Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 30th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, January 25th, 1969
Director: Yasuzo Masumura
Writer: Yoshio Shirasaka, Rampo Edogawa (story)
Cast: Eiji Funakoshi, Mako Midori, Noriko Sengoku
DVD released: February 2nd, 2004
Approximate running time: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital mono
DVD Release: Fantoma Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
“The world of Touch…
The world of Insects…
The lower orders such as the Jellyfish…
Those who venture to the edge of such worlds, can only expect a dark, dank death to envelope them.”
Synopsis: Aki (Mako Midori) is an S&M model who is kidnapped by Michio (Eiji Funakoshi) a blind sculptor who has become infatuated after visiting an exhibit that featured a sculpture of the model. Will Aki find a way to escape or will she succumb to the sadistic desires she is introduced too.
Blind Beast like most of Yasuzo Masumura’s other films is a dialog driven piece. Despite relying heavily on dialog the film is filled with exquisite visuals like Michio’s workshop which is a room that is cover on its walls with various body parts and a full woman’s torso that he sculpted lays in the middle of the room. Another interesting stylistic choice the director makes is at the beginning of the film when he shows photographs of Aki in black and white before settling into color for the rest of the film. The black and white texture of these photos’s set them apart from the rest of the films look. Yasuzo Masumura cleverly through out the film perfectly mixes his lighting between light and shadows that give the film an unreal dream like look that heightens the actors’ expressions.
The score is a mix of chamber and medieval music that add to films gothic feel. Reportedly Eiji Funakoshi who plays Michio by visiting a school for the blind and the end result is miraculous as he has you believing he is really blind. Mako Midori is equally impressive as Aki as she goes from a seductress to a victim effortlessly. In the film Michio’s mother helps him with the kidnapping and keeping the girl prisoner which leads one to believe that she is leading her son to believe that his behavior is acceptable. Tension builds when Michio’s mother becomes jealous of her sons affection for Aki which only furthers to push the two apart. In the film Michio points out that a blind mans strongest sense is touch and it is exactly this sense that betrays him the most in the end. Blind Beast ends with a twist that is appropriately prophetic in its final judgment on the films two leads Aki and Michio. Blind Beast is an amazing film and Yasuzo Masumura’s greatest achievement as a filmmaker.
Fantoma presents Blind Beast in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This release also marks the first time that Blind Beast has been available in the U.S. uncut and in its original aspect ratio. The vivid color palette looks rich through out and flesh tones look natural. Many of the films scenes takes place in low light and the black levels remain constant through out as they exhibit an exceptional amount of detail in every frame. The source print used for this transfer is in immaculate condition as there were no signs of dirt or print damage anywhere. There are no problems with compression or edge enhancement.
This release comes with only one audio the films original Japanese language that is presented in a Dolby Digital mono that is free of any hiss or distortion. Overall the audio source is in great shape as the dialog is always easy to follow and understand. English subtitles have been that are easy to read and follow.
Extras include the films original theatrical trailer, a photo and stills gallery, a bio and filmography for Yasuzo Masumura. Rounding out the extras is liner notes Patrick Macias author of “Tokyoscope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion. Mr. Macias as usual offers a wealth of knowledge that gives the viewer more insight into the origins and making of Blind Beast. Overall the extras are nice addition unfortunately they only wet my appetite for more knowledge about Yasuzo Masumura and his films. It is a shame that Fantoma who has released for of Yasuzo Masumura’s films to date didn’t try to compile some sort of retrospective covering Yasuzo Masumura’s career. Blind Beast perfectly mixes grotesque imagery and sexual escapades into something that equals more then the sum of all of its parts making it a classic Japanese exploitation film that demands to be seen by a wider audience.