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Ghost Canyon

Blind Beast (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
(Eiji Funakoshi, Mako Midori, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1969) 2021 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Blind Beast is a grotesque portrait of the bizarre relationship between a blind sculptor and his captive muse, adapted from a short story from Japans foremost master of the macabre, Edogawa Rampo (Horrors of Malformed Men, The Black Lizard, Caterpillar).

An artists model, Aki (Mako Midori), is abducted, and awakens in a dark warehouse studio whose walls are decorated with outsized women’s body parts eyes, lips, legs and breasts and dominated by two recumbent giant statues of male and female nudes.

Her kidnapper introduces himself as Michio (Eiji Funakoshi), a blind sculptor whom she had witnessed previously at an exhibition in which she featured intently caressing a statue of her naked torso.

Michio announces his intention of using her to sculpt the perfect female form. At first defiant, she eventually succumbs to his intense fixation on her body and finds herself drawn into his sightless world, in which touch is everything.

Blind Beast is a masterpiece of erotic horror that explores the all-encompassing and overwhelming relationship between the artist and his art and the obsessive closed world that the artist inhabits, with maestro director Yasuzo Masumura (Giants and Toys, Irezumi) conjuring up a hallucinogenic dream world in which sensual and creative urges combine with a feverish intensity.

Blu-ray Verdict: Part of the Japanese New Wave of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, - which, like the French Nouvelle Vague developed a new form of cinema, largely made up of film critics, and deconstructionists - Yasuzo Masumura’s deeply psycho-sexual drama about power and sensuality, explored ideas such as the changing roles in society (particularly of women), surprisingly; unlike the French wave, through the studio system.

Based upon Rampo Edogawa’s novel, published in 1931, the film has been previously compared to John Fowles’s excellent 1963 novel, The Collector - and certainly some of the themes are similar.

Self-proclaimed disliked model, Aki (Mako Midori), begins the film in a gallery, her modelling career not going to plan within the commercial world, she had taken a job posing for a famous photographer in erotic S&M style images.

The exhibition is a success, but here, now, it is early, and she views a strange man fondling a sculpture effigy of her, that resides at the center of the room.

Having hired a masseur, the blind, Michio (Eiji Funakoshi), enters her flat and begins lasciviously to touch her body, proclaiming she has the most perfect body.

Michio, along with his mother kidnap Aki, and take her to his warehouse studio - there he states his aim to create a new genre of art, made by and for the blind that is based upon the sensation of touch alone.

As Aki begins to bring deception and manipulation into the mother-son relationship, things begin to spiral out of control, their relationship develops into a strangely symbiotic form, that increasingly leads to a masochistic tryst.

As their depravity progresses, the masochistic tendencies become more dangerous (which could easily be seen as absolute influence on Jennifer Lynch’s famous failure, Boxing Helena (1993) - it would be surprising if she had not seen it).

Most of the film is set within the cavernous, yet claustrophobic warehouse, which lends an air of stage play. However, the production design is absolutely beautiful, with abstractions of lighting, and the walls covered with hundreds of clay body parts - over sized eyes, noses, legs, etc, - of all the women he has previously touched.

It is a very interesting film, that will endure for it’s psychotic and debasing character studies, and the destruction of the traditional family unit. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio
Optional English subtitles
Brand new audio commentary by Asian cinema scholar Earl Jackson
Newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
Blind Beast: Masumura the Supersensualist, a brand new visual essay by Japanese literature and visual studies scholar Seth Jacobowitz
Original Trailer
Image Gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by Virginie Sélavy