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May 31, 2024 66 mins

In this episode of Weirdhouse Cinema, Rob and Joe discuss Kinji Fukasaku’s weird 1968 super-criminal romp “Black Lizard,” starring Japanese drag queen Akihiro Miwa, based on the novel by Edogawa Ranpo and the stage adapation by Yukio Mishima. 

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Stuff to Blow your Mind, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:13):
Hey, welcome to Weird House Cinema. This is Rob Lamb.

Speaker 3 (00:17):
And this is Joe McCormick. And hey, folks, I said
this on yesterday's episode, but I want to say again,
if I sound unusual in today's episode, if I sound
a little hoarse, it is because I've got a bit
of a cold. But a bit of a cold could
not stop me from talking about today's movie on Weird House,
which is nineteen sixty eight. It's Black Lizard.

Speaker 2 (00:37):
We should have worked it into the picture and so
that you sound like you do because a strange woman
with demon yellow eyes through a constricting snake at your neck.
But it's more mundane are the causes here? But yeah,
we have yet another cult favorite gem from Japanese cinema today,
and it follows the traditions of danger diabolic and that

(00:59):
it is another super criminal film, full of style, full
of visual pizazz. It's campy, it's bizarre, but also I
think with a lot of interesting depth. As you dig
into it, we're going to be talking about nineteen sixty
eight's Black Lizard. Today's film is also notable in that
it is entirely centered around a charismatic drag performance. The

(01:21):
title character, Black Lizard or Cororo Tokagi, is a stylish
female super criminal played in this film by prominent drag performer,
really famous and legendary drag performer, Akihiro Miwa, who will
have more information about here in a bet, but a
true legend, but a cultural figure of note, and it's

(01:42):
all played out seriously and thoughtfully, never for a giggle
in a wink. I've seen descriptions of this film as
a comedy. I think the current Internet movie database summary,
for example, says it's a comedy in the summary, and
I don't know, I don't think that's one hundred percent accurate.
It is a tremendously fun film. It is certainly camp,
but it doesn't really seem to play for laughs. But again,

(02:07):
it is tremendously fun.

Speaker 3 (02:09):
Yeah, there are funny things in it. It certainly has
an over the top sensibility, but I would say it
plays a lot more as kind of a serious tragic
romance and as a crime thriller more certainly more than
as a comedy. I would say it is no more
a comedy than danger diabolic as a comedy, and also
in Diabolic there are funny scenes and an absurd gratuitousness.

(02:32):
There's similar movies in a lot of ways, but neither
one really has the moment to moment focus on laughs
that a comedy usually does.

Speaker 2 (02:41):
All right, elevator pitch for this film, I want to
approach it two ways. One, I would say it's the
forbidden love of a super criminal and an ace detective
realized in a stylish sixties counterculture Japanese cinema festival for
the eyes. But I also think that there's one line
in particular in translation here. Of course, we both watched

(03:02):
it with subtitles. I don't think a dub exists, and
I don't think I would want the dub. I think
I would want the subtitles. But there's one great line
where our main character, Aketchi, the number one detective in Japan,
is speaking to Black Lizard, the super criminal, and says,
black Lizard, you were an old fashioned romanticist in this

(03:25):
age soiled by corruption and murder. You believe that crime
should wear a gorgeous gown with a train fifteen feet long,
just like the primordial dreams of lizards.

Speaker 3 (03:36):
Oh yeah, like those.

Speaker 2 (03:37):
Yeah, And that's I mean, if you love that line,
you'll love this film. This film perfectly delivers on like
the glorious, poetic weirdness of that statement. All right now,
I wasn't able to find what I could one hundred
percent feel certain about concerning a trailer, Japanese or otherwise.

(03:58):
So what I did find was a that was uploaded
by Brooklyn's Spectacle Theater, which I've never been to, but
it looks amazing. It's a collectively run screening space run
by movie loving volunteers and they play a lot of
just great looking stuff, including some films that we've covered
on Weird House before. Like just at the time of
this recording, I'm like, oh, what are they playing this
week at this place? And they're playing Doctor of Doom,

(04:20):
which is a wonderful Mexican luchadora film that we've covered
in the past. So so go check them out Brooklyn
Spectacle Theater. We're going to borrow part of the trailer
they uploaded. Again. I'm not sure if this is part
of an original trailer part of a trailer that they made,
but either way, it'll give you just a little sonic taste.

Speaker 4 (04:39):
Of black lizards, you know, it give climateg.

Speaker 1 (05:18):
Too much.

Speaker 2 (05:23):
On all. Right now, if you want to go out
and watch Black Lizard before proceeding with the rest of
this episode, well, I'm sad to say this one is
tragically hard to find right now as of this recording,

(05:45):
as of this moment, despite the film having had an
official international and US release, even if a limited one
back in nineteen sixty nine, even though it had subsequent
re releases in Japan and and abroad over the decades
to follow. It might have been released on VHS at
one point, as Michael Weldon, who loved it, references a

(06:06):
tape in his Psychotronic Video guide book. I'm not sure
if he's referring to a legit tape or more of
a gray market sort of thing, but yeah, it's a
real shame because this is a fabulous film with a
cult following. It has cultural significance historical significance as well,
and it deserves to be seen by more film fans
than the best quality possible. If you look around, you

(06:28):
can find some sources for it. But I also have
to stress that this is the nineteen sixty eight Black
Lizard or Coro Toakagi film, not to be confused with
other films titled Black Lizard, including an unrelated Shaw Brothers
Hong Kong film titled Black Lizard from nineteen eighty one,
or a nineteen sixty two Japanese film titled Black Lizard
that is actually an earlier adaptation of the same novel

(06:52):
in the same play. I've seen part of the sixty
two film, and it's also quite stylish and quite good.
I was about like twenty mins and it's into it
before I realized, Oh, I have the wrong movie. I
need to find I need to look around a little art.
I think the sixty two win is actually maybe you
can stream it through Criterion Collection. So, but it would
not be a loss to watch the sixty two version.

(07:14):
You're going to hit a lot of the same plot
points we're hitting here. But we are talking about the
nineteen sixty eight adaptation here today.

Speaker 3 (07:21):
Now when it comes to the sixty eight version, the
director is actually somebody quite familiar on Weird House.

Speaker 2 (07:26):
That's right. It's Kimji Fukusaku, who lived nineteen thirty through
two thousand and three. He directed nineteen seventy eight's Message
from Space.

Speaker 3 (07:35):
And Nice Best of the Star Wars Repulse.

Speaker 2 (07:37):
Yeah, that was a one we covered early on on
Weird House, and he also directed nineteen sixty eight so
The Green Slime, which we covered far more recently, both
very enjoyable films in their own distinct ways and also
rather different from today's entry. Yes, now, Fukusako has sixty
eight directorial credits on IMDb, and probably the big one

(07:59):
for a lot of listeners, as I mentioned before, is
two thousand's Battle Royale, which was a huge late career
hit for him, to the extent that it can to
a casual fan, you might, you know, only focus on that,
but other films of note include at least the Japanese
portions of nineteen seventies Tora Tora Tora. He apparently was

(08:19):
brought in after Kurosawa backed out nineteen seventy three's Battles
Without Honor and Humanity. He directed a number of action
yakuza and samurai movies, as well as the high budget
nineteen eighty sci fi film Virus, which featured a host
of Japanese and American actors. He also directed the two
thousand and two video game like PlayStation video game clock

(08:39):
Tower three, which I think I did play, and in
doing so, this was my earliest exposure to Fukusaku's work.

Speaker 3 (08:48):
Is that like a horror game.

