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Gavin Schmitt

Blu-ray Review: "Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope" (1975)

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Sonny Chiba plays the only survivor of a clan of werewolves who relies on his feral, full-moon-activated superpowers to solve mysterious crimes. One night, a bizarre and bloody death in the Tokyo streets plunges him into a far-reaching conspiracy populated by crooked politicians, naked women, an invisible phantom tiger, and a shadowy organization known as the J-CIA.

Steve Kopian writes, "If you look up WTF in the dictionary, one of the top five definitions will be this film." He is not wrong. While this may not be one of he five most bizarre movies out there, it certainly makes every attempt. And if "weird" isn't your thing, there are also copious explosions and a great deal of gun play and squibs in the later scenes, evincing a definite Sam Peckinpah influence. So, there's that.

As author Bryan Senn points out, even though the title is "Wolf Guy", one of the strange things is that Chiba never actually becomes a wolf at all. He has his strength fluctuate based on the lunar cycle, and at its peak he can deflect bullets or even reverse the effects of being disemboweled. But at no point does he howl or even grow the slightest bit of hair.

If one person can be blamed for this bizarre mash-up, it must be writer Fumio Kônami (1933–2012). By this point in his career, he had already made a name for himself with "Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion" (1972) and "New Battles Without Honor and Humanity" (1974), both of which are available in the United States thank to Arrow Video. Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi's first impression upon being given the story was actually, "Is this worth making a movie out of?" Luckily someone said yes.

On top of all the awesome visuals, there is an unbelievably funky score that I need to have. As noted in other reviews, it would be great is Arrow (and others) would more frequently add a bonus music disc to their Blu releases. We need more love for the soundtracks, too.

For decades the film was presumed lost, and remains tragically little known. Thankfully, Arrow Video has brought it out of the depths and on to Blu-ray. They also give us new video interviews with actor Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba (14 minutes), director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (10 minutes), and producer Toru Yoshida (17 minutes).

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