Color, 1986, 72m. / Directed by Kazuo Komizu / Starring Saiko Kizuki, Naomi Hagio / Synapse (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9), Japan Shock (Holland R0 PAL) / WS (1.78:1)


Color, 1986, 68m. / Directed by Kazuo Komizu / Starring Megumi Ozawa, Ayako Ishii / Synapse (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9), Japan Shock (Holland R0 PAL) / WS (1.78:1)

Two of the more notorious sex/horror hybrids from the wave of '80s Japanese bootleg video boom, Entrails of a Virgin and Entrails of a Beautiful Woman (also known as the Guts of a Virgin series) managaed to blindside viewers even without the benefit of English subtitles in many cases. However, an English translation barely manages to bring coherence to these orgies of softcore sex, overendowed monsters, severed limbs, and exploding heads.

Entrails of a Virgin (Shojo no harawata) charts the exploits of a group of horny photographers and their airheaded models at a forest retreat. Their work seems to consist mainly of pain-induced horseplay with an occasional dash of group sex and watersports, at least until the randy interlopers are picked off one by one by a mud-covered beast-man sporting a ridiculously huge manhood. The men are dispatched in ridiculously gory fashion (including eyeball violence and the requisite groin mayhem) while the lone surviving woman is driven mad by the monster's inhuman passion, eventually pleasuring herself with a severed arm in one scene bound to leave most viewers dumbfounded.

With all of its horrific activity confined to the final third, Virgin feels like a pretty standard pink film for much of its running time. The practice of optically fogging pubic hair in Japan resulted in a slew of homemade porn product with the fogging a permanent component of the film; as a result, there's no way to see this film without those weird fuzzy blobs on the screen. (However, the actresses were all wearing crotch guards anyway, so removing the blobs would be even sillier.) As a result, this is a completely bizarre, artificial experience in which the cartoonish sex and violence are so removed from anything resembling reality that not once will anyone have to pinch themselves and utter "It's only a movie."

Following the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy, the same year's Entrails of a Beautiful Woman (Bijo no harawata) doles out further doses of sex and splatter. Once again the film begins as a tale of sadistic sex as pretty shrink Hiromi (Ozawa) uncovers a gangster plot to abduct beautiful women and, after using and abusing them, pawning them off on the slave market. However, her snooping leads to her torture and murder - at which point she gets revenge. That's right, she fuses with a dead gangster's body to form a red, slimy hermaphrodite monster hellbent on Yakuza blood.

Slightly better paced than its predecessor, Beautiful Woman still breaks out the red stuff including one audacious head gag so juicy it wound up on the DVD's main menu. A more unorthodox plot (if you can call it that) and a little more technical care result in a superior product, though as a result it doesn't feel as madcap or down and dirty as its predecessor. In either case, here's a double bill bound to please the staunchiest exploitation fan. However, bear in mind that this is only a couple of steps above the Guinea Pig series in terms of extreme content and filmmaking savvy, so know your limits before you watch.

Longtime staples of the blurry VHS trader's market, these films have been given a glossy overhaul by Synapse (outclassing the earlier Dutch DVD releases, which were flat widescreen transfers from older video masters). The liner notes explain the nature of that pesky optical fogging and why there isn't a darn thing you can do about it; however, Beautiful Woman does restore a queasy monster fellatio scene that's been blurred into incoherence in previous transfers.

As for extras, both discs include their respective trailers and, more memorably, interviews with director Komizu. Next to Cult Epics' featurettes with Fernando Arrabal on I Will Go like a Crazy Horse and Viva la Muerte, these could very well be the nuttiest auteur interviews ever committed to DVD. Apart from evading most of the questions with peculiar tangents, he memorably demonstrates why the world needs sexy, violent cinema by pulling out a Japanese yen to demonstrate that the world is actually egg-shaped and has two centers. Makes perfect sense, no?

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