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Posts tagged “j-horror

World Horror Cinema: Japan

By Sam Reeve

Occult_film_2009_1aTitle: Occult

Year: 2009

Language: Japanese

My rating: 6/10

Some of you may remember that last October was Japanese Horror Month. I saw a lot of great films, but the one that scared me the most and has stayed on my mind was Koji Shiraishi’s No-roi (The Curse). Today I bring you Occult, a “found footage” mockumentary by the same director.

Koji plays “himself” in the film, and is making a documentary about an incident at a seaside resort where a man stabbed two people to death and carved strange symbols onto the back of another. The film floats out to stranger tides when the crew uncover weird, supernatural elements that link several players in this tale. Eventually the focus is solely on the surviving victim, a man in his 30’s who stays in cafes overnight and can’t hold down a job. Since the attack he’s been seeing supernatural “miracles”, as he calls them, and the filmmakers continue to find more bizarre, creepy clues.

This might sound a bit confusing or vague, but it’s really best if you go into it with little expectations. That’s what I did, and was pleased that is was a bit disorienting.okaruto 2009 koji shiraishi

Made with a handheld camera, the film had low quality visuals at times. The “miracles” witnessed were often these weird ghost/alien things that floated around in the sky, and they resembled blurry jellyfishes drawn in MS Paint (see above). The acting on the other hand was always good, and Shiraishi really knows how to concoct some disturbing scenes. Unlike most “shaky cam” movies, Shiraishi’s never annoy me. The acting is great enough that it doesn’t ruin the suspended disbelief in the way so many other mockumentaries do (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity).

I do recommend at least one viewing of Occult, though I can speak more highly of No-roi. I couldn’t find a clip or trailer that included English subs, but below you’ll find the full movie. If you’ve seen it, let us know what you think in the comments below!


Day 31: Uzumaki (2000)

By Sam Reeve

I thought Uzumaki would be perfect for Halloween’s Japanese Horror Month entry. It has a perfect blend of truly bizarre horror and comical carnivalesque visuals and sounds which, to me, are what make up Halloween.

Uzumaki (aka Spiral) is connected to other films from Japanese Horror Month in a couple different ways: One of the screen writers also worked on the screenplay for Tokyo Gore Police, and Uzumaki is based on a manga by the amazing Junji Ito, whose work also inspired Kakashi (and numerous other horror shows and films).

Here’s the basic plot:

The story concerns the inhabitants of the small Japanese town of Kurôzu-cho that seems to be cursed by supernatural events surrounding spirals. Many people become obsessed or paranoid about spiral shapes, which starts resulting in several gruesome deaths. Eventually people start transforming into something other than human, such as snails and twisted forms.


WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: First, it’s very bizarre, not your average horror in any sense. The visuals are great, sometimes genuinely creepy, other times pretty funny. Second, the story isn’t bad. I have no idea what the manga is like, so I can’t compare, but I liked what the film did. Uzumaki is definitely something I could see myself viewing a few more times.

Below you can find a low-qualitycopy of Uzumaki on Youtube, with English subtitles. If you can find this film elsewhere, I highly recommend it (I was too lazy).


Day 29:Ju-on (2000)

By Sam Reeve

When I watched Ju-on for Japanese Horror Month, I thought I would be watching what had inspired the American remake (which I still haven’t seen). Turns out there are two movies called Ju-on: one which was made in 2000, and one made in 2002 called Ju-on: The Grudge, which has a totally different plot and a very confusingly similar title. Ju-on actually translates to “grudge”, so you can see how this might not make the most sense. Click here for a full break-down of the Ju-on series.

The plot isn’t so much there, honestly, but here it goes: Jumping around to different characters and different times even, it tells us about the people affected by the curse of a house and those who’ve inhabited it. The curse started with a husband who murdered his wife and son because he was jealous (but that’s also not super clear in the film). The son has missed school so his teacher, Kobayashi, goes to investigate. We also see a family living in the house, and due to the curse a tutor and girlfriend are both killed. The last part of the film is fairly uneventful, just the real estate agent enlisting the help of his psychic sister to check out the place.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If this series wasn’t famous and possibly worthy of viewing just to check it off your list, I would say to steer clear. It was a little creepy at some parts, most certainly in the way you would always think more would happen than what did, but that was all. The famous “crawling down the stairs” scene was pretty freaky at least.