Speaker 2 (08:50):
Yeah, if it's the one I'm thinking of. There's a
lot of like creeping around and trying to avoid like killers,
you know, like mass killers that you can't actually directly stand.
So in a way, it's kind of a similar vibe
to like the Alien Isolation game that came many many
years later. I don't remember anything about it where I'm like,

(09:10):
oh wow, of course Fukusaku was involved in this anyway.
Fukusaku's a director often associated with the Japanese New wave
cinema movement of the sixties and seventies, but he was
also a big commercial success, highly acclaimed both in Japan
and by filmmakers around the world. I've seen the likes
of Tarantino, Paul Schraeder and others talk about how much

(09:30):
they admire his work. All right now, in terms of
the writing here, they'll basically be like three levels because
the original source for this is a novel by Rampo
ed Ogawa, who lived eighteen ninety four through nineteen sixty five.
This was the pen name of Japanese author Tero Hirari.

(09:51):
Crafted this pen name Rampo ed Ogawa was apparently crafted
to resemble Edgar Allan Poe or PO. Edgar Allan So
PO Edgar Allan Rampo ed Ogawa So and Edgar Allan Poe,
along with Arthur Conan Doyle and others, were our big
influence on Rampo's work. I have to admit I was

(10:14):
really not familiar with Rampo prior to this. I don't
know if you'd ever run across discussion of his work before.

Speaker 3 (10:20):
Joe, possibly, but not that I recall.

Speaker 2 (10:23):
Okay, Yeah, apparently a huge name in the world of
Japanese mystery, detective and horror fiction, known for such works
as The Boy Detective's Club, The Fiend with Twenty Faces,
and of course The Black Lizard had His many short
stories include The Caterpillar and The Human Chair. Film and
TV adaptations of his work go back as far as
I believe nineteen twenty seven, and while he did write

(10:45):
I think just one screenplay, pretty much all of the
cinematic and TV treatments of his work were adapted by
other writers in the adaptations I've continued in film and
TV and manga and anime. Some of the more famous
adaptations and cclued nineteen sixty nine's Blind Beast and Horrors
of Malformed Men. So some of these are titles I'm

(11:06):
familiar with, but I didn't really know much about the
Rampo connection. And then twenty tens Caterpillar, and it's previously
mentioned Black Lizard was adapted numerous times as a play,
and then two separate adaptations of that play, the nineteen
sixty two film and this nineteen sixty eight one.

Speaker 3 (11:23):
Okay, so that's the original novel. But there's another intermediary
literary source, which is the play which is eventually adapted
into the movie.

Speaker 2 (11:32):
Yes, and the play here was adapted by another rather
famous figure in Japanese culture. This is Yukio Mishima, who
lived nineteen twenty five through nineteen seventy. So he wrote
the stage adaptation upon which this is based. And there's
a lot potentially unpacked here with Yukyo Mashima. You could

(11:57):
do a whole podcast just on this guy. He's ultimately
a very controversial figure. Mishima was a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor,
and model. Is a highly successful writer said to affused
modern Western trends with traditional Japanese elements. With a general
focus on beauty, eroticism, and death. In his private life

(12:19):
and revealed in some of his writings, he was apparently
bisexual and often dealt with themes of same sex love.
He was also a shintost and an ultra right wing
nationalist who founded a militia known as the Shield Society,
and on November twenty fifth, nineteen seventy, this, of course,
is the year of his death, he essentially attempted a

(12:41):
coup with four members of the militia invading a Japanese
military base, taking the commandant hostage, and trying to encourage
the Japanese Self Defense Forces to overthrow the government and
restore her like the full rule of the Emperor. In
this attempt culminated in Mishima's own death VI. A Sepaka
and Yeah Again. He's remained a very controversial figure because

(13:04):
of all of this, though on the other hand, there's
always been a lot of interest in him in his
work in and out of Japan. American director Paul Schrader,
for example, directed a biopic in nineteen eighty five titled Mishima,
A Life in Four Chapters, starring ken Ogata in the
lead role. We were actually chatting about this with our

(13:24):
excellent producer JJ Possway off Mike before we went in here,
because I don't think either of us have seen this
particular Paul Schrader film, but JJ has and said that
it's really worth saying. It's quite excellent.

Speaker 3 (13:37):
Now, if I'm not mistaken, Mishima appears bodily in Black
Lizard as well, doesn't he.

Speaker 2 (13:43):
That's right. Yeah, Mishima himself was, in addition to all
these other things, he was an actor and a model.
He was a noted bodybuilder and act. Yeah, has a
very memorable non speaking role in this film. I mean,
you could say it's a cameo, but I don't know
when a cameo has like this much weight. I don't
want to dismissed it as such.

Speaker 3 (14:01):
He's the So there is a sequence later in the
movie with these frozen human figures. They're sort of described,
I think as stuffed bodies, though there's a something almost
supernatural implied about the way that they're frozen, because they're
clearly just they're not mannequins, they're human bodies, and their
human bodies just kind of like trembling. You can see

(14:22):
them moving a little bit and he's one of them, right,
He's the one who's like in the middle of a
knife fight with another guy.

Speaker 2 (14:29):
Yeah, yeah, it's I mean, it's it's the classic, like
you know, wax museum effect of having people being really
still pretending to be models or some sort of preservation
of formerly living humans. So it does have that inherent
creepiness that we often touch on. But yeah, this is him.
It's a very pivotal scene as well. We'll get to.

(14:49):
It's also notable in that, yeah, this can't be relegated
as a cameo because a lot of times the poster
art has Mashima on the poster alongside the star, which
generally you don't do with your cameo appearances. Like the
detective Acecchi, who is in many respects the protagonist of
the picture, is not on the poster or not on

(15:11):
many of the posters that I was looking at, So yeah,
worth keeping in mind. As for Mishima, he has at
least some other acting credits, including the nineteen sixty yakuza
film Afraid to Die, in which he starred, and nineteen
sixty six's Patriotism, which he also wrote and co directed.
All Right, and then the screenplay based on the play

(15:33):
based on the novel. The credit here is Masashigi Narusawa,
who lived nineteen twenty five through twenty twenty one. An
award winning screenwriter and director. His films include nineteen fifty
six as Street of Shame, sixty eight's Curse of the Blood.
He was active from nineteen fifty through seventy five, with
a final Rampo adaptation airing on TV in nineteen eighty.

(15:56):
All right, so that's the director, that's the folks involved
in the writing of the picture. But now we have
to talk about are the true star of this and
that is Akihiro Miwa playing Black Lizard. This is just
a fabulous performance. This is one of those performances where
Miwa is almost constantly on the screen and is it

(16:17):
a light whenever he is on screen?

Speaker 3 (16:20):
I agree Miwa makes this movie what it is.

