No no no no.
I foolishly rented this, thinking that...uh
what was I thinking? I've seen Man Behind the Sun and while I can't exactly say I 'enjoyed' it, it was shocking, powerful, and deeply disturbing. I watched it once around 5 years ago, re-watched it recently to review it. For some reason I thought I'd read the sequel was much more disturbing. So, what do I do? Like a fool, out of morbid curiosity I have to check it out.
If you've seen the original, just quit while you're ahead. I cannot stress this strongly enough. I mean it. RUN! If you haven't seen any of the 'series' and feel the need to see any of them (whether or not that is a good idea for you to do is a whole different discussion) just see the first one. In the original, the plot centers on camp 731, where horribly inventive and vicious medical experiments are performed on prisoners under the guise of 'scientific research' for warfare. That one actually has a plot, and some characters you care about. The reason I'm going on at length about the first movie is that 90% of this movie "Laboratory of the Devil" is simply the first movie, re-staged, only done very badly.
The plot' goes something like this: a guy, who I think was supposed to have been at camp 731, goes to a house for a meeting, post WW2. A bunch of Japanese men sit stiffly around the table. Through This review contains some slight spoilers, but you'll be doing yourself a big favor if you read it before you decide to waste your money on this terrible sequel (if you can call it that). some very badly written dialogue (though to be fair, the movie is dubbed, so maybe the translation lost something) we find out that the main evil guy from the first movie wants to restart the medical experiments. Why he would want to is not that clear, other than out of sheer meanness. After more boring dialogue that I was tempted to fast forward through, the guy that came in says something to the effect of 'have you no honor? Don't you remember what happened before?' No, for some reason they don't, even though they were all there the first time. "Well let me tell you about it..."
We go into flashback mode and I optimistically figure it'll last maybe 5 minutes, summing up the first movie. Uh-oh, it seems to be going on longer. And the plot seems kind of familiar. OK, well, maybe they'll wrap it up in the next 15 minutes. After I realized the movie was half over, I resigned myself to the fact that the whole movie was going to be a re-hash of the first.
Now that's bad and lazy enough, but not only do they just blunderingly re-stage the first movie, they manage to completely f-*$% it up in every way possible. To try to add pathos, there's a lame romantic subplot. The experiments that are restaged are the most boring ones, and they only include one from the first movie that was a real shocker, but since most of us have SEEN the first movie, it's not shocking. The first movie was well paced, but in this case, it seems like the screenwriters just wrote down all the scenes from the original on index cards, put them all in a hat, and picked them out at random and filmed them in no particular order, making sure to leave out the most powerful ones and substituting incredibly stupid ones in their place. There's an autopsy at the beginning on a corpse that goes on way too long and is obviously intercut with actual autopsy footage. Not only is this lazy, but if I wanted to sit there watching endless scenes of autopsies, I would have, well, rented a video that consisted of actual autopsies
instead (yes, you can rent those now). I didn't think a movie could be disgusting and boring at the same time, but LOTD manages.
But wait! There's more. They also figured that maybe the first movie wasn't humorous enough (yeah, you really need humor in a movie about POW torture), so they stuck in some really, really unfunny "comic relief". Here is an exact quote, to give you an idea. Two guards are walking out of the lab after a frostbite experiment. Guy #1:"...they found out that women have a greater resistance to cold than men." Guy #2-"Yeah well, I guess that explains why my wife is frigid!" (rim shot) They roar with laughter. HAHAHAHAHA!
Stop, you guys, I'm laughing so hard it hurts! Whooo-hooo! I'm still holding my sides! (I was kidding about the rim shot, but there might as well have been one, it would have been an improvement).
There is, however, some unintentional humor (though NOT worth watching the movie for-if the forthcoming description of the unintentional humor amuses you at all , just LEAVE IT AT THAT. Count your blessings. I'm making it sound much more entertaining than sitting through the movie is) For instance, the English dubbing is so laughably bad it sounds like a parody of bad dubbing in an Asian film (Your Kung Fu is lousy!) It sounds like they have maybe 2, 3 guys tops doing all the characters. In one scene a bunch of scientists or commanders or whatever they're supposed to be are wearing surgical masks. One sounds completely normal while the other guy sounds like he's yelling into his cupped hands or through a saltine box. Also, the characters, both heroes and bad guys, are amazingly stupid. At one point, the hero (I think he was the hero, anyway) helps with one 'test' that consists of prisoners being lined up and shot. Why they need to research what happens when they do this, I don't know, but anyway, the hero reluctantly fires at the commander's order, naturally killing them, then looks shocked and horrified at the results. What did he think was going to happen? Oh, and this is after he watches the same thing being done 3 times in a row before this with no expression at all on his face.
In another scene, the bad guys inject a slice of watermelon with what I assume is some sort of toxic substance. Then we see a guy being dragged, struggling, into frame by the other bad guys,: "No! No! You can't make me eat it!" "You WILL eat this!!" They force feed it to him, though it looks more like they just rubbed it into his teeth, he foams at the mouth a little, and dies. Was that supposed to scare me or disturb me? Why the hell didn't they just give it to him to eat and not tell him what it was? In the first movie, during several scenes prisoners are tricked into the experiments, which is much more believable and has much more powerful and disturbing results. In the first movie, it had the effect of making you hate the villains even more. Here, you just think they're badly organized morons. Speaking of that, there's another scene where the prisoners are all in one room with huge numbers on their uniforms so large that the digits would be visible from another planet, and when they need them for experiments, a guard just walks in with a clipboard and calls out their numbers, and they call out "here!" like it's roll call in a class or something. For some reason that struck me as funny. Maybe I was just so bored I was trying to entertain myself by finding anything I could to jeer at.
Not enough reasons to skip this? OK, here's more. The makeup effects (other than the real autopsy footage) are really, really cheesy and unrealistic. Several workers are beaten and slapped for disobeying. I've seen more realistic punches thrown in Dolemite movies-seriously, we're talking the hand visibly not coming within six inches of the person's face and the person reacting like they were hit. Terrible continuity, too-in one scene, a guy bites into a small corner of a guards earlobe while fighting, then we cut (they always cut away instead of going to the trouble of showing any sort of effect) to a shot of the guy with a huge chunk of flesh in his mouth. Oh, and every once in a while, they stick in some stock war footage that is so grainy you can barely tell what's going on (I *think* that was a shot of something being blown up there...)
The characters look so much alike (I'm not saying this in a racist way -in the first movie, I had no problem, but here the screenwriting is so sloppy I didn't know who was who. OK, is that guy upset because they just killed....uh...his father?his brother? Was that his roommate? Who knows? The only positive things about this wretched excuse for an exploitation movie are that it leaves out the suspiciously realistic, unnecessary scenes of animal cruelty included in the first one, and that it has the guts to have a downbeat ending (though again, it's just a really inept rip-off of the first movie). SPOILER AHEAD:
any movie that ends with the hero suddenly being decapitated should get a tiny iota of credit, I guess. The first movie was so disturbing it made me lose sleep, this one just put me to sleep. I repeat, do NOT waste your time with this (especially if you've seen the first one). If you want to see something really shocking, upsetting, and disturbing, just rent the original. If you want to be bored, mad at yourself for wasting your money, and have your intelligence insulted, then rent this one. I heard that the third one is the worst in the series-boy, I don't even want to think about that.
11 out of 16 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.