Sacrament Films, the division of the Salvation Group that specializes in Japanese pink cinema (soft-core), has reissued The Slit-Mouthed Woman (or Kann˘ by˘t˘: Nureta Akai Kuchibiru), a little J-horror tale from 2005. Even if it was called Kuchisake in Japan, don't get this title confused with a more recent Slit-Mouthed with the name, Kuchisake-onna or Carved, which came out earlier this year; understand that both films are based on the same urban legend that has even been borrowed and referenced in Japanese and Korean animation since the early 80s. Directed by Takauaki Hashiguchi (Dollhouse, Woman Prisoner Torture), the eerie, yet low budget make-up effects were the work of Takashi Oda.
While pitching a story to her editor at Kira Magazine, Asagiri Yuoko (Mayu Asada) is placed on another more pressing story: "Urban Legend #5: The Mystery of the Slit-Mouth Woman." Another staff-writer, Kato, was already on the assignment but he disappeared, and besides being worried about him they have a deadline to meet. Picking up from her colleague's notes, Asagiri follows some leads to the Tamai hospital, a plastic surgery facility where a botched nose-job patient Ms. Hasegawa (Haduki Hotaru) swears to seeing the ghastly Slit-Mouthed Woman at night. Hasegawa warns that the Slit-Mouthed Woman is a spurned lover of a married man, who after a failed effort to commit suicide (thus the mouth accident) was locked up in the hospital's "forbidden chamber," until she escaped and took her revenge out on unsuspecting lovers. After the staff started to disappear, the administration decided to close off that section of the hospital, of course inspiring frisky youth to sneak in for some kinky action. Asagiri was hoping this was just an old myth, but she soon find that whatever is cursing the hospital will follow her home.
This update has a lot to say about our narcissistic and materialist culture, and the greedy doctors who feed off it, more so today than it did when the urban legend was revived in 1979; and it's something that wasn't lost on Hasegawa when she points out, "plastic surgery is all about making money anyway." The film deals with an obsession to make ourselves so beautiful, we run the risk of turning into monsters, and perhaps much more than an exorcism, a self-image intervention can save the day; as we learn the monster's greatest weapon isn't the scissors after all - it's the mirror. This weapon inflicts its damage on women and their wounds are deepened when they feel in danger of losing their men to their younger sisters (as our protagonist has reason to be threatened by her good-girl-gone-bad sibling, Kazumi, played by an adorable, Aiyama Minami).
While the soft-core element is only mildly stimulating (they need to import some "French" kissers to teach the Japanese how to use their tongues), it sometimes adds a Friday the 13th element to the film (is it Part 3, IV, or V that starts out with doctor and nurse fooling around when "Jason" walks in?) If their Kichisake doesn't exactly terrify she's still creepy enough to keep you interested, even if she sort of reminds you of Jack Nicholson in Batman. You could say that she hates to watch people having a good time, but there also seems to be the idea of retribution; not just for her own situation, but an outrage at watching woman seeking validation from men by being touched, despite the fact that the filmmaker appears to be having fun with the exploitation.