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Boy From Hell - Jigoku kozu (Mari Asato 2004)


Boy from Hell
[Jigoku kozu]

Genre:Manga-based Z-grade Schlock-gore Horror

review in one breath

When her only child is tragically killed, prominent surgeon Chiba Emma will stop at nothing to bring him back. For both audiences and victims alike, this unfortunately entails a gamut of schlock-gore violence and the creepy de-evolution of a loving mother into the MILF from Hell. This is volume one (of six) of manga artist Hideshi Hino's "Theater of Horror" now available in Region 1 release.


This is part one of the six-part collection entitled Hideshi Hino's Theater of Horror. Manga artist Hideshi Hino is a proilific and well-known creator of uniquely bizarre and dark storylines. A number of his manga creations have been the basis for straight-to-video or made-for-tv Japanese horror. He also wrote and directed two of the internationally released, genre-busting films in the ultimately gory Guinea Pig series (namely, Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985) in which he also makes an appearance, and Mermaid in a Manhole (1988)).

In other words, well prior to the 2004 release of this collection, Hino was well established as a major pillar in the often controversial fringe of Japanese cringe/gore horror.

The six separate works which constitute Hino's "Theater of Horror" are all based on his manga, but each is the creation of a different Japanese director, with various degrees of experience. You can be sure that due to their ground (or grind?) in Hino's original work, the schlock gore factor will be high, but as in all such anthologies, the fun lies in discovering how the separate directors choose to handle the content.

In addition to diverse direction, all of the six are without doubt the production of an ultra-low budget, sometimes unflinchingly so. They also each have a running time of a mere 50 minutes, which includes the rather overdone intro by Hino warning viewers that watching these may cause their damnation and sudden (self-inflicted) death. (Great selling points!?!).

So the attraction here is certainly NOT their great polish and narrative. This entire series seems to cater to (and titillate) fans of the more grotesque and gory Guinea Pig films, a group I do not personally find myself among. So there is the warning in no small terms:

Fans of polished, well-constructed J-Horror tales, beware. Fans of schlock-gore, flock here.

The title of this particular work is Boy From Hell (Jigoku kozu), derived from a Hino manga of the same title. Consider it a version of Stephen King's Pet Cemetery on flesh-eating steroids. The director here is Mari Sato, one of at most a handful of successful female directors in this and perhaps most genres, whose other 2004 film Samurai Chicks we recently reviewed (for better or worse. heh).

The entire collection of Hideshi Hino's Theater of Horror consists of the following six films:

Boy from Hell (director: Mari Asato)
Dead Girl Walking (director: Kôji Shiraishi)
Death Train (director: Kazuyuki Sakamoto)
Doll Cemetery (director: Kiyoshi Yamamoto)
Lizard Baby (director: Yoshihiro Nakamura)
Ravaged House (director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri)

There's quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek "humor" going on here. First off, the family name of the mother and child is Emma, the traditional Shinto name for the Ruler of the Underworld. Add to that the ghoulish boy's first name, Daio, and you have "Daio Emma". The reverent name for the Shinto UnderLord is O-Emma (Lord Emma) and as a prefix "Dai" generally means "Great". Thus when dissected, Dai O Emma is easily understood to imply "Great Lord Emma (of the Underworld)". This allusion also explains the otherwise inexplicable fact that Surgeon Emma and her boy live in an unrivaled majestic homestead known as "Hell Castle". The whole construct is incredibly simplistic (and somewhat meaningless) but at the very least it underscores the rather juvenile age toward which Hino's original manga are marketed.

And if you doubt me on this, simply consider the name of the lead investigator, detective Hanamizu ("runny nose") whose amazingly sizable nose and consistent sneezing are intended to supply some comedic relief to this otherwise dark and grisly tale.


On a casual trip to nowhere in particular, young Daio Emma sticks his neck out a car window and quickly finds himself looking up at his stumbling headless body. His mother, a renowned surgeon and her elderly (and fatally crappy) chauffeur-cum-surgery-assistant, soon find themselves wailing in sorrow beside a three-foot mound of earth (?) wherein little Daio is buried.

As they attempt to leave the scene, a disheveled old woman sporting mountainous, unruly hair scoffingly offers the grieving mother a way out of her misery and loss. Simply slash another, similarly-aged child's throat with the particular "fang" she offers her, let the blood spill on the grave of little Daio, and viola, deceased Daio will return to life.

Needless to say, she does, then he does, but he needs to eat flesh, so she joins in the game, etc.


This is truly Z-Grade fair. Implausible, hilarious z-grade fare. Fans of the grotesque and gory, no matter how amateurish, might enjoy this. Those with a high threshhold for schlock and seeking truly campy low-budget films might also find something here. For the rest (and vast majority) of you, you'll be in for a whole lotta eye-rolling and inevitable self-doubt as you begin to realize what a stinkpot you are watching. (Why am I here? How did I get here? What terrible childhood event in my life caused me to watch this? Is there any hope for a meaningful future after watching this? Etc etc etc...)

Just so you know what you are getting into, if you dare (or are forced) to watch Boy From Hell you will have the pleasure of seeing:

  • One brain transplant done single-handedly in the basement
  • Fiery scenes of the torments of HELL which apparently all involve an 80-foot dwarf sawing, stamping, grinding and chewing his wriggling, screaming victims
  • Cannibalism, up close and personal (with sloppy, gooey innards)
  • Dismemberment -- first by hacksaw, then by chainsaw
  • Corrosive acid to the face
  • The birthday party from Hell
  • And an amazing array of completely over-the-top characters

Just your cup of tea, right? heh.

Version reviewed: Region 1 Subtitled DVD (with English subtitles)

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
I don't recall anything in the Buddhist or Shinto texts regarding a giant dwarf in Hell... Objectively speaking, there is a surprising and disturbing amount of gruesome violence against children here including decapitation, dismemberment by chainsaw, and cannibalism. Mama Emma is HOT, especially when she goes goth and off the deep end, but she's too busy chasing her rampaging cannibalistic kid for a decent bath scene. Just a intestine-chewing, bug-eyed, dwarf-boy from HELL!!.


Your review of boy from hell was enlightening and
hilarious. You made my morning AND warned me
away. from a flick I once considered buying.

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