This article contains images of nudity, extreme violence, and mutant kids. It will only be interesting to fans of hardcore experimental horror.
This movie is another one of those underground extreme horror experiments, the kind that you won't find streaming on Netflix. And for good reason. This an overlong, pretentious catalog of violence covered with a thin veneer of "history". It won't appeal to a large crowd. Here are some reasons why this is just too bizarre for mainstream horror fans.
The movie is a badly faked "documentary".
This movie is supposed to be about Unit 731, a Japenese concentration camp that committed extreme war crimes on its prisoners. Russian filmmaker Andrey Iskanov decided to take the idea, toss out actual history, and make his own vision. It's a mix of archival footage, poorly recreated history, surreal animation, and grotesque torture scenes - all in black-and-white. But maybe worst of all, there's an "interview" with an old man that just rambles on about living near the camp when he was a kid.
The movie gives up realism for artistic flair.
While I cannot deny that this is a horror film, at its heart it's an art film. Sometimes it feels like a 13-year-old tried to make their own Nine Inch Nails music video. Sometimes it uses camera techniques similar to ones in the cyberpunk classic Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Sometimes we have beautiful shots of flowers. It's a sloppy mix of different styles.
Almost every woman in the movie, whether prisoner or camp worker, looks like a Victoria's Secret model. Sometimes they would strike a pose, like they were in a Madonna video. None of them showed much emotion, no matter what was going on. I'm guessing the real workers and inmates of the camp were less beautiful and reserved.
In addition, there's a nurse at the camp that likes to make "deep" statements about violence, remorse, and humanity. She's funny.
This movie must have set the record for "longest art-horror-war documentary".
The version I saw was 4 hours and 20 minutes long. It's a fucking marathon. Most people won't be able to sit through the whole thing, because almost every single scene is twice as long as it needs to be. One reason for this could be that Iskanov wanted to ensure that the violence has a chance to really sink in to your psyche. I guess it worked. But somewhere in there, it went too far and I became numb to the art-torture.
It's not really about concentration camps.
Iskanov dedicated so much camera time to every little detail of the various "experiments" that it becomes kind of ridiculous. I didn't get why he was spending so much time obsessing over beautiful women, body parts, medical instruments, and doctors' uniforms. Then the light bulb came on, and I realized I was not watching some overblown war-art-horror movie. I was watching Iskanov display his own bizarre fetishes because some dumb-ass gave him a movie camera. The movie made much more sense to me after that.
This brings me to my second guess as to why the movie is so long: Iskanov himself was so turned on by what he was filming, that he couldn't make himself stop.
At least, that's the only explanation I have for the "experiment" where a doctor pushes a giant cockroach into a woman's vagina and watches it crawl around under her skin. He then rips her face off, lets the cockroach crawl out of the skinless mouth, and then places the face back on the woman before taking a picture.
The violence is extreme, but amateur.
The torture scenes are nauseating and brutal. You name it, they cover it. Radiation, disease, freezing, burning, cutting, chopping, raping, sawing, and poking, those are all covered. And I'm sure I forgot some. The movie should come with an index of all the torture scenes and the timestamp of where in the movie you can find them.
But there's a catch. The special effects were so low budget that they tended to take me out of the movie. The human body parts were obviously rubber,and the blood was water or tea or chocolate syrup or something. And the sound effects were too loud and incongruous, or even out of sync; a shirt would be torn open, and the sound of tearing fabric kept going even after the tearing stopped.
Watching the movie itself is a form of torture.
This movie wasn't a complete waste of time. Watching rubber arms and faces get sliced with knives was not as unpleasant as it would probably be to watch my own arm get sawed off. And it does have a couple of decent moments. But it's just not very fun. At all.
I can say I'm glad I watched this, because I have the bragging rights now. But I probably won't ever watch it again. This is a marathon that not many people will be masochistic enough to put themselves through.
Check out the NSFW trailer. It's also twice as long as it needs to be, just like the movie.