Deviant Desires: Erotic Grotesque Nonsense in Japanese Horror Films (upcoming lecture)


Hey Gentle Readers! I’m giving a lecture at the Royal Cinema (in Toronto) as part of The Black Museum: Lurid Lectures for the Morbidly Curious in May. I will be showing clips from five Japanese films, a few of which are rare, under-the-radar gems of “ero guro nansensu”. Details here:

The interwar years in Japan were a time of rapid modernization and social change. It was also a time of economic hardship and, as the fascists rose to power, increasingly repressive politics. During these difficult times, a popular cultural phenomena flourished. Dubbed by the Japanese media as “ero-guro-nansensu” (or, “erotic-grotesque-nonsense”), this movement rejected the narrow standards of conventional morality insisted upon by the fascists, and instead celebrated the deviant, the bizarre and the ridiculous. The stories of Edogawa Rampo, the first writer of the modern mystery in Japan, were wildly popular during these turbulent years. It is Rampo who best captured the darkly erotic and transgressive spirit of “ero-guro”, and his legacy has lasted until present day in Japan.

This lecture will focus on five films, three of which are adaptations of Rampo stories: Horrors of Malformed Men (1969), Teruo Ishii’s gloriously schlocky, psychedelic mashup of Rampo-with-butoh, Blind Beast (1969), Yasuzô Masumura’s lurid tale of sexual obsession and sadomasochism, and Koji Wakamatsu’s strongly anti-nationalist Caterpillar (2010). Other films to be discussed will include Nagisa Oshima’s infamous art film In The Realm of the Senses (1976) — described by film critic Ian Buruma as “perhaps the only intelligent hardcore porno film ever made” — and the seldom seen, and equally controversial, anime film Midori – the Girl in the Freak Show (1992).

May 13, 2015 at 9:15pm
The Royal Cinema, 608 College St, Toronto
Cost: $12 advance / $15 at the door



3 thoughts on “Deviant Desires: Erotic Grotesque Nonsense in Japanese Horror Films (upcoming lecture)

  1. Hello Jennifer,

    My name is Michael and I’m a graduate student at Georgia State University in the film department. I’m currently embarking on a project writing about the 1977 Obayashi film House. I’ve chosen this film because, first of all, Japanese horror is outside my comfort zone, and two, because as soon as I watched the film I knew I wanted to write about it. By sheer happenstance, I came across your blog site and noticed that you gave a lecture today about the very topic of “Deviant Desires: Erotic Grotesque Nonsense in Japanese Horror Films.” Obviously this peeked my interests, but since I’m nowhere near Toronto, is there any way to acquire content from your lecture? I appreciate the help and certainly keep up the good work.


    Michael Bass

    • Hi Michael. Yes, the Black Museum lectures are all videotaped and offered for purchase ($5 per lecture) on their web site. The thing is, though, that I don’t give my lecture until May 13th of this year.

    • However, I’d suggest you check out the Midnight Eye web site for “Hausu”:
      It’s a very good, scholarly web site on Japanese cinema. Also, I wouldn’t describe “House” as belonging to the category of “ero-guro” (which is what my lecture is about). Coincidentally enough, though, the ending of one of the film featured in my lecture (“Horrors of Malformed Men”) reminded me of some of the special effects used in “House”.

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