Never before released outside of Japan and based on a manga, the Toei production Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope (its full title here) is a truly odd curio. Shin’ichi Chiba (aka Sonny) is Akira Inugami, the only remaining survivor of a massacre that killed the ancient werewolf clan he was born into. Though he’s the last of his kind, a series of brutal murders and the rumour of a ‘tiger’ woman being responsible peaks his interest and puts him on the trail of a sinister scheme taking in all manner of corruption. The sad tale of an abused nightclub singer who can kill people with her mind leads him into a dangerous new world.
As Inugami fights his way to the heart of the conspiracy he ultimately learns more about his heritage and the immoral forces that would use Inugami’s unique power for their own aims. Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi this is a bizarre exploitation picture that throws violence, horror, sci-fi, nudity, sex, martial arts action and a weird score into a one-of-a-kind mix. Ostensibly following a template that would become much more common onscreen in subsequent decades via things like The X-Files, it focuses on Inugami the investigator uncovering a dark plan to weaponise the supernatural.
This also places it more in comic book movie territory (as opposed to strictly manga) and though set in a fairly drab, recognisable Japan it otherwise embraces the nuttier end of that spectrum. The film starts off like a horror before veering off into karate flick, gangster tale, sci-fi thriller and even putting in a little backwoods J-hillbilly (if that isn’t a thing, it is now) action. Along the way Inugami has sex with every woman he meets, swaggers through fights and gets everyone around him killed. An early sequence where he’s interrogated by two cops suggests this is almost an average weekend for Inugami.
Whether this is actually any good is pretty much a moot point. You’re unlikely to be bored at any stage, and besides this movie doesn’t give a shit what you think. It just simply is. For fans of genre film, Japanese or otherwise, it’s all so lovably insane it doesn’t really matter that there’s a good possibility it’s a bit bollocks. It almost exists in a separate stream from notions of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and there’s so many ways you could choose to experience it (from an academic perspective say, or just smashed on booze, for two examples) it’s guaranteed to tickle you in some way. There are a few decent extras in some new interviews and early pressings get a booklet on the film and Japanese monster movie mash-ups. Strangely recommended.
WOLF GUY (WOLFGUY: ENRAGED LYCANTHROPE) (1975) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KAZUHIKO YAMAGUCHI / SCREENPLAY: FUMIO KÔNAMI / STARRING: SHIN’ICHI CHIBA, KYÔSUKE MACHIDA, SABURÔ DATE / RELEASE DATE: 22ND MAY