Blind Beast (1969)

This is kind of fucked up, and I’ve yet to work out if I mean that in a good way or not. Hitherto I’ve only known director Yasuzo Masamura as a name, plus I knew that he had a certain cult standing among enthusiasts of Japanese film, but otherwise he’s been an unknown quantity for me until today. This was an adaptation of a story by Edogawa Rampo, which I presume was a stellar example of what the Japanese called “ero guru nansensu” back then; in the film (which apparently only follows the tale somewhat loosely), a blind man (with a little help from his mum) kidnaps a model and keeps her in his studio—a warehouse lined with sculptures he’s made of various female body parts along with two really enormous full-figure… things, I don’t even know what you’d call them—so that he can use her as the model for a new form of tactile art he wants to pioneer. The extent to which Michio, the titular blind beast, is actually bad or even just mad is actually left somewhat open, and Glenn Erickson’s characterisation of it here as “an honest, challenging art movie” is just; I’ve filed it under horror here cos that’s how it generally seems to be viewed, but while it certainly is perverse it’s also serious and sincere, this is not your usual exploitative torture porn. Still, it’s the sort of story you nonetheless know can’t end well, although I’ll give it credit for going in directions during the third act I genuinely hadn’t expected; there is something impressive about the way it actually keeps ramping up that perversity into its last minutes, and I was left thoroughly weirded out by it… to the point where, frankly, I’m still not sure if I actually liked it or not. It’s something, all right, I’m just not sure what. Need to see more Masumura.

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