Jigoku (1960)

Shiro is overcome with guilt after committing a hit-and-run accident, but he finds no solace at his parent's country estate, where he is tracked and killed by his victim's family. As punishment for his sins, Shiro is cast into a fiery abyss and forced to suffer the torments of hell for all eternity! Nobuo Nakagawa breaks exciting new ground once more in 1960's JIGOKU, an experimental and Expressionist realization of the "Handscrolls of Buddhist Hell" that helped to usher in a new age of Japanese Horror. Unlike other products of the era which focused on psychological terror and the inherent horrors of the human condition, JIGOKU outwardly portrays scenes of intense gore in a shockingly perverse manner that announces the arrival of Ero-Guro-Nansensu in Japanese filmmaking. The sins of those around him begin to unravel after Shiro's arrival at the "Heavenly Garden" retirement community, and the entire town of corrupted souls are left to suffer alongside him when a night of drunken debauchery leads to their demise. The first and second acts are devoted to the exploration of sin in each of its many forms, but once the gates of hell have been opened, the linear narrative is discarded for unexplained visions of horror. Giant Oni (Japense demons) rip the flesh off of their victims, while others are beaten, forced to wander blindly through the void, or left to agonize in a boiling pit of pus and human waste. Images of Shiro's unborn baby floating down a river of blood and fields of flailing limbs are jarring to the senses, and still strike a chord with modern audiences. JIGOKU holds a certain significance within the annals of Japanese filmmaking, with an influence that stretches far beyond the Pinku Eiga films in the decades to follow.

Rating: 9/10.

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