The second part of Katsuya Matsumura’s infamous series lives up to its billing…
Katsuya Matsumura delivered the second instalment in his notorious All Night Long franchise in 1995 with All Night Long 2: Atrocity, coming three years after the first film. Carrying on with the themes of nihilism and abuse, the film builds on its predecessor by doubling down on the nastiness, so much so that it was allegedly refused official certification and barred from theatrical release in Japan, even in a cut form – not that it was ever likely to have graced cinemas, given that it was shot on video. Whatever the case might be, the film did eventually get a video release in Japan, and was officially released in the west in 2002 by Tokyo Shock in an omnibus DVD along with the first and third instalments.
The story follows a young nerdy fellow called Shinichi (Masashi Endo), who mostly stays at home, spending his time on his computer and painting a manga doll figure. Unfortunately for him, he catches the eye of a rich homosexual classmate, who leads a gang of particularly vicious thugs, has a penchant for cutting up hamsters, and whose idea of seduction generally involves torture and humiliation. Although Shinichi finds comfort with a new girlfriend and a group of friends he meets online, he foolishly accepts an invitation to a dinner party being thrown by his tormentor, and things unsurprisingly go off the rails.
Whereas the original perhaps wasn’t as extreme or unpleasant as might have been expected, focusing on nihilism rather than explicit nastiness, All Night Long 2: Atrocity really does deliver the vileness, and is a tough watch in places. Very much living up to the ‘Human Beings are Garbage’ tagline from the Tokyo Shock release, the film features characters being treated as animals or meat, packing in some horrifying scenes of violence, sadism, abuse and rape. As with the first film, things build towards a final act explosion of carnage, which here involves samurai swords and blowtorches amongst other fun tools, and things do get very gruesome indeed – it’s worth noting that there are 68 and 76 minute versions of the film out there, for those keen to make sure they’ve seen everything.
At the same time, it wouldn’t be fair to label Atrocity as straightforward exploitation, as Katsuya clearly is as concerned with his message as he is with delivering the gore, with a disturbingly matter of fact and even-handed approach to how the violence is depicted, and with some parts taking place off-screen. Katsuya again presents here something the opposite of a cathartic or titillating tale of revenge, instead building towards a gradual, painfully inevitable loss of humanity, and the continuing of an endless cycle of brutality.
It’s certainly a film that requires an open mind and a fair amount of patience in this regard, being slow-moving and frequently heavy-handed, and the fact that it was shot on video unavoidably gives it a cheap and limited feel. At the same time, the low budget, coupled with its minimalistic locations and set-dressing, give the film an even more disturbing feel of hyper-realism, hammering home Katsuya’s super-bleak world view.
This does mean that All Night Long 2: Atrocity isn’t for all extreme cinema fans, and its arthouse leanings and unrelenting grimness make it far removed from more guilt-free splatter pleasures like the Guinea Pig series. Still, the film is definitely superior to the first in the series, and should be enjoyed, in some sense of the word, by gore seekers willing to go with its glacial gloominess, with Katsuya winning points for sticking to his vision and for going even further over the edge – something which he would continue to do with All Night Long 3.