Hong Kong films have in recent years become popular with
American cineastes for their over-the-top qualities; however, true Asian cinema
buffs know that the wildest fare comes not from Hong Kong, but from Japan. Case
in point, PINOCCHIO 964 (1991), a prime example of
cyberpunk cinema. Others
include TETSUO (1990) and DEATH POWDER (1986), but PINOCCHIO 964 is by
far the wildest film this sub-genre has to offer. Director Shozin Fukui employs
several over-the-top touches, creating what may be the ultimate "punk" movie.
This was the first feature by writer/director Shozin
Fukiui, following the well received shorts "Gerorisuto" (1987) and "Caterpillar"
(1988). A brief scene over the end credits featuring the cast wigging-out
with a punk band shows PINOCCHIO 964's true loyalties. Its demented subject
matter, loud industrial soundtrack, confrontational sex and gore scenes, and
shocking performances teetering on the edge of hysteria make PINOCCHIO 964 ideal
viewing for the spike-haired, pierced-lips set. It's
almost certainly be one the most outrageous films ever to come out of Japan, and
perfect for anyone interested in the extremes of underground filmmaking.
Pinocchio, a cyborg built to
sexually satisfy lonely women, is thrown out onto the street by its dissatisfied
owners, a depraved lesbian couple. After taking up with a young homeless woman,
the rapidly malfunctioning android attempts to confront its creators.
Clearly, plot isn't the main thing on writer-director
Shozin Fukui's mind. It's the grotesque and disturbing imagery that takes center
gore, drool, slime and what may be the most prolonged vomiting scene ever.
Definitely not for all tastes, PINOCCHIO 964 is strictly a love-it-or-hate-it
Shozin Fukui is either a cinematic genius or a
complete lunatic. Either way, the film is a total mindblower. The many stylistic
eccentricities on display here include use of extremely wide lenses, angles shot
from a vertical perspective, shots held for an unconscionably long time, fast
motion, etc. It's often difficult to know if we're meant to take the proceedings
seriously, particularly during Pinocchio's climactic rampage through the streets
of Tokyo and his subsequent showdown with his insane creators. (This
confrontation includes epilepsy, heart and face ripping, transplanted heads, and
a declaration of true love
did I not say this was weird?) Fukui's current status in the Japanese film
industry is unknown to me but then, do I really want to find out?
(Postscript: Fukui went on to make the
black-and-white cyber-horror fest RUBBER'S LOVER in 1996; both films are
currently available on DVD in the U.S. from Unearthed Films.)
PINOCCHIO 964 (a.k.a. SCREAMS OF BLASPHEMY)
Director: Shozin Fukui
Screenplay: Shozin Fukui
Cast: Hage Suzuki, Onn-Chan, Kyouko Hara, Ranyaku Mikutei