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Entrails of a Virgin   D

Synapse Films / Nikkatsu Corporation

Year Released: 1986 (USA: 2004)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Gaira (Kazuo Komizu)
Writer: Gaira (Kazuo Komizu)
Cast: Saeko Kizuki, Naomi Hagio, Kazuhiko Goda, Taiju Kato.

Review by Jim Harper

Outside of the notorious Guinea Pig series, few Japanese horror films have managed to provoke quite as much revulsion as Entrails of a Virgin (Shojo no harawata) and Entrails of a Beautiful Woman (Bijo no harawata). Both released in 1986 and directed by one of the leading figures of the mid-'80s wave of Japanese sex-and-horror movies, Kazuo Komizu (also known as "Gaira," a pseudonym taken from one of Toho's less successful giant-monster flicks). The titles alone are enough to conjure up visions of mutilation and "sexualized violence," which is not far from the truth; in a little less than two and a half hours (neither film is particularly long), Komizu manages to serve up enough depravity and gore to fill the quotas of a dozen pink films. Appropriately enough, Komizu began his career in the early '70s, writing scripts for acclaimed pink directors like Kôji Wakamatsu and Masaru Konuma. Unsurprisingly, those early scripts, including Konuma's Woman in a Box: Virgin Sacrifice (Hako no naka no onna: shôjo ikenie, 1985) and Yasuro Uegaki's Female Market: Imprisonment (Ryôjoku mesu ichiba: kankin, 1986), were characterized by excessive violence.

In terms of plot, Entrails of a Virgin most resembles the slasher movie. A crew of glamour models and photographers are out in the wilderness setting up a series of softcore shoots. When evening comes they take refuge in an isolated cabin, where the men try to sleep with as many of the women as possible (as in most slasher movies, the males are all sex-obsessed jerks while the women are all sex-shy virgins or promiscuous tramps). Most of the film is taken up with these encounters. Occasionally the "monster" -- apparently a mud-caked individual with a giant penis -- shows up to ravish one of the women or murder one of the men. In the end he impregnates the last survivor, leaving her to wonder what her offspring will be.

It soon becomes apparent that Entrails of a Virgin is being played for laughs. Like many directors before him, Komizu encourages the cast to ham it up wildly in an effort to hide the fact that they're porn stars, not actors. The special effects are very poor indeed, but they're either deliberately bad -- like the monster itself -- or so ludicrous it's impossible to take them seriously. Perhaps the most infamous scene would be the one involving masturbation with a severed arm: it's tasteless and over the top, but it just about qualifies as a sick joke, with an apparent nod to The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) thrown in for good measure. There are plenty of casual lifts from more famous films too, mostly from Friday the 13th (1979) and The Evil Dead (1981). Credit must go to Komizu for finding some interesting ways of circumventing the Japanese censorship laws that forbade any depiction of the genitalia; at one point the camera cuts away to a silhouette of a gigantic penis. Pornographic shadow puppets, anyone?

So does this attempt to turn Entrails of a Virgin into a gory spoof pay off? Not really, since at least half of the film is taken up with sex scenes that will either titillate or bore, depending on the viewer's attitude. Once the horror and the gross humor make an appearance, it becomes a little more interesting, but the film is still only likely to appeal to a very selective audience, thanks to the zero-budget production values and the graphic, over-the-top approach to both violence and sexuality. As a combination of Japanese pinku eiga and western slasher movie it has a certain historical value, but Entrails of a Virgin is still only likely to interest those viewers who thought Peter Jackson's Braindead was too restrained.

Review published 01.30.2006.

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