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Askew Review 15

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(Synapse Films) 1969. 99 minutes. Horror/thriller. Japanese with English subtitles. Not rated. Some gore, wacky scenes, brief nudity. Hirosuke, a seemingly well-put together medical student, quickly finds himself in a world of trouble and assumes the identity of a look alike, who recently died, to figure out what in hell is happening. Clues and crazy stories lead him to a remote Japanese island where he discovers a world occupied by man made disfigured humans, and one hell of a madman. However, this grim discovery is the least of Hirosuke’s problems.
  I apologize, not really, for the sketchy plot synopsis, but if I reveal too much it’ll ruin the twists and turns that riddle this fine film. The shock and awe of this movie floored viewers in 1969 and still hold its own nearly 20 years later, even in today’s jaded society. The handful of twists was surprising and cool. Malformed Men has a The Island of Dr. Moreau feel, but is more sinister due to humans being the subject of treachery; hell, the entire mood of the film has an almost dream like feel with all its nuttiness. The star madman is an odd character, indeed. He is a creepy looking bastard, but it is never explained why he stands along the shore gyrating and wiggling while standing in place looking uncannily like the androgynous lead singer of Dead or Alive in the “You spine me ‘round baby ‘round ‘round like a record baby ‘round ‘round ‘round ‘round” video. Whoa, Peter Burns, Dead or Alive’s lead singer, recently fell victim to man made disfigurement when his plastic surgeon screwed up his lip injections! How freakin’ weird is that? Director Teruo Ishii even injects a little humor when Hirosuke first assumes the identity of his doppelganger, frightening two monks. Extras include audio commentary, interviews, trailer, poster gallery, and reversible cover with original Japanese artwork (really cool). –Denis Sheehan



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