The low-budget quality of the film could appeal to some people, since it did make it seem like you were watching a creepy home video at points.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: The plot was just all over the place and left really unfinished in the worst way. If it had had more substance in that sense, I could have easily gotten past the lack of scariness.

Below you’ll find the famous staircase scene, and below that is the full movie with English subtitles. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 


Day 26: Tales of Terror – The Haunted Apartments (2005)

By Sam Reeve

Today’s film for Japanese Horror Month is The Haunted Apartments from the Tales of Terror series. It’s a paranormal j-horror that I found to be surprisingly good.

Aimi and her father move into a new apartment complex a few years after her mother died. The other tenants seem overly friendly and helpful when they arrive – the first tip-off that something is awry. Aimi starts seeing a girl her age around the place, but there’s supposedly only a boy her age living there. Things get stranger when she’s told there’s a curfew – everyone must cross a string that’s tied up between two rocks at the entrance of the complex by midnight. If they don’t make it in time, they’ll die.

Aimi learns from a past tenant that only those who’ve been there the longest can leave, but they must find new people to move in first. If anyone violates this, the ghost of the young girl kills them.

Meanwhile, Aimi’s dad is an alcoholic piece of shit who tries to publish an article about the hauntings, thus jeopardizing everyone’s chance at finding replacement tenants. The others try to attack him, leading to an unexpected ending of a lifted curse and [SPOILER] Aimi’s dad getting killed.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Though it wasn’t the most horrifying of movies, there were a number of parts that were unnerving and a little freaky. What I loved most about Haunted Apartments were the array of colourfully characters that populated the apartment complex. They seemed to all be like a big weird family in the way they all cheered each other on and looked out for one another if they hadn’t made it back as midnight approached. I actually gave a shit about most of them and usually I hate all the characters in your average horror flick.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: There’s some stuff you find out at the VERY end which was surprising, and though I may feel differently upon a second viewing, I felt there hadn’t been enough hints  towards what was going on. It seemed so random and almost like the writers themselves hadn’t known how to properly end the story.

Despite that, it’s worth a viewing if you’re looking for a decent j-horror to ring in Halloween. You can find the full movie below with English subtitles.


Day 24: Carved (2007)

By Sam Reeve

Carved, aka The Slit-Mouthed Woman, is today’s film for Japanese Horror Month. I first came across this when reading about Koji Shiraishi, who directed Noroi, another film to appear this month that I quite enjoyed. Unfortunately Carved is not as good, but still not an utter failure.

Carved is a paranormal slasher flick with child abuse being one of the major themes, as every main character is either a current or past abuser or victim. An evil ghost, the slit-mouthed woman, possesses women’s bodies and kidnaps children so she can abuse and murder them. Two teachers are solving the mystery so they may save the children, but are put in danger themselves.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Mostly I found Carved to be pretty average and not very spooky or jumpy. What I did find disturbing was the scenes of child abuse (there are quite a few), and the one brutal flashback scene where a little boy has to kill his own mom. The makeup and special effects were a bit creepy, but nothing to swoon over.

The film was most definitely watchable, so if you’re looking for something just average, not terribly gory, or just want to see more j-horror, give Carved a try.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: What annoyed me the most  were things that are apparent in pretty much all slasher flicks – the characters in peril don’t seem to understand the concepts of “go out the way you came in” and “be quiet when the killer is near”. Of course, maybe slasher flicks just couldn’t exist without that kind of crap, but one can dream.

Below you can find the full movie with English subtitles. One more week until Halloween!


Day 20: Meatball Machine

By Sam Reeve

Japanese Horror Month is all about diversity and contrast, so after a very tame black and white horror film yesterday, today’s post would naturally be something totally insane and gory. Meatball Machine is linked to several of the other movies that we’ve seen this month: The director, Yudai Yamaguchi, also wrote Day 1’s Versus, and the special effects and makeup were done by the same guy who did Tokyo Gore Police and Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl.

