“I feel my leg normally now”
In My Skin is one of the lesser known movies associated with the term New French Extremity. Writer/director/lead actress Marina de Van has produced a remarkable piece of body horror which is in ways reminiscent of early David Cronenberg. The difference being that unlike Cronenberg’s work, where the mutilation is on the whole a change for the better, becoming something new, de Van’s movie is a nihilistic piece with little hope of redemption.
The movie follows Esther (de Van) a woman who seems to have it all. Her career is on the way up, her relationship with her partner is going so well that they plan to buy a house together. Everything is going well until she goes to a party one night, while walking outside in the dark she trips over & badly gashes her right leg. She is unaware she has hurt herself until later in the evening. It is from this moment on that everything changes for her. She becomes fascinated with the wound as it begins to heal & in an almost trance like state she cuts at the wound with a piece of metal. Slowly this new compulsion begins to take over her life. While at an important work dinner, she hallucinates that her arm has detached & is lying on the dinner table. Once it is “reattached” she begins to cut & stab it under the table with a steak knife. This behaviour culminates when she books herself into a hotel overnight & lies on the bathroom floor with the knife, cutting, slicing & removing pieces of skin. Tasting her own blood, chewing her skin, lost in her own body. As the movie progresses Esther’s behaviour becomes more & more difficult to hide from friends & loved ones & starts to affect her work.
In My Skin is an incredibly powerful movie. A film of immense depth, Marina de Van should be congratulated for making a movie that truly makes you think. In My Skin is a multi layered movie. The compulsion to self harm could be seen as a metaphor for bulimia, anorexia & drug abuse. Echoing how the afflicted can hide their condition from their loved ones. At one stage in the movie Esther fakes a car wreck just to explain away her new injuries. When Esther is mutilating herself it is almost an act of withdrawal. A release from the world she lives in & the people she shares it with. Her compulsion is something solitary that she can never share. It is hers alone. It is also a time when she is completely happy in her own skin, her own body image. De Van’s performance is wonderful, as is her script & direction. The mutilation scenes are very graphic & disturbing. The scenes of a similar nature in Splatter, Naked Blood & Cutting Moments which are much stronger in what they show onscreen, but it is the nature of Esther’s mutilation which makes it so hard to watch. As she lies on the hotel bathroom floor sucking the blood from her own arm or playing with pieces of her own skin with her teeth, it is almost sexual. The very act of mutilation becomes almost calming & tranquillising.
In My Skin is one of those films that slips under the radar at first but is such a wonderful revelation when you finally discover it. If you have a strong constitution I highly recommend you watch this movie. A thought-provoking, intelligent piece of disturbing cinema.
“It was used to make those buns”
The Untold Story is without a doubt the best movie in the Cat III genre. As good as movies like Red To Kill, The Ebola Virus & Her Vengeance are, they just don’t have the same impact as The Untold Story. A film that has stirred up a considerable amount of controversy due to it’s graphically violent content & a very disturbing scene depicting the murder of young children. This is a movie that is deeply shocking & at times very uncomfortable to watch, but it is also a very, very good movie.
Set in Maccau the film starts with Wong Chi Hang fleeing Hong Kong & moving to Maccau & The Eight Immortals restaurant, where he works as chef. After cheating at a game of Mah Jong with his employer, Hang butchers the entire family & takes over the restaurant. He dismembers the bodies of the family & cooks them in the buns he serves at the restaurant. Wong tries unsuccessfully to take legal ownership for the restaurant but can’t due to the owner not being able to sign the paperwork. The police who are investigating some body parts that washed up on a beach begin to get letters from the family of the missing restaurant owner as to his whereabouts. The police visit Wong on several occasions until they feel they have enough circumstantial evidence to arrest Wong & force a confession.
The Untold Story is an incredible film that 18 years after it’s release, has lost none of its power to shock & disturb. Directed by Herman Yau & supposedly based on a true events, The Untold Story grips you from the start & slowly draws you in as the horror unfolds. Prolific actor Anthony Wong is superb as Wong Chi Hang. He brings a constant air of menace to Hang & dominates the movie. His portrayal of a deranged killer is truly frightening. With the police, Yau employs a similar dramatic theme as The Last House On The Left. They are used as a comedic element to provide some light relief from the overriding air of tension & horror that dominates the rest of the movie. I have heard a lot of people criticise The Untold Story over this. I would disagree, the lightening of the movies tone by the police only serves to heighten the tension once Wong is back on screen. The movies’ content is very brutal & graphic. The chopstick rape scene is strong enough, as are the scenes of dismemberment & cannibalism. But it is the flashback to the slaughter of the original owner of The Eight Immortals restaurant & his family that is deeply shocking. Wong uses a meat cleaver to dispatch the family, but not before he has taunted & toyed with them. The children are killed last. This scene is very hard to watch, the young actors look genuinely scared & distressed.
I could continue with some of the themes & audience manipulation techniques that Yau has used in this movie, but I would be revealing too many spoilers. In closing I highly recommend The Untold Story. A shocking & brutal Cat III classic.
“From now on, we will live forever”
My first reaction after watching this film was simply “what the fuck was all that about” This isn’t the first time I have had this reaction to a movie, after watching Teenage Hooker Becomes Killing Machine In Daehakroh that was my first reaction too. My second being to laugh & my third mourning the hour of my life I lost watching that movie that I can never get back! Splatter Naked Blood isn’t anywhere near as dreadful as THBKMID. Splatter Naked Blood is directed by the infamous Japanese pinku eiga director Hisayasu Sato, the man who gave the world films like Lolita: Vibrator Torture & Widow’s Peverted Hell. The movie was made after the era of popularity for the pinku eiga & Sato seems to be drawing an influence from early Cronenberg body horror films.
Trying to describe the movie’s plot is like clapping with one hand but here goes… A young scientist called Eiji has created a new drug that he calls Myson. It is a drug that turns pain into pleasure. Eiji’s mother is a scientist working on a new contraceptive, so during his mother’s drug’s trail, Eiji adds Myson to the drug. He then begins to observe & film the three women test subjects. One subject is obsessed by food, one is incredibly vain. Eiji finds himself drawn towards the third subject, a woman called Rika who spends hours hooked up to a virtual reality machine that she shares with a cactus, yes you read that right, a cactus! It turns out that Myson works too well & the more pain the women are in, the more pleasure they feel. This leads to some truly horrific acts of self-mutilation. The ending is just insane & even if I wasn’t worried about spoilers I couldn’t really describe it
Sato’s movie is a departure from his usual pinku fare. This movie has a plot (of sorts) & is not just an excuse for excessive misogynistic violence. Seemingly taking an influence from David Cronenberg’s early body horrors, Sato has tried to make something different & unique. In most respects he has succeeded. The problem is that the last 30 odd minutes of the film are so strange & bizarre that the film loses any conclusion & leaves the viewer in a state of utter confusion. For example plants dream but cacti don’t, hence the VR machine. It’s just a weird mindfuck of a movie. As you can probably guess from the movie’s title there are some strong scenes of gore & bloodshed. The film is infamous for one scene of self cannibalism. The problem is any power to shock or disturb the scene has is lost due to the awful sound effects. Even so, this film will shock some people & shouldn’t be seen by anyone with a weak stomach or low tolerance to bloodshed.
I cannot, in closing, recommend this film. It’s well made, the acting is ok. It’s just too bizarre (& I like bizarre) If you want to see something truly odd & strange, then by all means. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!