(“731: Total Eclipse Of The Sun”)
Production: Hong Kong, 1988
English title: Men Behind The Sun
Director: T.F. Mou Tun-Fei
Category: War Atrocity/Human Experiments
A faked, but hideously realistic documentary account of true war and experimental medical atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese kempeitai in Manchuria during WW2, at the covert bacteriological mass-extermination research centre Unit 731. Hei Tai Yang 731 is a harrowing, profoundly depressing film which faithfully recreates some of Unit 731’s most inhuman and cruel experiments, which include: a woman’s baby is snatched away and buried in snow, after which she is crucified and covered with water until her limbs are frozen; she is then made to plunge her arms into a tank of hot water. The doctor in charge helps to pull away the skin and flesh which quickly sloughs away, leaving only exposed bone. Another mother and child are observed as they choke to death on poison gas. A man is sealed in a decompression chamber; after a while his body is so swollen that his entrails explode out of his anus. A boy is anaesthetized and then vivisected, doctors casually cutting his heart – still beating – from his chest. Prisoners are used for live target practice. A constant stream of corpses feeds the facility’s incinerator. One scene shows a (real) cat attacked and devoured alive by rats, in another scene rats are burned alive, and it is believed that director Mous also used actual human bodies for several experiment sequences, adding to the film’s almost unbearable charnel-house charisma. Hei Tai Yang 731 was partly responsible for a significant change in Hong Kong movie certification. Its horrors were so gross and unprecedented that censors decided to create a new classification, Category III, for adults only. Certain film-makers were quick to exploit this new freedom, creating tailor-made movies which pushed sex, nudity, rape, violence, gore, horror and atrocity to the very limits, so much so that Category III became a genre as much as a certification. Another film to include scenes inside Unit 731 was Jun Ji Wei An Fu (“Military Prostitute: Comfort Woman”, 1992), a sex-and-atrocity entry directed by Lui Siu-Lung (Bruce Le) in which a syphilis-riddled Korean prostitute is sent to the experiment camp to become a human lab-rat. That same year saw the release of Godfrey Ho Jeung-Keung’s Hei Tai Yang 731 Xu Ji Zhi Sha Ren Gong Chan (“731: Total Eclipse Of The Sun 2: Death Factory”), which was followed by the same director’s Si Wang Lie Che (“Death Train”, 1994), also known as Men Behind The Sun 3: Escape From Hell. Finally, original director T. F. Mou Tun-Fei came out with a film based on another Japanese war atrocity, the so-called Rape of Nanking – Hei Tai Yang: Nanjing Da Tusha (“Total Eclipse Of The Sun: Nanking Massacre”) – in 1995.

Posted by Venus Vex.

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