Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

     For this review I thought I'd go back to Japan for some more pinky violence, although this is a strange departure from the typical yakuza/samurai/motorcycle gang pinky violence film.  This is one of those movies where, after it was over, I was left sitting there wondering what the hell I just watched.  It starts out normal enough but then takes a detour into crazy Japanese grindhouse territory.   

    Horrors of Malformed Men has basically two parts.  The first half revolves around an amnesiac trying to figure out his past and the second half is a batshit crazy "Island of Dr. Moreau" parallel.  Our hero, Hirosuke, finds himself in an insane asylum but has no idea about his identity other than the fact that he's a medical student with vague memories of an unknown island.  He escapes and with only those sparse clues and a song from his childhood stuck in his head, he sets out to discover his past.

    Soon after, Hirosuke hears the childhood song being sung by a young girl traveling through the area with a circus.  He questions her and learns that the song is from one of the Japanese coastal towns but she is killed before she can reveal more.  Of course, Hirosuke is accused of the crime as he pulls the knife from her body in the middle of a crowd in a scene reminiscent of Hitchcock's North by Northwest.

    In disguise he travels to the coastal town and soon discovers that a man from a wealthy and influential family has just died in this community, and that this dead man looked exactly like Hirosuke.  He has the brilliant idea to dig up the corpse, dress in the dead man's funeral garb and convince people that he was buried alive and hence take on the dead man's identity.  Acting as his dead doppleganger, Hirosuke learns of an insane man on a nearby island who may hold the key to his identity.  What he discovers there blows his mind!  I don't want to reveal too much but it involves incest, bestiality,torture and such.

    I give Horrors of Malformed Men a thumbs up.  It held my interest simply as a mystery story and all the added crazy Japanese elements were just bonuses.  The ending will leave you scratching your head or perhaps laughing at the insanity of it all, but I'm sure you will be entertained either way.

    Violence Rating: 3.5 out of 5
    Booby Rating: 4.5 out of 5