Toshio Matsumoto is one of the unsung heroes of Japanese cinema. He’s not as famous as Kurosawa, Ozu or Kitano, but he’s just as good if not better. I was very lucky that this was the first film of his that I got to see, oddly enough driven by a reference that Stanley Kubrick had ripped the style off for his masterpiece A Clockwork Orange. Yes, you can see that Kubrick probably took influence from this film, but still, this movie needs no such recommendations from powerhouse directors.
Taking the classic story of Oedipus Rex, translating it into the Japanese gay/drag underground of the late 60’s, Matsumoto has created a story that can relate to the darkness in all human beings. It’s a true capture of the times, a movie that could only have been made in the late 60’s, as seen by the fashion and the footage of protests in the streets. It’s very similar to another movie, Warhol’s Chelsea Girls, in it’s time-capsule.
There are truly incredibly dark scenes, such as the flashback where lead character Eddie kills his father in affection for his mother. It also has some comedic scenes, such as when the drag queens fight the women in the streets, and it also has it’s share of erotic scenes, if you can get past the fact that it’s all men doing it. The ending is one of the greatest endings of all time. I won’t give it away, but if you’ve seen it, you know it’s one of the bleakest, darkest, most what-the-fuck endings ever made, from the POV to the gore, well I better be quiet and not give it all away. A true classic that must be seen over and over and over.