Director Hisayasu Sato has spent most this career on the Japanese direct to video market specializing mainly in pink (softcore) films. Unlike the US direct to video/softcore flick market, in Japan it has proven to be fertile ground for imaginative film makers like Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Tatsumi Kumashiro, Takashi Miike, and Takashi Ishii just to name a few. Hard to imagine the guys doing your average Skinemax or late night Showtime silicone-packed, flesh barer eventually delivering something of high artistic regard. Hisayasu Sato has proven himself to be among that pack of distinctive directors working on the smaller circuit. His most infamous film Splatter: Naked Blood, a direct to video horror from 1995, delivers the goods as a dark, thoughtful piece of nasty, gut-wrenching (literally, no pun intended), horror exploitation.
Eiji is a young experimenter, the son of two doctors including an ambitious scientist father who Eiji only knows through notes that provide him with a window into high reaching concepts. Eiji's latest creation is a drug he dubs MYSON (or MY SON) which he hopes will be the ultimate painkiller where, "...pain becomes a joy and sadness becomes happiness." Unfortunately Eiji decides to test his drug by sneaking it into his mother's latest contraceptive test on three women, one a food obsessed goofball, another an upper class narcissist, and Rika an insomniac with a strange alternative method to relax her mind and delve into her sub conscious.
Eiji mainly takes a shine to Rka and he gets caught following and videotaping her, which she oddly doesn't seem to mind. While the drug doesn't seem to be affecting her very much, it definitely impacts the other two girls in grotesque ways. For the glutton, I'll just say that it begins with her putting her hand in the deep fryer and actually liking it. For the vain woman, it begins with a pin prick leading to some terminal body piercing. For Rika and Eiji, well, I'll save those details and leave a little mystery.
The easiest comparison to make is to David Cronenberg, particularly his earliest films like Rabid, Shivers, and Scanners where he was taking his particular ideas of body horror and working them into low budget genre films. The climax of Splatter: Naked Blood definitely goes for the gross out factor. Along the way it has some b-movie stumbles, but overall there is a quite a bit of deliberate direction, a very disjointed, oneiric surrealness, and obvious attempt at profundity that elevates the film beyond your typical splatterfest.
Actually, the Splatter: Naked Blood made me think about a pair of documentaries by Melody Gilbert that I recently watched. The first was Whole about people who feel a disassociation with their limbs that is so strong, and psychiatry has such little understanding of, that the sufferers actually seek out ways to have a healthy leg or an arm amputated. The other was A Life Without Pain which focuses on children born with a disorder with their pain receptors, so they are likely to break a bone and not know it, can scratch their own eyes out, or chew off their own tongues. Both those docs show the real horror when the mind and the body dont mesh. Splatter: Naked Blood, obviously, takes an alternate, fictional route that is just as compelling but in a sensational way.
The DVD: Discotek
Picture: Non-Anamorphic Widescreen. Pretty much all of the problems with the image are source based, so I'm grading on a bit of a curve. Transferwise, Discotek probably did they best they could with what was a low budget film intended for the direct to video market. As such, it is overall lacking in definition, from image softness, to weak contrast, middling color, and quite a bit of noise.
Sound: 2.0 Stereo, Japanese language with optional English subtitles. While a lot of the dialogue appears to have been overdubbed, the fx track at least is quite aggressive and adds to the sickening and horrific aspects of the film with some emphasis on every pin prick, slice, poke, and cannibalistic mastication.
Extras: Reversible cover. --- Photo Gallery. --- Excellent Director Bio and Filmography. --- Trailers for other Discotek releases.
Conclusion: An excellent horror film mixing elements of gentle, symbolic surrealism and genuine, gross out horror. Discotek's DVD is fairly basic, but it does a nice job with a limited source and, in the end, offers a welcome presentation of a fine cult horror flick.