Shogun Assassin

Director: Robert Houston

U.S.A.-Japan| 1980. Colour. Anamorphic. 84 min.

Something of a cult item—partly because of its initial censorship problems but also due to its lack of availability in recent times—Shogun Assassin is a bizarre combination of Japanese genre cinema and American exploitation flick. The success of the Shogun TV series led exploitation guru Roger Corman to commission director Robert Houston to rewrite and re-edit a Kenji Misumi swordplay action picture with the delightful title Baby Cart at the River Styx. Decked out with an electronic score by Mark Lindsay and a voiceover commentary by Lamont Johnson, this mongrel movie emerged as an entertaining riot of self-parodying laughs and gory comic-strip savagery. A masterful samurai (Tomisaburo Wakayama) wanders feudal Japan with his baby son, cutting a bloody swathe through all who stand in the way of his ruthless quest for vengeance. ‘Meet the greatest team in the history of mass slaughter’ was the typically cheesy tagline Corman’s people used to sell a film that proved enormously popular with Western audiences. We’ll be screening an uncut version.

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