Part 2 of 13, excerpted from an essay entitled “Disturbo 13: The Most Disturbing Horror Films Ever Made” by Stanley Wiater.
A very obscure Chinese film—the English credits list only the director (T. F. Mous) and the producer (Fu Chi): no other actors or technical credits are given. The title is also questionable, as the subtitles indicate the literal translation from Chinese would be Manchu 731 Squadron. Whatever the title, this is an incredibly grim film, one which purports to tell the true story of the 731 Squadron, a group of Japanese scientists experimenting with biological warfare in occupied China at the very end of World War II.
Just as the Nazi scientists used concentration-camp victims for their hideous experimental efforts to see how much punishment a human body could take and still survive, the scientists of 731 Squadron are shown using the imprisoned natives of Manchu province as their guinea pigs. This is the core of the plot—the vivid demonstrations of these various experiments in human endurance. The handsomely produced film is presented very much like a documentary. Watching this movie is very much like being taken on a guided tour of a factory designed to create hell on earth.
In one unbearable scene, a young boy (the only character the filmmakers have allowed us to develop any sympathy for) in injected with a biological plague. While still alive—to see how fast the plague travels through his body—the young boy is next taken to the operating room. There, a group of jovial doctors literally cut him into pieces and put his organs into assorted glass jars. The camera never once moves away from the sight of the scalpels shredding the flash as the strangers’ hands dip inside and cold-bloodedly remove the boy’s living organs.
How much of the story is historically accurate, I honestly don’t know, but the idea that any studio (for this is a major production, not a low-budget exploitation flick) would want to remind us of these unspeakable horrors is something almost beyond imagining.