Story: Shinji (Shinichi Fukazawa) is in the middle of an intense workout when a voice from his past beckons, as a former lover phones him with a request. Mika (Masaaki Kai) would like Shinji to put old wounds behind him and lend her a hand, as she is on assignment to write stories about haunted houses and needs his assistance. He agrees and holds a little hope this could lead to a rekindling, but as he soon discovers, there won’t be much time for romance on this trip. The two venture to a notorious haunted house and meet up with a paranormal expert (Asako Nosaka), who is there to tap into the psychic energies and reveal the house’s infamous past. No sooner does the psychic try to read the energies than he realizes this is much more than he bargained for and the house is indeed home to a vengeful spirit, one that doesn’t intend to let them leave alive. Can Shinji and Mika survive this twisted paranormal nightmare?
Entertainment Value: This off the wall love letter to The Evil Dead has been a cult favorite for decades and with good reason, as it remains a fun, over the top cinematic experience. The story is simple and the movie never tries to weave much narrative beyond the initial set up, which is reasonable given that this only runs just over an hour. Once the light exposition is in place, the movie coasts through one wild scene after another, all steeped in Evil Dead vibes, down to the lead actor channeling Bruce Campbell with great enthusiasm. The expositional segments do run a little slow, but the movie is never dull and once the haunted house is entered, Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell is all out fun and runs at a very brisk pace. I think the movie is able to do a lot with the limited duration and doesn’t waste much time, taking a low rent, kitchen sink approach to the mayhem. Obviously the budget here is very low and the movie was filmed over a long course of time, so it feels a little disjointed, but the indie spirit is there and shines through. The passion and energy are evident on screen at all times, you can tell this was a project driven by love of horror cinema and that elevates the entire picture. This one is fun, blood soaked, and always entertains.
There is some light romance to the narrative here, but nakedness takes a backseat to the violence this time around. This one moves the needle on bloodshed, with a torrent of violence that once it uncorks, keeps a steady flow of crimson going. The gore is low rent and looks cheap, but that is part of the charm and if you can’t appreciate an obvious rubber fake head, you might take a lot of issues with this movie, as it pours on the cheap special effects. Some highlights include spurting knife wounds, hand trauma, a gushy stump, eye trauma, oozing guts, a drippy neck slice, shovel decapitation, a barbell beatdown, a wild dismemberment by an axe, and an orgy of splashy shotgun violence. The gore is over the top as well, so a severed head can yield buckets of blood and when I say spurt, I mean the blood pumps often and in heavy doses, so this one has a good supply of the red stuff. The dialogue has some bright spots, thanks to the wild performances and our lead, who channels the overacting skills of Bruce Campbell, as you’d expect from an Evil Dead tribute. This means some one liners and quips, delivered with enthusiasm and Fukazawa shows he can deliver on the Ash vibes. The wackiness here doesn’t end with the over the top turns or relentless violence, as we also have an ominous tv show, hallucinatory self harm, an orifice seeking necklace, a foot on a rampage, one of the fakest severed heads ever, insane body reclamation, an unexpected posedown, and some improvised archery.
Overall Insanity: 5/10
The Disc: Visual Vengeance debuts their brand new line of cult classics with this release, with a new transfer sourced from the original tapes. As expected, the image is rough around the edges, but this is a solid looking presentation. The budget and other production limitations are evident here, but this looks about as good as we could have hoped for. A pair of audio commentaries start off the extras, one with Japanese film historian James Harper, the other with popular filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch. The latter is very humorous and has the two display a lot of enthusiasm, while Harper’s track is more focused and details the production. The extras also include a special effects video, new interview with director Shinichi Fukazawa, an archival image gallery, and some original archival trailers. Visual Vengeance has also included a laminated video club membership card, a mini poster, some VHS style retro stickers, and some liner notes in a small booklet.
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