Entrails 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+