2009
11.20

Review: Entrails of a Virgin

JasonReviewsEntrails of a Virgin (Shojo no harawata) – 1986 – Japan – Synapse Films

What the fuck is wrong with the Japanese? I can only surmise that their long-standing cultural traditions of sexual repression and misogyny inexorably led to the sado-voyeuristic eruption in their filmmaking in the mid ’80s, a depressingly familiar scenario in the English speaking world, but no people have managed to transgress so far beyond the boundaries of “good taste” and to do it so efficaciously as those dirty Japs. Film movements such as the Guinea Pig series and the Virgin series (which was ushered in by tonight’s film) penetrate so deeply into the “forbidden zone” with loathsomely repellent imagery and imbecilic storylines which provocatively exploit cultural taboos and manage to be both lamentably and unforgettably entertaining. I guess it speaks volumes about the crass and jaded audiences the world over that eat this stuff up (myself included) as much as it says about the unabashed Japanese hegemony in the field of exploitative horror. After all, in the end it’s all about making a buck, isn’t it? But I digress…

This feature starts off with a risque mountainside photo shoot which is inter-cut with vexingly long softcore scenes of the photographer and models in different states of sexual bliss. The photo shoot wraps and the company of six hops into their van to partake in some booze and drugs on the long journey home through secluded countryside, when a preternatural fog rolls in obscuring the road and slowing their progress. The party happens upon an abandoned lodge and, having never seen a horror movie, decide to wait out the fog while the unctuous boss Itomura and his sly photographer Asaoka scheme for some pussy in the interim. The manipulative boss incites a wrestling match between his go-for Tachikawa and Asaoka’s ex-concubine Kazuyo, which ends up being one of the most absurdly amusing scenes I can remember, ending in Kazuyo pissing herself in a close up crotch shot and passing out from the multiple abuses she has suffered. Tachikawa chides the party for their instigation and strays from the proceedings long enough for Itomura to grab reluctant model Kei for some action and Asaoka to attempt the deflowering of Rei, our titular virgin. In a highly stylized set-piece, Tachikawa stumbles upon a mud-encrusted monster who, in a surrealistic montage, smashes his skull with a hammer, gruesomely popping his eyes from their sockets. As Kei attempts to flee from an inflamed Itomura, she is seized by the fully engorged monster and raped over a railing before being incidentally decapitated by a falling sign. Kazuyo, driven over the edge by Asaoka’s philandering with the virginal Rei, starts masturbating with trees and the dismembered remains of her erstwhile companions, who the monster is picking off one by one in brilliant cinematic flourishes. In the highlight of the film, Kazuyo comes upon the monster while she is frigging herself with a dismembered arm and, following some steamy sex with the beast, eagerly has her entrails pulled out after a monstrous fisting. As the last survivor, Rei is seduced by the spiteful monster and the film ends with a shot of the pregnant Rei standing on the mountainside and questioning the fate of her unborn child.

True, I gave away the whole kit and kaboodle with my summary, but this is not the type of film one should view until they know exactly what they are getting themselves into. The jarring juxtaposition of softcore porn with over-the-top gore was nothing new when Kazuo Komizu made this film, but it had never been taken to such voyeuristic extremes before. The porn is presented in a titillating yet repulsive manner with multiple crotch shots and vomitous use of bodily fluids, yet the monster’s sex scenes are almost benign and romantic in comparison to the human profanation on hand. If there is a point to this film, beyond exploitation, it would have to be the misogynistic indifference that the human males show their conquests verses the heightened pleasure that the monster grants his partners, leaving you questioning who the monsters really are. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this film should be regarded as feminist horror, but it certainly seems to have a decided lean in that direction.

The slayings are delightful and have an artistic touch reminiscent of the wonderful surrealism Dali and Bunuel brought to their film “Un Chien Andalou,” only with heaps of gore and semen, and the wrestling match is a sight for the ages punctuated by the rib-tickling suplex of a beautiful woman in her lingerie. Anyone looking to explore the extremes of film, or in themselves, will find that this has a lot to offer, but I advise you to bring a mop and some two-ply tissues to the proceedings.

Jason’s Grade: C+

4 comments so far

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  1. I have been meaning to look into the Japanese take on modern horror. With all the rage a while back with The Ring and the Japanese version i just skipped over it. Now may be the time. Nice review too.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Tier! If you are going to take the plunge into modern J-Horror, I would recommend Uzumaki, Wild Zero, Junk, Living Hell, Dark Water, Pulse (Kairo), Audition, Ju-On, One Missed Call, Suicide Club, Versus, Survive Style 5+, and 3 Extremes 1 and 2.

    And then move on to Korea, who trump the rest of the world with pictures like The Host and A Tale of Two Sisters.

    And then off to Hong Kong for The Untold Story and Ebola Syndrome! And if you are not too tired from all your world-travel, write in and let me know how you liked the films.

    Thanks again!

  3. Just watched this one today. Oh, boy.

    A brief entry worthy of note that precedes the “sado-voyeuristic eruption in their filmmaking in the mid ’80s” is the “Pink” films, chiefly the “Roman Porno” era of the Pink film trend in its homeland of Japan. Plenty of Pink film tropes in this movie, with the addition of horror and gore. More on Pink films here…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_film

    It’s an interesting sub-genre of Japanese cinema, with the stand-outs being made in the 1970s and 1980s.

    As for J-Horror, I would add Battle Royale to the list. Because who doesn’t love tortured teens.

  4. Terror-fiends interested in the evolution of the “sado-voyeuristic” in Japanese films would be wise to check out two benchmarks of the genre which our friends at Mondo Macabro have unleashed – the beautiful “Watcher in the Attic”, and my favorite pinky-horror – “Assault: Jack the Ripper”. Both are wonderfully deranged and quite striking in their portrayals (gotta get me a love chair!).

    I think I may be the only human being who was disappointed with the film “Battle Royale” and its horrendous sequel. I loved seeing teens maim and destroy one another but I thought that the social commentary was a tad on the trite side. Snobby Jason prefers “Suicide Club” and is still anxiously awaiting footage of mass murdering carnage from a Hannah Montana concert. One can dream…

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