Lustmord (Hisayasu Sato, 1987)
[note: review originally published 3Mar2011]
I have long been a fan of Hisayasu Sato’s later work, especially Naked Blood, the film that made him an underground gore-film sensation. It’s sick, twisted, and one of the very few movies that contains a scene I have never been able to watch all the way through, no matter how many times I see it. (Do I have to do more than even mention the term self-cannibalism?) Needless to say, given the chance to watch a very early Sato movie, I jumped, despite its patently offensive DVD title in English-speaking countries (Rape: for Real). A few minutes into the movie, I thought it looked familiar. A few minutes later, I realized why: Sato for all intents and purposes remade Lustmord eight years later as Naked Blood, but without the rape scenes (thankfully) and, given Naked Blood‘s much longer running time (this one goes about fifty-seven minutes), a lot more emphasis on character development combined with more exploration of Sato’s obsessions with mind control and blood play (both of which are quite obvious if you’ve seen more than one of his flicks). As such, Lustmord is one you can take a pass on if you’ve seen Naked Blood, but if you’re into the whole “let’s see how director X progressed as an artist throughout his career”, it becomes a must-see, a fine experiment in that regard.
I think the best plot synopsis I can give you of this film is “see Naked Blood”. This is a more concentrated version of that film, with the whole virtual-reality theme in the second half of that movie in an embryonic state here (one character is obsessed with 8-bit videogame machines). Unfortunately, I can also say that about much of the rest of the film, including Sato’s directorial skills, which aren’t even close to those of the guy who would direct a segment of one of the best films of the last decade, Rampo Noir. of course, there was a gap of almost two decades between the two for him to hone his craft, and he has been extremely successful in doing so. This, on the other hand, should be consigned to the flames of obscurity unless you’re a Sato completist. * ½