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Blind Beast (Special Edition)

Arrow Video // Unrated // August 24, 2021
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted August 26, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Directed by Yasuzo Masumura in 1969 and based on a novel by famed Japanese writer Edogawa Rampo, Blind Beast introduces us to Michio (Eiji Funakoshi), a talented blind sculptor who lives in a bizarre warehouse with his mother (Noriko Sengoku) that is filled with his strange works of art, each one dedicated to one of the five senses.


When Michio meets a gorgeous model named Aki (Mako Madori) he takes quite a liking to her and decides to kidnap her and bring her back to the warehouse where his studio is based, intent on using her to sculpt the perfect female body. As Michio's obsession with exploring all of his available senses reaches new heights, Aki wants nothing more than to escape and get as far away from him as she can. As she's forced to spend more time with him, however, she starts to not only come around to his increasingly kinky exploits, but even seems able to outdo him as she too begins to enjoy both his artistic endeavors and penchant for indulging her every whim.


A visually wild trip of a film, Blind Beast owes a lot of its success to its completely bizarre set design. With so much of the movie taking place inside Michio's warehouse studio, it's to Masumura and company's credit that they made it as striking a location as they did. With the whole place covered in Michio's sculptures, almost all of which are based on and/or dedicated to the female form, it makes for a truly strange sight, given it's adorned with a plethora of sculpted breasts, lips, hips and butts of various shapes and sizes. The whole things winds up with an oddly compelling atmosphere that is occasionally nightmarish, sometimes quite erotic and mostly just really strange.


Either way, however, it works. Blind Beast proves a wholly original picture and a film like no other. Frequently infused with doses of very dark humor and plenty of unexpectedly moving dramatic moments, this is an atypical horror picture to be sure but one that will not be easily forgotten. The production values are strong across the board and the score from Hikaru Hayashi proves to be the perfect way to accentuate all of the strangeness inherent in the equally impressive visuals.


Of course, much of this would be for naught if the performances weren't up to par, but all three of the main actors do really good work in this picture. Eiji Funakoshi is wonderfully twisted in his delivery, bringing Michio to life in grand fashion in a performance that manages to be amazingly intense without chewing the scenery. He and the beautiful Mako Madori share an interesting on screen chemistry together and its quite impressive to watch Madori shift her character from meek and mild into something far more aggressive and controlling as the story progresses. Noriko Sengoku is also very good here in her important supporting role as Michio's bizarre mother. All three do great work in this picture, it's hard not to walk away impressed by the (sometimes very bold and brazen!) performances in the film.


The Blu-ray

Video:

Blind Beast arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and it looks good though not reference quality. With the feature taking up 25GBs of space on the 50GB disc, grain can look a little clunky in spots despite the fact that the film is given a pretty solid bit rate. Colors look good and black levels are strong, though sometimes do look a little closer to dark grey than true black. Skin tones are fine and the picture shows no problematic edge enhancement, noise reduction or compression artifacts. Detail, depth and texture are all decent without approaching perfection. Overall, this looks quite good, while still leaving room for improvement.


Sound:

Arrow offers up 24-bit DTS-HD 1.0 Mono track in the film's native Japanese language with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is fine. The score sounds nice and the levels are properly balanced. There are no problems with any hiss, distortion or sibilance.


Extras:

Extras start off with a new audio commentary by Asian cinema scholar Earl Jackson who does a fine job of exploring Yasuzo Masumura's career as well as going over the importance and influence of writer Edogawa Rampo's work. Along the way he explores a lot of the themes and ideas that the picture deals with and offers up plenty of insight and trivia into the life and times of the different cast and crew members who worked on the film while also providing some interesting analysis about the merits of the picture itself.


The disc also includes a newly filmed introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns offers some thoughts on what makes the film an important one in the annals of international cinema. Blind Beast: Masumura The Supersensualist is a new visual essay by Japanese literature and visual studies scholar Seth Jacobowitz that covers the socio-political landscape from which the film was birthed and from which Masumura did so much of his best work. Both of these are quite interesting and worth checking out.


Finishing up the extras on the disc are the film's original trailer, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection options.


As to the packaging, Arrow includes some nice reversible cover sleeve art with this release that features original poster art on one side and some newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella on the other side. A full color insert booklet containing an essay on the film by Virginie Sélavy as well as credits for the feature and the Blu-ray disc itself is also contained inside the clear keepcase.


Final Thoughts:

Blind Beast is a wonderfully perverse thriller shot with loads of style and a fair amount of interesting kink that can, at times, border on the surreal. Arrow's presentation offers up a decent transfer, strong audio and a very nice selection of supplemental material. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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