Film reviews

Orgies of Edo – Blu-Ray Review

Well, where do you start with a film like Orgies of Edo? As the title might suggest, this is no ordinary film and Arrow Video have lived up to their reputation yet again by bringing  another cult curio to our attention that will have hardcore fans of Japanese cinema rejoicing, film lovers everywhere curious and others possibly scratching their heads.

Orgies of Edo isn’t just a sequel, it’s a fourth entry in the late director Teruo Ishii’s ‘abnormal love’ series that deals in the likes of violence, incest, torture and sadomasochism. Add in Ishii’s unique and surreal vision and you have a film that’s interesting at the very least. Certainly it was shocking when it was first released back in 1969.

Orgies of Edo is an anthology film that tells three stories all seemingly linked by the perverse and politically incorrect. The first deals with a young girl (Masumi Tachibana) who gets tricked into prostitution by her Yakuza boyfriend and ends up in a doomed love affair. The next steps things up a notch in the perverse stakes as it involves a woman named Ochise (Mitsuki Aoi), the daughter of a rich man whose sexual appetite extends to every sexual encounter she has having to be kinky or contain an element of strangeness/ugliness to it as it is revealed she sets up rape situations herself to satisfy her needs – which of course leads to violence and betrayal. The third and final tale is of Omitsu (Miki Obana), a beautiful member of the harem of a sadistic lord (Asao Koike) who notices her one day after he discovers that Omitsu shares his taste for pain, perversion and blood. Unfortunately for the lord, Omitsu carries a secret that will destroy everything that is his.

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Now, for the more open minded reader, this may well appeal. It might even look pretty amazing to fans of eroticism and erotic horrors/thrillers in general? But what sets Teruo Ishii apart from other directors is not only his increasing use of shocking violence throughout his ‘abnormal love’ film series, but also his use of surrealism that adds to the film and makes it stronger, along with the period detail within the stories. Ishii really made his mark on the exploitation/sexploitation scene and on the ‘ero-guro’ scene – a Japanese artistic movement originating in the 1930s focussing on eroticism, decadence and sexual corruption – so, an acquired taste, definitely. Ishii’s vision may not appeal to everyone but in terms of the strange, dark, shocking and surreal he definitely delivers and fans of this type of film/genre may well discover, or rediscover, a new favourite director.

Overall, you would imagine Orgies of Edo to be one of Teruo Ishii’s strongest films and possibly the finest of the ‘abnormal love’ series. Hence it’s release from Arrow. But if it wasn’t for its surreal moments of madness, the three tales within Orgies of Edo might appear a bit boring. Certain scenes making the whole film feel as if it’s dragging on a bit. But make no mistake, in terms of what fans of the sexploitation/ero-guro era would want, Orgies of Edo pretty much hits the spot and there are parts of this anthology that will have eyebrows raised and maybe some even recoiling in shock. So, in that respect, it deserves its release and re-examination from film fans.

Extras for this release include a new and exclusive interview with author Patrick Macclas entitled The Orgies of Ishii, the theatrical trailer and a reversible sleeve with original and new commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin. First pressings include a collectors booklet with new writing on the film by autor Tom Mes. Not a lot maybe, but fans will be happy to just get this new Blu-ray presentation of the film, lashings of extras or not.

Orgies of Edo is now available on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

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