Genre: Exploitation/ Pinku Eiga/ Horror
Director: Teruo Ishii
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
No doubt, The Joy Of Torture has a prurient, salacious aspect to it. There is plenty of nudity, and from a dramatic standpoint, it was not strictly necessary to dwell so much on the details of various tortures. It’s also rather suspect that most of the victims are female. It speaks to a certain level of misogyny.
That said, I believe The Joy Of Torture has a serious intent, as well. Back in the Edo period, we’re told, the punishments were extreme and cruel.
The film is structured as a reminiscence by a magistrate of three separate incidents that lead him to believe that grotesque physical punishments are counterproductive to societal stability, lead to miscarriages of justice, and even corrupt law enforcement by encouraging sadism.
The rest of the events in the film prove the magistrate’s point.
But is the film entertaining? Sure.
Aside from the nudity and the violence, the stories have inherent interest and are well acted and directed.
In the first, a woman’s brother is intentionally injured so a wealthy benefactor can step in and extort sex from the sister in return for medical care for the brother.
In the second story, the sexual obsessions of an Abbess in a Buddhist nunnery spell disaster for a whole bunch of priests and nuns.
In the final and most perverse story, a perfectionistic tatoo artist who depicts torture persuades a magistrate to be allowed to attend the torture of half a dozen or so Christian women who were attempting to proselytize in Japan. The artist hopes that he will capture the “ecstasy of pain” on the women’s faces, and achieve his masterpiece.
If I have a complaint about The Joy Of Torture, it’s that writer/director Teruo Ishii perhaps dwells too much on sex and torture, slowing down the storytelling. Oh, it’s not as bad as some Hong Kong Category III flicks where the movie will stop dead for minutes at a time for lame softcore porn sequences, but I would have preferred a tighter pace and more content.
Still, The Joy Of Torture is a consistently solid Pinku Eiga flick.