Cast: Yukie Kagawa, Asao Koike, Minoru Ohki, Mitsuko Aoi, Tatsumi Hijikata
Synapse Films / Color / NTSC R1 / Unrated / Widescreen 2.35:1 (Anamorphic) / JAPANESE: Dolby Digital Mono / English Subtitles / 99 minutes / PURCHASE
A young man with amnesia, Hirosuke, awakes in a mental institution cell surrounded by half naked crazy women but is promptly taken to his own cell by a pissed off guard. He begins to remember out of context images of a seaside cliff and a dark attic with a young girl with 2 faces and also a lullaby. As he is remembering, he notices a bald man staring at him and remembers seeing him before. The bald man tries to kill him, but the tables turn and Hirosuke kills him instead.
After Hirosuke kills the bald man, he escapes and hears a young girl singing the tune he remembered in his cell. She tells him where she remembers it from and as she tells him, a knife is thrown from a crowd and kills her. He decides to follow her lead and his memories of the seaside and as he does, he reads of a recently deceased man that looks just like him and decides to fake his resurrection and take his role in his family.
At first the family is surprised and amazed, but Hirosuke feels them becoming suspicious. After hearing that his “father” is working on an island that looks just like the one he remembered, he, along with a couple of assistants, visit the island to find out more of his past. When he arrives, he is met by his nutty web-handed father and a series of strange slave women and, well, malformed men.
I won’t go into the rest of the story because it becomes even more convoluted and boring. I went into this thinking it was going to be sick and twisted, especially after reading of its reputation. “BANNED FOR DECADES! THE MOST NOTORIOUS JAPANESE HORROR FILM EVER MADE!”. Rubbish and poppycock. I am not an Asian cinephile. I am not even an Asian film fan per se. But there are a few that really impressed me (Takashi Miike films, the “Entrails” movies, “Roman Porno” and the Pinky Violence box set for example), but this was disjointed and boring.
The whole first hour of the movie was setting up the meeting of the leading man and his “father” on the island so that we can see the grotesque, excuse me, the “malformed” men. When we finally get to the island, we are deluged with silly Butoh dancers and ridiculous plot twists. I, not being a history buff, don’t give a shit about the back story of post WWII nightmare imagery and art house sensibilities. The supposed “monsters” created by the web-handed (which were obviously gloves, by the way) madman were silly looking hunchbacks and buck-toothed idiots. They were in no way scary or disgusting.
The only scene to impress me was a woman made to eat the small crabs that had been feeding on her dead lover’s body. That was pretty nasty. But aside from that one scene, this movie was a huge disappointment for someone looking for horror. It’s more for the Japanese cinephile/art house/post WWII historian.