Historical atrocities are something that cannot be shied away from, and filmmakers have time and time again reverted to fictional depictions of true stories to enlighten audiences of the historical horrors that have happened. Cultural extremism, a term coined by Kelly Gredner, is a way to classify films that focus on themes or reenactments of societal and political events within a country. These are horror films that cross the boundary lines of fiction and blend together real information with faux extreme violence and depravity as a way to show the horrors the country has witnessed. Films like Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film or Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo look to educate the viewer with history whilst shocking them with barbarity.
Andrey Iskanov’s 2008 extreme film, Philosophy of a Knife, is no different as it looks to explore and dissect the war crimes that were committed during WWII by a Japanese experimental testing facility known as Unit 731. If you’re an extreme horror fan, you’ll be more than aware of T.F. Mou’s 1988 film Men Behind the Sun, which also depicts the wickedness of Unit 731 and abhorrent human experiments that were conducted at the facility. And for those of you who perhaps haven’t heard of it, it’s one of the most harrowing, nihilistic and difficult to sit through pieces of cinema to exist. So why 20 years later was there a need to create yet another depiction of such torment?
Interested in reading more? You can head to Ghouls Magazine to read my full Philosophy of a Knife (2008) extreme horror film review.