Tuesday, August 07, 2007

You and your pussycat lips!

Continuing on with the liquidation of my review archives, here's a snappy little number about Teruo Ishii's Blind Woman's Curse. I thought this one turned out pretty good.

Blind Woman’s Curse (1970)

"When people refer to filmmaking as my job I'm always a bit embarrassed, because I don't consider what I do as anything more than having a great time."
- Teruo Ishii

With an unmatched consistency, the late Teruo Ishii delivered film after film that was, to quote the tagline for Pieces, “Exactly what you think it is.” I’ve seen the looks on your faces when the greatest Japanese cult film you’ve never seen turns out to be Noboru Ando smoking in a dingy bar for eighty-minutes. Hell, I’ve had that look, delivered right to my mug by the greats, but never, ever, by Ishii. With him, the real thing is always better. Which should excuse me from writing a synopsis for this movie, but since I get paid by the word, here we go:

Ishii opens the show with a synchronized, matching-tattoo sword-slashing rain-dance where our gal Meiko Kaji kills somebody’s big boss, and blinds his sister. Then after spending three years in a Technicolor prison cell (years before becoming #701), Kaji returns home to the ol‘ gang. She now must maintain her honor and control while caught in the middle of a twisting, back-stabbing, turn-coating gang war. Oh yeah, there’s also possessions, evil cats, opium den whippings, a dancing, drooling hunchback, an nudie avant-garde haunted house, kitty-cat wire-work (when they’re not yanking it by the tail), and a cane-carrying Ryuichi Uchida in a bowler and red loin-cloth. Anything to avert your eyes from the hairy ninkyo nether regions; something which Ishii admittedly had no taste for.

Likely looking to cash-in on Toei’s popular femme-ninkyo series Red Peony Gambler. the folks at Nikkatsu concocted their own twist to contend with the lady dice-rattler: Rising Dragon, Iron Flesh. The first two films follow the ho-hum ninkyo pattern, but when number three was ready to roll, those Nikkatsu cats asked for a little horror to be thrown in the mix. What they got was starlet Kaji taking a backseat to a mop-topped dandy driving yakuza spook-house ride at three hundred MPH. A mix-tape of madness that makes Seijun Suzuki’s transgressions in youth action seem not so transgressive. I like Suzuki, I swear I do, but people shitting their short-shorts because he floods the set with yellow lights won’t know how to handle Blind Woman’s Curse.

Here’s the real kicker: Ishii made better, and wilder, movies in his career, hell, Ishii made better movies than this that year, and they’re all out there for you to find. So tuck away your Yugi-Oh cards, and gasp at the horrors of a malformed man, scour the depths of hell, and discover the joys of torture. It may all sound too wild, and inconceivable, but don’t you worry, that mop-headed man in the sky will be by your side, holding your hand at every atrocity, and sharing a laugh at every off-color gag. After all, the only one enjoying it more than you or I is Ishii himself.

Wes Black

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