Speaker 2 (16:22):
Yeah. So, Miwa was born in nineteen thirty five and
as of this recording is still alive, and it's it's
essential to note that here in this starring role as
Black Lizard, the title character, the master criminal, we have
one of, if not the most famous Japanese drag performers

(16:43):
of the fifties and sixties, if not of all time.
Drag culture does still seem to be going strong in Japan.
But yeah, I'm assuming the only Western comparison would be
like someone like Rue Paul, Like this would be like
having Rue Paul appear as the title character or super
criminal picture. Maybe there's a better comparison to be made

(17:03):
right in if you've got one. Anyway. MIA's cabaret career
goes back to I Believe nineteen fifty two, and he
rose to popularity, transcending eventually from stage to film, TV,
music writing, and directing. He put out five albums between
nineteen seventy three and nineteen ninety five, all centered around
as drag persona. He also became an outspoken voice on

(17:27):
political and social issues in Japan, and he worked his
way up to this glorious leading role through often smaller
appearances sometimes it's like a singer or background character, and
number of films, and then followed this one up with
nineteen sixty nine's Black Rose or Black Rose Mansion, which
was also directed by Fukusaku. I haven't seen it, but

(17:49):
it's apparently classified as kind of like a dark romantic drama. Now.
While there's some additional live action roles after this Mea
was biggest contributions moving forward after this point are mostly
voice roles in animated projects, but boy did they include
some big ones. He voiced the three hundred year old

(18:10):
wolf goddess Moro Nokimi in Miyazaki's nineteen ninety seven masterpiece
Princess Mononoki. If you've only seen the dubbed version, this
would be the character that Gillian Anderson dubs. You know,
this big wolf goddess creature. He also voices the Witch
of the Waste in Miyazaki's two thousand and four film
Howell's Moving Castle, and for you Pokemon fans out there,

(18:33):
he also voiced a Pokemon by the name of Okay,
I'm not sure on this one, Arsius or Archias. I
asked my son about this real quick, and he was like,
people might get mad at you. But he was like,
they may say Archias or may they may say Arsius,
but be prepared to be corrected. So okay, I am prepared.
But anyway, this is like an important Pokemon like the

(18:54):
title Pokemon and the two thousand and nine TV movie
Arsius and the Jewel of Life.

Speaker 3 (19:00):
If people are going to be mad at us. I
hope it's about Pokemon.

Speaker 2 (19:03):
Yeah, I'm always happy to be corrected.

Speaker 3 (19:07):
But to come back to Black Lizard, Akihiro Miwa is
phenomenal in this movie, so much like passion and charisma
in this performance.

Speaker 2 (19:15):
Absolutely every scene, and also so many costume and hair changes.
This is definitely one of those pictures where we will
call out the costume designer because you know, any new
scene with Black Lizard, you're gonna get a new costume.
You make it an entirely different hair going on as well.
It's great.

Speaker 3 (19:33):
It's also a surprise for like a crime thriller, it
is a surprisingly dialogue heavy film, and I think that
may be based on the fact that it was This
is adapted from a stage play, so there are fewer
just straight action scenes than you might imagine. A lot
of it's just sort of dialogue and and and there

(19:53):
is There are a lot of thrills, but a lot
of the thrills are like twists that are revealed through dialogue.

Speaker 2 (20:00):
Right, Yeah, so it's talkier than you might expect, but
luckily the dialogue is often just tremendous. We already quoted
a little of it, and you know, it often has
that flavor, that weird character to it, and yeah, and
when we do have punctuations of actual action, it generally
is also really weird and jaw dropping. All right, now,

(20:21):
it's important to talk about the Ace detective. This is
Detective Akechi, played by Issau Kimura who lived nineteen twenty
three through nineteen eighty one. The interesting thing here is that, yeah,
Detective Akechi is in many respects the actual protagonist of
the film and is essentially Rampos Sherlock Holmes character, appearing
in multiple novels and short stories. So while many viewers

(20:45):
may watch this and you just see the sort of
you know, typical noir detective character, you know, a little
bit tortured, a little bit jaded, smoking and drinking, trying
to solve the crime, maybe falling a little bit in
love here and there. So while many viewers I just
dismissed that this character is like the detective figure in

(21:05):
Japanese pop culture and was in fact the first recurring
detective character in Japanese fiction. So he's a big deal
and has been played by numerous actors over the years,
including Tadanobu Asano, who have played of course, is the
star of Ichi the Killer, and also had a really
great role in the recent FX adaptation of Showgun. He

(21:27):
was in two thousand and five's Rampo Noir.

Speaker 3 (21:31):
So a catchy we are told is Japan's number one detective.
But he also, I don't know. It makes a lot
more sense to me knowing that this is a recurring character,
because there's a sort of prologue in the film that's
almost like, well here I am, I'm in the club,
now sucked into this crime, And it makes more sense
if this is kind of a character we would recognize.

Speaker 2 (21:53):
Yeah, and in a way, it kind of gives you
more license to let that character become secondary. He does
have this like iconic place already, you know, in the
same way that you can have a Sherlock Holmes film
certainly these days, and allow secondary characters to sort of
take the forefront.

Speaker 3 (22:11):
Yeah, totally. So.

Speaker 2 (22:13):
Anyway, Kamu right here playing the role, frequently worked in
supporting roles in Akira Kurosawa films, including fifty four to
seven Samurai and fifty seven's Throne of Blood. Yeah, I
think his performance here certainly hits all the world. Weary
noir detective notes that you'd expect, and I suppose this
in many ways. This helps like ground the flashier elements

(22:33):
of the picture as well. But he's good. It's a
good performance. Yeah, all right, this is all going to picture,
This is all going to center around in many respects,
a damsel in frequent distress, a youngerly, a young woman
that Black Lizard tries to kidnap multiple times. Her name
is Sane, and she is played by Kiko Matsuka, and

(22:58):
she was born in nineteen forty seven, and she was
in a number of sixties and seventies films, including an
uncredited role as a diver girl in nineteen sixty seven's
Bond film You Only Live Twice. Her other credits include
nineteen sixty eight's The Living Skeleton, Black Rose Mansion, and
a Rampo TV series in nineteen seventy all right. Another
important secondary character is the is the despondent musician Yunichi Amamiya,

(23:23):
played by Yusuku Kuwazu, who lived nineteen thirty five through
twenty twenty two. This apparently is his best known role,
but his credits include nineteen sixty one's Killers on Parade,
nineteen ninety three's Godzilla, versus Mega Godzilla two and nineteen
eighty eight, nineteen ninety eight s Gamma A three Revenge
of Iris. So, I mean, it's a solid performance this
this tragic character in this film. But also props to

(23:46):
anyone who was ever in both a Godzilla and a
Gamera movie.

Speaker 3 (23:50):
That's right. Yeah, this is a very sad, pathetic, abject
role and this guy does well with it.

Speaker 2 (23:59):
Yeah. Yeah, as we'll discuss, like even when he has
his moments of seeming bravery like, there's still this wrinkle
to them that makes it even more tragic.

Speaker 3 (24:09):
Yeah, it's all revealed that it's just the ultimately even
more pathetic than you would have thought.

Speaker 2 (24:14):
Yeah, let's see. Another fun secondary character is Private Detective
Keniji Matoba, who I guess is like he's not the
number one detective Aketchi is the number one detective. This
is somebody further down the list that has no problem
with at all with the possibility of making a fool
out of a catchee or you know, or coming in
to clean up a catchy's mess.

Speaker 3 (24:36):
You can just see this guy's displeasure with the full
knowledge that he is the number four detective.

Speaker 2 (24:42):
Yeah, he is played. Yeah, so He's a rival stern
faced private detective, played here by award winning actor co Nishimura,
who lived nineteen twenty three through nineteen ninety seven, best
known for his roles in such Krosawa films as nineteen
sixty is The Bad, Sleep Well ones Yo Jimbo, nineteen
sixty three is High and Low. And he was also

(25:04):
greatly praised and awarded for his starring role in the
bear movie Matagi from nineteen eighty two. So he was
definitely the star of Matagi in eighty two. But yeah,
as for these Kirosawa films, several, some of which I
haven't seen and others I haven't seen in a long time.
I'm not sure exactly off the top of my head
how far up the cast he is in those, but

(25:27):
I love his performance series kind of like a Japanese
Christopher Lee.

Speaker 3 (25:30):
Yeah, he's very very stern.

