Baptism of Blood (Senrei)
Director: Kenichi Yoshihara
Running Time: 91 minutes
If you thought Joan “Mommie Dearest” Crawford
was the ultimate in cruel mothers, you need to take a look at this wonderful
mother. Wire hangers may be one thing, but removing your daughter’s brain
is on an entirely different level. This is a fairly idiotic gothic fairytale
about evil mothers that has little to offer beyond one quite wonderful
and gruesome scene that will have you chortling in sick glee. I can’t say
that this one scene makes watching the other 85-minutes worthwhile, but
I am still glad to have seen it for how silly, freaky and ultimately very
funny it is. For a film that promises quite a bit with a title like “Baptism
of Blood”, it doesn’t deliver much in return and there is actually very
little blood and gore – but it does have a perverse Frankenstein like twist
that should have been so much better.
Miss Izumi (Mei Yoshida) is a beautiful actress,
who performs in soft-core films and has a large fan base, but she has one
little problem – her face looks like it is beginning to molt and even make-up
can no longer cover up the disfiguration. Her doctor recommends that she
retire for a long time but that he has a plan for her to someday redeem
her beauty. Jump some twenty-years in the future and Miss Izumi is now
Matsuko (played by a different actress, Risa Akikawa) who now has a lovely
young daughter around 16 years old named Sakura (Rie Imamura). Matsuko
wants the best for her precious daughter – good schools, piano lessons
with a studly instructor (Chihiro Tago) and she especially wants her child
to be unblemished (and even had sex with a white guy so that her daughter’s
skin would be so light). When Sakura accidentally cuts her forehead her
now very disfigured protective mother goes into a rage.
Mother of the Year she isn't though, her concern
over her daughter’s face is due to the fact that she soon plans to live
in it. This isn’t as complicated as you may think – she has all these giant
gadgets in the basement that allow her – with the help of her friendly
doctor – to have her brain removed and placed into her daughters head –
really no more difficult than re-potting a plant. But a lot more gruesome.
And a lot more fun to watch. She is up and about in no time and the music
is quite wonderfully corny in that “brand new day” sort of way as she opens
the door and looks at the world again through young eyes. And soon she
is seducing the piano teacher and just hoping no one finds her old empty-headed
body in the wood shed. It is so hard to explain a body without a brain.
But then she notices a little spot on her forehead.
It sounds like a lot more fun than it is as very
little happens for long periods of time. Rie who also has appeared in “Legend
of the Devil” and “Fudoh 2” is fairly good in her role as she has a face
that can look so innocent one moment and completely evil the next. With
a lot more blood, gore and nudity this may have been a great exploitation
film – but then you could say that about Gone with the Wind too! The film
is based on a manga from Kazuo Umezu – who is called the godfather of horror
manga and he has a cameo in the film.
My rating for this film: 5.5