Thursday, August 12, 2010

Horrors of Malformed Men

One thing you have to give to the Japanese: they know how to make a movie that just revels in weirdness and doesn’t have any issues with not making a lick of sense. This trend is only exacerbated when we get a pairing of cult filmmaker Teruo Ishii (maker of such classics as Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf) and cult author Edogawa Rampo (author of a bunch of Japanese novels I never read). That and we get treated to a delightfully modest statement on the box cover, which read “Banned for decades! The most notorious Japanese horror film EVER made!” Really, you should have already ordered your copy by now.
Okay, it doesn’t quite live up to that level of hype. But it is quite entertaining. The film follows a man named Hirosuke (Teruo Yoshida) who gets framed for murder at a circus (in pretty much exactly the same way as in North By Northwest), and while on the run he sees a news article about a recently deceased man that seems to have the same face as him. Now, just as anyone else in such a situation would do, he digs up the body, switches clothes with him, and impersonates him to infiltrate his family and try to discover how they are connected. I know, what else was he supposed to do, right? Of course, the family is also being targeted, and it seems to be connected to the family’s private island off the coast.

I really want to reveal to you all what’s on that island. I really, really do. That I won’t isn’t so much that I want to avoid spoiling the film, so much as that I have no clue how I would begin to describe it. Let’s just say that it involves a great many beautiful women in various stages of undress, a great many of the malformed men so slyly hinted at in the film’s title, some second-degree cannibalism, and a man that looks and acts quite a bit like Samara from The Ring. Seriously, go look at that trailer below and try to tell me what it’s about. I’ll wait. Yeah, exactly.

There’s also another great bit at the end that evokes, if not specifically Hitchcock’s Psycho, then at least the proud British tradition of the detective explaining the grand mystery to the cast. Of course, in truly inspired fashion, we get a ten minute attempt at explaining a truly crazy and incomprehensible film that makes the film remain crazy and incomprehensible, just a slightly different crazy and incomprehensible.

As far as wild Japanese horror movies go, this isn’t quite as good as Hausu, but while it’s missing some of that movie’s silly charm, it does make up for it somewhat by going even farther with the horror elements and throwing a whole lot of nudity our way. As I think everyone can agree, breasts do indeed make any movie better.

Rating: ***

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