Speaker 2 (25:34):
Yeah, Okay, Sanya's dad is also important. Iwasa played by
yun Usami who lived nineteen eleven through nineteen eighty one.
His credits include nineteen seventies Tori Toar Tora in nineteen
fifty eight, The Man in the Moonlight Mask.

Speaker 3 (25:48):
This is sort of our rich Mark. The guy who
is targeted by Black Lizard for both the kidnapping of
his daughter and the stealing of his precious jewels.

Speaker 2 (25:58):
Right, and you know, he's rather proud about the fact
that he can afford Japan's number one detective. So it's
a fun, fun role. But he's also like, you know,
you're of course you're gonna get taken advantage off by
super criminals.

Speaker 3 (26:10):
He also complains immediately about the cost of Japan's number
one detective when his daughter is discovered to have been kidnapped. Yeah, like,
throw back the blankets on the bed and it's like, oh,
it's just a mannequin in there. He's like, you know
how much money I paid you to protect her?

Speaker 2 (26:25):
Yep, yep. We also already alluded to the snake woman
with the yellow demon eyes. We'll come back to her,
just not a lot about her, but just to credit
the actor. This is Toshiko Koboyashi, who lived nineteen thirty
two through twenty sixteen. Oh okay, so we recently received

(26:51):
a listener mail from someone saying, hey, you guys need
to single out the costume folks, the costume designers more well,
this is certainly a movie to do it on. We
have so many great costumes, especially for Black Lizard, and
the costume designer on this was Masako Watanabi. She's worth
singling out in part because, again, the costumes here are amazing,

(27:11):
but she's also a notable manga comic writer and artist,
known for such titles that I'm not familiar with as
Master of Morley, Jack, Ryerdon's Baby and Heidi. So if
you know more about about her and her work, write
in and we'll get the full details from you, all right.
And then finally the music. Oh, we have another huge

(27:33):
name here. This is a guy with a number of
credits in Japan film wise, but in general though just
a musical icon. Isautomita, who lived nineteen thirty two through
twenty sixteen. This is a name that I think is
going to register with a number of you. Not so
much for film though he does have associations with various films,
But this is this guy was one of the pioneers

(27:57):
of electronic music and space music, both in Pan and
ultimately internationally as well. His work prior to this film
included the TV series Mighty Jack, which I believe was
featured on Mystery Science Theater three thousand. But yeah, the
interesting thing is that around the same time of this
picture is when and again the score for this movie

(28:20):
for Black Lizard is not particularly I don't think it's electronic.
I think it's very traditional when you say but around
the same time as he would have been working on
this film, he heard Wendy Carlos's nineteen sixty eight album
Switched on Boch for the first time and was reportedly enraptured.
I heard. I read one account which I said, like, basically,
he's like, give me a ticket to New York and

(28:43):
like flies to the United States just so he can
bring back a mug synthesizer. He's like, I've got to
get my hands on this. Like he just saw the
tremendous potential and then started experimenting with synths and goes
on to again have become this pioneer of electronic and music,
known for such works as nineteen seventy two is Electric

(29:04):
Samurai Switched On Rock, which I think was released in
the US, and seventy four nineteen seventy six is the Planets,
which I was listening to while finishing up my notes
here is.

Speaker 3 (29:13):
That an electronic adaptation of Holst's the Planets.

Speaker 2 (29:17):
You know, I'm not sure. I listened to the whole thing,
and I'm not sure of him. They didn't have Holes
credited on the tracks on Spotify, which may mean nothing,
but a number of his works are synth treatments, electronic
treatments of pre existing works, like I know he did
a version of John Williams Star Wars theme song for example. Anyway,

(29:39):
he's an international legend. You'll find loads of his work
wherever you get your music. Again, I don't think we
really hear any electronic stylings in The Black Lizard's score,
as I think he flied to acquire his first synth
in around seventy two. But still, it's an amazing connection,
so we get like pre electronic to me to hear
he'd go on to score such films. Two thousand and

(30:00):
four is The Hidden Blade, and I've read he was
apparently Ridley Scott's first pick to score Alien. Would that
have worked? I don't know, but it's an interesting connection.

Speaker 3 (30:09):
Okay, is it time just talk about the plot.

Speaker 2 (30:11):
Yeah, let's jump into it.

Speaker 3 (30:13):
Well, warning, this plot has twists and reveals a plenty,
so if you do want to experience the movie without
having anything spoiled. I guess you should pause here and
go watch it before you listen to this part of
the episode. Now we open with the kind of prologue
before we get into the main caper that will involve
most of the movie. There's like a hippie technicolor acid

(30:35):
freak out sex party opening. It's like a go go club.
We've seen this in movies from the sixties before. They
try to put you right in the middle of a
swinging happening go go club to like get your mind
right where it needs to be for the feeling of
the movie.

Speaker 2 (30:51):
And with strong cabaret elements. I think as well, like
this is where this is where the counterculture happens. This
is where the bohemi and vibe is strong.

Speaker 3 (31:01):
That's right. So it's a feeling of the sixties, a
feeling of cultural and sexual energy. But I think also Rob,
I don't know if you detected the same thing. There's
kind of a point of view the camera takes that
implies some kind of distance or hesitation, maybe like it's
it's celebrating everything that's going on in the club, but
it's also a little bit afraid. Maybe it's like this

(31:24):
this is an alluring but also a dangerous and confusing
frontier of freedom and pleasure.

Speaker 2 (31:30):
Yeah, as we'll see, there's danger here and there's sadness
here as well.

Speaker 3 (31:34):
In fact, that sort of point of view of the
camera maybe the point of view of the character we're
about to meet, because we go to this man, a
lonely looking man, sitting at a table overlooking the dance
floor in this freak out go Go club, and we
hear his voiceover. He says, I came here by mere chance.
A friend said he would guide me to a secret club.

Speaker 4 (31:57):
This.

Speaker 3 (31:57):
We never see the friend, by the way, do we Yeah?
He says, this was a world unknown to me until
a gaudy crime dragged me into it. And then suddenly
everything stops. The action freezes and darkness falls over the
go go club, and then there is somber, humming music,
and then we see Black Lizard in three forms. First

(32:20):
the character so we see Akihiro Miwa in jewels with
a cigarette holder, and then the image of a black
Lizard silhouette, and then the title Black Lizard. Now I
warned there would be spoilers. Technically, the character we are
meeting here is not revealed to be black Lizard the
titular criminal until a twist that comes later. But I

(32:44):
was in no suspense at all about this, and I
wonder if the audience is supposed to be in suspense
at all. It seems to me one hundred percent clear
from the very first frame of seeing Black Lizard that
she is Black Lizard.

Speaker 2 (32:57):
I think so. Like from what I watched the sixty
two ADAP takes, I felt like it was maybe a
little less obvious, but here it's clear and been. Part
of that may be the fact that, Yeah, you have me,
this famous individual playing this title character, and you know
there are gonna be several twists in the film that
I think most viewers will see coming a mile away.

(33:17):
But it doesn't feel like a limitation. In a film
like this, A twist may be telegraphed, but what sort
of feast will the film make of the twist.

Speaker 3 (33:24):
Yeah, so there's a dark, mysterious melody as the credits play.
I think this may be Black Lizard singing. Actually, I
think so.

Speaker 2 (33:32):
I wasn't sure when I first watched it, but then afterwards,
when I was diving more into me was musical credentials. Yeah,
I assume this is his actual singing voice because he
put out all these albums and so forth. So yeah,
it belts out of tune.

