of a Virgin •
Entrails of a Beautiful Woman
Review by Rod
don't know if I was really sure what to expect from these two
films. I'd heard for years that they were a sick Japanese melding
of horror and porno so I guess I was looking forward to some
titillation, gore and a few scares. Well, I guess two out of
three isn't bad... but
I can't say I enjoyed the experience.
First up is
Entrails of a Virgin, in which
a small group of photographers and female models get caught
in the woods after an outdoor shoot. Trapped by a thick fog,
they accidentally hit a mysterious mud-covered creature with
their van but then can't find any trace of the man-sized speed
bump. Coming across a deserted house they break inside to sit
out the night. It turns out the photographer and his boss are
both opportunistic slime that have a history of forcing young
models to have sex with them to procure jobs. They follow their
regular plan of operation during the foggy night, with the boss
coercing one girl into sex and the photographer outright raping
another who turns out to be a virgin. Meanwhile the mud-covered
creature stalks the outside of the house and picks off the various
characters one by one pausing only to rape the females along
the way. Except for the implication near the end of the movie
that the creature may be a demon there is no explanation made
for it but it does seem hell bent on impregnating a human woman
one way or another.
less, the movie has the structure of a porn film with one sex
scene leading to another leading to a gore sequence leading
to more sex. Flashbacks are used to insert a few more sex scenes
and sketch one model's obsession with the photographer to give
her a reason to go crazy late in the film. Of course, the reason
most folks want to see this film is to sample the sex and gore
but I fear American porn fans will be disappointed and gore
fans will simply snicker. The sex scenes are sometimes interestingly
staged but the restrictions in Japan on showing genitalia keep
them from being hardcore porn. This results in the film often
having the feel of a late night offering on Cinemax —
that isn't a good thing!
Shots of dry humping, grunting people with digitally fogged
crotches only takes a fellow so far and it isn't a place I want
to be. Several post-coital shots of fluid dripping from mouths
and down legs only add to the odd nature of the scenes and makes
them less erotic. Likewise, gore fanatics are more likely to
chuckle at the ambitious grue scenes than be impressed. Bad
fake heads, unconvincing severed limbs and poorly staged violence
are only occasionally enlivened by an effective bit of body
ripping splatter. There is one scene that reaches a kind of
classic "you've never seen this before" feel in which
a woman masturbates herself with a twitching, severed arm but
I had thought this sort of audacious image would be the norm
for the movie, not the exception. I understand that these films
were once considered controversial but I think the world has
moved on. Or at least I hope it has.
Set among a
small yakuza clan, Entrails of a Beautiful
Woman isn't a sequel but it shares most of the qualities
and weaknesses of the first move. These yakuza show us what
they're made of by raping a helpless captive woman and then
injecting her with a drug called "Angel Rain". This
drug seems to instill a desire for sex and as we'll learn later,
has some odd side effects. The woman gets away from her attackers
and stumbles to a clinic where young female psychologist Dr.
Hiromi (Megumi Ozawa) takes her in just before the poor victim
commits suicide. Vowing revenge on the scum who killed this
girl, Dr. Hiromi hypnotizes yakuza member Kenji Higashi (Kazuhiro
Sano) in an attempt to have him kill the rest. But when this
fails, the criminals take their rage out on the psychologist
in a truly repellent manner. Unfortunately for them the film
takes a sudden right turn into bizarro land when Hiromi's Angel
Rain-soaked dead body somehow (?) merges with Higashi's corpse
and becomes a large tenderized meat-creature! That might have
been enough to do the final reel "violent vengeance"
routine, but it also sprouts a fanged penis and a head-swallowing
vagina to better rip the remainder of the yakuza clan to pieces.
Needless to say, this is one over-the-top sequence and I've
rarely seen something as outrageous as this outside of animation.
Indeed the ending of this film plays like a live action Japanese
anime film with a small budget. It's not good, but it is interesting.
And grotesque. Sick even...
the reputation of these films I must say I expected more. Neither
of these films lived up to my expectations but In a strange way
I don't blame them. These films had been built up so much for
me as the far end of vicious cinema that I think nothing could
have satisfied my curiosity. Maybe if they had felt like actual
movies instead of just a series of cobbled together scenes featuring
appalling things being done to people I'd have thought more of
them. Then again, if I'd seen this on a hazy bootleg tape 10 years
ago it might have struck me as amazing. Nevertheless, these films
have their fans and Synapse has certainly given them as good a
stateside release as I can imagine them getting.
looking to upgrade will be pleased with these DVDs as the picture
quality of both films is solid with strong colors. The image for
both is letterboxed at 1.78:1, anamorphically enhanced and the
newly created subtitles are clear and free of typos. The soundtrack
is the original mono for both and is clear and more than adequate
for the task. Synapse has also included the theatrical trailer
for each movie on their respective disc and, as an extra, a recent
interview with writer/director Kazuo Komizu who is credited on
the films under the name "Gaira".
Each disc's interview focuses more or less
on the film in question but Gaira seems more interested in rambling
on about the state of the world and his own philosophy of life
than actually talking about the movies. I found both interviews
to be pretty tedious with very little real information being given.
After a few minutes the self-satisfied filmmaker just began to
annoy me. Also included as liner notes for both DVDs is an essay
entitled A Brief History of Fogging and Visual Censorship in
Japan that explains why there is no such thing as an "unfogged"
copy of these movies.
These discs offer a good presentation of films
that might have otherwise been swept into underground oblivion
in the English-speaking world, and for that Synapse should be
applauded. Now if the movies were just better... 8/16/04