Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf
(Moju tai Issunboshi) (2001)
Directed by Teruo Ishii

Artistic & Value: * * ½

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After seeing a dwarf run off with a severed arm, a young writer asks a detective friend of his, Kogoro Akechi (Shinya Tsukamoto), to investigate the disappearance of a young woman (who might have been the source of the limb). Meanwhile, a blind masseur kidnaps a cabaret singer (Mutsumi Fujita) and keeps her in captivity so that she can satisfy his tactile desires.

I am sad to say it, but Teruo Ishii's final film, Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf, can be pretty bad. It is not awful, but its good qualities are mingled with others that are not.


The movie is, essentially, a detective story, being largely concerned with the protagonists' investigations of a series of crimes committed by the eponymous dwarf and blind man. Fortunately, this narrative is well handled. The various twists and complications Ishii reveals are wonderfully convoluted and invariably intriguing. The mystery is not brilliantly handled, but it is never dull, either.

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What is more, this story is made more interesting by the numerous odd details incorporated in it by the director. Besides the strangeness of his villains, Ishii provides the viewer with a number of truly weird scenes. Those set in the blind man's lair, where he imprisons his victims, are especially memorable. The walls and ceiling of the place are covered with countless sculpted limbs and breasts. There is even, in one wall, a huge mouth from which an equally oversized tongue emerges. These are hardly the only peculiar things in the movie, however. Ishii includes a sculpture that incorporates a severed arm, a sequence in which an amputated leg is borne through the air by a bunch of multicolored balloons, and others besides these. The movie is eccentric.


Unfortunately, for all its admirable qualities, Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf is so shoddily made that these are largely wasted. I cannot begin to describe how cheap the movie looks. Even the unusual sets mentioned above are ruined by the poorness of their actual construction, which is somehow emphasized by the skill with which they are designed. The whole of the movie, which is, I might add, shot on video tape, is just ugly to look at. Since cinema is a visual medium, whensoever a film is visually unimpressive, it fails as a work of art. Regrettably, because it is so consistently unappealing visually, Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf is a failure.


It is a shame that Ishii's last effort is a disappointment, but Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf really is a shoddy production.

Review by Keith Allen

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