It’s admirable to see such dedication from filmmakers that they’ll spend fourteen years shooting one movie. When the final cut of that film, a splatter-house horror comedy, clocks in at just over 60 minutes, the sanity of the director may be brought into question.
Written, directed by and starring Shinichi Fukazawa, Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell – aka Jigoku no chimidoro, finds our hero Shinji (Fukazawa) trapped in a haunted house with a vengeful spirit. If it’s starting to sound like The Evil Dead, the comparisons aren’t accidental.
The small cast also stars Asako Nosako as a photojournalist and Masaaki Kaji as a pyschic. It doesn’t take long for the demon to possess Kaji and for all hell to break loose. The remaining couple find themselves in combat with the spirit with Shinji being promoted to the likely role of 90’s action hero.
Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell is a love letter to Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. The crude stop motion special effects, camera cuts and bright red gore are clearly influenced by the horror classic. What’s interesting about this effort is that it’s presented as a nostalgia piece. Filming began in 1995 meaning that the grainy look to the film is more reflective of then that is now. It looks like some of the grading has been emphasised to closer resemble an 80’s video nasty yet it was mostly shot and edited in 8mm with digital video coming later.
Although it meets the criteria to be classed as a feature film, Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell feels like an extended short film. There’s not enough depth to the story to justify its runtime while little feels left unexplored which could have padded it out for another 15 minutes at least. It’s a strange paradox it finds itself in.
The violence in the film is comic book horror and will likely elicit applause and squirming from faithful fans of the genre. There’s something about a nail ripping through skin that will never get tiresome. Fukazawa doesn’t shy away from the gratuitous gore on display and presents some inventive set-pieces as the third act climaxes with Shinji going all Bruce Campbell on the demon and providing a link, albeit flimsy, to where the title got its name from.
The flow stutters at times and this may be a result of the amount of time that’s passed since filming began to completion (there are reportedly different cuts of the film having been released between 2009 and 2012).
Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell isn’t a bad effort but just falls short of being so bad its good. There’s enough to love to keep hardcore fans entertained and although it lacks the charm of The Evil Dead, it emulates the visual style of the film well. It’s a decent entry to a sub-genre that glorifies visceral carnage, and although entertaining it doesn’t provide enough laughs or scares.