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Living Hell: A Japanese Chainsaw Massacre

Review by: 
Don't Feed the Dead
Release Date: 
Subversive Cinema
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Shugo Fujii
Hirohito Honda
Yoshiko Shiraishi
Bottom Line: 

 Living Hell is a very unique movie in that it combines two of the more popular Japanese horror sub-genres: the supernatural and torture. The first release from Subversive Studios (Poker Industries and Scarecrow Video), Living Hell is the first in a series of films that is intended to "push the limits" of Japanese imports.
The film opens with a sequence where a family is awakened by strange noises being heard from the living room. After unsuccessfully waking up her husband, a wife strolls out of the bedroom to find a strange girl feasting on the family dog. After being noticed, the wife is beaten with a baseball bat by an equally strange old woman, then in one of the strangest kill scenes I have ever seen, a stage beetle is placed in a a jar and over the woman's eye. The beetle clamps down on the poor woman's ocular forcing a horrible shriek that awakens her husband. He is quickly greeted by the two strange women and meets an untimely end as well. The police show up on the scene and take the old woman away, believing that she is the family's mother and the only survivor of this horrible attack.
Fast forward to a separate family, where two men are sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. One of the men, wheelchair bound, is not exactly the picture of happiness and grumpily leaves the room after a brief conversation with his two siblings. Yasu (Honda) rolls himself into his bedroom after being informed that a couple of relatives will be staying with the family for a few weeks. Things aren't exactly "right" with this dude, as he begins to hear strange noises and see blurry visions. Shortly after being introduced to this new family, we find that the visitors mentioned are in fact the same two ladies we saw tear up a family in the beginning of the movie. Now, in a new light, this duo looks completely horrific. The grandmother a pale white, the daughter a gaunt creature just shades from being a ghost.
As the movie progresses, Yasu begins to have weird experiences with the two, where he feels he is constantly being watched and stalked. Finally, he opens his mouth to his sister, who cries disbelief and begins to shun Yasu. Apparently, this is the opportunity that the fearsome duo was waiting for, as they begin to slowly torture Yasu when nobody is home. At first, they begin by wheeling him around town at phenomenal speeds. They then try to force feed him his pet bird, the progress to shock treatment of his genitals by way of a stun gun. Roughly 45 minutes into the film, the torture continues as we Yasu sitting bound in his chair with a target drawn on his chest and a myriad of darts penetrating his torso.
Remarkably, Yasu's struggle has only just begun as we learn that his father had impregnated the ghastly old woman twice, once with Yasu's older brother, and again with a set of twins. Okay, so the young ghoul is one of the twins, who would be the other?
As far as extras go on the disc, Living Hell is stacked with options. Included on the Special Edition version are Four Short Films by Shugo Fujii: Blackhole, Seesaw Game, Grief and Dead Money, Deleted Scenes, Complete Storyboards for Living Hell, 7 Page Director Biography and Filmography, Original Living Hell theatrical trailer and previews for upcoming Subversive Cinema releases.
Definitely living up to their decree that their imports will "push the limits", Subversive delivers a disgustingly unique film in Living Hell. Interesting to watch, and even more enjoyable to experience the varying levels of death, the fan dubbed "Japanese Chainsaw Massacre" (minus the chainsaws) is absolutely worth the investment.

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