Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nekeddo burâddo: Megyaku (1996)

... aka: Megyaku: Akuma no yorokobi - itai no ga suki
... aka: Naked Blood
... aka: Naked Blood: Megyaku
... aka: Splatter: Naked Blood

Directed by:
Hisayasu Sato

While conducting "brain secretion research,"  17-year-old budding scientist Eije Kure (Sadao Abe) has created the "ultimate painkiller for human beings" that he names "Myson." The problem? He has no one to test its effectiveness on. Thankfully, his scientist mother Yuki (Masumi Nakao) is conducting her own experiments in contraception to help curb overpopulation. She pays three young women; Rika Mikami (Misa Aika), who for some reason written off as a "psychological shock" doesn't need to sleep, and two others known only as "Vain Woman" (Mika Kirihara) and "Gluttonous Woman" (Yumika Hayashi) for obvious reasons, to take part in the harmless test. Well, harmless untl Eije sneaks into the research center and, unbeknownst to his mom or the test subjects, taints each of their iv bags with his experimental drug. Each girl is given it, go on their way and are instructed to come back in a week. Eije's drug won't be kicking in for another 48 hours, so he decides to start following the girls around to document the progress with his video camera.

Rika catches Eije stalking her and the would-be scientist discovers that she is mighty odd herself. Because of her extreme insomnia, Rika's hearing has become extremely sensitive to the point where she can hear what small animals and even plants are saying. It's a language she doesn't understand and it's driving her crazy, so she doesn't get out much and her only sanctuary is her small apartment. She keeps a cactus there because they never talk and has a special sleeping contraption and virtual reality headset so she and her potted friend can share "dreams of the heart" together. Meanwhile, the other two girls who were part of the experiment start showing strange side effects. The vain girl starts jabbing pins in her ears and the gluttonous one cuts her finger with a knife, covers her hand in tempura batter, dips it a pot of boiling oil and then bites off her finger. As it turns out, the drug Eije had given them has a way of turning extreme pain into extreme pleasure. It's a pleasure so strong and irresistible that the girls cannot help but to keep mutilating themselves...

Naked Blood has a reputation as being an extreme gore-fest but during the slow and somewhat bland first 50 minutes you may start wondering "Where's the disgusting gore?" Well, rest assured, it finally does come. A girl jams various sharp objects through her arm and turns herself into a human pincushion (in a scene clearly copying Return of the Living Dead III), another sticks a fork and knife up her hoo-ha and starts eating pieces of it, a nipple is cut off and eaten, a torso is sliced wide open and a man climbs inside (?), blood sprays out all over the place when a throat is cut and, during the most memorably icky moment, an eyeball is speared with a fork, pulled out and eaten. The fx are pretty good but, gruesome moments aside, I ultimately became annoyed at how much of this wasn't making sense. It begins with a rather straight-forward narrative (granted you can accept the whole 'sharing a dream world with a cactus' thing) then during the last half hour goes off in such a bizarre, would-be "profound" direction that even most fans of the film are left scratching their heads. A man walks along the beach, sees a shining light and simply disappears into thin air, only to later return as a ghost... I think. What's going on with the drug may not actually be what's going on with the drug... or maybe it is. Certain aspects are perhaps hallucinations or nightmares but after awhile I simply stopped caring. Random weirdness for the sake of random weirdness doesn't bother some viewers out there, but it usually just leaves me feeling dissatisfied by the end, which is pretty much the case here.

Prolific director Sato also made the sadistic pinku Lolita: Vibrator Torture (1987), the vampire film Love-O=Infinity (1994) and one of four shorts in the horror anthology Rampo Noir (2005). Most of his other movies appear to be fixated on rather unsavory topics like torture, rape, incest, necrophilia, snuff movies and even bestiality. From what I've learned about the director's overall body of work, Naked Blood (a partial remake of Sato's earlier film Bôkô honban aka Rape: For Real) appears to be one of his more accessible films. I'm sure morbid curiosity is going to eventually get the better of me and have me checking out more of this guy's stuff. DVD is from Discotek Media.

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