Horror Film Review Men Behind The Sun 1988

Director: Tun Fei Mou
Starring: Jianxin Chen, Hsu Gou and Linjie Hao
Duration: 105 minutes

You may have noticed there seems to be a recurring theme of extreme Japanese snuff, gore movies, which is true, but Men Behind The Sun is a little bit different from the others. Although it’s still deemed in the same category, it unfortunately has some truth to it as it depicts the atrocious medical experiments that were inflicted upon prisoners by the Japanese Unit 731 in World War II. Mou intended to educate us on how fucking brutal these experiments were, although some argue it’s more exploitative than educational. Nether the less, the film has a powerful message to convey, even if it’s not as attention grabbing as it’d like to be.

The plot is fairly straightforward – prisoners are unrelentingly tested on, much similar to the way we test on bunnies to just reinstate that shampoo does burn your retinas. The sole purpose of inflicting such cruelty to these prisoners is to find the ultimate strain of bubonic plague, to give as a little present to the Chinese. Talk about giving them a cherry on top. From here we follow the struggle of the Young Corps as they try to understand the purpose of these monstrosities.

Horror Film Review Men Behind The Sun 1988

Being able to say that the FX effects in this were shockingly realistic would be nice, however, it’s so precise because it is real. No, I don’t mean it’s a genuine snuff film (there will be some reviews of that kind of stuff soon though, don’t worry) but real corpses of humans and animals were used to achieve success. I clearly remember watching the scene where a young child is sliced down the centre and opened up like it’s Christmas, going “I have never seen anything that looks so fucking real man!” This was followed by my discovery that it’s a genuine autopsy. That surreal feeling hit my stomach and my bones felt like they’d dissolved, but I guess it was no worse than Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

Another scene that I found fascinating, and was also performed with genuine rotten limbs, was when a young female is subjected to polar temperatures. This ultimately leads to severe frostbite, leaving her arms looking like an icicle bomb was detonated within her veins. Obviously, they skip the vital medical treatment that she urgently needs and opt for something more controversial. I guess you could call it one of those homeopathy remedies, because they plunge her arms into boiling water (did their mother not tell them not to do that!?) and then proceed to chaotically bash off the remainders. It reminded me of those erratic arcade games where you have to smack the rat. We’re given a selection of these callous and inhuman acts throughout, some including birds and crucifixes. A pick and mix of body mutilation…

Horror Film Review Men Behind The Sun 1988

None of the aforementioned really bothered me much, but the most distressing scene for my backwards brain was witnessing a little pussy savaged by barbaric rats. The Japanese might eat cats, but they don’t kill them for fun, as I found out about this scene. Mr. Paws was covered in red honey, which those greedy-guts just licked off instead. Phew. But then the rats are ruthlessly burned alive, leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I know nearly everyone thinks rats are vermin, but they’re cute to me, so watching the frenzied fire made me sad face.

Due to this films historical content, partnered with exploitative horror aspects, it probably won’t be the drama you choose to watch with your grandparents whilst eating your Sunday roast – unless you thrive off the unpleasant atmosphere of your Nan becoming traumatised and your Granddad pissing himself laughing. Also, I’d avoid the dubbed version due to it making not much sense and the manager of medical mutilations sounding too much like Matt Berry. Nether the less, Men Behind The Sun is a disturbing yet intriguing look at the horror that dwells within mankind.

Verdict: 3 out of 5

7 thoughts

  1. This was the first really extreme film I ever saw, I remember being told it was real snuff and I was a bit scared to watch it. Those were the days!
    I’m glad the cat scene isn’t real, I was never really sure about that. Poor rats though.
    May the Japanese snuff continue!

  2. I’m not sure how I feel about real corpses being used as “special effects”. Maybe not one I’ll be hunting down any time soon. Excellent review though!

    1. It’s not very PC is it, but I suppose they’re far more daring and controversial than us! It is very gruesome, but it certainly makes for good gore. Thanks Cameron!

  3. Jeez man! Nice hands!

    Sounds fucking gruesome to be honest. I’ve read about this film before and it’s always the cat scene that comes up. Do you think it’s truly, honestly fake or the director was ambushed and made to feel guilty and just said it was?

    I’m not a tree hugging hippy (mmmmm steak <3) but animal violence in films seems a bit horrid. Yes Ruggero Deodato I'm looking at you.

    Great review by the way, very compelling in fact. And love the pictures!

    1. I’ve not taken my gloves off since watching!
      To be honest, when we were watching it, I kept saying it doesn’t look real (hence why I couldn’t even sit throughout it), and I think it might possibly not be. I know in a lot of these Japanese films they aren’t into animal cruelty. The only reasons they burned the rats alive was because the farmers saw them as pests and were happy to do so. The cat doesn’t look like he’s actually getting hurt :). I’d have to knock points off for that as I love cats!

      Hehe ya hippy! I’m a bit of tree hugging hippy – I can’t do steaks, but I know why everyone loves them! Deodato is a big meany! Only good thing was he allowed them to chop a spider in half, the rest is cruel.

      Thank you so much Emma! Very much appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Haha so true!!! About the spider I mean ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m bloody terrified of them!!

        I’m glad it was definitely fake, I love cats too! I’ll probably end up the mad cat lady of Essex so I should stick up for them ha ha.

        Still mean about the rats though but not from the film’s perspective, just generally! People always call certain animals “vermin” – rats, foxes, pigeons. Er, who decided they were vermin?! They’re just trying to live their lives…leave them alone!

        Spiders though = VERMIN! Ha ha.

        I’m going to read some more of your great reviews!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

      2. Yeah, fuck spiders! They’re the reason I’m not religious.
        You’ll be the mad cat lady of Essex, I’ll be the mad cat lady of Hertfordshire!
        Oh my god, I totally agree! Everyone goes on about killing rats with poison etc, and I’m like oh ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’d keep them as pets ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Poor little buggers!
        Thank you ๐Ÿ˜€

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