The unfortunate final feature of Japan’s Teruo Ishii. A shot on video
no-budgeter, it’s an uninspired and amateurish product not befitting one
of Japan’s most prominent cult auteurs.
This 2001 “film,” which is a.k.a. MOJU TAI ISSUNBOSHI,
was inspired by its director’s “lifelong love” for the writings of
Edogawa Rampo (Teruo Ishii previously made the Rampo-inspired
MALFORMED MEN). Here Ishii combined two Rampo tales: THE
BLIND BEAST/MOJU (1932) and THE DWARF (1926). Never mind that the first
of those tales was already made into a movie by director Yazuzo Masumura,
1969’s BLIND BEAST,
a true cult classic the present film can’t hope to approach, much less
Ranko Mizuki is a famous actress being stalked by a
blind pervert. Concurrently the popular mystery novelist Kobayashi finds
himself drawn to a mysterious dwarf he spots carrying a severed arm.
Kobayashi’s interest only increases when he later reads about the brutal
killing of a woman that occurred on the following day.
Ranko winds up imprisoned by the creepy blind guy in a
cave filled with statues of disembodied arms, eyes, ears and breasts.
She resists the guy’s overtures but eventually succumbs, entering into a
freaky S&M relationship that ends with Ranko stabbed in a fit of
psychosis by the blind beast, who dismembers her corpse and encases the
body parts in a paper maiche sculpture he leaves on a populous city
Kobayashi’s private detective friend Akechi
investigates Ranko’s disappearance. Akechi ferrets out the blind beast
by a chance lead and unravels the case, which turns out to be far more
convoluted than was initially apparent. We also learn more about the
dwarf, whose name is Jiro; he’s led a tough life, having joined the
circus at an early age and then burned it down after being humiliated by
its employees. He’s also at death’s door.
Overshadowing all this, however, is the fact that the
blind beast has found another woman to imprison and dismember…
Teruo Ishii was a skilled filmmaker, but this film
never seems like anything more than the shot on video no-budgeter it is.
It contains all the elements you’d expect from such an effort, including
poor lighting, a muddled script (which meshes the two Edogawa Rampo
stories in clumsy and disjointed fashion, with the “vs” of the title
nowhere to be found), low rent synthesizer music and amateurish
performances. Most of the latter were by Japanese cult figures such as
director Shinya Tsukamoto (who’s admitted he appeared in this film
solely due to Ishii’s cult cachet),
SUICIDE CIRCLE director Shion Sono,
SEXUAL PARASITE director Takao Nakano, anime writer/filmmaker Riri
Furanki, and veteran supporting actor Tetsuro Tanba.
There are some striking images here and there, most
notably the blind beast’s assortment of body part sculptures, visualized
through multi-colored filters (it’s best not to think about Masumura’s
BLIND BEAST, as the comparison does Ishii’s film no favors). Of course
those sculptures are situated in what looks like a morass of tissue
paper whose tacky appearance seriously jeopardizes the picture’s
already-tenuous sense of “reality”--which isn’t helped by the
inexcusable gore effects or visibly breathing “corpses.” Clearly, at age
77 Teruo Ishii no longer cared about how things appeared in his films,
or, it seems, much of anything else.
BLIND BEAST VS. KILLER DWARF (MOJU TAI ISSUNBOSHI)
Eleven Arts Films
Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Cinematography: Teruo Ishii
Editing: Masaki Yaguchi, Akiko Yamashita
Cast: Riri Fukari, Shinya Tsukamoto, Hisayoshi Hirayama, Reika
Hashimoto, Little Frankie, Tetsuro Tanba, Kenpachiro Satsuma, Chido
Yoshida, Tomoko Matsumoto, Momoka Sakata, Shion Sono