Released in Japan in 1986, Entrails of a Virgin is a softcore porn masquerading as a sleazy and slightly experimental slasher movie. It’s a movie that might have some metaphors and meaning underneath its surface of sex and violence, but it also might just be little more than a movie made up of the angry ramblings of a disillusioned writer and director. Whatever it is, Entrails of a Virgin has some incredibly unique and memorable moments, but it will probably only appeal to a relatively narrow segment of slasher, gore, and softcore porn enthusiasts.
Entrails of a Virgin was written and directed by Kazuo Komizu (going by the name “Gaira”), a man who had been making softcore movies (known in Japan as “Pink” films) for a few years. In an interview included on the Synapse Films DVD release, Komizu says that his idea behind adding horror elements to the sex films he’d been making was to basically give the viewer more value for their time and money. He compares it to Glico candies which, at the time, came packaged with a toy. Candy is good, and toys are good, but they’re better together, right? Of course they are. So the same should be true for sex and violence. At least, that’s how Komizu explains it, though he does kind of ramble in the interview. He even cites Descartes as what I assume is a partial influence on Entrails of a Virgin, but that seems more like Komizu is just playing around a bit. He didn’t seem to take the interview too seriously, so how seriously should we look at his movie?
Entrails of a Virgin tells the story of a group of people who get stranded in an empty house in the woods and end up being stalked by a strange, probably inhuman creature. It’s not the most original of scenarios, even for the time, but it’s how the story is told that makes the movie so unique. We first see the group of six as they are working together on a photo shoot in some remote location presumably far away from any city. There are three men (the photographer, his assistant, and the producer) and three women (the model, and two more assistants). As they change setups, locations, and outfits, we begin to get a sense of the relationships within the group through some nicely shot scenes, some rather dreamlike cutaways, and a few flashbacks of some rather long sex scenes. This whole opening sequence sets up a lot of what we can expect to see later: unique and interesting editing, some nicely framed shots, and a lot of sex and nudity that drags on for what is arguably a bit too long.
After the photo shoot, everyone gets into a van and begins the drive back home. Unfortunately for them, a thick fog rolls in with the night, and the group gets lost. They end up finding a house in the woods, so the men decide their only choice is to stay there for the night once they discover that the house is under construction and no one is there. The women just want to go home, but the lecherous producer and predatory photographer are in no rush. They have other plans, and their plans all involve more prolonged sex scenes. Out in the woods though, a person/creature has risen out of the mud, and he’s already begun to stalk the group.
From there, the movie gets a bit weird. And a bit gross. The mud man (as I’ll call him from here on out) tracks down each member of the group after they begin to split apart for various reasons. For the men, the mud man just wants to murder them in horrible ways. And if you’ve been paying attention, I think you know what he wants from the women. It’s more sex and violence for the women, though the two aren’t necessarily kept separate. It all plays out as a basic slasher, but the nudity and gore are amped up beyond what you might be used to in a lot of mainstream or even a lot of low budget American slashers from the same time period.
I wouldn’t say Entrails of a Virgin is the most brutal or disgusting movie I’ve ever watched, but there is definitely some repulsive stuff to be seen. For me, a lot of the grosser stuff involved the mixing of sex and gore, or at least the close proximity of one leading directly into the other. Those were also some of the more memorable moments as well. I think the mixture of nudity combined with grotesque imagery, the blurring of the lines between softcore and gore movies, are where Entrails of a Virgin best succeeds.
I also particularly enjoyed how a lot of the more violent scenes used visual metaphors to convey the feeling of the violence over just trying to show it to us. For example, one of the guys gets a hammer to the head from the mud man, and the moment of impact is drawn out over probably about 10 or so seconds. We see the hammer go up, we see the guy’s look of horror, we see the mud man’s muscles flexing, and then we see a few cutaways. We see a flash of a man falling, a centipede skittering through the dirt, a couple of hammers smashing into a slab of meat in a butcher shop, and a bucket of water thrown directly at us. Then we get a few frames of the guy’s eye popping out of his head as after the impact. I think this approach was probably at least partly taken because the effects don’t always look all that great, so cutaways and quick edits can help hide some of that. But also, I think the quick cutaways give us feelings that the director might not have been able to convey as well otherwise. From the shots with the hammer, I got helplessness, repulsion, brutality, and bloodiness. I think other people will get other things out of this visually metaphoric approach, and some people won’t get anything out of it, but I kind of liked it. Plus, the cutaways during the mud man’s final assault in the movie grossed me out quite a lot. So that’s good, right?
Overall, I thought Entrails of a Virgin was pretty good. I liked it fine, but it definitely felt like it dragged from time to time. I felt my hand reaching for the remote to skip forward during a few of the many sex scenes just because the movie seemed to slow completely down during these times. Everything beyond that was very good. It has a great atmosphere, and it’s just strange enough to be interesting without being incomprehensible. I think a deeper reading could absolutely pull some larger metaphors out of the movie.
As I was watching, I kind of saw the mud man as some sort of physical representation of the men’s baser and more primal urges. All three of the guys in the movie were different levels of terrible, and the mud man seemed to be all of them combined into one, but without any sort of facade of civility. But in Komizu’s interview, he said he was angry at the world and fed up with commercialism at the time, so maybe the movie is just him attempting to sabotage the system he was working in by pushing everything as far as he could. Or maybe both of those readings are true. Whatever the case, I would recommend Entrails of a Virgin primarily to fans of odd Japanese horror, and to the more adventurous fans of American slashers.
6 – Pretty Good
Entrails of a Virgin won’t be for everyone I mentioned above, but I think it’s worth a shot if you fit into either of the above categories. The Synapse Films release is great, and it has the aforementioned interview with the director as well as some notes regarding Japan’s practice of “fogging” as a form of censorship. All of the naughtier bits in the sex scenes are fogged in Entrails of a Virgin, and the notes explain why that’s the case and why an uncensored version likely doesn’t exist. I’d recommend checking it out.
Title: Entrails of a Virgin (処女のはらわた, Shojo no harawata)
Director, Writer: Kazuo “Gaira” Komizu
Featured Cast: Megumi Kawashima, Osamu Tsuruoka, Saeko Kizuki, Naomi Hagio, Daiki Kato, Hideki Takahashi, Kazuhiko Goda
Run Time: 73 minutes