Sunday, 10 October 2010

Blind Beast (1969)

Blind Beast (Môjû) is based on one of Edogawa Rampo’s tales so one expects a certain amount of weirdness. And that’s exactly what you get. In fact a great deal of weirdness.

This 1969 Japanese production isn’t technically a pink film since it was made by a major studio (in this case Daiei Studios) but it certainly has affinities with the pink film.

Aki Shima is a very attractive young woman who earns her living as a photographic model. She does a lot of nude modelling, and has become quite well known for her work with a particular photographer. His photographs have a definite S&M flavour to them. Attending the opening of an exhibition of his work at a Tokyo gallery she notices a man taking a very unusual interest in a nude sculpture of her. He isn’t interested in looking at the sculpture; he wants to touch it.

That evening she is feeling tense so she calls up the massage service she uses regularly. The masseur who arrives isn’t her regular masseur; in fact it’s the man from the gallery. His idea of massage is a little more intimate than she’s comfortable with. He wants to feel every part of her body. He is blind. Where a sighted man would appreciate a woman’s beauty visually he does it by touch. She’s slightly freaked out by this but worse is to come. He returns shortly afterwards and kidnaps her.

The blind man, Michio, is a sculptor. His chosen subject is the female body. Aki finds herself in a bizarre gallery of gigantic sculptures of female body parts. Michio is planning his masterpiece. Aki is to be his model. It will be a nude study of her. He will use his sense of touch to map and then reproduce the contours of her body. Aki is more than a little reluctant but decides it might be wise to agree, and then hope for an opportunity to get way.

Michio has never known a woman, never had sex, never even kissed a woman. Not surprisingly after several days of touching Aki’s body he starts to take a sexual interest in her. She encourages him in the hope that this will facilitate her plans to escape. The relationship between Aki and Michio gradually changes from that between gaoler and captive to something much stranger and much more perverse. Aki starts to lose her sight as well, and the relationship slips further and further into a world of pleasure and pain, of sadomasochistic obsession. They are now both captives of their destructive desires. The climax is inevitable but nonetheless shocking.

Eiji Funakoshi as Michio is very disturbing. Mako Midori gives a remarkable performance as Aki. She’s vulnerable and calculating, innocent and depraved, an in her own way just as disturbing as MIchio.

Director Yasuzo Masumura has created a movie with a visual style that is as excessive and as decadent as the subject matter. The sets are terrific, with the huge female body parts serving as a kind of stage on which Michio and Aki play out their psychosexual drama.

This movie reflects Japan’s strange censorship policies. It is extremely coy so far as nudity is concerned, and yet the subject matter couldn’t possibly be any more perversely erotic.

Sex, horror and art combine in a deliciously twisted way in this warped but enthralling film. Highly recommended.

The Region 2 DVD release is lacking in extras but the transfer is quite satisfactory.

1 comment:

venoms5 said...

This is definitely a bizarre movie, D.