Speaker 3 (33:46):
So Black Lizard. After the credits, Black Lizard navigates the
club and comes up to meet the lonely man sitting
at the table above, and Black Lizard says, this is
an unusual night, an oppressive night, a night made for crime.
I love a night like this. Sleep won't come easily tonight.
And you So the lonely man tells her he's impressed

(34:08):
by her words. He's like, wow, you are a poetess.
And Black Lizard says, are you a critic because beauty
fails to intoxicate you? Your eyes tell me that.

Speaker 2 (34:18):
And this is a catchy she's talking to This is
the number one detective, right.

Speaker 3 (34:22):
Yes, But then Black Lizard backs off of a catchy
and goes to visit a different man at the bar.
She goes up to this sad looking guy and says,
thinking of death?

Speaker 4 (34:31):
Are you?

Speaker 3 (34:32):
And she then seemingly telekinetically moves his whiskey glass to
the edge of the table until it falls and shatters.
I'm not sure what's going on here, but I like it.

Speaker 2 (34:43):
Yeah, this is a great weird moment. That is important
because we come back to it. But I guess it's
like a here as a metaphor or a splash of
magical realism, because there's nothing else to indicate that this
character has any kind of telekinetic I think it's just
to convey the charismatic power of the Black Lizard. You know,

(35:05):
I don't know, the inevitable trajectory of unobtainable obsessions. Yeah,
the film plays it marvelously vague. But again, it is
important because we'll come back to it.

Speaker 3 (35:15):
Yeah, there's an ambiguous question about the presence of the
supernatural in this film. The movie is, you know, ninety
nine percent grounded in realism, but there are a few
things in it that are like, wait, was that magic
or not? I can't tell. So there's the whiskey glass telekinesis.
There's the lady with yellow eyes who the snake Lady later,

(35:37):
who sometimes seems to maybe do magic or I don't
know what's going on with her snake eyes. The statues
at the end of the movie, which are people, They
appear to be frozen in some way that almost suggests magic,
but it's not clear.

Speaker 2 (35:51):
Yeah. Yeah, So there are a few moments like that,
and it keeps things wild and unpredictable as well.

Speaker 3 (35:56):
Anyway, the man at the table, who was allegedly thinking
of death leaves the club with black Lizard, and then
we smash cut to a newspaper headline that tells us
a quote despondent young musician has died by suicide. And
then we also see a different article in the newspaper
that a corpse was stolen from a medical dissection room

(36:20):
at the Morgue. Right, yes, okay, So then detective at
catche is suddenly there. He is at the Morgue looking
into it and finds there is a toy black lizard
at the scene.

Speaker 2 (36:33):
Yeap peels it right off the floor there.

Speaker 3 (36:35):
And then also, what is the deal with all these
cadavers floating in like a tank of dark green liquid?
This is so weird.

Speaker 2 (36:42):
Yeah, I found this creepy, but I don't know, like,
maybe this is actually how it was done. At the time,
I have no idea, and I have to admit I
was reluctant to go down the goolish avenue of researching it.
I was like, I don't know, I'm just gonna accept
it as is. Maybe I'll come back and look into
it later, but at least within the context of the film,
this is just where they put recently dead bodies instead
of having like freezers, the sort of freezer drawer scene

(37:05):
that we're accustomed to. Instead we have the vat scene
that we have here.

Speaker 3 (37:10):
But anyway, okay, so all this is sort of prologued
to the main caper of the film, which is the
iwasa kidnapping and the Star of Egypt.

Speaker 2 (37:19):
I only looked this up just before we came in
to record, but the Star of Egypt is an actual diamond.
I was reading about it on Christie's. It first appeared
on the London market in nineteen thirty nine. There's a
listing for it on Christie's. I think it recently sold
for you know, several million dollars, so it's it's a
real thing, not just a made up gym.

Speaker 3 (37:41):
So we get into act one here with the main plot,
and it is that Detective Atketchi has been hired by
a rich man named iwasa to protect his daughter Senne,
who has been threatened with kidnapping. I think they get
a note in the mail or something saying that she's
going to be kidnapped, and so they hide out in

(38:03):
a hotel room under the supervision of a ketchee who
intends to set a trap for the would be kidnappers.

Speaker 2 (38:09):
That's right, number one detective in Japan, the most expensive,
only the best for this guy's daughter.

Speaker 3 (38:14):
Now, technically, even though we said it's clear who Black
Lizard is at this point in the plot, Black Lizard
has not been revealed and is in disguise as a
woman named Midori Kawa. And so this is how she's
known to a ketchee from the club. You know, he
knows her as Midori Kawa. And then we go to
the hotel lounge where Sinay is hanging out. And then

(38:37):
also Midori Kawa and a handsome, well dressed man named
Yamakawa are getting to know Sinay. They like they're talking
to her in the hotel bar. For some reason, Sinay
has been permitted to hang out at the bar by herself,
even though she's being targeted by kidnappers.

Speaker 2 (38:53):
Yeah, yeah, it's weird. It was the same way in
the sixty two versions, So I guess it's straight from
the play and or book. Maybe the bar is considered
a safe public zone, or maybe Medora Kawa is just seeming.
She's just such a long time trusted client of dads
that you know she's perfectly safe as long as she's
with her.

Speaker 3 (39:12):
But Midori Kawa is being so creepy. It is like
she's like, hey, did you play volleyball in college? I
would like to possess your body as a doll.

Speaker 2 (39:22):
She's like, if I told you had a beautiful body,
would you hold it against me if I preserved you
in a perfect soul? Estate more poetic than that, but yeah, yeah,
but Black Lizard is always hitting on folks.

Speaker 3 (39:37):
Yes, So Midori Kawa and her accomplice they lure Sina
back to a room in the hotel, I think, on
the promise of showing her like an antique doll. They're like, oh,
we have this interesting artifact, and she's like, okay, I'll
go look at it. But of course they kidnap her.
They like chloroform her and then stuff her into a

(39:58):
trunk and back.

Speaker 2 (40:00):
Lizard is also like, go ahead and take her clothes off.

Speaker 3 (40:03):
Yeah, for no particular reason, Well.

Speaker 2 (40:05):
Didn't she does he change into those clothes. There's kind
of an initial fake out that I think maybe initially
she replaces Snae in Sanna's clothes with her back turned
to her father, and then they end up replacing her
in bed with the very dummy that you know would
have been the doll in the box originally, that's why
it is okay, yeah, but it is also played for

(40:27):
you know, yeah, for for more alluring purposes here too.

Speaker 3 (40:30):
So also somewhere in here, Yamakawa is revealed to be
Unichi a'ma mia. This was the same guy, the despondent
young man at the club earlier, right, yes, yeah, this
is now Black Lizard's accomplice. And of course we know
Midori Kawa is Black Lizard, but we are to understand
the detective Aketchi does not know. So they pull a

(40:52):
clever maneuver. Amamiya takes Sannae inside the trunk and boards
a train going to some other city while Black Lizard
stays at the hotel, and she tricks Iwase into thinking
that Sennae is totally safe in the hotel room. First,
she like throws her voice and poses as her, like,
pretending to be her from the other room, and I

(41:14):
guess ita is He's like not, I don't know. He's
not thrown off by the fact that this is not
his daughter's voice.

Speaker 2 (41:21):
Right, or it's a perfect replica for voice somehow, I
don't know. At any rate it works.

