LSDThe LSD of the title is entirely appropriate, this being a seriously bizarre Japanese gore fest. LUCKY SKY DIAMOND isn’t a good film by any means, but taken purely for what it is—a 58 minute joyride of gory weirdness—it’s an acceptable time-waster.

LUCKY SKY DIAMOND (RAKKU SUKAI DAIAMONDO) is often mistakenly identified as part of Japan’s notorious GUINEA PIG franchise, and while it has definite similarities—namely the extreme gore, cheap shot-on-video photography, short running time and highly misogynistic bent—the film is a standalone effort. Released on Japanese video in early 1990, it was directed by the prolific manga screenwriter Izo Hashimoto (he co-scripted the seminal AKIRA), who went on to helm several features, the best known being EVIL DEAD TRAP 2.

A woman awakens in a hospital room lit by an eerie flickering light. Surrounding her is an aquarium filled with eels and walls that drip blood. After crapping out what looks like a pile of her own innards the woman is forcibly subdued by a lab coat wearing doctor and his pretty assistant, who seem to be on hand solely to torment their helpless patient.

Eventually the not-so-good doctor and his cohort shave the woman’s head, sedate her and saw open her skull. The doctor pokes around in the woman’s exposed brain, making her body perform all sorts of involuntary gymnastics, while his assistant fellates him. A cockroach crawls into the woman’s open skull at one point and the doctor eats it.

Later the woman, her skull sewn back up, wakes up screaming. The assistant stabs her several times in the belly and then leaves. She returns decked out in an outrageous Hawaiian getup and enters into a scalpel duel with the protagonist, and then the doctor appears wearing a cardboard box(!) and chases the woman around. Lots of crazy behavior and bloodletting ensue.

LUCKY SKY DIAMOND’S artful, studied visuals suggest director Izo Hashimoto might have had some serious purpose in mind, but that doesn’t mean the film should be taken seriously. The proceedings have all the depth of an American slasher movie but none of the charm, being resolutely stark, claustrophobic and humorless. There’s also an unusual amount of screaming by the heroine, which becomes quite grating after about five minutes.

What LUCKY SKY DIAMOND does have in its favor is an atmosphere of hallucinatory grotesquerie that’s very much its own. Hashimoto and cinematographer Osamu Fukjiishi clearly worked overtime to make their shot-on-video film look as good as possible, providing many striking images—blood cascading down white walls, a microwave oven disgorging piles of human innards, a cockroach crawling around in an open skull—and some truly wild camerawork, making for a powerfully visualized exercise in weirdness for weirdness’ sake.

Vital Statistics

JHV (Japan Home Video)

Director: Izo Hashimoto
Producer: Kenji Haga, Satoru Ogura
Cinematography: Osamu Fukjiishi
Editing: Yoshikazu Iwanami
Cast: Naoko Amihama, Reiko Nakamura, Shiro Sano