Men Behind the Sun (1988)

hqdefaultI have heard many stories of shock and awe over the years concerning this film. It is easily on most ‘disturbing films’ lists with its unflinching views on true life horror. I have owned a copy of Men Behind the Sun for many years and for some reason never watched it until this week. I’ve been a little jaded by a lot of tame, modern horror films lately and was looking for something more controversial to review. Well, this one is certainly controversial, but I must admit that I believe most of the controversy comes from some questionable filming techniques used by director T.F. Mous rather than the movie itself.

Let’s talk about the actual film before I get into some of the more interesting behind-the-scene facts.

men behind the sun gifMen Behind the Sun is the true story of the prison camp, Manchu 731, where people were subjected to tremendous horrors. The film is powerful and hard to watch, but it’s a film that should be seen by everyone to show that there were more victims that suffered during WWII that you may have known about. Near the end of WWII, Japan is losing the war, so a prison camp is created to test new biological and chemical weapons that might be able to help them win. In order to test these weapons, the Japanese need test subjects, so they capture and use Chinese and Russians as guinea pigs for their cruel barbaric experiments. The Japanese refer to the test subjects as Maruta, which means material. We follow the experiments performed on the Maruta by the crazy leader who runs the camp and a group of young boys who are enrolled into the cap, but can’t stand to deal with the cruel

Do you remember when The Blair Witch Project came out? People were sooo convinced that it was real. (P.s. I was one of those people.) The hype around the film made it that much scarier. That’s how I feel about Men Behind the Sun. All the rumors and stories make the movie that much more taboo. You have probably heard about the infamous cat scene and child dissection scene.

Dr Shiro Ishii: A small rat can beat a cat. Fleas and germs can defeat bombers and guns. This is… the basic theory behind Squadron 731. It is also my philosophy.

A cat is thrown into an enclosed glass room with hundreds of angry rats while spectators observe the gut-wrenching death of the poor cat. Audiences were outraged by this scene, believing it to be a real animal death scene and ultimately, horrific animal cruelty. Director T. F. Mous was actually offended by the notion that viewers focused on this one moment compared to the atrocities committed at war. This rumor was not debunked until many years after the fact, which surely helped the circulation of the film by word of mouth.

men behind the sun gifThe other memorable scene is of a human dissection of a nude underage boy. Again, people fumed over the fact that the boy is underage and nude. (It is important to mention that the MPAA guidelines in the USA are much stricter than foreign countiries.) A more compelling note is the fact that this is a REAL human dissection. T. F. Mous apparently waited for months for a cadaver from the coroners for the movie, with the permission of the dead boy’s family, of course. Before knowing this was a real cadaver, I was shocked by how realistic this scene looked (because it was real!) and actually gave me a stomach ache.

While there are many heinous and nauseating parts of the movie, I think Isla: Shewolf of the SS is a lot more graphic and gratuitous overall, though Men Behind the Sun has a more serious demeanor. As a hardcore horror fan, this is a must see, but really only worth viewing once.

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Men Behind the Sun (1988) on IMDb

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