One of the most disturbing films to ever come out of Eastern Asia.
Released in 1988, Men Behind The Sun
(Hei tai yang 731
in native Hong Kong) is a film about the Imperial Japanese Army's Unit 731, which during World War II conducted medical research and biological/chemical weapon experiments on captive human subjects. The film details many of the experiments carried out by the unit, and also follows a group of recruits to the unit's Youth Corps.Men Behind The Sun
is supposed to be a rather horrifyingly accurate depiction of Unit 731's activities in real life. However, the director based it on a fictional novel serial in Japanese Communist Party newspaper of questionable quality to which can be traced the origins of many questionable facts regarding the Unit. Whether the film is a cheap Exploitation Film
or a valid commentary on the behavior of the Japanese Army is debated. Either way, it's almost guaranteed to ruin your day.
This film provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: The gas chamber experiment.
- Based on a True Story - Most or all of the experiments depicted actually took place, as did most of the historical background.
- Body Horror
- Couldn't Find a Pen - One of the maruta scrawls a message on the wall of his cell when they're all gassed to death.
- Cruel and Unusual Death - The guy in the pressure chamber.
- Cyanide Pill
- Evil Is Hammy - Shiro Ishii, especially when he demonstrates his new bacterial bomb.
- Exploitation Film
- For Science! - War or not, this was the justification for many researchers.
- Gas Mask Mooks
- Gorn - Including a real cadaver.
- Harmless Freezing - Averted.
- Hazmat Suit
- Karma Houdini - As the film points out, Ishii and most of his men escaped judgment after the war.
- Kick the Dog - Except it's not a dog, it's a cat. And it's not kicked, it's eaten alive by rats.
- Kill It with Fire - The rats at the end.
- Leave No Survivors - When Japan surrenders and Unit 731 is ordered to disband.
- Mad Doctor
- Mad Scientist
- Medical Horror
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate - And how.
- No Animals Were Harmed: Played straight with the infamous scene of the cat being devoured by rats; it was red-dyed honey and the cat was rewarded with fish before being sent home to its owner. Averted with the rats themselves, which were actually set on fire. No word either way on the gas chamber dove.
- Please, I Will Do Anything! - Invoked word-for-word.
- Sequel Decay - The film was followed by several sequels, none of which were anywhere near as shocking as the original.
- Shoot the Dog - Leaving a baby to freeze to death, and the fate of the mute child.
- Slow Clap - When Ishii demonstrates his low-temperature bacterial bomb.
- Strapped to an Operating Table
- The Speechless
- Would Hurt a Child - Several.