Guts of a Virgin

Certificate: 18
Running time: 72 mins
Director: Kazuo ‘Gaira’ Komizu
Starring: Saeko Kizuki, Naomi Hagio, Megumi Kawashima
Genre: Horror, Exploitation
Country: Japan

Japanese ‘pink films’ have a certain reputation; for the most part they’ve earned it.  Some are titillating, some of brutal, some are down right weird…Guts of a Virgin falls into the last category perfectly. 

The film crew behind a softcore pornographic film are picked off and dismembered one by one by a mud covered demon with an extra few inches in the trouser department in the most blood thirsty of ways.

Like Realm of the Senses before it, Guts of a Virgin is striving to be more than the sexually explicit porno that a lot of the pink films set their stalls out to be.  Yes it does deal heavily in the visual depiction of sexual intercourse but like Realm is heavily censored with the ‘naughty fog’ blanking out anything that porn would take for granted.  For as long as there has been cinema there have been people having sex in front of the camera and for as long as that has been happening there have been people trying to stop it.  Komizu’s direction and script is a thinly veiled attempt to scream ‘why?!’  Why is an act so natural yet a cinematic taboo were as murder, death, decapitation and dismemberment barely has the censors and audiences bat an eyelid nor does it summon forth the ‘naughty fog’?  It’s an interesting debate, one that has long been posed and never satisfactorily answered.  Arnold Schwarzenegger has killed as many men on screen as DesireĆ© Couteau has humped yet he reached political office, arguably because of his screen presence, were as she became a psychologist in spite of hers.  The transformation of Guts of a Virgin from trouser tightening run of the mill sex flick to a gory supernatural horror attempts to showcase the absurdity of the shameful stigma around making the beast with two back on film.

Komizu has a reoccupation with excitement and the marrying of stimulus, 1986 also so the release of Guts of a Beautiful Woman which saw a young girl who had been sexually assaulted transform into a penis-headed monster and massacre those holding her.  It would be, unsurprisingly, as a screenwriter that he would achieve more of his success with directorial offerings lessoning both in affect and quality as they went on.  Guts of a Virgin has several interesting cinematic elements, the early use of colour and fades to represent sex that are beautiful and dreamy contrasted against a heavily shadowed, almost Expressionistic, warehouse sequence that through down a fear and foreboding that the slasher horror was well versed in by the mid-80s.

The casting of the film is a surprise as it’s rather strong.  Saeko Kizuki (as Rei) is a performer who I remember from Love Bites Back and is a natural and comfortable screen talent, eternally watchable.  Likewise Naomi Hagio (Kazuyo) turns in a performance that’s a lot more demanding from her than, what you would infer, would be required from the tirade of bland sex films that came before GOAV.  The three men are, like the works of Russ Meyer, extensions of the director and are unimaginative and one dimensional – with the exception of Hideki Takahashi who’s fixation with wrestling ejaculate out of Rei using Bret Hart’s sharpshooter is odd enough to be interesting.

This is probably going to contradict several other reviews for other horror films but I don’t care as it’s very much a positive in the right films – namely those without a great budget.  The only thing better than good CGI or model gore is bad CGI or model gore.  Guts of a Virgin is not a film with a particularly large budget but it is incredibly inventive and intelligent with what it does have.  Several scenes are made ten times better by an unconvincing head with eyes popped from sockets or the silhouette of a sizable dong popping out from nowhere to please the demon and take the life of one of the films maidens.  Even the scene were a trapped and horny Kei uses a severed hand to stimulate herself is greeted with more laughed than all the body mutilation portrayed in Grotesque.  The reason for this is one of intent.

What I thought was going to be the problem with Guts of a Virgin is the fact that it doesn’t have any characters in peril you want to save.  The slasher horror relies on having, at least one, character the audience would like to see survive.  In Komizu thinly painting one track minded male characters to titillate a screen audience he has done his film a severe disservice as nobody actually cares.  The female characters are equally as thinly drawn out but you come to care for them, largely because the males are such shits.  As a character piece it's an utter disaster which is a real shame as Kazuhiko Goda (as the well hung demon) is, at times, a terrifying presence but one who is lessened by the fact that you couldn’t be bothered by the demise of anyone on screen.  Fortunately it's not a character piece.  It actually works, you care about the female characters and hope to god they make it through the ordeal alive but the men are little more than meat for the slaughter.  It’s an interesting idea, and one that works both as a concept and a means to generate discussion over the representations of sex and violence on screen.  For the most part the film, in horror mode, is well constructed and delivers a thoroughly atmospheric rendering of a slasher film.

It’s wildly uneven and the Japanese fascination with rape pops up to make what should be a light hearted enjoyable film a little sinister and unlikeable in parts.  It might be worth pointing out that when you’re trying to argue pro sex and anti violence then including sexual violence is probably not a good idea.  This scene is however thankfully brief and does not carry any of the glorification that can come part and parcel with the genre.  Guts of a Virgin shouldn’t be as entertaining as it is but there’s a genuine love of film making that can’t be overshadowed by it’s many, many, many problems.  Had the Movie Bar survived Guts of a Virgin would have inevitably made it to the bring screen, it's a shame it had less stamina than the demon dong.


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