Lately, it has become achingly apparent lately that I have more in common with the late director Teruo Ishii than any other director I can name. Actually, I have no idea what his actual hobbies or outside interests outside of film were, but a filmmaker's chief interests and obsessions can be found in his films. I'm speaking from experience.
The central story in Ishii's ORGIES OF EDO, an anthology, concerns a hideously deformed man who kidnaps an unfortunate waif and subjects her to torture, rape, and sundry forms of abuse and imprisonment. Before the authorities catch up with this fiend, he has tasted every inch of her and salivated over her sweet flesh as only a card-carrying freak can salivate. Essentially, he's a lonely soul, and his only course to ultimate pleasure is a non-consenting one. I pitied him.
Why was my smile so broad while watching this delightful outrage? Why was it so pleasurable to see such a beauty defiled by one so grotesque? Since I was but a single digit human staring at images through large, pre-teen spectacles, I've been fond of malformed men. Perhaps "fond" is the wrong word. The right word is "obsessed". Yes, I've been obsessed with these creatures and their intimate relations -- which are usually rather unconventional. Something happens within me -- something pleasant -- when I'm fortunate enough to witness freaks engaging in activities of the sexual variety. Are their acts the ultimate taboo? Does behavior of this nature please the anarchist inside me?
Clearly it does.
Director Ishii, who was also behind HORROR OF MALFORMED MEN, has a passion for material of this nature, and this passion is salaciously transferred to the screen. In the West, MALFORMED is undoubtedly the director's best known work of freak horror, and was recently released on DVD by Synapse. For my money, it's not as coherent as it could be, and it feels like two films squashed into one, but the Dr. Moreau-inspired freak compound is a wonderful creation and the on-screen roster of malformed exhibits is a pleasure to behold. It deserves to be seen. But it is only one example of Ishii's very specific cinematic obsessions.
Joining my viewing of Ishi's ORGIES OF EDO this week was another Ishii pic with more great freak content.
In the rather excellent LOVE AND CRIME, the director's penchant for the erotic-grotesque (the two go hand in hand!) is pushed to a satisfying degree. The most striking tale involves a remorselessly lecherous victim of leprosy who won't take no for an answer when it comes to bedding down with his wife. Scenes of the hideous freak attempting to kiss and cuddle with his lady are glorious to behold, and once again broadened my smile to the point of cracked lips. When the leper learns that he's being cheated on, he confronts his wife's lover and initiates a brutal confrontation.
Again, I ask why? Why does the sight of a hideous leper attempting to make love to an unwilling partner fill me with such cinematic euphoria? Why does the sight of a grotesque man forcing himself on a pretty woman bathe me in a blinding ball of hot bliss?
Like it or not, Teruo Ishii speaks my language. He dares to tell the untold story.
Does he speak your language, too?