Thoughts on GROTESQUE (Japan; 2009)

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Thoughts on GROTESQUE (Japan; 2009)

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:22 pm

The quote below from Shawn appeared in the "What Have We Been Watching" thread as part of a brief discussion of Japan's EVIL DEAD TRAP films, which got me to thinking about another, more recent such film I watched a couple of months back.


Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:The film definitely was made with the cheap horror/softcore porn mixture.


This aesthetic seems wholly, unique to Japanese culture, especially with so many recent films utilizing actual hard-core porn starlets who are willing to go that extra mile for "realism". American and Euro horrors have had their mix of sex and sadism over the years, but the Japanese seem to have made a cottage industry out of it. Hardly surprising considering their early and casual acceptance of nudity in mainstream film would find its lowest outlet in these sleazy little mock-snuff movies and the like. The "banned in Britain" hoo-hah surrounding the recent Japanese horror-softcore GROTESQUE (2009) led me to view the film via unsavoury online means recently. Having seen a sizable cross section of the horror-sex films from Japan that have been released on HK DVD (which sadly seems to make up a majority of the Japanese cinema released by Hong Kong companies :shock:), I need to see what could possibly be ban-worth in our permissive age.

This is pretty strong meat, clearly designed to out-torture all the other alleged torture "porn" films made to date (most of which seem to come from Japan, anyways), probably the most realistic (at least in its first half), willfully sadistic and ultimately pointless and near-plotless exercise in degradation of recent vintage. The "story" is literally the abduction, humiliation, torture, rape, disembowelment/dismemberment and murder of a pair of fresh-faced young lovers (Tsugumi Nagasawa and Hiroaki Kawatsure) abducted from their date by a depraved, inbred-looking psychopath (Shigeo Osako) who makes various promises to let them go if they can make him orgasm while he performs "experiments" on them, which include—mostly in full view with a bit of clever cutting to make it even more nauseating—all manner of sexual humiliation, snipping, slicing and chainsawing, keeping his victims alive through it all as a test of their love for each other, which never wavers even in the face of impending death. Respite comes when they're allowed to heal—as horrific cripples, nonetheless happy to be alive and together and still very much in love, of course—in a "hospital" room where the pervert gingerly tends to their wounds with further promises to let them go once they fully recover, as thanks for getting him off. He's lying, of course, and they soon wake up back in the torture chamber for one final round of invasive procedures, this one (thankfully, I suppose) much more over-the-top than the first, though no less graphic.

Not much point here, something which seems true of many of the abduction/torture/sex movies that Japan's pink industry has been producing for decades. I haven't seen a lot of this stuff, in case you're wondering. A few years ago, a pair of extreme pink roughies known as WOMAN IN A BOX 1 and 2 (both from the 80's, no less) were probably my first exposure to this rather disturbing undercurrent of Japanese adult filmmaking, and I've rarely had a desire to expand upon the experience as most of the others I've read about sound like more of the same the recent wave of "silly" Japanese sex/horror pictures like CRUEL RESTAURANT, GIRLS SWIM TEAM, ONICHANBARA and the like tend to be exceptions with their cornball FX and willing actresses); bereft of serious screenwriting, there's only so many directions these darker pictures can go. The abject humiliation and ultimate destruction of the human body and mind IS the whole point, apparently, and I can see why it would move conservative types to recommend a ban of something like GROTESQUE, even if such a ban ultimately holds little water in light of the film's increasingly gonzo second half. Nonetheless, it's probably best watched on a sated tummy, as it certainly has the potential to cause dizziness. :lol:
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Re: Thoughts on GROTESQUE (Japan; 2009)

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:42 pm

I'm just not a fan of misanthropic combined with extreme misogynistic content. I've known too much in this real life to ever consider watching too many of those. I just have too much other cinema to go through -- though I'm not a fan of bans either.
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Re: Thoughts on GROTESQUE (Japan; 2009)

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:02 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I'm just not a fan of misanthropic combined with extreme misogynistic content. I've known too much in this real life to ever consider watching too many of those. I just have too much other cinema to go through -- though I'm not a fan of bans either.



Generally, I share that sentiment, but in this case, it was entirely the ban that made me track it down online (naughty, naughty, I know, but I can't help but think the filmmakers knew this might happen). I don't think it's a very worthwile film, and overall it wasn't worth my time (though I suppose it is effective at what it sets out to do), but whenever I hear about some form of entertainment being censored or banned outright, I must admit my curiosity gets the better of me, though I'm inevitably left wondering what all the stink was about. In this case, I think the stink was understandable, though unnecessary, and if anything, it only garnered the film far more attention than it would have received had it just gone straight to video on some "Asian Extreme" label. I don't mind the odd Japanese sexploitation title from time to time, when something amusing looking turns up on Hong Kong DVD, but most of them are at least a little tongue-in-cheek from the outset, whereas this one doesn't give you that sense until well into it second half.
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