I have seen a lot of sick shit. When you rummage through the underbelly of cinema and its various obscure byways for as many years as I have, you run across some pretty messed up movies. Which is a long-winded way of saying I’m not the easiest person on the planet to shock, so when a movie like ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN comes my way and shocks the hell right out of me, I’m impressed. This cinematic uber-transgression from director Gaira (Kazuo Komizu) deserves the term “shocker”, which gets tossed about too liberally from time to time. Gaira’s sex-and-horror concoction pushes the edge like a cliff diver, stretches the envelope, strains at boundaries until they’re ready to burst at the seams. A photography crew and some models find that the middle of nowhere is really the middle of hell when something heinous begins to stalk them. I know, it sounds generic as all get-out, but Gaira’s 1986 film head-fuck fuses elements that, in amateurs hands, would be a jumbled, exploitative mess. But, while I can’t deny ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN’s place under the “exploitation” banner, we yet again encounter a film that isn’t reducible to that; this cannot be easily dismissed as nothing more than movie junk food. Both major genre influences – the seemingly basic slasher plot and the graphic sex – together, under Gaira’s guidance, are turned on their ears. Neither side of ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN’s coin would have worked so well by itself; one would have ended up with pointless if stylish sexpot cinema or a creative but also pointless body count/gore pic. Combined with Gaira’s distinctive creative glue, this juxtaposing of borderline hardcore sex and eye-boggling gore set-pieces elevates perversion to the top shelf (you know, where you keep all your art films). ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN seems like it has done what Jess Franco was trying and failing to do a lot of the time by taking the atomic destruction of taboos and a love affair with transgression and creating a glorious hell’s kaleidoscope of bona fide celluloid art. A word about said transgressions, if you’ll forgive an anthropological aside – don’t worry, it still pertains to this film and its craftsmanship. Left and right, Gaira smashes the delicate porcelain shells of society’s mores, yet ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN features several manifestations of a major Japanese taboo. As graphic sexually as the movie is, genitalia – with an exception I’ll get to momentarily – are conspicuously absent from site. When creative camera work is not an option – and with the intense expressions of sexuality in ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN and the sorts penetrating naughtiness dished up on screen, the camera definitely had to have some smooth moves up its sleeve. But sometimes a simple blurring out is applied. Those uninitiated into sexually themed Japanese films may not be aware of such a taboo. Don’t be alarmed; the blurring is normal. And, oddly enough, it doesn’t detract from the effect of the sex scenes. It helps, of course, that the shots in these scenes are largely composed in such a way as to minimize the need for blurring. Even a transgressor like Gaira had to kowtow to this cultural sensitivity to get his film out there. It is for this reason that I say the sex is “borderline hardcore.” One gets the sense that if ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN could have gotten away with hardcore sex, it would have. The one curious exception is that we get to see – twice, at least – the silhouette of the monster man’s enormous phallus. The men he just kills; the women get the special deluxe treatment. My only explanation for why Gaira got away with it is that since the dick belonged to a monster (of sorts) and was likely a prop penis, anyway, that it was okay. Just no real, non-monster, human junk in front of the camera! Now, a quick explanation about my term, “monster man.” I don’t know what the hell to call the weird muddy, hairy (in a weird way), feral dude at whose feet we can lay the blame for ENTRAILS’ onscreen havoc. The make-up is minimalist. No rubber suits here. But that strangely makes it work. The low key bad guy design stands in comparison to the excess all around him. So, let me reiterate: ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN is an artful, even subtly surreal, picture that takes what, out of context, would be the stuff of pornography and slasher/gore flicks and transcends. It’s like he outdid Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey (the director, mentored by Warhol, who directed “Flesh for Frankenstein” and “Blood for Dracula”) at turning trash into treasure. Instead of garbage, we get art. Shocking art, perhaps, but, as Georges Braque said, “Art is meant to disturb.”
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