Synapse Films presents
Entrails of a Virgin (Shojo no harawata) (1986)
"It will tear your insides out!"- tagline
Stars: Saeko Kizuki, Naomi Hagio, Kazuhiko Goda, Taiju Kato
Other Stars: Megumi Kawashima, Osamu Tsuruoka, Kazuhiko Goda
Director: Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexual situations, gore)
Run Time: 01h:12m:03s
Release Date: 2004-07-27
DVD Review[Editor's note: THIS REVIEW SHOULD BE AVOIDED BY SENSITIVE READERS.]
For years, the over-the-top excess of 1986 Japanese sexploitation/gore film Entrails of a Virgin (Shojo no harawata)—as well as its sister title Entrails of a Beautiful Woman—have existed as the stuff of genre legend, made all the more famous by incessant fanboy chatter than anything else. Poor quality bootlegs were the way most fans, if any, would have ever seen either of these flicks, but to scratch a pesky genre itch, Don May and Synapse Films have legitimized the whole process by reviving both titles and giving them proper DVD treatment so we all can see what the hubbub is about.
Like a lot of horror titles, this one is remarkably slim on plot (and runtime, clocking in at barely 75 minutes), and exists primarily to have a group of men and women on a photo shoot, isolated in a remote cabin somewhere to serve as fleshy fodder for some mysterious mud-covered man/monster in between prolonged bouts of rough sex. The males are photographers, and the females are models, and as we learn during the rapid cuts of the opening sequence there is quite a bit of sexual hijinks going on, though we're never sure if its in the mind of the leering men or not.
There is a lot of sex going on here—far more than the touted gore—and its rather graphic, as well, even if it falls under the strict Japanese censorship laws that required some type of visual censorship to block pubic hair and genitalia. Entrails was released with a hazy "fogging" over the naughty bits, as it is on this disc, but the sex, much of it bordering on rape, manages to seem far more hardcore than most typical horror films.
Despite its infamous history, Entrails of a Virgin doesn't really pride itself on providing what you might call a cohesive story; it is a series of graphic sex scenes (and plenty of them) that over time drifts into extreme physical and emotional abuse followed by its trademark gore that today is somehow far less disgusting than it is simply bizarre. When the creature from the murky mud starts offing, and screwing, characters, writer/director Kazuo Komizu—here billing himself simply as "Gaira"—acts as if he wants to try to be the Japanese Evil Dead-era Sam Raimi by creating a vividly manic and grotesque film that seems to want to shock and offend, often to the point of such farfetched moments as a woman attempting fellatio on a corpse, or madly masturbating with a severed arm. The dismembered masturbation scene is really where Komizu begins to spin faster and faster into slap-you-in-the-face arty/gore weirdness, only to best himself by having the still wrigglin' appendage finalize the act by removing the poor woman's insides via her nether regions.
At one point, when things start getting particularly unpleasant, one of the female characters screams "I want to live a normal life!" Fat chance of that happening in Komizu's skewed world, because there can be no happy ending, even if it means a jive cliffhanger of a climax that drags his film back into the realm of countless other forgettable horror titles.
All of the wild sex and mildly inventive gore gives Entrails of a Virgin a dangerous edge, or at the very least some kind of perverted luster that made it unique for its time. The problem is, I felt like I was watching a series of vignettes instead of an entire film; while I was willing to see how far Komizu would go to shock and dismay with gore, I found myself more amazed at the intensity of the sex rather than the comparatively tame blood and guts.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Synapse has issued Entrails of a Virgin in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen print, and as with most of their releases, the attention paid to the quality of transfer should be appreciated by genre fans. With all of the various incarnations that there have been of this title, this latest transfer is probably the finest, but I would expect nothing less from Don May. Even with the minor grain issues, the overall print has been cleaned up substantially, and the resulting colors (aside from a few muddy night shots) contribute to an unexpectedly sharp image.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The original Japanese language audio track—available in somewhat harsh mono—is the only choice here. Though I wasn't trying to understand the words being spoken (opting for the easy to read English subtitles) the clipping and flatness of dialogue were a moderate annoyance.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: Included here as an extra is Interview with Director Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu (15m:10s), offered with optional English subtitles. Komizu spends the first few minutes acting kind of obnoxious before eventually settling in to field questions from an unseen interviewer about his career, and of course the Entrails films. Once he gets going, however, he rails on about his hatred for Japanese commercialism and how he wanted to be a rebel by making films that were on the far side of the spectrum. The segment starts off very slowly, but Komizu eventually does discuss a few interesting points about his perceived role as rebellious filmmaker.
In addition to a theatrical trailer, there is a two-page insert discussing "the brief history of fogging and visual censorship in Japan", culled from the book Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films by Thomas Weisser and Yuko Mihara Weisser. The disc is cut into 16 chapters, featuring optional English subtitles.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsThere's an inherent shock value appeal to Komizu's Entrails of a Virgin, here restored by Synapse to a stately 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, using an original uncut Japanese language print.
The film itself is a genre curiosity, sprinkled with a few enjoyably perverse moments.
Rich Rosell 2004-07-28