Monday, April 7, 2014

The Blind Beast

The Blind Beast (Moju) Directed By Yasuzo Masumura starring Eiji Funakoshi (1969).
The benchmark gore film in Japanese cinema was Nobuo Nakagawa's Jigoku (or Sinners Of Hell) in 1960. Compared to that film, Moju or Blind Beast is practically bloodless, although the trickling in of sadistic sexual violence kept pulsating through the years and would eventually turn into the norm by the mid 70's. 
   Masamura's Blind Beast is intentionally non exploitive and it handles the controversial sexual sadism with radiation gloves, it comes off more artsy then guttural and repulsive. Normally I wouldn't bother to sit through a tame Asian film that skips over the good parts, but Blind Beast is very challenging, brilliantly filmed, demented and rewarding in the end, enough to make it worth the trip. 
   At my local library in Florida there were two horror reference books that I consistently used for zines and mixtape letters to penpals, the picture with the blind sculptor was a mysterious image that I would often use. 

You have a nasty coldsore

   This and Horrors Of The Malformed Men are two psychedelic 1969 examples of writer Edogawa Rampo's film adaptations that certain gore fanatics were slightly disappointed by. I enjoyed both films and don't see the toned back grisliness as a weakness, there's obviously a reason for the sheepishness. Either the decision to show less skin and morbidity is an artistic choice or to stand out among their peers by showing little, when everyone has seen it all. This is a practice that's very rare especially in Japanese cinema and the reason most cinemaniac's jaws drop at the volume of depraved films from the mid 60's onward. Yotsuya Kaidan from 1959 is not a bloodbath by any means, but it stands out as an early example of ghoulish revenge, the Japanese were always ahead of their time with explicit subject matter. 

IFC says move over Japanese cult movies, make way for Marc Maron

    The Blind Beast outshines the rest in depraved morality and bondage is not only used to shock, but to convey a sense of beauty, the main actress is an S&M model and is never condemned for it. This aspect of the puritanical mindset is completely devoid, it only gives the characters more depth as demented artists.
   They used to play this on Flix or IFC in the glory days of cable TV,when they showed demented goodies late at night. This film is a treat that an even sadder world now could benefit from, by finding subversive cult movies treasures late at night by accident, but that doesn't exist anymore. 

it comes with a lifetime supply of Tucks medicated pads

   Aki (Mako Midori) is a bondage model whose seen in provokative S&M closeups wrapped in chains. She discovers an oddball creep fondling a naked statue, this same blind man later stalks her at a massage parlor and uses a chloroform rag to knock her out. The notorious Blind Beast or Michio is played by played by Eiji Funakoshi.  
   His studio walls adorned with human lips,eyes,nostrils and breasts reminded me of the artist in Scanners or that controversial H.R. Giger/ Jello Biafra Frankenchrist poster.  

I'm posing for an Emily Strange postcard

   He wants to create a new art form strictly for the blind involving only touch and has kidnapped what he deems the perfect subject for his creativity. The blind man has used all sorts of fiendish methods to manipulate his model and of course like most freaks, claims he's innocent. The girl tries to evade his every move in the cavernous dungeon filled with gigantic human body parts, but he has super senses and threatens to keep her confined forever. 
   After refusing to eat a hearty breakfast prepared by his mother, who assists her son in capturing helpless victims, the model submits to his will. This is only an illusion because she uses a psychological mind trap to make him think she has fallen in love with this pathetic creep.
   She strokes the wolf's ego and agrees that he is pioneering a new art form (this is obviously lip sevice, but later on degenerates into a warped fantasy).

You're so jelly mom

   His insane mother has been supplying her son with victims seemingly over the years and they both chime in on how it's his only outlet and pleasure in life. His mother has kept him in her clutches his entire life and he's never been with a real woman or even drank alcohol, the model suspiciously wants to liberate him from his caustic life of suppression. His social structure of being locked away from the world is sort of like a Japanese Bad Boy Bubby or Bad Ronald
Hot diggity dog, mom I got me a lady!
   Aki's stockholm syndrome starts to suspiciously over come her and she tells the blind mad man that she has fallen in love with him. It gets to a fictional level of denial that pisses off the mother, who makes her son feel insecure about it. There are some calculated mind games in this film. The mother does a great acting job and is my favorite character in the film. Even though it's completely bloodless, the Blind Beast is psychologically powerful and disturbing. Michicko becomes unglued once his mother is accidentally killed. The door to freedom keeps swinging open and shut (physically and metaphorically) as the model finally admits that she was using him and his mother to escape all along. He attempts to punish her by sealing her up and away from society, but it doesn't work because she starts to enter his world and become a twisted introvert. She even brings sadomasochism into the mix, which leads to biting,cutting and eventually dismemberment. The fantasy elements overtake the film as Aki literally surrenders her body so that he may achieve his art. Limbs are sawed (off screen) and replaced by stone and clay ones. The violence sounds ghastly, but is very tame compared to other Pink films, its more implied than shown, which is very unusual for this genre. This film is very original and worth seeking out for film fans that aren't so jaded.
Highly Recommended! 

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