Combustible Celluloid Review - Blind Beast (1969), Yoshio Shirasoka, based on a novel by Edogawa Ranpo, Yasuzo Masumura, Eiji Funakoshi, Mako Midori, Noriko Sengoku
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Eiji Funakoshi, Mako Midori, Noriko Sengoku
Written by: Yoshio Shirasoka, based on a novel by Edogawa Ranpo
Directed by: Yasuzo Masumura
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 86
Date: 01/25/1969

Blind Beast (1969)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Scale Model

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Yasuzo Masumura is known by a much smaller fraction of film buffs than his Japanese contemporaries. At first I thought he might have been considered a "B" filmmaker, slapped aside to the fringes of film history. But even if he was, he counts among his fans filmmakers Michelangelo Antonioni and Nagisa Oshima.

He studied film and filmmaking in Italy, wrote about Italian master Luchino Visconti and the history of Japanese cinema. Returning to Japan, he assisted the great Kenji Mizoguchi and Kon Ichikawa at Daiei Studios before becoming a director himself. He enjoyed working with the same collaborators again and again, over the course of his 50-odd films. He was interested in characters at the extreme of human behavior, which resonates universally, but especially in Japan.

Masumura's bizarre thriller Blind Beast is my favorite of his films so far, and by far the darkest. A blind sculptor kidnaps a beautiful model to assist him in making his greatest creation. His workshop is full of giant body parts: ears, legs, breasts, etc. The story keeps growing smaller, darker, more depraved, until the two main characters cavort together in darkness, pain and misery. A truly lurid classic.

San Francisco's Fantoma Films has released Blind Beast along with three other Masumura films on DVD for the first time: Giants and Toys (1958), Afraid to Die (1960), and Manji (1964). All four are presented in color and "Daieiscope" widescreen, and though the colors might not seem as bold as you'd expect, we have to remember that color from this period is notoriously difficult to restore (various shades fade and shrink faster than other shades). Fantoma has done a remarkable job refurbishing these great films to DVD.

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