Tuesday, July 2

Gory Japanese Direct-to-VHS Weirdness, Joji Iida's CYCLOPS (キクロプス) (1987)

Synopsis from the IMDB: "A bizarre medical exam of a nude woman by several doctors and scientists reveal that their latest subject has committed suicide before giving birth to one of the mutant creatures they had placed within her body. So, an investigative crew of scientists (along with a large human mutant cyclops creature) head out to the city streets to obtain a new donor/victim in the form of a young girl."

Much like the burgeoning popularity of shot-for-video horror stateside, Joji (George) Iida's Cyclops is one in a line of short horror features for the Japanese video market in the '80s. It's essentially an effects showcase strung together by, as far as I can tell, a very thin plot. I don't know a lick of Japanese so I'm at a loss to explain everything thoroughly.

Most of the fifty-two minute runtime is spent with the pursuit of a pregnant woman by a mysterious tall man with "grandpa-style" sunglasses concealing a large one-eyed gash across his face. Some pissed off agents and scientists accompany him and through a shady deal in a parking garage, the girl is tracked to a hospital where finally the wild splatter effects arrive at the climax. The cycloptic man faces off in an elevator with another man with transformative abilities. Each shapeshift sprouting extra appendages as they both meld into a big gutpile heap that heaves itself out dead upon the elevator arriving at the maturity ward. Meanwhile, the pregnant girl gives birth to a slimy worm-like blob that bolts out of the delivery room and then gels to another girl's melting face making her the new carrier.

Unlike others of its ilk, like Biotherapy (1986) or Conton (1987), Cyclops has more of a (slight) Cronenberg-esqe sci-fi lean to the proceedings so it's best not to expect an all-out gore explosion. However, the effects are impressive if a little undermined by quick editing. If you're a fan of Japanese cinema a few of the actors might be familiar (Kai Ato, Yoshimasa Kondo, and prolific pink film director/actor Kazuhiro Sano). And there's the usual quirky touches, like random English popping up and a scene of a meeting in a Japanese Denny's. Nikkatsu Video's rare VHS has great picture quality and of course no English subs!

(picture from 2S1T/Splatter,Slasher,Thriller Club, assuming scanned from a VZONE magazine)

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