Teruo Ishii  

A pioneer in extreme, cult, but stylish and colorful Japanese cinema, exploring violence, torture, gore and exploitation (ero-guro: erotic-grotesque) as well as the Abashiri Prison series, exploitative action movies and cheesy sci-fi b-movies since the 60s. Released many hard-to-find movies but is notoriously known for his female and Tokugawa torture series with numerous rare entries. Died in 2005.

Of Some Interest

Black Cat's Revenge (AKA The Blind Woman's Curse)  
One of the stranger titles in Teruo's catalog of colorful Yakuza violent entertainment. The convoluted plot involves several gangs warring or allying with each other, revenge, back-stabbings, some light torture and silly comedy. One leader wears a tie, vest and a loin-cloth and never washes, there's a near-supernatural black cat, a blind woman with Zatoichi-like super-human skills, a bizarre sideshow, and an insane hunchback with a love for decapitated heads and skinning tattoos off human beings. Colorful violent entertainment.

Horrors of Malformed Men  
The Island of Dr Moreau, an identity/amnesia/insanity mystery and a murder/detective thriller all mixed into one convoluted but entertaining movie. A man escapes an insane asylum with strange memories of lullabies and cliffs by the sea. As he tries to unravel his past, murder and death surround him, and he is confused with someone else having an identical face and marks. The second half of the movie goes into Moreau territory featuring a strange island containing colorful, bizarrely clothed and painted human creatures moving in an artsy, grotesque dance, some deformed humans and siamese twins.

Joy of Torture, The (AKA Punishment of the Tokugawa Women)  
The first torture-oriented entry in the Tokugawa series ('Tokugawa onna' focused on Shogun erotica and drama) is relatively milder but sets the tone for many sequels and copycats, and paves the way for Japan shock cinema. A trilogy of tales end in torture: In the first, an incestuous woman and her sick brother are manipulated by a rich man into humiliation, ending in violence and extreme punishment by the law. The second features crazed lesbian nuns lusting after a priest and their bloody punishment. The third tells the tale of a clash between an obsessed tattoo artist and a sadistic torturer. Features spearing, splitting, burning, drowning, etc. with high production values and interesting stories.

Female Yakuza Tale: Inquisition and Torture  
Not a nasty torture series entry despite the title but more a stylish exploitation/action movie that was popular at the time featuring bright colors, stylish sets and costumes, female leads, over-the-top violent action and lots of nudity. If you want to see what Tarantino ripped off for most of Kill Bill, look no further than this movie. Ocho is a tough Yakuza woman who runs afoul of a gang that gets girls addicted to drugs, hides bottles of drugs in their vaginas, then gouges out their privates when they have served their purpose. She teams up with an ex-Yakuza man, and a gang of female pickpockets to follow, trick and war against these nasty fellows as well as a group of gamblers, the leader of which almost cut off her finger for cheating. This complicated interaction of people is inundated with sleaze, nudity and blood galore, featuring an unbelievable climax where scores of women strip naked and fight. A sequel to Sex and Fury (not Teruo's) which was even more stylish and entertaining.

Love and Crime  
Another anthology of tales with lots of sex and bloody violence by Teruo Ishii, this one on the theme of women, female criminals and violence related to passion for women. Some of the tales are based on real-life crimes. The most infamous is Sada Abe's (In the Realm of the Senses) tale of a passionate affair that ended in death and her slicing off his penis as a keepsake, except in this movie, you get to briefly see the real Sada Abe. Other tales vary in length and are usually lacking in interest, some only getting a minute of time to depict the violent crime itself. Stories include the bookended tale of the doctor performing an autopsy on his suicidal wife while he ponders about women and violence, an insanely lustful serial killer from WWII, a selection of bloody violence and castrations by women, a greedy and psychotic woman who sleeps with everyone and manipulates them to kill each other so she can get her hands on some property, the gory beheading of a woman in the snow without much explanation, and a nasty tale of a lustful leper who is falling apart while trying to rape a woman.

Orgies of Edo  
Another triptych of extravagant sado-erotic-dramatic tales, making this an entry in the Tokugawa series. The first weak story involves a poor woman who is constantly taken advantage of due to her debts, some doomed lovers and forced prostitution. The second is a fetish and psychological tale of a woman who becomes obsessed with sadism and having sex with repulsive men including midgets and disfigured people, much to her husband's shock and spiraling desperation, until the melodramatic ending. The third is the nastiest, involving a sadistic powerful man who brutally abuses women for fun, until he finds the perfect masochist. This one features an amazing scene of masses of women in red dresses amongst angry bulls, death by gold paint that was probably ripped off by Goldfinger, and a gory cesarean birth.

Yakuza Punishment: Lynch  
This time, the Yakuza setting is used as an excuse for Teruo to display more of his gruesome violence and torture. The tales involve criminals, brutal thugs, crime bosses, honor, rules and the victims that break them. The Yakuza during different time periods always have strict rules and vicious punishments. When a boss goes too far, his honorable henchman protests by gouging out his own eye before taking his revenge, men are dragged over rocks by a helicopter and their faces burned off by cigarette lighters in search of gold, etc etc. Finger-chopping is mild compared to the endless barrage of violence displayed here. The violent tales are moderately entertaining and intense but short, the gore is plentiful, and the acting is good.


Blind Beast vs. Dwarf  
Another cheap revisitation of an old Japanese cult classic by Teruo, this time covering highlights of the Blind Beast, a blind masseur obsessed with tactile eroticism, body parts and S&M. The movie attempts to be a convoluted mystery involving two killers on a rampage and a pursuing detective. One killer is the Blind Beast who has a job at a local women's bath-house, the other is an angry dwarf who keeps surprising the public with dismembered body parts in unlikely places. But the acting is weak, the effects are cheap, and the movie feels like a 4 hour movie brutally chopped down to 90 minutes, resulting in a complete mess.

Ishii's revisitation of the old Japanese classic also deals with sinners' punishments in hell. A girl is taken to hell to witness the severe punishments and torture of a child molester (who is dismembered over and over) and a 'space cult', whose leader rapes women and encourages his followers to worship the sun naked and kill commuters with gas attacks. The fatal flaw here is the very low budget that makes hell look like a colorful theatrical stage with funny demonic characters, and the gore is rubbery.

The story is about a loser cartoon artist who is unlucky with love and sex and wanders about in a odyssey of sex and longing, but somewhere down the line Teruo took some acid. So we get a mass of people crawling and twisting grotesquely down a beach in red filters, we see Tsube try to commit suicide after his wife gets pregnant from a one-night-stand, urinate on a nurse while passed out, and wander from one wanton slut to another. The climax goes all out into chaos when Tsube gets horribly wounded by a jellyfish, meets strange people, rides a toy train driven by a bunny, eats face-candy with his mother, and has sex with a gynecologist-cum-plumber who promptly fixes him up with a wrench.

Tokugawa II: Inferno of Torture (AKA Hell's Tattooers)  
(Note that this is often confused with Oxen Split Torture even by IMDB users). Another entry in Teruo's Tokugawa series that deals with historical tales of torture and misogyny. This one is relatively tamer and mainly explores stories about women forced into prostitution who are tattooed by artists to raise their worth and compete for the Shogun's aesthetic praise. The tattoo artists compete amongst themselves and develop healthy or unhealthy relationships with their live canvases. And as usual, scenes of nasty torture and sadism are scattered throughout the movie.

1999- by The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre Table of Contents