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Tokugawa Irezumi-shi: Seme Jigoku

Inferno of Torture
Tokugawa Tattoo History: Torture Hell

Japan 1969
produced by
Shigeru Okada for Toei
directed by Teruo Ishii
starring Teruo Yoshida, Masumi Tachibana, Asao Koike, Yumiko Katayama, Mieko Fujimoto, Haruo Tanaka, Yoshihiro Igarashi, Reiichi Hatanaka, Kei Katayama, Reiko Mikasa, Noriko Kuroda, Keiko Takagi, Yukiko Misasa, Michiko Tsukasa, Toru Yuri, Akira Oizumi, Keiko Odagiri, Fumi Mizukami, Kichijiro Ueda, Kiyoshi Hitomi, Yukie Kagawa, Yusuf Hoffman, Honey Lane, Shinichiro Hayashi, Mitsuko Aoi, Gannosuke Ashiya, Junko Maki, Miki Obana, Shinji Oda, Seiya Sato, Eiji Wakasugi
music by Masao Yagi

Joys of Torture

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Oryo (Mieko Fujimoto) and Samejima (Haruo Tanaka) run a high class geisha house - at least that's the respectable front, behind closed doors and for customers with acquired tastes (and a wallet to go with those), pretty much every form of torture, from bondage and whipping to rape of virgins, has found a home here. And Oryo and Samejima are really not all that honourable when it comes to "hiring" their working girls, be it they buy them from prisons, or use a money-lending scheme to enslave them and force them into prostitution.

That said, their front is immaculate, so when they are looking for a successor to the house's resident tattooist, it's up to the shogun himself to decide. The two contestants are Horihide (Teruo Yoshida) and Horitatsu (Asao Koike), who are both madly in love with the old master's daughter Osuzu (Masumi Tachibana). Osuzu's in love with Horihide, but he pretty much gets tricked out of his win at the competition, then is accused of killing the master even (actually the deed of Oryo and Samejima, who planted evidence pointing at Horihide though) and imprisoned. Osuzu meanwhile is forced into prostitution while Oryo hooks Horitatsu on heroin to make him her willing slave - as tattooed Asian virgins are in heavy demand these days, as a slaver from the west (Yusuf Hoffman) plans to sell them all over Europe.

Horihide manages to break free from prison, but when he comes to save Osuzu, he finds her dying from self-administered poison. So he vows revenge on everybody involved in her downfall, and that revenge involves the most elaborate piece of tattoo he has ever done ...


Inferno of Torture might sound like one wild movie - and it certainly is, with plenty of hard-to-stomach torture scenes and some quite explicite gore effects. But it's also a very stylish film, with high production values, great camerawork, delicously and fittingly grotesque imagery (especially the competing tattoos of the climax are worth a mention), and a pretty awesome score. And also, the film's told in a pretty avant garde way, one that at times defies chronological order of things and gives way to associative editing. Now of course, due to the on-screen violence and over-emphasis on sexual situations, this is not a film for everybody, but if you can accept those and are looking for more than just a quick fix, then you'll very probably enjoy this.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD