Quite a story behind this production, since Shinichi Fukazawa had to wait for almost 15 years to complete it. The pre-production started in 1995, but Fukazawa took 10 years to shoot over 10 hours of footage on Super 8 film. Editing began in 2005, after the rough 8mm footage was transferred to digital video, but various issues in post-production would cause the director further delays. Undeterred by these frequent problems, personal dept and time lost, Shinichi Fukazawa would finally announce that “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” was complete in 2009.
Terracotta Distribution released the film on DVD April 24, 2017.
The story is worthy of a true trash film. Shinji is a body-builder who spends his time exercising inside a house he knows is haunted, but does not seem to mind. One day, he receives a call from his ex-girlfriend, who is currently working as a reporter and prepares an article on haunted houses. Shinji agrees to let her visit the house and take some photographs, and she arrives with a professional psychic. However, it is soon revealed that a very vengeful ghost resides in the house, harboring a 30-year old grudge, associated with Shinji’s father. Initially, they manage to fend it off, but eventually, it takes over the psychic’s body and attacks them anew.
Fukazawa implements that 70’s, low-budget essence and a gory nonsensicality the fans of trash films seem to adore. The film’s aesthetics move wholeheartedly towards this direction, with the cinematography having a distinct VHS feel, a trait that extends to the sound and visual effects. After one point, the movie becomes a genuine splatter, with the blood and the grotesque images dominating the scenes, while the special effects linger between the utterly gory and the utterly hilarious. Add to that the frantic and chaotic editing, and you have yourselves the extreme spectacle “Bloody Muscle Builder in Hell” is.
Comedy and irony are very important elements in the movie, and exemplified in a number of sequences, like the ones where Shinji’s girlfriend uses her fists to attack the ghost or when the psychic’s body parts attack the two separately.
However, the one sequence that truly stands out is the one with the clock, where Fukazawa’s combination of nonsensicality and irony find their apogee. Shinji is standing in the middle of the room, when the clock of the wall falls on his head. This fact is obviously unnatural, since the clock could not move from the corner of the room to the middle. Considering this is a trash movie, I did not pay any attention, since I deemed the fact another one of those “who cares?” details. However, in the next scene outside, the psychic actually comments on the fact, asking how could the clock have moved to the middle of the room, and uses this event to justify that the house is haunted.
The acting fits the movie perfectly. Shinichi Fukazawa himself plays Shinji, acting like an extreme caricature, with his face’s contortions being the highlight of an absurd performance. Masaaki Kai plays the role of the “weirdo” as the psychic, and Asako Nosaka the “damsel in distress”, both with the hyperbole that fits the film’s aesthetics.
Evidently, “Bloody Muscle Builder in Hell” is not a film for everyone. Fans of trash and splatter, though, will definitely adore it.
The film will screen at the 18th Japan-Filmfest Hamburg, that will be on 31.05-04.06.2017