posted 00/00/2008

Directed by:
Yasuzo Masumura

Eiji Funakoshi ... Michio
Mako Midori ... Aki
Noriko Sengoku ... Mother

Country: Japan
Runtime: 86 min
Original title: Môjû

This film's goal is to make you think differently about the human body. Well, maybe that isn't its ultimate goal, but that's definitely the underlying theme running through the appropriately titled Blind Beast, directed by Yasuzo Masamura. This 1969 Japanese exploitation classic is a memorable experience. I promise you that you will never forget this movie once you have sat through it.

The film begins innocently enough with Aki, a model, walking into an art gallery that has on display her first full-nude sculpture and finds a creepy blind man examining the statue a bit too intimately. As his fingers probe and outline her statue, she starts to feel as if his fingers are tracing their way across her real skin, and she leaves, unsure what to think. A few nights later, after a particularly tough modeling session (or so she tells us, as she narrates), she calls a masseur to come relieve her of tension. Well, it turns out that the creepy guy fondling her statue works for the massage agency and has been waiting for his chance to grope her, I mean massage her. When she realizes who he is, she freaks out, but he squeezes her breasts and knocks her out with rag soaked in something or other. Then his mom (yes, that's right, the blind psycho's mom is his accomplice) shows up at the apartment and helps him transport her back to his warehouse in the middle of nowhere where the truly crazy shit begins.

Aki wakes up in the darkness, only to find Michio, the blind man, standing next to her. She tries to find a way out of the darkness until the light from a flashlight reveals that there really is no exit. She finds out that Michio is an amateur sculptor who is so in love with the female form that he has grown obsessed with it. This warehouse she is now captive in is full of his artwork. Mostly they're giant reproductions of boobs and arms and lips and something else that seemed like something it couldn't have been, but the main centerpiece is the rubber statue of a giant, naked woman (on which the entire third act takes place). At first Aki refuses to cooperate with Michio, who just wants her to model for him. She tries various times to escape, but is always foiled either by Michio or his equally crazy mother. Aki decides to try to seduce Michio as a last resort, and it works incredibly well, because he loves her already.

His mother, however, starts to feel jealous that Michio is no longer paying attention to her, so she plans to help Aki escape so her son will return to her arms where he belongs. Aki is more than willing to be let free, but Michio catches them and a fight ensues between mother and lover, which forces Michio to kill his mother. They bury her body in the ground, under the floor of the warehouse, and return to the darkness of the studio to continue work on Aki's statue. Slowly, she starts to fall in love with Michio and now is when shit gets really, really crazy. They spend so much time in the dark studio that Aki starts to go blind, she starts to see the world like Michio, wanting to experience the world through touch because of its newfound joy. This quickly gets more intense as they both crave even more physical stimulation and start biting and scratching each other. Finally, they end up cutting and stabbing each other and drinking each other's blood. Then Aki thinks up of an even better way for her to gain ultimate agonizing pleasure, and I'm not going to ruin it for you here, but its the best part of the whole movie.

This is a strange film. It starts off talky and slow, about an obsessed artist in love with this model, and then becomes a sick and twisted exploration of the human body and taboo sexual gratification. The switch is made quite suddenly, but it almost seems to be heading in the direction right from the beginning. When he was groping her first statue in the art gallery, she felt a strange connection to him even then. This film is moderately bloodless, and it could have just as easily been gory as hell, but for whatever reason the red stuff was held back, the film plays like a lucid nightmare where the more graphic parts (especially the groundbreaking last three minutes) are better left to the imagination. This is classic body horror stuff ripe enough for David Cronenberg to tackle, and it is indeed distinctively Japanese...elegant and astoundingly disturbing at the same time.

- Jose Prendes


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