Sick Cinema: 964 Pinocchio (1991)

By Ethan Mitchell


Japanese Cyber Punk is a small subgenre of horror that blends visual elements of David Lynch’s Eraserhead with the body horror of David Cronenberg, but most importantly with these films there’s a sense of seclusion and anti-establishment. Most famously done in the film Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Diving deep into the catalogue of Unearthed Films I found that they put of a few films that meet these requirements, one of which being Shozin Fukui’s 1991 film 964 Pinocchio. I don’t have extensive experience in this genre, but I have seen most of the classics like the previously mentioned Tetsuo Franchise, so when I noticed this release, I knew it was one that I couldn’t pass up.


A lobotomized and thrown away cyborg sex slave named Pinocchio finds refuge with a homeless girl. Unfortunately for Pinocchio, the company who manufactured him is on the hunt to destroy him for his poor sexual performance and to maintain the secrecy of the company.


“What would happen if the dominant power, which comes when mental anguish exceed physical tolerance, is expanded”


This is a direct quote from Shozin Fukui when he was asked about the inspiration for 964 Pinocchio. On the surface it’s hard to find any meaning within the film, but that’s due to its unconventional and uncomfortable formatting. It’s a credit to the film and its director Fukui. The film is hard to follow but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. You get crazy editing with wild industrial sound effects that really complement it as a work of art. Some scenes just feel odd and like they last for a few seconds longer than they should, and the insane acting of some of the characters with close-ups on their facial expressions really becomes unsettling after a while, and that’s where this films charm lies. It’s meant to be an endurance test of oddities that weighs on the audience after a period of time, and in that mission it succeeds.


Typically, I review extreme films and so far, there hasn’t been too much disturbing subject matter in this review, but really for an extreme horror aficionado there isn’t much here. There is some blood and maybe some minor gore… some vomit and off-putting sexual situations,  but the disturbing nature of the film comes from the physical toll it takes on you to complete it. This is where Fukui’s quote means the most. The mental anguish far exceeds the physical tolerance.


At the end of the day the pros outweigh the cons, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t cons. Like I mentioned earlier some scenes drag on too long and the result is a pretty lengthy film. So, if you aren’t down for an endurance test then this is a film to steer clear of, but if you enjoy films that are difficult to watch but worth it in the long run then check it out.


I’m not a huge fan of the Japanese Cyberpunk craze but out of the ones I have seen so far this is easily one of the best, and despite its low budget limitations 964 Pinocchio really comes off as an embodiment of its genre and most impressively it makes you think for hours, even if there isn’t that much to actually think about. For that 964 Pinocchio comes in at an easy 7.5/10.

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