoto Ashikawa, Arumi Kuri, Meika Seri, Jun Midorikawa, Emi Jo