Speaker 3 (41:25):
And then she tricks him into thinking that Senne is
in her bed in the hotel room. It will later
be revealed that it's a huge doll under the blankets.
But he Oh, but Black Lizard has a message delivered
stating that Senne will be kidnapped exactly at midnight. So
while it wasa sleeps soundly thinking that Sennae is asleep nearby,

(41:49):
a catchy stands guard in the living room of the
hotel suite, passing the time by hanging out with Black Lizard,
not knowing who she is. And this leads to a
great dialogue see where Black Lizard again in disguises. Midori
Kawa and Detective Aketchi play cards and talk about crime
and love and their careers and their character. A lot

(42:11):
of really fun dialogue here. Just one example is they
start talking about like what it takes to make a criminal,
and Akechi says, consider three women. A man gives a
woman a bouquet of roses. A caterpillar crawls out from
between the petals. Disgusted, the woman throws the bouquet into

(42:31):
the fireplace. Akechi says, this woman does not have what
it takes to be a criminal. Now consider a second woman,
same thing. She gets the flowers, caterpillar crawls out of
the flower. Instead of throwing the flowers into the fire,
she plucks out the caterpillar and throws it alone into
the flames. Akechi says, she also is not a criminal.

(42:52):
But consider a third woman. She sees the caterpillar crawl
out of the blossom, she throws neither the flowers nor
the insect. Instead, she pushes the man who gave her
the flowers into the flames. Akechi says, this woman can
be a criminal, but ironically she is the most tenderhearted
of the three.

Speaker 2 (43:12):
I'd be lying if I said that I one percent
understood what the point is here. But I still love it,
and I do want to see a line of black
Lizard Valentine's Day cards. Based on this and other quotes
from the film.

Speaker 3 (43:24):
I think Aketche is making some kind of point about
like passion and boldness, that it's like the same thing,
the same thing that makes someone that have the deepest
kind of love is also what makes someone the most
like violent and dangerous.

Speaker 2 (43:39):
Oh okay, so maybe we're getting back into the territory
here of, you know, of believing that crime should wear
a gorgeous gown with a train fifteen feet long, both
stylistically but also in terms of passion somehow.

Speaker 3 (43:52):
Yeah. Yeah, they also talk. So they start playing cards
and they put a wager up. Aketchi is like, oh, well,
you know you're you're rich. I can't really bet against
you because you've got all this money, and Black Lizard says, well,
I'll bet all my jewels, but you have to bet
your career as a detective. So I guess if Black
Lizard wins the card game, a Catchee will no longer

(44:14):
get to be Japan's number one detective.

Speaker 2 (44:16):
Yeah, this is a great scene, and I love the
way it was shot too. They're like playing on a
glass countertop, I believe, and so we get some wonderful
shots from below up through the card game as it's
taking place, and yeah, it's I believe. It's in this
scene that we get a lot of contemplation about the
idea that aketche is like the negative photo of a criminal. Yeah,

(44:38):
and in a way, even though although Aketchi doesn't know
that he's playing cards with the Black Lizards. Yeah, this
is very much a we're much the same you and
I speech that has become a standard trope, but it's
constructed in a fresh way. It has a very fresh
feeling to it.

Speaker 3 (44:55):
This is better than most I mean it. This comes
before things that would make same point later. I think
you know, this is sort of the same point made
in like Manhunter about the Thomas Harris character Will Graham.
It's like that he is able to think like a killer,
or think like a criminal, and that's what makes him

(45:15):
a great detective, and Black Lizards saying the same thing
to a catchy here. It's that like, in order to
be a great detective, you must be able to think
like a criminal.

Speaker 2 (45:24):
Now is this the place I may be skipping around?
I may be thinking about something earlier or later. But
there's one part where Black Lizard has an extended monologue
anguishing over the fact that beauty must age and that
is the ultimate tragedy, and therefore she pines for a
soulless existence and the heart made of pure, made as
pure and unbreakable as a diamond, both in her in

(45:46):
herself but also in others.

Speaker 3 (45:50):
I think Yeah, it might be the scene.

Speaker 2 (45:51):
Yeah either way, Like the Quest for the Diamond Heart
is one of the central themes of the film that
we come back to again and again.

Speaker 3 (46:00):
And this is the scene where Black Lizard and a
Catchy do seem to be falling in love. Yes, but
then remember the thing was supposed to be. He's standing
guard there until the kidnapping, which is supposed to come
at midnight, And midnight comes and nothing happens. What gives
Sannae's absence at this point is revealed. They go in
and like pull back the covers on the bed and oh,

(46:21):
it's just a doll in there. But it's a double
twist because we find out a catchy knew all along.
He lets his men run into the room and he
reveals that he knew that Senne had already been taken
and he had his men collect the trunk and bring
her back.

Speaker 2 (46:38):
Yeah again, Black Lizard really does feel like the main
character in all of this, in part because we're generally
clued into what her plans are far more than a catchy's.
Like a catchy ultimately ends up being like two steps
ahead of even the viewer. And I guess this corresponds
to the often observed soft rule of caper films, and
that you lay out all the beats of the caper

(46:58):
that's going to ultimately fail, but you reveal the beats
of a successful caper in its very real time execution. Again,
a catchy is essentially Sherlock Holmes here. He is a master,
you know, figuring out the criminal scheme and then trying
to be ahead of that. And I wonder too if
that adds to why we might be rooting for Black Lizard,

(47:20):
because it's like, if you don't know who a catchy is,
he's just another detective. But if you know that he's
the master detective, then you kind of know the fixes
in from the beginning, like this is an unbeatable adversary
for Black Lizard, and therefore maybe we root for her
a little bit more.

Speaker 3 (47:35):
Yeah, Well, later in the story they do try to
get ahead of that by showing a catchy like doing
something sneaky and you think that he's being he's being
caught getting one over on on Black Lizard, and then
she gets one over on him. But then there's like
a triple twist where it's like, oh no, he actually

(47:55):
was there all along, Yes, but Anyway, Sola escapes this
trap by stealing a catche's gun from his coat pocket,
using it to escape the hotel room, and then she
gets out of the hotel by disguising herself as a man.

Speaker 2 (48:11):
Yeah, this is a fun sequence, and I guess really
the only nod that we see to me was drag performance.
I suppose.

Speaker 3 (48:17):
Yeah, So on to fight another day. So this sort
of gives way to Act two of the movie, the
previous plot having been foiled, we cut to the home
of Iwasa where Black Lizard is determined to strike again.

(48:39):
So this middle sequence of the movie involves Black Lizard's
second attempt at kidnapping Sinne and using the leverage of
her kidnapping to acquire the jeweled necklace the Star of Egypt.
So we meet a large cast of Hinchman here, hired
by Awasa to protect the family. The gang is commanded
by a new private detective met And so there's like

(49:02):
a furniture delivery truck that arrives at the house and
we see the whole gang run out to like menace them.
The delivery guys seem very frightened, but then they decide
it's okay, you know, it's a beautiful new futon that
IWASA did apparently actually order. So they bring it inside.
They talk about how it cost a bazillion bucks and
so forth, and the whole time Matoba is there just

(49:22):
looking like he's just a statue.

Speaker 2 (49:25):
He's great, just scowling the whole time.

Speaker 3 (49:28):
Now, I think at this point we're supposed to believe
Aketchy has been dismissed from the case, or maybe he
actually has been.

Speaker 2 (49:35):
Yeah, I don't know if he's like been completely pushed out,
but yeah, it's Matoba is now seemingly in charge of things,
and he seems a little rth that a catch. He's
even showing up. It's like, no, you failed, dude, I'm
I'm I'm top now.

Speaker 3 (49:50):
But later that night there is an attack from inside
the house. I think it's Matoba catches. Itwasa's housekeeper, Hena
sending secret coded messages to someone via radio. She's like
talking into a radio, saying like the sea is a
flame and stuff like that. But the tables are turned.

