Shogun’s Joy Of Torture (1968)

Teruo Ishii (Inferno of Torture, Invaders from Space, Horrors of Malformed Men) is mostly known for his ero-guro (erotic-grotesque) films, but his oeuvre jumps all over the place, from science fiction to sequel series, martial arts, noir and horror. Truly, anything that he could make — 83 feature films in all — he made.

From all accounts, he was a quiet, unassuming man. Well, let me tell you — if this movie is any guide, he was an absolute maniac. An anthology of three true crimes of the Tokugawa shogunate era, this is a movie that will absolutely shock you on every level.

The first story concerns a woman who will do anything to help her brother — even the unthinkable — which causes both to pay a horrifying price. The second is about a lusty monk who causes the nuns of a Buddhist temple to suffer torture for the libidinous actions that they feel compelled to enact. And finally, in the most depraved — and well made, I mean, this looks like art the way it’s filmed and presented — a sadistic torturer and a master tattoo artist discuss the way torture should be depicted within art. It’s also about Christian missionaries trying to turn the Japanese to a Western god and being duly decimated. And also artistic depictions of depravity.

The Arrow Video release of this offers a pristine looking print, as well as features of Ishii and a discussion of the history of torture in Japanese exploitation cinema.

Honestly, this movie is a hard watch. Yet there are seven sequels from Ishii and a 1976 follow-up, Shogun’s Sadism. It definitely has something to say about the nature of crime and punishment, as the final segment, though the roughest, has the most moral message. This is where I mention that this is one of many movies that speak against violence and bad morals while indulging in both. But isn’t that what exploitation films are all about?

You can buy this from MVD.

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