Horror Biz: the Jarring Proto-Slasher ‘Blind Beast’
There are few things in the world that I derive more enjoyment from than horror cinema. Playing music is ... okay. Writing fun little quips here and there and interviewing my heroes is ... fine, I guess. At the end of the day, I’d much rather be in a dark room with some gross-ass concoction of heavily buttered popcorn and peanut M&M’s (try it, you’ll thank me) and some wild gore flick than doing anything else in the whole goddamn world. Horror is sustenance. Horror is life. Horror is everything.
Halloween is right around the corner. In honor of the greatest holiday that ever was and ever will be, I’ve asked some of my favorite musicians, label heads and music video directors to tell us a bit about some of their favorite genre films. These individuals possess a keen understanding and a deep love of the medium. I hope that you enjoy their insights as much as I have.
For today's Horror Biz, we’re thrilled to have the one and only Jacqueline Castel on board. Castel is the acclaimed creative mind behind music videos for the likes of Zola Jesus, the Soft Moon, Pharmakon, Pop. 1280 and countless others. Her short film, The Puppet Man, was an official selection of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. At the moment, Castel is in the midst of directing the much-anticipated Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth feature documentary, A Message From the Temple: The Story of Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth.
BLIND BEAST (dir. Yasuzô Masumura, 1969)
Adapted from Edogawa Rampo’s perverse 1932 novel Moju, and directed by cult director Yasuzô Masumura for the screen in 1969, Blind Beast is Japanese Ero-Guro (Erotic-Grotesque) at its finest, a psychosexual death trip as metaphor for the artist’s obsession.
Underground icon Mako Midori plays the lead, Aki, who reads as a pitch black Anna Karina, a S&M model abducted by a blind sculptor named Michio and held captive in his claustrophobic erotic warehouse. A surrealist cross between Hitchcock’s Dali-designed dream sequence in 1945’s Spellbound and the Korova Milk Bar, Michio’s studio is a playground of the senses, a darkened lunar landscape of severed body parts as sexual monoliths, where he and Aki’s feverish relationship plays out across its cryptically hallucinogenic backdrop.
Michio’s artistic advances are initially met with contempt by Aki, who refuses to model for her assailant. But as they grow to know one another, she eventually submits to his tactile infatuation in admiration of his creative process, and they descend into a delirious, fatalistic affair, culminating in a consensual murder-suicide resulting in the severance of Aki's limbs from her torso, a flesh-and-blood rendering of the Venus de Milo.
A genre-bending film of hysterical excess, Blind Beast marks one of the earliest examples in slasher cinema, a transgressive statement against narrow standards of conventional morality, and one of the more radical and disturbing explorations in the international horror milieu.