Everything I know about insatiable human perversion I've learned from Asian cinema. It's true! All forms of nifty suffering — be it sexual, physical, or emotional — can be found throbbing and pulsating their way through the degenerate exploitation films pouring like infected pus from the open wound of the Eastern underground film scene.
It's here that I learned about the dangers of sucking on a live hair dryer, the benefits of eating discarded gore wrapped inside a tasty dumpling, and the lengths I must go to if and when I discover a beautiful mermaid swimming within the depths of the American sewer system. While not all of these putrid examples make for quality motion pictures, they do help keep one informed about the risks involved when traveling abroad.
Just when I was about to tell no one in particular that I've witnessed every kind of degenerate activity known to mankind unfold across my television screen, I received a copy of Osamu Fukutani's bowel-churning opus The Last Supper (aka Saigo no bansan). While it never elicits the kind of grotesque visual dry heave that the Guinea Pig series or its imitators can sometimes induce, this cannibalistic free-for-all has definitely left its mark on my patent-pending Barf-O-Meter, especially if you're the type who abhors messy meat-eating. Truth be told, this highly-educational film should be issued to prospective plastic surgery candidates days before their scheduled procedure in order to document what their practitioner may or may not be doing with their unwanted wobbly bits.
The Last Supper painstakingly follows the seedy exploits of Mikiya Yangihara, a bumbling plastic surgeon who steadily begins to improve his reconstructive game by ingesting the discarded remains of the women he's hired to sculpt. After cooking up a juicy batch of liposuctioned fat with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, the good doctor's physical appearance begins to transmutate into that of a handsome, square-jawed Japanese heartthrob. Unfortunately for the female population, Yangihara's appetite for the delicate meat of a woman continues to grow abnormally large, forcing him to take a few desperate measures to keep his refrigerator fully stocked.
Mikiya's adventures eventually lead him through the back alleyways of the Hong Kong underworld, where he pays thousands of hard-earned dollars to butcher a woman in the privacy of a secluded warehouse in the middle of nowhere. This, of course, allows him to sink even deeper into his self-made universe of unchecked cannibalistic depravity. With dozens of pretty severed heads cooling in the fridge, it's only a matter of time before Yangihara's dark secrets are spoiling on the sidewalk with the rest of the world's rubbish. Powered by sweet human meat and financed by a stable of wealthy celebrity clients, can this eater of men fillet his way out of the mess he's unwittingly sculpted for himself before his lifestyle swallows him whole?
Based on a book by Japanese horror author Kei Oishi, The Last Supper gives you the opportunity to peel back the layers of what appears to be a straight-laced Japanese success story and poke around inside its rotten core. The film is oddly reminiscent of Mary Harron's notorious cult masterpiece American Psycho, complete with a seemingly stable well-to-do protagonist who, unbeknownst to the people around him, moonlights as a savage serial killer. In this case, however, the narrative isn't mired in psychological tomfoolery, nor does it fiddle needlessly with the fabric of its celluloid reality. Everything that happens in The Last Supper is actually taking place, even when things begin to feel a little too surreal for their own good.
The film is flawed, for sure, ranging from obvious budgetary limitations in the effects department to a few unreliable performances from its supporting cast. The picture is rescued at the eleventh hour by author Oishi and director Fukutani's twisted take on the tired suburban cannibal routine. Watching Yangihara meticulously carve meat from his victims quickly becomes a revolting endurance test, even when it's painfully obvious that the cadaver in question isn't a very believable subject.
So what makes The Last Supper so Lord-Gawd-Jesus disgusting, you ask? Context, dear readers. It's all about the context. When you see a thick meat patty sizzling harmlessly in the good doctor's skillet, you know it's from one of his impossibly petite female victims. Beyond that, its origins are a mystery. Is his hamburger from the thigh of Kanako, or the bosom of Christy? The specifics are left up to interpretation which, in my humble opinion, is far more effective than throwing buckets of chunky grue at the screen. Given the nature of my infected imagination, I was suitably nauseated.
Is The Last Supper one for the masses? Of course not. Most people don't enjoy gore-soaked cannibalism stories, even when the material is handled in a mature, straightforward fashion. Sure, the film goes for shock and awe on a few brief occasions, but its biggest concern is giving you an up close look at the life of a psychopath whose life is slowly spiraling out of control. Naturally, those who enjoy perverted Japanese exploitation and all stops in between will surely find enough enjoyment in Osamu Fukutani's USDA-approved shocker to deem it a moderate success. It's nothing you haven't seen before, mind you, but it's still worthy of a thorough late-night investigation.
Just be sure to pack your own lunch.Powered by Sidelines