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A blind sculpter kidnaps a beautiful young model and takes her back to his home. He and his mother live in a warehouse that he has turned into a surreal tribute to the senses. It is filled with huge sculptures of body parts and the female form. He is obsessed with exploring the senses to the fullest. At first, the model only wants to escape from this bizarre scene, but eventually she succumbs to his strange vision and even surpasses his obsession. Written by
Fred Cabral <email@example.com>
The career of Japanese director Yasuzo Masumura is littered with provocative and disturbing gems which plunge the viewer into the shadow of civilisation to explore the darkest, most twisted, aspects of the human condition. 'Manji' (1964) tells the story of a lesbian love-triangle, dark wartime romance 'Red Angel' ('Akai Tenshi', 1966) is epically bleak, and 'Irezumi' (1966) is a story of bitter vengeance wrecking a woman's soul. However, even among such subversive company 'Moju' ('Blind Beast', 1969) is not only the most bizarre and freakish in his oeuvre, but one of the most psychologically disconcerting films in cinema.
An adaptation of the story of the same name by famed Japanese mystery writer Edogawa Rampo, whose stories were known for what became known as "eroguronansensu", ("eroticism, grotesque, nonsense"), 'Blind Beast' begins with a young model called Aki (Mako Midori) who is soon abducted by Michio (Eiji Funakoshi), a blind sculptor with an obsessive fetish with exploring the female form through the sense of touch. He takes her to his warehouse, which has been grotesquely adorned with various sculptures of over-sized female body parts (lips, eyes, breasts) and a centre-piece of a giant nude, where a bizarre sado-masochistic exploration of their respective psyches is undertaken.
It is surprising and refreshing that, in a cultural landscape that has made torture porn a mainstream genre, a film like 'Moju' still manages to unnerve, and indeed does so in a deeper, more penetrating way, than any gore-laden splatter flick. What makes the film so unsettling for me is that the psychology of the characters is so rich with different layers of perversity that the boundaries that define each of them shift throughout the film before finally merging in an infernal, transcendent symbiosis which collapses the distinction between Michio and Aki, captive and captor, as well as pleasure and pain.
However, while the grotesque eroticism of the film's bizarre premise is by itself discomforting, the cinematography and music are equally haunting and evoke a surreal, nightmare ambiance which captures the claustrophobic internal landscape of the characters perfectly. All told, the film is a compelling hallucinogenic journey through a realm of taboo and, while it may not appeal to all tastes, is certainly recommended for those with a fascination with the darker aspects of the human heart as well as those that enjoy films with genuine artistic aspirations rather than films that merely wish to entertain.
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