'Horrors of Malformed Men: Special Edition'
(Teruo Yoshida, Yukie Kagawa, Teruko Yumi, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1969) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: After escaping from an insane asylum, a medical student assumes the identity of a mysterious dead man, who appeared to be his doppelganger, and gets lured to a sinister island ruled by a mad scientist and his malformed men.
Blu-ray Verdict: The movie, directed by Teruo Ishii, was part of series of very radical erotic violence movies that he directed for Toei studio in the late '60s and early '70s.
The story is an edit on many novels written by Edogawa Ranpo (who got his name from Edgar Alan Poe), but gathered fans and has become a popular story since it was made. Indeed, Kogoro Akechi is the main protagonist that appears in many of Ranpo's novels.
Kogoro Akechi has somewhat become like the Sherlock Homes of Japan. Becoming the focus of many mystery drama with even new stories invented like this one long after the death of his creator.
That all said, 'Horrors of Malformed Men' is a pretty interesting story, and no wonder it still garners fan base. It's an improbably story, but it carries the essence of Ranpo's novel that contains strange and unusual situation, and characters.
And I won't give it away here, save for the Overview above, but suffice to say that it isn't until the movie reaches its halve way point that it becomes more or less more clear in which direction the story is going.
The movie soon becomes a sort of a surrealistic Japanese version of the Island of Dr. Moreau. I think those that are familiar with this story, or any of the other movie versions of the story will be more able to understand and appreciate this movie.
Actors, and acting are first rate, and has the over the top craziness that director Ishii is known for, that makes this movie worth watching. Indeed, it's an obviously well cast movie, as you would have expected back then, in which the actors don't act in a very theatrical way, like you might expect from a Japanese movie. Especially surprising also since this movie got made back in 1969.
It's not a mainstream movie by any means, but is an interesting movie from the '60s Japan. And, having once again sat down to watch this via this brand new Special Edition Blu-ray from Arrow Films (UK) / MVD Visual, I find myself liking Ishii the filmmaker more than Ishii's film.
His sensibility is original and interesting, and his love of the macabre and sexually grotesque is to be be admired. This is certainly worth seeing, but be prepared for a lot of awkwardness and a very slow pace. And don't come expecting too many shocks, because the real shock here is the lack of shocks! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original negative
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio
Newly translated, optional English subtitles
Two audio commentaries by Japanese cinema experts Tom Mes and Mark Schilling
Malformed Movies: a new video interview with Toei exploitation movie screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda
Malformed Memories: Filmmakers Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo the Iron Man) and Minoru Kawasaki (The Calamari Wrestler) on the career of director Teruo Ishii
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford
+FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Jasper Sharp, Tom Mes and Grady Hendrix