Genocide (1968)

Director: Kazui Nihonmatsu

This also seems to have been the last film made by director Nihonmatsu, who at least managed to go out on a pretty overheated note. It’s been interesting to go through the Shochiku horror set—which obviously goes out on the same overheated note—cos it’s clear their interests weren’t really the kaiju fun and games of X, in the other two colour films at least they were looking to Say Something about the then-current world situation; and if the wartime theme in Goke is unsubtly presented, Genocide hammers it home even more heavy-handedly. It’s set in Okinawa, which offers ample room to invoke memories of the war and its aftermath; a US plane carrying a hydrogen bomb is brought down by a gigantic swarm of insects, and obviously the Americans want it back, but there’s a Communist cell operating in the islands that also wants it. Meanwhile, one of the locals is facing trial on suspicion of murdering two of the airmen who escaped the crash; he’s been having an affair in the meantime with this American woman, for whom he’s been collecting insects, which she’s been using to breed her own species of poisonous bugs to wipe out humanity in revenge for her suffering at Auschwitz. (Neither subtle nor tasteful.) But the insects of the world have their own ideas about eradicating humanity before humanity eradicates them. As I said, overheated; Genocide starts on a faintly hysterical note, beginning as it intends to carry on, perhaps trying to do too much in the process (at only 84 minutes, it’s pretty well stuffed with things happening). Something about it is deeply flawed in various ways, but it’s certainly watchable enough; whatever Serious Things it may be trying to say, Nihonmatsu evidently never lost sight of the fact that he was basically making exploitation with a somewhat cartoonish heart. I still think Goke is the best film in the set, but on the whole this is a worthy part of it.

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