Friday, 4 January 2013

Naked Blood (1995) Hiseyasu Sato

By quite a ways the best known film from Hiseyasu Sato (a bucket or two of the good old claret will do wonders for your distribution!), Naked Blood sees him on decent albeit by this point slightly unsurprising form. The most striking difference to his earlier work is that Naked Blood isn't really a pink film, there's an important sex scene and some nudity, but the focus has departed from the carnal. In this vein is the other change, the film concerned almost as much with innocent (relatively speaking) victims as the warped guilty. But otherwise the expected is all there, ills in heredity here rather smartly detailed, progress for all it's lofty goals just a catalyst for flesh obsession, and of course isolation and voyeurism with a rooftop, camera and binoculars getting a look in.

With no random detours into sleaze to keep the producers happy Naked Blood is pretty slow and measured stuff, only really sparking in the final block which earned it it's sterling reputation even among the less devoted to the strange. But the plot and characters are compelling, even indefinably moving, and slants of outright science fiction are fresh and interesting. Sato gets ever closer to the apocalypse hinted in the like of Brain Sex, but with warmer, almost tender touch, the maturity of someone finally knowing to get their hands dirty. He engages more with his subject rather than spying, progress of sorts, but here lies the problem with the film. It's a simple engagement, he never fully gets inside the story and characters, never properly guts, skins and pins. Instead of revealing whole new aspects of his obsessions he just fractionally advances their study. It's frustrating because there's so much potential here and Sato has trod such material before (Naked Blood being a reworking of his earlier film Pleasure Kill which I have not seen but is apparently superior), I suppose it clarifies his limitations.

Still, taken individually as an art shock piece Naked Blood is well worthy of consideration. It avoids the general pitfalls of emotional drudgery, static shots and overdriven pseudo intellectualism, and its symbolism is neither forced nor over-obscure, it coheres on a narrative level with little dubious ambiguity. And importantly its gruesome scenes are well handled and thoroughly twisted without obvious contrivance a far cry from the sorts of films that treat educated audiences as fools to be shocked from complacency. So my misgivings granted, still recommended.

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