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Films We Love: ORGIES OF EDO (1969)

Directed by: Teruo Ishii

Starring: Teruo Yoshida and Toyozô Yamamoto

Released: January 9, 1969

Set during the golden age of Edo, Teruo Ishii's Orgies of Edo is an anthology consisting of three twisted tales that document the depravity and sickness of the soul behind the pomp and prosperity of the era.

Before the tales, we get a surreal credits sequence in which a wild-haired man in a floral dress and knee-high socks crawls out of a giant Billy bookcase (also inhabited by other weirdos and a dog) and does some expressive dance, followed by a man drooling blood and carrying a chicken in his mouth through a hall of mirrors. This kind of sets the demented tone for the rest of the film...

Story one sees scoundrel Hanji (Toyozô Yamamoto) tricking gullible babe Oito (Masumi Tachibana) into becoming a geisha to help him pay his supposed debts. While she's selling her body to strangers for cash, sneaky Hanji is shacked up with Oito's sister Kinu (Kei Kiyama). Even when Oito discovers the truth, Hanji is able to turn on the charm and get a freebie from the reluctant geisha, but this act results in both Oito and Hanji being severely beaten by the owners and staff of the brothel. Hanji gets chili peppers rubbed in his eyes, but when it is revealed that Oito is pregnant, the poor woman has a rock dropped on her stomach. Oito is taken to a doctor, Gentatsu (Teruo Yoshida, whose character links all three stories), but, unsurprisingly, she carks it, leaving a beaten and bruised Hanji to regret his actions. This tawdry tale features Ishii's trademark 'tits and torture' formula, but it is artfully shot, with Hanji seducing Oito in a field of patterned cloth being the visual highlight.

Chapter two starts with a pair of dwarfs breaking into the home of wealthy merchant's daughter Ochise (Mitsuko Aoi). After the little people sexually assault her, she turns the tables on them and gives them a whipping. It transpires that the dwarfs were hired by the woman's besotted servant Chôkichi (Akira Ishihama), his boss only capable of being aroused by men with abnormal bodies. Concerned Chôkichi talks Ochise into visiting Gentatsu, who uses hypnotism to discover the reason for her fetish: he discovers that she was abducted by a disfigured man when she was seventeen and subjected to a series of sexual ordeals (including the obligatory rope bondage). Chôkichi believes he can help Ochise break her habit, and maybe even love him as he loves her, but after she orders the delivery of a big black man (just a tad racist, the suggestion that being black is abnormal), the servant takes desperate measures. I don't want to spoil the ending, but it's wonderfully ironic and perverse.

The last tale opens in fine deviant style, with a sadistic lord (Asao Koike) unleashing a herd of bulls with flaming horns on a crowd of young female servants dressed in red. As the bulls charge at the women, the lord takes pot-shots at them with his bow and arrow while advising them to strip. One woman, Mitsu (Miki Obana), catches the tyrant's eye: she seems to enjoy the whole experience, and so becomes his favourite concubine. The lord continues his cruelty, coating one of his servants, Okon (Yujie Kagawa), with lead-based gold paint for betraying him with a dog. However, Okon is spared a painful death when she tells the lord that she has a special game to share with him. Again, to give away this twist would spoil the fun, suffice to say that it ends with a graphic (but not very convincing) Caesarian via katana (as performed by Gentatsu, of course), followed by a fiery fate for the lord.

Here are some other wonderful films to see by Ishii: Boachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (1973) and Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) - also Yakuza Law (1969) and Inferno of Torture (also '69 - he was a busy boy that year!).

For a complete filmography by director Teruo Ishii:

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