JIGOKU (hell) (1960 JAPAN) D/W: NOBUO NAKAGAWA W: ICHIRO MIYAGAWA P: MITSUGU OKURA
Here`s a memorable and fascinating horror film. Two students (one good, one evil) run over a drunk Yakuza with their car. He dies and his mother and lover vow revenge. The plot gets a little confusing after this, with many characters connected to the good student ending up dead with no help from him. Regardless of his seeming innocence he ends up in buddhist hell (with it`s eight levels) looking for the dead unborn baby of his dead, pregnant fiancee (i think). Most of the other characters are there too and are subjected to fairly graphic (for the time) tortures (predating H.G. Lewis` BLOOD FEAST by three years). A man is sawn in half, hands are cut off, people bathe in a river of blood etc. But the best and most shocking effect is a guy who`s skinned alive. We see his screaming face and beating heart pumping in the middle of an uncovered skeletal torso. Despite it`s occasionaly laughable, hysterically overserious atmosphere, JIGOKU succeeds as an almost dreamlike adult fairy tale, both creepy and beautiful. It remains pure exploitation as well though. Shigeru Amachi (also in the director`s more famous GHOST STORY OF YOTSUYA from the previous year) stars, and it features bongo jazz and spooky theremin on the soundtrack. With Yoichi Nemata, Hiroshi Hayashi and Kanjyuro Arashi. It was remade in 1979 and again in 1999 by Teruo Ishii.

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