Alternatively known as “The Japanese Evil Dead,” this legendary and sought-after Japanese indie cult film will enjoy its first-ever North American release in any format and feature new bonus content. Trapped inside a haunted house, a bodybuilder must survive a bloody mad night to save himself and his friends from an evil ghost bent on revenge.
For thoughts on Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell, please see our discussions on The Video Attic:
Bloody muscular body builder in hell is presented on Blu-Ray with its original 1.33:1 presentation which looks better than the recent release from the labelmate of The Necro Files, but is still hampered by the limitations of the format. Upon starting the disc, you are greeted with a warning that the presentation was created with the best source material available, including the SD tape master. It may be a new Blu-Ray release, but you’re still a long way from the ballpark of typical HD quality. Wild Eye Releasing and the entire Visual Vengeance line are courting fans who want to recreate the low-level aesthetics of the SOV format with the stability that Blu-Ray can offer. Although, technically, according to the commentary track, this was shot in 8mm and only edited on video. The movie will never look what most would call “beautiful,” but to be fair, it was never meant to.
Perhaps this title is better than Visual Vengeance’s other title due to a blend of its cinematic roots and the contained nature of filming. There are only a handful of locations in this narrative, and the lighting conditions seem fairly controlled and properly diffused. Compression artifacts and other digital anomalies like macro freezes are still present on this one, but the issue seems less robust. Details in the costumes and production design are scant at best. One thing worth noting is that the impressive practical effects on the display are really nice here, not betrayed by the slightly upped resolution. The colors are muted but work well for the palette they are trying to achieve. If you’re not expecting HD quality, fans of the movie should generally be happy to own this movie in the best possible quality.
The new Blu-Ray includes a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track, but the disc defaults to a Dolby Digital 2.0 track which feels a little less robust and probably more accurate for the throwback VHS experience. Both of these tracks are in the original Japanese with optional English subtitles and translate the material well. The most desirable aspect of this track is the music that comes out with beautiful fidelity. Dialogue generally passes without being overwhelmed by competing sounds, but you can tell there were some limitations in capturing the material. There are some sound issues due to the source material, but the track stays true to the creative team’s intent. This one sounds as good as the material will allow.
Visual Vengeance Collector’s Edition Bloody muscular body builder in hell includes a range of physical items with the first run of the package, including a limited-edition cover, two-sided cover, mini-poster, and vintage-style laminated video store rental card. The special on-disc features are as follows:
- Audio Commentary #1: Japanese film historian James Harper offers a new commentary track in which he discusses the film’s background, nods to diabolical death, known history of the creators involved, how the film touches on elements of Japanese culture and more. There’s some good information here, but it’s relatively low-key and has a few quiet periods.
- Audio Commentary #2: Directors Adam Green (Hatchet, frozen) and Joe Lynch (Shudder’s Spooky show, Mayhem) provide a wild and tongue-in-cheek podcast that doubles as a halfhearted American dub of the movie. Amid the blunders, they actually serve up funny tidbits about the film. It’s a breath to listen to!
- Interview with producer/director Shinichi Fukazawa: A short four-minute interview with Fukazawa in which he explains what inspired him to become a filmmaker, his reasons for wanting to make this film, the path taken to make it seen, the way in which the film is a tribute to the evil Dead movies, working with other actors in the movie and more.
- Exits : A two and a half minute collection of unused takes and production setup.
- Special effects video: A two-minute time-lapse of the film’s special effects.
- Galleries: This disc provides a behind the scenes photo gallery (4:27) and stills gallery (3:25).
- Trailer: This disc provides Original Trailer #1 (0:45) and Original Trailer #2 (1:16) for Bloody muscle body builder in hell.
Bloody muscular body builder in hell is a well-constructed microbudget horror film that pays homage to some of the greats while putting its own spin on the genre. Director Shinichi Fukazawa doesn’t let budget limitations get in the way of his creativity when it comes to special effects and overall story development. It’s more than a little shaggy, but it’s a testament to what can be achieved when you’re passionate about your art. Wild Eye Releasing and Visual Vengeance have released a Blu-Ray that sports the best A/V presentation you could hope for with this one and an appropriate array of special features. If you are a fan of this film, you will be shocked by the care taken in this release. Recommended
Bloody muscular body builder in hell is currently available for purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images shown in this review do not reflect Blu-Ray image quality.
Disclaimer: Wild Eye Releasing and Visual Vengeance have provided a free copy of this disc for review purposes. All opinions expressed in this review are the honest reactions of the author.