Horrors of Malformed Men
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* New, fully restored, anamorphic widescreen transfer mastered in high-definition from Toei's original vault elements
* Japanese language with newly-translated, removable English subtitles
* Audio commentary by film critic Mark Schilling
* MALFORMED MEMORIES, an all-new, half-hour documentary featuring interviews with cult film directors and Ishii fans Shinya Tsukamoto (TETSUO THE IRON MAN) and Minoru Kawasaki (THE CALAMARI WRESTLER), plus comments from Teruo Ishii himself
* ISHII IN ITALIA, the director's 2003 visit to the Far East Film Festival
* Original Japanese theatrical trailer
* Teruo Ishii poster gallery
* Director and writer biographies
* Liner notes by Japanese film writers Patrick Macias, Tomo Machiyama and Jasper Sharp
* Reversible cover with original Japanese poster artwork
From the Contributor
Directed by Teruo Ishii (Joys of Torture, Black Cat's Revenge, Female Yakuza Tale, Sonny Chiba's The Executioner, Japanese Hell, Screwed, Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf)
Based on stories by Edogawa Rampo (Black Lizard, Watcher in the Attic, Rampo Noir, Blind Beast, Gemini, Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf)
Starring Teruo Yoshida (Goke - Bodysnatcher from Hell), Minoru Oki (Shogun Assassin), Tatsumi Hijikata (founder of butoh dance in Japan), Yukie Kagawa (Female Convict Scorpion - Jailhouse 41), and Asao Koike (The Yakuza Papers).
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The film's 'mad doctor,' Jogoro Komoda (Tatsumi Hijikata in a wonderfully bizarre film-stealing performance), who kidnaps and deforms innocent men and women so as to surround himself with literal reflections his own emotional scars and psychosis, is the maddest mad doctor in the long history of world cinema. Compared to Komoda, H.G. Wells' Dr. Moreau, as depicted in both the original novel and by Charles Laughton in the 'Island of Lost Souls film' adaptation of 1933, is a paragon of virtue, benevolence, and rationality.
Komodo joins the very upper ranks of nefarious screen villains, such as Eleanor Iselin (Angela Lansbury) in John Frankenheimer's 'The Manchurian Candidate' (1962) and Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) in David Lynch's 'Blue Velvet' (1986).
The first half of 'Horrors of Malformed Men' is a conservatively-produced drama concerned with the mysteries of identity and memory: Hirosuke Hitomi (Teruo Yoshida) awakens in an insane asylum, suffering from amnesia and surrounded by rioting female inmates. Escaping, Hirosuke discovers that a prominent citizen, who resembles him exactly, has just been murdered. Cautiously making his way to the dead man's family compound on a remote portion of the Japanese coast, Hirosuke begins to unravel the mysteries of his existence, which he learns are closely tied to a weird, isolated island barely visible from the shore.
From the moment Hirosuke and his entourage set foot on the island, 'Horrors of Malformed Men' shifts into high surreal gear and never stops building momentum for a single frame.
Ishii is an extremely perceptive, sensitive, and talented director: despite its shocking carnage, spiritual squalor, and decadence, 'Horrors of Malformed Men,' which was originally intended for general audiences, is also a physically beautiful and emotionally moving film: the climax is so deftly handled that viewers may come to sympathize, however briefly, with Komoda and the passions which has driven him to create an obscene Garden of Eden on Earth, with himself as both Father Creator and Serpent.
Despite the surgically-grafted horrors writhing through the second half of the film, one of the most powerfully repulsive scenes involves not the torments of the physically maimed, but a starving captive woman who voraciously eats handfuls of live crabs off the corpse of her lover (whose flesh has, in turn, just been devoured by the crustaceans).
That said, some--but only some--of the film's 'special effects' and 'monsters' are ludicrous as only monsters of 1960s Japanese cinema can be, and are seemingly intended to appear so: one 'monster,' for example, appears to be nothing more than a male actor amateurishly covered in standard-issue white marshmallows. Which will serve to remind viewers that earlier in his career, Ishii had directed the 'Super Giant' children's science fiction series, later compiled and released in the United States as 'Atomic Rulers of the World,' 'Invaders from Space,' and 'Attack from Space' in 1964.
However, viewers looking for far more traditional monster, horror, and suspense fair such as 'Mystery of the Wax Museum' (1933), 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon' (1954), 'Village of the Damned' (1960), 'Halloween' (1978), 'Aliens' (1986), or 'Sleepy Hollow' (1999) should probably avoid 'Horrors of Malformed Men,' which they are likely to find obscure, 'arty,' and unnecessarily complicated.
'Horrors of Malformed Men' is an important but disturbing work of fantastic art in the centuries-long tradition of the visionary and the grotesque, which, in cinematic terms, also includes 'Freaks' (1932), 'Eyes Without A Face' (1959), 'The Birds' (1963), 'El Topo' (1970), 'Profondo Rosso' (1975), 'Blue Velvet,' 'The Devil's Backbone' (2001), and 'Donnie Darko' (2001).