(50:11):
How exactly is it revealed? Is it that Hena and
the big lug Hinchman guy both gang up on Matoba.

Speaker 2 (50:18):
Yeah, I don't know if Matoba vetted these henchmen, but yeah,
it's like they all were in the pocket of Black Lizard.
We'll find out. So, yeah, everybody's looking working for Black
Lizard here except for Matoba.

Speaker 3 (50:29):
And this is the first reveal of Hena's like powers
and snake associations. What's the deal with this lady?

Speaker 2 (50:35):
Oh? I mean this is again? Is it magic? Is it?
Is it metaphor what's going on here? I don't know,
but it's tremendous because we see, yeah, her eyes glitter, yellow,
demon's fire. She flings constricting snakes as a weapon. So
we've watched movies with projectile snakes before on the show,
namely nineteen eighty one's Venom, where we get to see

(50:58):
Klauskinsky with a rubber snake, and it's the kind of
thing that can easily look very rubber and fake. But
I totally bought her and her snake bolos as a
legitimate threat. So like she leaps out, you know, cool
lighting on her face and eyes, lands this constricting snake
right around Matoba's neck, and the actor Nishi Mura just

(51:19):
sells the living daylights out of it, just thrashing around
against the walls, trying to pull the snake off of
his throat.

Speaker 3 (51:26):
Oh but it doesn't end there, right, everybody comes out
because of the commotion, and then they find what they
find black Lizard's calling card.

Speaker 2 (51:34):
Here, right, there's the rubber lizard, but it is on
the palm of a disembodied hand that is on the couch,
which is now bloodied. They're gonna have to get rid
of that thing. And then they find Matoba in the bathtub,
like seemingly dead. I don't know, I can't remember if
he still has a snake on his neck or not,
but he has a bloody stump. This is clearly his

(51:55):
hand out there, left on the couch with the with
the calling card on it. But the like there's several
you know, guys looking in on this scene. And then
Matoba rises up out of the tub like a like
a rampaging zombie and comes rushing towards them with the stump,
and they all freak out and slam the door on
him as he thrust his bloody stump out through the

(52:16):
door after him, and then he finally busts through into
the hallway, slumps against the wall, slumps down and dies
just a legit jaw dropping sequence from me that that
scene is true, deeply crazy. I don't know, it's it's
really good. Yeah, it's like there's a lot of dialogue,
but then when the movie busts out these action sequences

(52:36):
like this, it's just they really go for it.

Speaker 3 (52:38):
But as you mentioned, this all part of the plot.
The uh, of course, the attack gets blood all over
the expensive new futon and in the middle of Senne
having been kidnapped again and all that, Uh, they're like,
oh wow, well get the get this bloody futon out
of the house.

Speaker 2 (52:56):
Yeap, what do you know? And this is and we
know what's up right, I mean, this is another most twists.
You know that they hit her in that couch, but
it doesn't matter. Like this all plays out like a
like a myth, like a like a fairy tale, and
you just follow it.

Speaker 3 (53:11):
Yeah, so there is. They're setting up an exchange at
the pier, so Black Lizard promises that Senay will be
returned safely if iwasa gives up the Star of Egypt
at a drop off point at the port, and he does.
He shows up with the jewels, but Black Lizard is
treacherous and does not return his daughter because it seems

(53:33):
like Black Lizard wants Sinnay even more than she wants
the jewels.

Speaker 2 (53:37):
Yeah, yeah, so she's just gonna keep them both. So sorry,
you've been double crossed. But Black Lizard gets what Black Lizard.

Speaker 3 (53:45):
Wants and this leads to a chase with like private
detectives and cars and these motorcycle henchmen with smoke screens.
These movies of the time really loved a like multi
colored smoke screen getaway that's in danger diabolic as well.

Speaker 2 (53:59):
Yeah, this whole sequence was very danger diabolic. But they
and this is one of those things we have to note.
They get away but sort of don't like we have
to again do all the math of Aketche's scheming and
counter scheming versus Black lizards scheming and counter scheming. The
viewer is just along for the ride.

Speaker 3 (54:19):
So Black Lizard escapes to her steamership with both Sennae
and the jewels. But will Aketchi be able to save
the day? And here we go to a scene in
Black Lizard's cabin on the boat that can you describe
this realm?

Speaker 2 (54:34):
Yeah, so we know the deal with this futon. This
is how they just kidnapped her successfully for the second time,
and here's the couch that the futon in Black Lizard's chambers,
and she begins to realize what we the viewers suspect
that Aketchie has hidden himself in that futon, and so

(54:54):
she starts speaking to him in there. She has her
her game come in and like strap the dow straps
around the futon so that he can't get out, and
then she sends the gang back outside, and she kind
of gets this like this this tender sequence where she
speaks to Aketchee imprisoned in the futon. She reveals her

(55:16):
love to him, as well as her great fear of
that love, fear for what will change in her, because
it is all the antithesis of the diamond heart. You know.
It's like if I give into my love for you,
then then I'm changing in a frightening way, and I
can't have that, you know. And also you're my enemy,
so either way, I'm gonna have to kill you. And

(55:37):
so that's what she seemingly does. She runs the couch
through with a sword from the wall. Blood drips out
onto the floor. At that Up until that point, I
wasn't sure it even had anyone in there, because that's
the thing. You know, Aketchi's not in there really, you know,
he's a tape recorder or something. But blood comes out,
and then she has the gang throw the skewered straps

(55:58):
sofa overboard into the wace.

Speaker 3 (56:00):
We see it like disappearing rapidly into the dark water
behind the ship. It's a very evocative shot.

Speaker 2 (56:06):
And she's out there on the deck, you know, feeling
a bit melancholy by herself. And then a new character emerges,
who we quickly learn is a trusted hunchback com minion
of hers, and he kind of like you know, saunters
up onto the deck there and he apologizes to her
for not having been there when all this went down.
He says, I was asleep. He offers some comfort and

(56:27):
she's like that that's nice. I appreciate it, but I
need some time alone. And of course this is one
of those moments we're already like.

Speaker 3 (56:33):
Hmm, yeah hm about this guy. We're never seeing his face,
like his face is always downturned. Wonder about that.

Speaker 2 (56:41):
Yeah, so you will have your suspicions. Those suspicions may
prove correct, but again in this film, it doesn't matter.
You're along for the ride. Because if this, if you
suspect that this hunch back is actually a catchy okay,
then the question is when will he dramatically reveal himself?
And that's what we're we're on board for.

Speaker 3 (56:59):
So we're here at Act three where we make it
all the way to Black Lizard's Fortress of fortress of
I don't know of Crimtude. Yeah. So the ship arrives
and Rob, can you describe this place? I would kind
of compare it a bit to Scare Manga's Layer in

(57:19):
The Man with the Golden Gun.

Speaker 2 (57:21):
Yeah, yeah, it is. It is a campy de light
that brings that to mind. It brings to mind the
various layers of doctor fibes as well as danger diabolic fibes.
Would very much approve of this because it's essentially a
cabaret ballroom where we see the taxidermied or otherwise preserved,
you know, the exact science that this doesn't matter, the

(57:42):
preserved bodies of the beautiful ones that she's collected on display,
these dolls, wax figures, however you want to make them.
There are all these curtains we see these often topless figures,
and as always in these films, these are of course films.
These are of course live actors frozen and still live,
which just compounds the creepiness of the situation.

Speaker 3 (58:03):
So she's like going through here showing Sinnay all of
these these frozen people, and it's leading up to the
explanation that, like, Senay, I'm going to make you one
of my frozen wax dolls here.

