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Teruo Ishii Movies

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Teruo Ishii, known as a versatile film director with a career spanning various genres. Beginning in the 1950s and gaining recognition for yakuza films like "Rusty Knife" (1958). Ishii's expertise extended to period films with the "Abashiri Prison" series (1965–1972) set in the Edo period. Known for pushing boundaries, he explored horror and exploitation genres in films such as "Horrors of Malformed Men" (1969) and "Blind Woman's Curse" (1970). Discover more of his works in the horror and exploitation genres below.
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Known in Japan as The King of Cult, Teruo Ishii is one of Japan’s most interesting directors who made his name in the Ero guro genre which continue to find a new audience year after year. Born and raised in Tokyo, Ishii began his career at the legendary Toho Studios in 1942 before joining Shintoho studios following World War II.

He made his directing debut with King of the Ring: The World of Glory (Ring no Oja: Eiko no Sekai) in 1957 and followed it up with the hugely successful Super Giant (Sūpā Jaiantsu) considered to be the first Japanese superhero film. Ishii went on to direct a further 5 installments in the series during the 1950s.

When Shintoho went out of business in the early 60s, Ishii moved to Toei Company and it was there in 1965 he directed Abashiri Prison (Abashiri Bangaichi), a hugely successful film that helped to popularise the Yakuza genre as well as giving a breakout role to Japanese cinema icon Ken Takakura. Ishii went on to direct a further ten films in the Abashiri series before turning his attention to the ero guro genre.

Ero guro, a subgenre of pink films, literally comes from the words ‘erotic’ and ‘grotesque’ and was to be a style of film Ishii would become closely associated with. 1968’s Shogun’s Joy of Torture shocked critics with its vision of sexual depravity and was followed the next year by the equally controversial Orgies of Edo that further explored a world of erotic torture.

His exploitation journey continued in Inferno of Torture before a brief sojourn back to crime with Yakuza Law. During this highly productive period, he made what many consider to be his landmark film – Horrors of Malformed Men. Based on a story by Edogawa Rampo, the film is a haunting nightmare about malformed men on a remote island. Removed from cinemas by Toei due to the subsequent scandal, it remains a transformative and hypnotic piece of cult cinema.

In 1970’s Blind Women’s Curse, Ishii combined ero guro with yakuza to create a genre splicing classic that gave Meiko Kaji (Stray Cat Rock) her first leading role. Throughout the 70s, Ishii continued to push boundaries and though his output slowed in the 80s, he had a resurgence in the 90s with the setup of his own studio, Teruo Ishii Productions.

Ishii passed away aged 81 in 2005 having left behind a huge legacy of almost 100 directed works.