Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)


The movie Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) is a Japanese horror film directed by Teruo Ishii. The film is based on the novels Strange Tale of Panorama Island and The Demon of the Lonely Isle by Edogawa Rampo¹.

Hirosuke, a medical student portrayed by Teruo Yoshida, finds himself in a peculiar situation. Despite his sanity, he is confined within the walls of an asylum, with his past a blur. His escape from the institution leads him into a whirlwind of events, including being implicated in the murder of a circus performer.

In the midst of this chaos, Hirosuke stumbles upon a photograph of Genzaburo Komoda, a recently deceased man who bears a striking resemblance to him. Seizing this opportunity, Hirosuke impersonates the dead man, convincing everyone, including Komoda’s widow and mistress, of his miraculous resurrection.

While residing in the Komoda household, Hirosuke experiences a flood of memories that compel him to journey to a nearby island. This island is the home of Jogoro, Genzaburo’s web-fingered father.

Upon his arrival on the island, Hirosuke uncovers Jogoro’s grand scheme of creating his ‘ideal community’. This involves the grotesque transformation of ordinary humans into monstrous beings. However, the most shocking revelation is the discovery of his own identity, intertwined with the horrifying reality of the island.


  • Teruo Yoshida as Hirosuke Hitomi/Genzaburô Komoda
  • Tatsumi Hijikata as Jogoro
  • Yukie Kagawa as Shizuko
  • Teruko Yumi as Hideko/Hatsuyo
  • Mitsuko Aoi as Toki Komoda
  • Michiko Kobata as Chiyoko Komoda
  • Minoru Ōki as Kogorô Akechi/Manservant


Although this film had built a reputation, it was not available for viewing in the United States for 40-50 years. [2]

Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) was vigorously protested upon its initial release, and promptly banned by its own studio Toei for the following three decades. So maligned was the film that the very mention of its title (which allegedly contains degrading overtones not apparent in the English translation) is considered taboo in Japan. [3]

It finally was released on DVD in the U.S. but some, if not all, did not contained English dubbing or subtitles. [2]

Lack of theatrical showings was possibly due to the extensive topless nudity throughout the film. [2]


“Where Ishii excels is in gruesome and surreal imagery. Often shot through multi-colored filters, Ishii’s visions of malformed humans drifting trance-like (the freaks were portrayed by a real-life dance troop) through cobbled streets won’t ever misplace the work of Jodorowsky or Arrabal, but do make for deeply striking, never-before-seen images. ” – [3]

“As a mystery narrative, Horrors of Malformed Men might charitably be given the benefit of the doubt as witting parody. As a cinematic rendering of the gothic, fetishistic, horrific, and sublime — erotic, grotesque nonsense — it is unparalleled.” – [4]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] IMDb

[3] thebedlamfiles.com

[4] screenslate.com

Last updated byCody Meirick on December 2, 2023