Blu-ray Review: Shogun’s Joy of Torture (1968)

February 21, 2021

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Presented as an anthology piece, 1968’s Shogun’s Joy of Torture is comprised of three torture tales that I’ll dive into directly!
Story one concerns Shinza; a working man who takes a log to the head, and thanks to this being ye olden days where health insurance was as non-existent, winds up shit out of luck and unable to get that shit looked at properly.
Enter: Shinza’s sis Mitsu, a loverly lass who tries to appeal to Shinza’s boss, Mino, for a lil’ financial assistance and gets raped for her trouble. As if that didn’t put us square in the “family fun zone”, Shinza is also hot n’ horny for his sister (a decidedly different “family fun zone”), which that ass-hat Mino finds out about and begins a game to make Mitsu eternally his.
Okay, story numero deuce should be a bit more cheery…
Young nun Reiho arrives at a convent located right next door to a monastery… seriously, what’s the worst that could happen in this scenario?
How about Reiho getting the hornies for Shunkei, a priest with some naughty predilections of his own whom Reiho tries unsuccessfully to blackmail into sex. Of course she takes that incredibly well, and by that I mean she goes completely batshit trying to get some “head”.
Oh boy… moving on…
Story three concerns Horicho, a celebrated tattoo artist who uses the flesh if Kimicho as his canvas… a canvas he parades around only to catch some harsh fuckin’ vibes off of political big-wig/amateur art critic Lord Nambera.
This puts a wild hair up Horicho’s ass to top his last bit of inky goodness, so he insists on sitting in on one of Nambera’s female prisoner torture sessions… you know, for some good ol’ inspiration… but soon sadism isn’t enough, and murder may become the ultimate muse!
Coming from the ever avant-garde Teruo Ishii, Shogun’s Joy Of Torture is as beautiful as it is perverse, and let me tell ya, that isn’t an easy load to balance when every other scene has some sort of kinky sex, horrible abuse, or incest “goin’ down” (sometimes literally… I kid, I kid… or do I?)… any way it all adds up to some powerful, if at times hard to watch, parade of perversions.
Speaking of “watching”, the production values here are high, and the cinematography is at times simply breathtaking… especially in the third segment with it’s lurid reds punctuating naked tattooed flesh; and “yes” that was my favorite of the tales presented here.
As for special features to accompany all of that stuff up yonder, Arrow Video (along with MVD Entertainment) offers up a (well-paddled) ass-load of bonus content on this Blu-ray release!
Kicking things off we have a scholarly analysis of the film and it’s themes courtesy of an audio commentary featuring Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes, followed by a look at Ishii’s oeuvre by writer Patrick Macias.
Next we get film historian Jasper Sharp taking a dive into the Japanese torture cinema sub-genre, as well as the film’s original theatrical trailer, and an image gallery.
All of this comes in a case adorned by new artwork from Jacob Phillips, and for the first pressing purchasers out there; a collectors booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese film expert Mark Schilling.
Nihilistic, punishing, but at times strikingly beautiful; Shogun’s Joy of Torture is a journey worth taking if you can sail some rather dicey thematic seas!


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