“Horrors of Malformed Men”
Nightmarish and Hallucinogenic
Cult director Teruo Ishii’s “Horrors of Malformed Men” is a nightmarish, hallucinogenic tale that was inspired by Edogawa Rampo, Japan’s celebrated pioneer of erotic grotesque literature. The film begins when Medical student Hirosuke Hitomi sneaks out of the asylum where he has been wrongfully confined. He assumes the identity of a recently deceased nobleman with whom he bears a strong resemblance. Hirosuke even manages to gain entrance into the nobleman’s household and his marital bed. But as long-repressed memories open up, he finds himself drawn to a remote isle where he is confronted by a mad scientist and his malformed men. It is there that he discovers the key that will unlock long-suppressed mysteries of his own.
The film unites mystery and horror while it incorporates ideas motifs from Rampo’s tales. Visually, the film is filled with carnivalesque art design and the performances of the cast are haunting. The movie was pulled back from cinemas by its own studio after its original release nearly fifty years ago yet remains among the very best screen interpretations of the author s macabre brand of horror-fantasy fiction.
I am afraid that, like myself, many viewers may feel “lost in translation”. I enjoyed it, and I am glad that I finally get to see this film, however I found myself becoming impatient with it and/or just not relating to what it has to say. The film is both highly disciplined and extremely excessive. In the plot we assumed identities, doppelgangers, family secrets, murder, revenge, unrequited love, adultery, kidnapping, incest, bestiality, dismemberment, torture, cannibalism , characters deformed through radical surgery, and almost every other known perversion.
The film’s ‘mad doctor,’ Jogoro Komoda (Tatsumi Hijikata kidnaps and deforms innocent men and women so as to surround himself with literal reflections his own emotional scars and psychosis. The first half of the film is a conservatively produced drama concerned with the mysteries of identity and memory. When Hirosuke and his entourage set foot on the island, “Horrors of Malformed Men” becomes surreal and it builds momentum.“Horrors of Malformed Men” is an important but disturbing work of fantastic art in the centuries-long tradition of the visionary and the grotesque
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS include:
Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original negative
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio
Newly translated, optional English subtitles
Two audio commentaries by Japanese cinema experts Tom Mes and Mark Schilling
Malformed Movies: a new video interview with Toei exploitation movie screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda
Malformed Memories: Filmmakers Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo the Iron Man) and Minoru Kawasaki (The Calamari Wrestler) on the career of director Teruo Ishii
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Jasper Sharp, Tom Mes and Grady Hendrix