On a tip from reader Alin, I rented the film Kichiku Daienkai (鬼畜大宴会), thinking it would bring me broader perspective on the Japanese student activism of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Gasp. I can only blame my own naivete and lack of pre-viewing review-reading for what I have witnessed.
The first half opens as a somewhat endearing political film, but it slowly descends into a full-out gore flick where heads explode and brains and entrails are things to be played with. I’ll eventually get over the nightmares, but the film’s fatal flaw is that this fictional retelling of the United Red Army saga does not even approximate the horror of the real event. Six revolutionaries kill themselves in bizarre ways! Big deal: The real leaders oversaw the lynching of twelve members and shuffled back to Tokyo when they felt like it.
The film exploits the sex and horror for shock value and ultimately pins the killings on “madness” — the Nagata Hiroko lookalike stumbles around in traditional Japanese dramatic garb after the bloodshed. But the really terrifying thing about the URA is the banality of a student-led Marxist study group extending their ideological practices into murder. Stalin or Mao are a lot more frightening than anything Hollywood could ever imagine, because you can’t blame the occult or the supernatural. Rational bureaucracies led to the deaths of 100s of millions of people.
A trailer for the film can be seen here.