Tuesday, 21 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: Shogun's Sadism (1976)

Shogun's Sadism (aka Tokugawa onna keibatsu-emaki: Ushi-zaki no kei) (aka The Joy of Torture 2: Oxen Split Torturing) (1976)
Director: Yugi Makiguchi
Starring: Yusuke Kazato, Rena Uchimura, and Akira Shioji
Running Time: 80 min

This is a period samurai film from Japan, but this film hasn't been noted for it's cinematic beauty or classic storytelling but it is noted for it's scenes of disturbing cruelty and explicit violence. So, this should be fun.   

After an interesting opening roll of perhaps the funkiest music from a 70's Japanese film ever, under a collection terrible pictures of torture,  we are then shown another quick collection of torture methods causing death  reenacted and told by a narrator that torture has been around for a long time.  Groovy.
  The film then focuses on it's first story, in ancient Edo, Japan.  A young samurai, Iori is bitten by a snake and a beautiful peasant girl, Toyo saves him, by sucking out the venom.  The two then fall in love and on Iori's days off, he spends them with Toyo.  Unfortunately, Iori's boss is a sadistic shogun and as of late, he's been trying to wipe Christianity of the face of Japan.  He's been trying to find new and exciting ways to make the Christians to renounce their gods through extreme torture methods.
  One day, guess who shows up in the shogun's office, it's Toyo and her family!  The shogun notices that Iori knows and loves the the girl Toyo, so he decides to make Iori his right hand samurai man and forces him to watch him rape Toyo and torture and kill her family.  What a great guy!  Is there any way that Iori can save his true love or is fate in the hands of this sadistic shogun?
  The second story, also in Edo, is about a man, who is forced into servitude at a brothel, after spending an evening there and he was unable to pay.  While there, he learns about how cruel this lifestyle is, from seeing the vicious catfights amongst the girls, their extreme method of birth control and what happens to people when they try and run away from there.  Ah, penis mutilation.  So, he finds the prostitute that he loves and they plan an escape to freedom, so he can pimp her out.  True love!  Can this couple get out of this brothel world and make it work or will they be strung up, beaten and have their privates removed like all the others?

  This movie is crazy violent and depressing.  There is no silver lining in any of these stories and I was really surprised at how far director Yugi Makiguchi (Nuns That Bite, Rashamen) was able to push the envelope for some of these disgustingly disturbing scenes.  Makiguchi and his team come up with some incredibly inventive scenes of killing people off and the camera does not shy away.  They boil people, the half quarter them by pulling there lower halves apart using oxen, pregnant woman stomping, they slice, they dice and it's just so, so nasty at times.
  Also there is a considerable amount of rape scenes in this as well.  Which I guess I was expecting  but maybe not to this extent.  These scenes are very hard to watch and they even do a double rape with two guys on a girl at the same time.  I don't think I've ever seen that, so bravo?  Unfortunately, unlike in most rape revenge films, there is a certain amount of justice but not here, at least not for everybody.
  However, as mentioned above the film is extremely gruesome but the effects are very well done.  Makiguchi and his team may have some very cruel and disdainful ideas but there is tons a of blood and body parts flying all over the place for any gorehound to appreciate.

  Issues with the film, being bombarded with horrific images that I will probably never forget, I didn't have time to look for flaws.  Just kidding, I did but it is filmed well and the stories are coherent.  There is no confusion about the characters or their motivations and what was occurring in the scenes.  The only thing I wasn't crazy about was how the stories turn out. **SPOILER**  They are depressingly realistic and it's unfortunate that none of the characters, more so in the first story, don't get a better ending that is fair or the revenge that they really deserve.  The second story, they get what they get and it's deserving but the demise of the one of the character is just so random, that it's almost comical in a dark humour kind of way.  **ENDSPOILER**

  To say it mildly, this film isn't for everybody.  This is one of the cruelest and deplorable films out there and it can be very difficult to watch at times. It does have some excellent gruesome effects work and a number of incredibly bleak and at times heartbreaking scenes.  I don't know how this wasn't on the nasty list because if you are looking for something disturbing to watch, this is as nasty as it gets.
(I couldn't find a trailer for this, so here are the funky opening credits)

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