Speaker 2 (58:17):
Yeah, and we see that one of the main tableaus,
because they're all posed in dramatic poses, you know, it's
like a wax museum. One of the tableaux concerns a
pair of knife fighters, with a particularly absolutely jacked combatant
like just you know, rippling muscles, stabbing his opponent in
mid grapple. The shirtless stabber here is played by Mashima,

(58:39):
and a brief backstory is kind of revealed visually where
we it looks like these two men were made to
fight to the death for Black Lizard's affections, and I
guess both both victor and the defeated here end up
being immortalized as a doll.

Speaker 3 (58:55):
I didn't know if there was a victor. It looked
like they were both stabbing each other at the same time.

Speaker 2 (58:59):
Oh okay, they well, in a way then I guess
they both lost and boast both won, because that's the thing.
You lose and that you die, but you win to
a certain extent in that you are immortalized in Black
Lizard's layer and in this form without life, without a soul,
then you know you have come as close to the

(59:21):
Diamond Heart as possible and therefore are deserving of her
true affections.

Speaker 3 (59:27):
Yeah, it seems that men are just sort of like
lining up to die for Black Lizard and be preserved
as a statue in her layer forever. They're ready for it.

Speaker 2 (59:37):
Yeah, and women too. I guess it's like men and
women on display. But this is this moment where again
it's far more than cameo because the jacked stabber played
by Mashima here, she moves in and she kisses him
on the lips in what is I think the only
kiss that we see in the picture. Could be wrong

(59:59):
on that, but it certainly is the most important one,
and it's a really powerful moment and a moment that
is also very crushing for the musician i'm A Miya
who is watching on because this is what causes him
to turn against Black Lizard because he tries to help
Sana briefly locking the master criminal in her own cell.
But then we eventually learned that this kiss didn't so

(01:00:22):
much as turn him against Black Lizard. He's not like, oh,
I'm really not into you, you know, kissing the preserved
bodies of dead men. No, it made him turn against
Black Lizard because he realized the only way to fulfill
his obsession was through death. A bold action like this
he hopes will result first in his death and then

(01:00:43):
in his immortalization as one of her dolls.

Speaker 3 (01:00:46):
Right, so he's like, now I'm just the unappreciated lackey
of Black Lizard, But he realizes that she truly loves
her sort of stuffed statue figures, and the only way
he can really be loved by her is to make
her kill him in punishment for his treachery and turn
him into a statue, and then he'll be loved by her.

Speaker 2 (01:01:08):
So that I'm amia Redemption Arch. He enters a very
like like even more tragic and weird section because again,
for Black Loser, perfect love is soulless. It's the diamond heart,
and the only place she truly knows where to find
this is in her is in her dolls. As a
means of cultivating it as well in herself.

Speaker 3 (01:01:28):
Oh man, But there are some more twists that come in.

Speaker 2 (01:01:31):
Now.

Speaker 3 (01:01:32):
One of the weirdest choices I thought is so Sinay
and Emma Mia are both kept in this prison cell.
Emmia discloses everything here. He's like, yeah, here's what I'm
trying to do. I'm trying to get turned into a statue.

Speaker 2 (01:01:47):
Uh.

Speaker 3 (01:01:47):
And then Sinay reveals I'm not actually Sinnay. I am
a body double. I am a woman named Yoko who
was hired by a Catchee to pretend to be sent
to keep her safe from Black Lizard. And I think
this is not just for part of the movie. I
think this character the entire film has actually just been

(01:02:10):
this body double named Yoko.

Speaker 2 (01:02:12):
I believe. So that's the way I interpret it. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (01:02:15):
Yeah, Also, Yoko the body double and I'm gonna be
a they sort of bond over the fact that they
are both both frauds in some way, and then they
fall in love while imprisoned.

Speaker 2 (01:02:28):
Yeah, and so then we get the redemption arc more
less back on track for our men. I'm amia here,
but from here we work our way into the big finish. Okay,
that hunchback reveal that we saw coming a mile away.
It happens. It is a catchy. It's been a catchy
the whole time. The actual hunchback was in the futon
and was stabbed through. The Snake Woman goes in for

(01:02:50):
the kill. Okay, well, also Aketche's men like the fuzz
show up there on the scene. I don't know where
they came from, but they, you know, backups have arrived.
Snake Woman goes in for the kill against a ketchi,
but Black Lizard stops her and kills Snake Woman dead.
Black Lizard then retreats into her inner chambers. A Ketchee follows.
He pursues, but when he finds her, she has already

(01:03:12):
taken a fatal poison, and so the two of them
lounge together on her couch like lovers, sharing a tender moment,
and she observes that she has at last found the
perfect diamond heart in a catchy because he was able
to outsmarter and out double and triple cross her, you know,
and then she dies in this yeah, this this tragic

(01:03:35):
and beautiful like Shakespearean moment. And then I'm a Mia
and Son or the fake sna run off together there
now a couple. The case is solved, but we close
out with a lot of stylish shots of Black Lizard
as the credits roll, because it's you know, we got
to leave everything on a stylish happy note.

Speaker 3 (01:03:52):
To a certain extent, I almost took the happy ending
for Ama Mia and the sane body double. I almost
took that as is, like it was supposed to be funny,
the way they're just allowed to run off together.

Speaker 2 (01:04:06):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, maybe that is a splash of comedy
where it's like, hey, we're both fakes, but we're in
love now. And then then they run off together, Like
where are you guys going? You're on like a criminal mastermind,
Like you should probably hang around and leave with the police.
But I don't know.

Speaker 3 (01:04:23):
Well, I thought Black Lizard was a rollicking good time.

Speaker 2 (01:04:26):
Absolutely. I had high hopes for this film, and it
didn't disappoint. I was interested when I read about it
in Fukusaku's filmography when we talked about him previously, and
then when I went and rented it at Video Drum
here in Atlanta, John, one of the crew there, really
talked it up, and again, the film absolutely delivered. Maybe
I'm a romanticist but now I too believe that crime

(01:04:48):
should wear a gorgeous gown with a train fifteen feet long,
just like the primordial dreams of lizards.

Speaker 3 (01:04:54):
Well said, all.

Speaker 2 (01:04:56):
Right, well, we're going to go and close it out here.
I hope you enjoyed our chat about Black Lizard, and
more importantly, I hope you enjoy Black Lizard. I hope
you're able to get a hold of it, and I
hope that, hopefully in the not too distant future, we
see an actual like Blu Ray release for this film.
It's very deserving of it, and hey, you might be
lucky enough to see it at a film festival somewhere,

(01:05:17):
and if you get the chance, make sure you do it.
Reminder that Stuff to Blow Your Mind is primarily a
science and culture podcast, with core episodes on Tuesdays and Thursdays,
but we do listener mail on Mondays, short form episodes
on Wednesdays, and on Fridays. We set aside most serious
concerns to just talk about a weird film on Weird
House Cinema. If you want to see a complete list
of all the movies we've covered thus far, and sometimes

(01:05:38):
a peek ahead at what's to come, go to letterbox
dot com. It's l E T T E r box
d dot com. Our username is weird house, and we've
got a wonderful list there that you can peruse and
see what might be up your alley and what you
want to add to your own to watch list.

Speaker 3 (01:05:53):
Huge thanks as always to our excellent audio producer JJ Posway.
If you would like to get in touch with us
with feedback on this episode or any other, to suggest
a topic for the future, or just to say hello,
you can email us at contact at stuff to Blow
your Mind dot com.

Speaker 1 (01:06:14):
Stuff to Blow Your Mind is production of iHeartRadio. For
more podcasts from my Heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
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