... aka: 獣神伝説 - Conton
... aka: Beast God Legend
... aka: Con Ton
... aka: Conton - 獣神伝説 (ConTon - Beast God Legend)
Like many other "analog era" VHS horrors made in Japan in the 80s, this runs less than an hour (46 minutes) and seems made specifically to showcase gory special effects. Even the video box has "SFX" emblazonment on the cover right next to the title. College student Goh (Tasashi Kato) is having a hard time affording his tuition and is constantly harassed by yakuza-connected loan sharks from the Kanto Dragon Club that he borrowed money from after a minor car accident. Though he's already paid them, they're now claiming he owes 5.3. million yen in "interest." If things couldn't get any grimmer, he's haunted by recurring nightmares about monsters and mutants. The dreams are so bad they're keeping him from sleeping and are interfering in his life. He's stopped going to class and is only working a part time job as as gofer at Tokyo Film Studio, which isn't enough to pay his debt. His girlfriend Emi (Kyoko Katayama) is concerned for his future but, as she tries to help, he just keep pushing her away. Both of Goh's parents are dead so he can't get any help there. It all seems hopeless.
Goh has a succession of nightmare of monsters roaming some kind of leaky industrial plant. Others involve a snake-like monster popping out of a mouth in a sink full of green vomit and a zombie head hidden under a bucket on the floor that gets its face ripped off and then attacks him with tentacles that shoot out of its mouth. The yakuza (led by Kazuhisa Kawahara) are just as bad; constantly knocking on his door, standing outside his apartment and calling him. They even show up at his job to rough him up. After he manages to escape them, one of the prominent dream figures - a bulky axe-wielding demon warrior in a horned helmet - seems to materialize in real life and chases him around the studio.
The yakuza confront Goh one more time at the film studio after hours. This time they pull a gun on him, have kidnapped Emi and are threatening to rape her if he doesn't pay up. The intensity is such that Goh does an American Werewolf in London-style transformation (even copying the exact fx, camera shots and editing) into a quilled monster that looks inspired by the radiation monster in Class of Nuke 'em High. It decapitates one of them and rips a face off as blood splatters on the screen. None of this really makes much sense and there's barely enough story to string together the amateurish - though fun - special effects scenes. Also featured are clips from some music video (complete with a choreographed dance), music stolen from PHENOMENA (1985), though slightly re-tooled here, and a surprisingly clever final shot.
While this isn't the worst thing you'll ever see, it's easy to see why it's managed to slip into complete obscurity over the years. It's nowhere near as graphic, gory or exploitative as other films of this type and definitely doesn't have the notoriety factor of, say, the Guinea Pig films or some of the more revolting extreme underground tapes.
To date, this is the only directorial credit for Fukuda, who has mostly worked as a writer and is now best known for the Kamen Rider TV shows. The Japanese VHS release was on the label Zeus. A bootleg DVD-R is also available. None of these are in good condition. The one I watched looked terrible but that's currently the best that's available.