Country : Japan
Running Time: 1H25
Cast: Yukiko Okamoto, Asuka Kurosawa, Kota Kusano, Mami Nakamura
Story: Yoko Noguchi is a beautiful and successful plastic surgeon with a very peculiar patient- a psychologically unbalanced woman named Yoshie. Yoshie begs Yoko to perform surgery on her when all other doctors refuse. Yoshie behaves like a very obvious loony, but she is loaded with money (although does not appear to be rich) which she lavishly pours on Yoko. Yoko ultimately accepts the challenge, but after the operation realizes that it was only the beginning: after having her face corrected, Yoshio wants her belly and later her virginal vagina operated as well… Yoko succumbs to these demands as well, but making Yoshie beautiful is only the preparation for a very ugly ending…
Review: If you are tired of J-horror being equated with ghostly female black-haired apparitions, THE TERROR OF BEAUTY offers a reminder of another popular staple of Japanese horror - the equivalent of hard R splatter in which the accent is put on body horror with strong surgical overtones, filled with moralizing about human mortality and hypocrisy. As this sub-genre is usually very low budget (unlike its more respectable, ghostly cousins), another element commonly found in it is plenty of sex and nudity.
Who would be better to provide this kind of entertainment than Katsuya Matsumura, whose fame lies mostly in the wonderfully, unbearably sicko/sleazy ALL NIGHT LONG series (five parts so far, but only the first three are available in the English speaking world). Beneath the veneer of crude direct to video exploitation the ALL NIGHT LONG flicks actually provided a genuine, original and surprisingly intelligent satire on modern Japan, especially the world of otakus, outcasts and youth gangs indulging in all kinds of depravity. THE TERROR OF BEAUTY would seem to provide an excellent opportunity for another inspired mixture of satire and sleaze, ideas and gore, sex and death, social concerns and opportunistic exploitation. Unfortunately, the end result is below the expectations that this author and these themes would seem to inspire.
THE TERROR OF BEAUTY suffers from a lame script which is too simple-minded and straightforward to provide enough food for either brain or… well, whatever organ the gore hounds have. By deciding to mystify Yoshie’s origin, including the incredible amounts of money at her disposal, the scriptwriters deprive the film of any real drama. The two main characters are sketched in broad strokes: a beautiful but greedy plastic surgeon and an ugly AND creepy disturbed woman. That is all you learn about them. Yoko’s boyfriend is not even a cipher- it seems that his sole function in the flick is for Yoko to have someone to talk to and thus speak up her thoughts to the audience.
Of course, coming to a film like this, character development may not be your first demand- but Matsumura, surprisingly, disappoints even in what he’s usually doing best. The nudity quota is relatively low (for his standards), the surgical tools are barely touched, the explicit operations are present in a couple of uninspired seconds and the gore scenes are limited to splashes of unconvincingly colored violet/red liquid. To be honest, there are a few queasy moments involving liposuction and at the very end, when the frail beauty, recently operated, starts unstitching. The common viewer has enough of unpleasantness to cover his/her eyes from, but more experienced splatter-fans, anxiously expecting to see what kind of aces Matsumura may have up his sleeves could be a bit disappointed.
THE TERROR OF BEAUTY is obviously a quickie whose no-budget makes the ALL NIGHT LONG series look like SCREAM. It’s limited to three different rooms and as many ‘characters’, so there’s not much production value to speak of; the camera is barely functional, but most of the scenes are over-lit and lacking in any kind of beauty. The score is sweet, quiet and barely noticeable while the make up effects are decent, though obviously cheap, and not nearly as prominent as you might expect from a film with a ‘surgical’ plot like this. All in all, this flick is watchable since it’s not too boring (but it’s not too exciting either!), so some viewers –you know who you are!- may want to rent it, but note that it is not a highly rewatchable film which would require a constant place in your collection.
DVD [ NTSC, Region 1 ] :
The DVD comes in a bland, unattractive cover which fails to even mention its main selling point: namely, that it’s made by the director of ALL NIGHT LONG films. For some reason, the pictures from the film on the back cover are all in black and white (?!). It’s not clear whether Media Blasters is trying to sell this as some kind of TETSUO or RUBBER’S LOVER, or if they’re merely cutting costs in saving their color for better films. THE TERROR OF BEAUTY is presented in color, 1.85:1 anamorphic wide screen, with the kind of visuals you can expect from a direct-to-video flick. The same goes for the sound, in Dolby stereo: there is a Japanese audio track, with decent English subs. The extras include a 20 minute ‘Making of’ feature (with interviews with the lead ladies, but mysteriously – no Matsumura; was he a hack for hire in this product?), trailer for this and several other Tokyo shock flicks (IZO, ONE MISSED CALL…), and that’s about it.