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Thread: Arrow Releasing Shogun's Joy Of Torture

  1. #1
    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Queens, NYC

    Arrow Releasing Shogun's Joy Of Torture

    From the outrageous imagination of cult director Teruo Ishii (Orgies of Edo, Horrors of Malformed Men) comes this infamous omnibus of three shocking tales of crime and punishment based on true-life documented cases set during the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate.

    The first tale sees the beautiful Mitsu (Masumi Tachibana) going to horrifying lengths to tend to her older brother Shinzō (Teruo Yoshida), a carpenter injured in a work accident, but the law catches up on them and metes out a terrifying retribution after they violate the ultimate taboo. In the second, unfettered passions in a Buddhist nunnery are not allowed to go unpunished after abbess Reihō (Yukie Kagawa) and her attendant Rintoku (Naomi Shiraishi) encounter a virile young monk from a neighbouring temple. In the closing segment, a sadistic torturer (Fumio Watanabe) attempts to show a tattoo artist (Asao Koike) how to depict convincing expressions of faces of pain in his work by allowing him to sketch a selection of Europeans as they are tortured for entering Japan with the aim of spreading Christianity.

    Ishii’s notorious portmanteau of Edo-era excess signalled a change in direction for a director until then regarded for his crime and yakuza films, setting the ball rolling on the run of grotesque historical anthologies for which he is now best remembered. Vehemently denounced by the critics of the day, Shogun’s Joy of Torture set a new benchmark for the depiction of sex, sadism and depravity in Japanese exploitation, with Ishii staging his elaborate torture methods with an unmatched verve and inventiveness.

    Production Year: 1968
    Region Code: B
    UK Rating: 18
    Running Time: 85 mins
    Number of Discs: 1
    Language: Japanese
    Subtitles: English
    Audio: Mono 1.0
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    Colour: Colour

    Bind, Torture, Thrill – author and critic Jasper Sharp discusses the history of torture in Japanese exploitation cinema
    Original trailer
    Image gallery
    Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips

    FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mark Schilling

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    Rock! Shock! Pop!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    I wrote a little intro to the film to another forum, and thought I might post it here as well. If you've been reading my 1960s/1970s/1980s Japanese Genre Cinema – From Books and Magazine Articles thread, then you are already familiar with most of I'm about to say below.

    The Joy of Torture aka Shogun's Joy of Torture opened in September 1968. The critics were appalled. Kinema Junpo’s Tadao Sato wrote that “Japanese cinema had hit the rock bottom” with Shogun’s Joy of Torture. “History of the Shogun’s Harem was awful, but this is even worse. It’s the worst". Ishii wrote back, saying “Tadao Sato is the definition of a bigot!”.

    Critics were not alone with their concerns. Top stars like Tomisaburo Wakayama and Koji Tsuruta were reportedly enraged. Their beloved samurai and yakuza film studio had turned into a circus full of naked women and malformed men running around, and their own films were released as double features with them. In 1969 during the production of Inferno of Torture Toei assistant directors issued a joint statement and protest against Ishii’s movies, saying the films “focused on nothing but abnormality, cruelty and perversions”, “lost sight of the essence of cinema”, and “were harmful for the mental wellbeing of the filmmakers who had to participate in making them.”

    The audience of course loved the films. Shogun’s Joy of Torture was the 9th highest grossing Japanese movie of 1968, leaving most all-star epics featuring Takakura, Wakayama etc. eating dust at the box office. To put this in context, there were roughly 500 Japanese movies released in 1968.

    Western distributors joined the club with a small delay. The Joy of Torture, Inferno of Torture and many others found their way to the European markets in the early 70s. Many were cut, and renamed. In Germany they became the “Tokugawa” series. Orgies of Edo was called Tokugawa III, even though it wasn’t set in the Tokugawa era. The Joy of Torture became Shogun’s Joy of Torture in the English speaking markets, despite the fact there is no shogun in the film! The original Japanese title translates as “Tokugawa Era Female Punishment History”.

    These films remain a source of fascination to this day. One can only imagine the impact The Joy of Torture must have had on audiences when it hit the screens in 1968. But the film is much more than shocks. A lavish studio film with great production values, beautiful cinematography and clever structure that takes us from the romantic opening episode to the apocalyptic closing tale of pain and punishment as a mad tattoo artist seeks inspiration for his hellish masterpiece (actor Asao Koike’s wife later recalled this was Koike’s favourite role!).

    But what I like most about Ishii’s films, is his skill at crafting atmospheric, seductive, shocking and almost otherworldly cinematic worlds where history and fantasy meet. While they can’t be recommended to the faint of heart, and might not promote the politically correct treatment of the female sex, they were so much more than the cheap blood and guts films some other filmmakers would put out.

    Pinky Violence: Toei’s Bad Girl Films” (東映ピンキー・バイオレンス浪漫ア バム) (Sugisaku & Uechi, 1999).
    Nendai ryukou: 60-nendai eiga (houga) ranking

  3. #3
    Great overview of JOY, and this unique genre, Takuma.


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