asian horror

Shogun’s Sadism (1976)

01

Sometimes, it’s the classics that show us how it’s done.  They set the standard; they pave us a sick, blood-soaked gravel road to violent, promiscuous depravity in a way that modern film can only build from.  Shogun’s Sadism, aka The Joy of Torture 2, aka Oxen Split Torturing, is a film that should give you a certain impression based on its secondary titles alone.  The result?  Well, I’m happy to report that you torture lovers out there won’t be disappointed.  Coming at ya a few (very few) years from before this reviewer was even born, this vintage horror flick is an interesting look into the perversions of a generation grown old, from far across a counter-cultural pond of both space and time.

Sweaty’s Stats

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Nudity

Highly satisfactory.  A lot of nice, natural topless scenes throughout, though the focus remains there.  Unfortunately (and probably due to the era this film was shot in) anything below the belt is clunkily blurred out.

Gore

Also satisfactory.  While it may not be the bloodfest of modern film, the torture scenes are realistic and the effects hold up very well.

Scare Factor

Low, but it should make you squeamish in parts.  This is more of a shocker than a frightener.

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Summary

An early film from legendary production company Toei (Kamden Rider, Dragonball Z), this one is a bit of a violent departure from what is now a more mainstream, multimedia corporation (though they are responsible for bringing the amazing Battle Royale to screens).  The movie is actually broken into two entirely separate short stories.

Part I: Nagasaki 1628, early Edo Period

After a brief, cheery montage of photos depicting piles of bodies from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, we dive right into some topless, sadomasochistic, feudal era woman-cooking as a naked lady is dipped into and ultimately boiled in a human-sized cauldron.  From there we’re treated to a few scenes of death throughout the Edo Period, before a plot begins to worm its way through.  We’re introduced then to a young samurai, bitten by a venomous snake in the forest and rescued by a lovely young maiden, who saves him by sucking the poison out.  Of course this brazen act later leads to some hot, forest lovin’, complete with a sweet, bass-laden seventies soundtrack.

02

The flowers make it tasteful.

Unfortunately for the two lovers, this shameless display of copulation in the copse catches the eye of the Togugawa shogunate, or, “the bastards who torture everybody in this story.”  Due to what I can only guess is the lack of any sounds of pleasure coming from the girl, the man voyeuristically spying on the lovebirds reports back that he’s found some Christians.  Now, the shogunate has a historically accurate hatred for the bible-lovers, but with a distinct lack of lions on the island, they of course must resort to more medieval methods in teaching them a lesson.  In a not-so-shocking twist, it turns out the young samurai lover, Iori, is in the employ of the evil shogun lord responsible for all of this Inquisition-like human deboning, and is now forced to watch as his lady love is repeatedly raped into submission by his boss.  Deciding that killing her would be a waste of good breasts, the shogun lord instead takes Iori’s girl on as a concubine and tortures/murders her family in front of her instead.

03

It’s the Buddhist way.

When not crucifying her loved ones, the shogun continues to fill his time by sensually raping the young girl behind a softcore, seventies porn filter.  Bored with Iori’s reaction to him fucking his girlfriend right in front of him, the shogun decides to exile the samurai.  Iori disappears for a year, presumably to train with some ancient, hermetic master of death, before returning triumphantly on a funky-ass train of bad motherfuckin’ revenge.  He lays the seventies funk hammer down for a while and then … just fails.  Miserably.  Although as a man, he’s lucky enough to be killed on the spot; his woman however, a year older now and haggish by Japanese standards, is put on the chopping block.  Just a head’s up: if the phrase “oxen split torturing” gave you a gore boner, you’re in for a bit of a treat here.

04

Just so ya know, he’s not speaking in the metaphorical sense.

Part II: Fukagawa 1821, late Edo period

We open at the local brothel, as the “son of a rich family” boozes it up with a gaggle of whores.  Come morning though, the bill proves to be too much for the young man, and so he agrees to exchange labor for the services already rendered.

05

Dispassionate, as those services may have been.

Mocking him, the owners of the whorehouse paint the young “lord,” Sutezo, white like a geisha and get him settled in to some manual labor.  In the bathhouse he reveals the truth to the watermelon-eating whore: you guessed it, he’s just another penniless squirrel tryin’ to get that nut.  Meanwhile, life goes on amongst the whores, turning tricks, cat-fighting over men, and having fetuses ripped out of their wombs just in time for work.

06

Seventeenth century abortion methods being limited to, “madam’s fist.”

Tami, the young whore dying slowly after her forced abortion, is rescued by her lover and they make an attempt at escape.  Stopped by the brothel thugs, they are submitted to insane acts of torture, because … well, why else are we here?  Poor Sutezo is expected to get in on the action, forced into mutilating and cannibalizing parts of the screaming victims.

07

Wait, there are parts that don’t now? C’mon fellas don’t take this from us. Having your parts on the inside is all we ladies got.

After the trauma of being forced to remove a guy’s dong, Sutezo feels that he’s had enough.  Having not learned a thing from the first couple, he grabs his number one gal (Sato) and they make a break for it.  Against the odds, they do indeed make it to another whorehouse, where Sutezo immediately sells his woman.  Ah, but there’s a scam in place; Sutezo, posing as the guy who cleans out the outhouses tries to free Sato through the toilets, only he slips and uh … well, let’s just say things go how you’d expect.

08

People have compared this film to Salo. This scene is partly why. (Actual scene not pictured, and you’re welcome.)

After a lover’s spat, Sato gives Sutezo the dainty, white-stained finger and tries to make it on her own.  She effectively makes it until the next scene, wherein some men proposition her on the street and immediately the local whores attack her for such, seeing her as moving in on their territory.  Having a change of heart, Sutezo comes to Sato’s rescue.  They travel for a while, fucking each other and ripping people off until it catches up with them.  Sutezo, mad that he’s walked in on his wife for screwing around on him where she’s employed as a prostitute, confronts the man in question and tries to extort money from him.  They man turns out to be a detective and you’d better believe that some torture is needed to extract info from these two law-breakers.  The movie ends on a bloody note, just where we here at HH like it to be.  To blood and whores!

09

Funny enough, this is how a lot of my first dates ended up.

Final Thoughts

Being that’s it’s vintage gore, this one has a bit of a Cannibal Holocaust feel to it, though I believe the effects hold up much better.  I found the first story more satisfying than the second; the torture methods were varied, accurate and delightfully executed.  The second half moves somewhat slower and is more focused on plot, and while I won’t say I didn’t enjoy it, the sick fuck in me felt somewhat letdown after the first half.  In these types of films you almost expect the violence to ramp up, to exponentiate towards a spectacular finish, though perhaps it’s American film that’s soured me into thinking so.  Still, I can’t help but feel that this flick blows its wad early on.

On the other hand, while there are plenty of classic horror films in the slasher genre, it is a bit more unique to discover such an old film in this, the very specific classification of pure, torture porn.  No doubt an inspiration for the Guinea Pig series, Shogun’s Sadism remains a pioneer while skirting that edge between gratuitous gore lust and legitimate art film.  The attention to historical accuracy and the passionate performance from the actors gives this flick a little more oomph than the average low-budget meat grinder.  At its core, it’s the realism that defines this one.  Presented in a way that draws you right into the period it’s set in, you can absolutely believe that everything you see on screen was once the norm.  A decent torture flick, a worthy, vintage precursor, this one is absolutely worth a watch for aficionados.

Score 7.5/10, holds up very well for its age

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IMDB for this nipple-tweaker

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