Friday, February 19, 2016

Moju: The Blind Beast by Edogawa Rampo

(pb; 1932)

From the back cover:

"In Edogawa Rampo's Moju: The Blind Beast, a deranged, scarred and sightless sculptor kidnaps a model and imprisons her in a psychedelic labyrinth of giant sculpted eyes and other outlandish body parts, before dismembering her in a fearful blood-orgy. Her limbs, head and torso are later found scattered throughout Tokyo. The blind killer continues his sexually-charged spree of amputation and decapitation, claiming several more victims before finally presenting his work at an acclaimed art exhibition in which the sculptures are a little too life-like for comfort...

"The most disturbing of Rampo's novels, Moju: The Blind Beast is a classic of grinding horror and weird sex, tainted with a virulent black humour. It represents one of the earliest literary examples of the Japanese "erotic-grotesque" genre, in which such subjects as dismemberment, mutilation, coprophilia and cannibalism are presented in a perverse sexual context. This first-ever English translation of Rampo's classic is illustrated throughout and also includes an introduction by Jack Hunter, author of Eros In Hell."


Review:

Sensual, creepy, strange and hilarious in its skewering of human nature (particularly the art world and societal reactions to the macabre), this -- for this reader, anyway -- is the closest a book can come to perfection (for an 'erotic-grotesque' novel). Every scene is sharp, brutal and striking in its sensorial aspects, every word contributing to Moju's satirical dead-on effect. This is worth owning, if you are not a prude and are open to Rampo's acute, fetishistic violence and weirdness.

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The resulting film, Blind Beast, which focuses on the first part of its source novel, was released in Japan on January 25, 1969. Its stateside release was in April 1969.
Yasuzô Masamura directed it, from a screenplay by Yoshio Shirasaka.

Eiji Funakoshi played Michio. Mako Midori played Aki. Noriko Sengoku played Mother.

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