(director/writer: Toshio Matsumoto; cinematographer: Tatsuo Suzuki; editor: Toshie Iwasa; music: Joji Yuasa; cast: Osamu Ogasawara (Madame Leda), Yoshimi Jo(Jimi), Yoshio Tsuchiya (Gonda), Toyosaburo Uchiyama(Guevara), Koichi Nakamura (Juju), Peter (Eddie), Saako Ota(Mari), Flamenco Umeji (Greco), Taro Manji (Nora); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mitsuru Kudo; Cinelicious Pics, Cinefamily; 1969-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)

A weirdo avant garde gay mix of fiction and documentary drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A weirdo avant garde gay mix of fiction and documentary drama by the late Japanese auteur Toshio Matsumoto (“Dogra Magra”/”Demons”).

The extremely violent experimental film takes us into the fringe drag bar scene in ’60s Tokyo. It should appeal to cinephiles and queers with an appetite for exotica and probably turn off most others.

The gay Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya) is the manager of Tokyo’s transvestite Club Genet, a place catering to businessmen in the closet. Eddie (Peter, a real-life drag celebrity) is the transvestite, who yearns to replace Leda (Osamu Ogasawara ) as the club’s star performer. We learn Eddie killed his mom, that Leda frets about aging and Gonda fears his lover Leda will squeal to the police about his drug dealing if he drops her. After Leda commits suicide, Gonda and Eddie become lovers. When Gonda discovers he is Eddie’s father, he kills himself with a knife. A crazed Eddie then uses the same knife to cut his own eyes out.

The dreary story with flashes of droll humor, is a subversive love triangle tragedy. It offers Matsumoto‘s take on Oedipus (Eddie-plus) Rex, for better or worse. The film is so strange and unrelenting in its perversity and in pushing back the boundaries of cinema, it appeals to my innermost love of such risky offbeat filming and for the way its the game changer for the new kind of modern film.