BLIND BEAST (1969) Reviews and overview of Arrow Video Blu-ray release

 

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Blind Beast is a 1969 Japanese horror film about a blind sculptor who kidnaps a beautiful young model and takes her to his warehouse home; he and his mother live there and he has transformed the huge space into a surreal tribute to the senses filled with sculptures of body parts with a huge female form as the centrepiece.

Directed by Yasuzô Masumura (Hanzo the Razor: The Snare; Vixen; Giants and Toys) from a screenplay written by Yoshio Shirasaka and based on a 1931 story by Rampo Edogawa.

The Daiei Studios production stars Eiji Funakoshi, Mako Midori and Noriko Sengoku.

New Blu-ray release:

Arrow Video released Blind Beast on Blu-ray on August 24, 2021. Special features:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio
Optional English subtitles
Brand new audio commentary by Asian cinema scholar Earl Jackson
Newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
Blind Beast: Masumura the Supersensualist, a brand new visual essay by Japanese literature and visual studies scholar Seth Jacobowitz
Original Trailer
Image Gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by Virginie Sélavy (first pressing only)

Reviews:

“Without a doubt, one of the most riveting aspects of Blind Beast is the dynamic between the three characters […] After Aki’s arrival tension builds when Michio’s mother becomes jealous of her son’s affection for Aki, which only further pushes Michio away from his mother […] Ultimately, Blind Beast is an amazing film and Yasuzo Masumura’s greatest achievement as a filmmaker.” 10K Bullets

“What begins as a standard psycho kidnapping becomes more and more outrageous as Michio and Aki descend into a world of mutual madness […] Masumura, a master of dark humor and macabre psychodrama, strikes an odd balance between silliness and horror throughout the film. One of the nuttier entries in his oeuvre, Blind Beast is a delicious guilty pleasure.” AllMovie

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“Make no mistake — this is a dark and strange movie for grownups. But if you’ve ready for the challenge, it will reward you with an eerie story and some incredible visual scenes.” B&S About Movies

“Very much a chamber piece, being set almost completely in a single location with only three characters, it’s a claustrophobic, intense and minimalist film. It also gets very disturbing as it goes on, culminating in a particularly shocking finale that isn’t actually all that graphic but explains what is happening clearly enough and offers visual metaphors to retain a visceral impact.” Blueprint: Review

Blind Beast is a curious movie and probably not one that will appeal to newcomers to Japanese cinema thanks to its gloomy tone, near-colourless palette and quite brutal storytelling but the fantastic set designs are very much worth seeing and it is a film that will get under your skin for various reasons, although not necessarily for the right ones.” Flickering Myth

“While compared to today’s standards, Blind Beast might seem quite tame and some of the elements of the films might come across as somewhat comical […] It’s horrific, yet endearing at the same time. It pushed boundaries but does it in such a way that will not leave you feeling anxious or uneasy. Instead, it bewitches you with its beautiful visuals, intriguing storyline and great acting performances, making you want to see it all over again straight away.” Horror News

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“Given the rather static nature of the mise-en-scène, Masumura must be admired for stretching out such an elementary idea to feature-length, yet the most overwhelming impression of this film is its deliciously overwrought visual style, conjuring up such a vivid and endlessly interesting, self-contained cinematic world inside the claustrophobic confines of Michio’s studio […] A classic.” Midnight Eye

” …Môjû contains far more psychological violence than physical. The undeniably effective ending is rendered in an unusual manner of cinematic shorthand (also opening the door for an interpretation of the film as a twisted reverie inside Michio’s head), while the general suffering is delivered more by the actors’ primal performances than any visible brutality directly unleashed on their bodies.” Mondo Digital

“The frightening sensitivity of the blind man is well conveyed, along with the claustrophobia induced by his huge darkened studio. And the respectable appearance of his portly mother—who abets his every lunacy — bestows a background of normalcy that strengthens the obsessions of the picture. However, the film turns clownish toward its conclusion…” The New York Times, November 8, 1974

Blind Beast is the Japanese response to William Wyler’s 1965 thriller The Collector. But that’s too pat a comparison. For Blind Beast goes in an entirely different direction, detailing the bizarre personal relationship that develops between the ‘collector’ and his ‘prize.'” The Terror Trap

“Strange and surreal, Blind Beast carries one of the most disturbing final sequences ever committed to celluloid. With its European chamber music soundtrack it feels much more like an arty ‘60s giallo than anything else though in terms of what is actually visible on the screen is actually fairly light on gore or violence. This level of restraint only makes the film more disturbing as does its claustrophobic atmosphere and deadpan voice over.” Windows on WorldsBlind-Beast-movie-film-Japanese-horror-1969-Arrow-Video-review-reviews

“A potentially interesting concept and movie but the ideas are crudely hammered into you until you lose interest and the sudden decline into twisted masochism is forced and unconvincing. A pioneering and unusual pinku with strange obsessions and bizarre set designs.” The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre

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Cast and characters:

Eiji Funakoshi … Micho
Mako Midori … Aki
Noriko Sengoku … Michio’s Mother

Technical details:

86 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1

Alternate titles:

Môjû – original Japanese title
Warehouse – US release title

Fun facts:

Although Noriko Sengoku plays Eiji Funakoshi’s mother in the film in real life, she was just one year older than him.

Trailer [1080p]:

MOVIES and MANIA says:

Yasuzô Masumura’s Blind Beast is genuinely surreal and powerfully unsettling. The deranged artist and bewildered captive scenario may seem initially one-note and in a few moments unintentionally amusing. However, as mind games and power struggles develop the film becomes fascinating in its complexity. The corporal fixation reaches a delirious and deadly fever pitch that demands to be seen by anyone with an interest in bizarre cinema.

Amongst the special features on the new Arrow Video Blu-ray, there is a detailed and interesting audio commentary by Asian movie expert Earl Jackson in which he reveals lots of production tidbits and delves into some of the deviations from the serial killer source material. A video piece by Tony Rayns covers the director’s other work and relationship with production company Daiei while a new essay by Seth Jacobowitz proffers thoughts on supersensualism and Japanese true crime such as Sada Abe. The original trailer and an image gallery round out the extras. A new booklet by Virginie Sélavy was not available for review.