We gave it an A
John Waters to the contrary, bizarro cult movies represent yet another area where Japan has repeatedly bested America. Black Lizard, a 1968 jaw dropper, is plenty proof. The hyperactive plot pits brilliant (if stodgy) detective Akechi (Isao Kimura) against brilliant (if flagrantly campy) archvillainess Black Lizard, played by celebrated onnagata — that’s a female impersonator to you, bub — Akihiro Maruyama. The candy colors will poke you in the eye, the pacing is as crazed as rush hour in Tokyo, and the whole thing plays like mid-’60s James Bond gone berserkly Kabuki. Added bonus for literati: Novelist Yukio Mishima, who originally wrote the stage adaptation, appears in the film as one of Black Lizard‘s living statues. In two years, Mishima would commit an extremely public hara-kiri; in its own way, this movie taps that same demented theatricality. Uncategorizable, but what the hey, let’s give it an A.