Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) Banned in Japan, Teruo Ishii directed and co-wrote this nightmarish sequence of shifting points of view, adapted from tales by Edgawa Rampo. For a portion of the movie, the narrative is from the mind of an inmate who claims to have been falsely incarcerated in an insane asylum. He escapes, and takes the identity of someone whom he resembles, and who is dead. Then he travels to a secret island where his father is transforming human beings into deformed lepers. There the web-fingered father, Tatsumi Hijikata, one of Butoh’s greatest performers, joins the full ensemble of writhing, tortured actors, to convey the lacerations of radiation poisoning. Then the narrative is taken over by a detective who explains at great length how he solved the crime. Then I’m not sure who took over the narrative, only to say that there were incestuous fireworks at the end.
Sleep, my little babies. Let synaptic pruning
Dissolve bad memories of refined tuning.
From the witch’s basket to keep you in thrall,
Have gummy worms laced with cannabidiol .
Start with a mask that isn’t your own,
Peel from your skin pustules of phlegm,
And beneath cherry-blossom parasols
Spin silk kimonos round macabre dolls.
Help us create malformed men
Out of schizoid fireworks of sin.
Chalk-faced wolverines writhe the undertow.
Instead of “Boo!” they scream “Butoh!”
Feeding off crabs that fed off them,
Succulent sycophants embroil each twin.
The charismatic patriarch harbors a curse
From being resurrected in a hearse.
Malformed men and morose gnomes