Baptism of Blood (Senrei)

Director: Kenichi Yoshihara
Year: 1996
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