Friday, September 07, 2007

Malformed hype

One of my favorite supplements on the Horrors of Malformed Men disc is the original trailer Toei created for the film back in 1969. Not only does it feature Tatsumi Hijikata doing his seaside butoh dance in a different outfit (a rehearsal, perhaps?), it's also a revealing example of just how deeply the studio execs at the time were confounded by Teruo Ishii's bizarre film.

They literally throw everything at the viewer over the course of the trailer, emphasizing the mystery, sex, violence, strangeness, Rampo, dance, art, and virtually everything short of offering a free toaster to anyone who buys a ticket.

The studio's desperation is particularly apparent in the continuous onscreen text, something I wanted to make sure was conveyed in the English subtitles. Such slogans and ballyhoo are common in Japanese trailers of the '60s and '70s, but the ones in the Malformed trailer are completely over-the-top. Unfortunately, the subtitling firm we had contracted with to translate the film only subtitled one or two of the onscreen text lines in their first pass, and it was a struggle to get them to subtitle everything. (I could write many pages on everything that we went through to get them to do their jobs correctly!) But with the assistance of Don May and Jerry Chandler of Synapse Films (who, of course, pay the bill for the subtitling company!), I stuck to my guns and I think it turned out great. I hope you do, too.

An illuminating sexual world!


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