Inferno Of Torture - Inferno Of Torture(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2020]Here from Arrow Video is a Blu Ray reissue of Inferno Of Torture- a gore ‘n’ rope bondage bound Japanese period drama directed by Tokyo based Teruo Ishii. The director was behind the fever dream horror of Horror Of Malformed Man, and Orgies Of Edo a bizarre crossbreed between lushly costumed period drama, sleazed & perverse sexploitation, and bloody red spurting horror- both of which were also put out by Arrow. I was a big fan of both of the latter films- so when I saw Arrow were putting out another Teruo Ishii I was excited- sadly I came away feeling somewhat underwhelmed- as the balance between period drama & gore/ sleaze is largely tipped toward drama and less towards blood 'n' flesh.
Inferno Of Torture (Tokugawa irezumi-shi: Seme jigoku) appeared in 1969- and like the other films I’ve seen from the director is lushly directed & well conceived- with impressed period customs & sets. The film clocks in at one hour & thirty-four minutes, and sadly for me it felt more like two & a half hours, due to the rather bland- at points confusing period drama feel of much of the films runtime.
It opens in great blood-red & gory fashion- with a group of women been tortured outside- there’s a woman crucified who has her stomach & throat slashed- with the blood spraying in her killers face, then we see buried women get her head sawn off with a huge saw- all spurting red. As we get into the film properly we find a plot that finds a timid debt owning women been sold over to a kinky geisha brothel, where all the women get tattooed- and rented out to rich Japanese & Europeans for rope bondage, torture & general pain bound kinkiness. The sleaze/ gore is all very well executed, and extreme for the period- but the thing is weaved around it is a decidedly bland & disinteresting period drama. Sure Orgies Of Edo was also period drama, but it was an anthology- so the drama elements where kept cropped & relatively tight- sadly here they overwhelm much of the runtime- so you have drudge through boring drama, to get to the good stuff with little of Teruo Ishii more wacky & surreal traits that the other two films had. There's only one non-gore/kinky scene that stood out- a group of women are painted with neon body paint, and a black light is put on & you get some neat trippy imagery- though once again this went on way too long. In conclusion, I guess if you do enjoy fairly dramatic-if- by numbers historic period pieces, but can also stomach gore & kinky torture you may get more from Inferno Of Torture.
Moving onto the new Blu Ray- and first off Arrow has done a wonderful job on the new print of the film- the balance & definition of the picture is spot on, and the bright red tones do pop out of the screen. The subtitles are well presented and largely easy to read/ follow.
On the extras front, we get a commentary track from Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes- Mes is the go-to person for Japanese film, and he always does a good job with his tracks- been both informative & at times dryly humorous. Here he talks about Teruo Ishii's career as a whole, the controversy behind these erotic torture films in japan. Going on to discuss bios of selected cast, commenting on-screen action, and how this film predates many other counties extreme gore films- so it most certainly well worth a listen, even if the film didn't fully click with you. Next, we get a twenty-nine excerpt from a lecture by Jasper Sharp- it was entitled Erotic Grotesque Nonsense & the Foundations of Japan s Cult Counterculture, and as part of it he discusses Teruo Ishii erotic gore films- it is another nice extra, and worth a play too. Lastly, we get a trailer.
It’s great to see Arrow putting out more of Japanese extreme cinema, and of course, making another one of Teruo Ishii available for all. Once again the company has done a great & classy job with this Blu Ray- it’s just a pity it didn’t click with me, but as I said early if you enjoy period drama with some kinky & gory edges, then you may get more out of Inferno Of Torture than I did.Roger Batty