God bless Arrow Video, for without them I might not have ever seen Wolf Guy. Never before released outside of Japan, this rare 1975 Toei production is part horror, part martial arts movie, part science fiction fantasy, part action movie, part blood-soaked gore fest. In short, it's the kind of movie for which #Junesploitation is made.
The great Sonny Chiba stars as Akira Inugami, the only surviving member of an ancient clan of werewolves who also happens to solve crimes. I think? He never really wolfs out, so don't expect any full-on werewolf action. He does fight a bunch and at one point is captured and experimented upon, during which we get to see him eviscerated and disemboweled in graphic detail. Also, there is a series of unexplainable crimes in which the members of a rock band are being attacked by an invisible tiger and shredded alive. To round things out, there's some political intrigue and a romance that culminates in Chiba essentially breastfeeding from his would-be girlfriend.
From the acid jazzy score to the enormous sprays of blood that gush from every wound to the endless cool of star Sonny Chiba, Wolf Guy is so watchably weird that I found myself loving it. It's a movie made up of so many elements that I enjoy in other movies -- the werewolf horror, the violent action, the crime aspects -- that to see them combined in a totally new way is a thrill, like someone rearranging all the pieces of a cat jigsaw puzzle to make a really fucked-up looking cat that somehow looks even better than the one you were supposed to be making. I know that it's never going to appeal to a lot of people, because they probably want the cat to look like it does on the box. That's ok! There are plenty of movies like that. There is only one Wolf Guy.
So, yes, I'm fully in the tank for Wolf Guy, and not in an ironic hipster can-you-believe-this kind of way. The movie is sincere, and so is my affection for it. Any movie that has Sonny Chiba AND werewolves AND this much blood is bound to win my heart. You don't have to watch it during #Junesploitation this month, but you really should watch it at some point.
Blu-ray release date: May 23, 2017
DTS HD 2.0 Mono (Japanese)
Blu-ray bonus features:
Sonny Chiba interview
Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi interview
Producer Toru Yoshida interview