Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)
Not Rated Dir: Teruo Ishii | Synapse Films | 99 min.

Review By: Fusion3600 | January 28th, 2012

Plot: What’s it about?

Hirosuke Hitomi (Teruo Yoshida) is a medical student, but hasn’t spent much time in the classroom of late. He has been in an insane asylum and even he isn’t sure what has happened, but he is determined to find. Even though he isn’t sure if he is sane or not, he escapes from the asylum and heads off to find answers. As he travels to the coast, he is a fugitive wanted for a murder, so he has to find a way to keep himself safe. He is shocked to learn that a recently deceased man is his identical match, down to the most subtle of details. He assumes the man’s identity and pushes on, as strange murders continue to happen around him. Hirosuke ventures to a remote island where his father is said to reside, with the promise of a paradise to be found. But what will Hirosuke discover on the island and will he ever learn the truth about his past?

I’ve seen a lot of twisted, disturbing films in my life, but Horrors of Malformed Men has to be one of the all time sickest, depraved pictures out there. I had heard about this movie, but brushed it off at first, given how many films are built up to be insane, but this one has earned its reputation. This one has all the earmarks, from outlandish freaks to perverse sexual situations to moments of serious discomfort, this is one twisted experience. As you watch, you’ll be shocked to see what happens and wonder if things can get any more off the wall, which they always do. Some movies tend to rely a single scene of infamous content to get notoriety, but Horrors of Malformed Men is a nonstop parade of such scenes. When the end arrives, director Teruo Ishii ups the ante one last time to deliver the kind of finale you won’t soon forget. This might not be one you’ll watch over and over, but Horrors of Malformed Men is a movie anyone with adventurous cinematic tastes needs to check out.

Video: How does it look?

Horrors of Malformed Men is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I had watched Snake Woman’s Curse just before this film and couldn’t believe how good the transfer was, so I was pleased to find that this one is almost on the same level. Synapse has either found some pristine elements or done some tremendous restoration work, as the image here is quite refined. The level of detail is great, so the visuals never seem soft or worn. The colors look as bold or drab as needed, while contrast performs well, with smooth and stark black levels. This is just impeccable work from Synapse, a truly excellent presentation.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included mono option, which preserves the original Japanese soundtrack, is adequate. As expected for a mono track from 1969, the audio is thin and a little worn, but the movie still sounds good. The music sounds good in particular, while the various oddball sound effects are well handled also. The vocals seem crisp and at a proper volume also, not much else to mention. This disc also includes optional English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An audio commentary is up first, as film critic Mark Schilling offers his take on this unusual production. The track is well researched and offers welcome information on prominent cast and crew members. The movie is quite strange, so Schilling attempts to help us understand the vision involved, as difficult a task as that might seem. Malformed Memories is a retrospective look at director Teruo Ishii’s career, while Ishii in Italia chronicles the filmmaker’s trip to the 2003 Far East Film Festival. This disc also includes some profiles, poster artwork, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Disc Features
  • (2.35:1) Aspect Ratio
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy
  • 1 Disc Set
Horrors of Malformed Men