Meatball Machine features necroborgs, disgustingly mutated people that are controlled by tiny little aliens that infest humans for sport. The necroborgs can only survive by fighting and eating each other.

Yoji is a shy, lonely guy who works at some kind of machinist shop. He always eats his lunch outside while watching a neighbour hanging her laundry. One night he gets beat up by a tranny outside a porno theatre, and while whimpering in the trash next to the building, he finds a weird pod thing. He takes it home and leaves it in his closet.

As fate would have it, he later saves the girl he likes from being raped by one of his co-workers and they both end up back at his place, where the pod awakens and takes over the girl’s body.

From there on it’s just a bunch of monster necroborg fighting with a hint of romance.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If you like ridiculous movies like Tokyo Gore Police, you’re sure to like this too. It’s just entertaining and is the perfect thing to share with friends. The gore and costumes are all great, very detailed and imaginative.

The scene where he gets beat up by a horny tranny is also pretty hilarious.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: The plot was a bit weak I thought, and the necroborg fights were great, but went on for way too long. The last half of the movie was just one long necroborg fight and after a while it wasn’t interesting for me anymore.

Here is a trailer for the film, and below that is the full movie with English subtitles. Enjoy!

 


Day 18: Audition (1999)

By Sam Reeve

Sorry this post is coming so late today. First wordpress wasn’t letting me post or edit things, and now the servers are down and being wacky when I can post it. BOOO. anyhow…

Audition, brought to us by the legendary Takashi Miike, is what’s on the dinner plate for this evening. It’s based on a novel of the same name by Ryu Murakami and stars Eihi Shiina (starred in Tokyo Gore Police).

As the title would suggest, there’s an audition. Ryo’s wife died many years before and his son has been urging him to remarry. Ryo’s producer friend decides to set up a fake audition for a film so that he can meet a bunch of women and learn about them. Only one girl catches his eye: Asami, a quiet and bizarre woman.

They go on dates and things seem very odd but ok from Ryo’s point of view, but we know very well that she’s a bit of a messed up girl.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: It’s pretty fucked up, so there’s that. I was expecting this movie to be much more brutal both psychologically and in terms of gore, so I was underwhelmed in a way. I read about it prior to watching and multiple sites reported that when it was first shown at festivals, people walked out or fainted because it was so extreme.

Don’t be fooled. If you watch a lot of horror movies this may not shock you. I loved it, so don’t get me wrong, but just don’t pay attention to the hype.

It was a beautiful movie and well acted. The last scenes with Asami torturing Ryo were a bit hard to watch, but mostly because of the joy she showed while doing it. I really think the characters were the saving grace for this movie (for those like me who just weren’t frightened by it). They were interesting, there was just enough back story (more in Asami’s case), and some were very fucked up in the interesting sense.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: The “it was all a dream” thing is used heavily near the end of the movie, which annoyed me. That’s my only real complaint about Audition, and I’m sure it would bother me less during a second viewing.

Below I’ve posted the full movie with English subtitles. If you’ve seen Audition already or end up watching it, let us know what you think in a comment below!


Day 17: Wicked City (1987)

By Sam Reeve

For today’s Japanese Horror Month we have Wicked City, an anime film directed by the same guy who wrote Bio Hunter (featured four days ago). Wicked City is a neo-noir horror about the worlds of mortals and “black” supernatural beings. These beings can cross over into our normal world, but often do so to eat us or destroy shit.

A peace treaty is being signed by the two worlds and an “important” man, Giuseppi Mayart, is coming to town to oversee it. Of course the radicals from the black world keep trying to kill him, so he has two guards: Taki (a man from the Black Guard), and Makie (a woman of the black world who wants peace). I out “important” in quotations because although you think at first Giuseppi will be a wise old important dude like yoda, he’s actually a rude, stupid pervert who just wants to bang girls and look at porn. He also wears a track suit.

There’s quite a bit of sexual content in this movie, and Wikipedia aptly describes it like this:

The film is a sexual thriller in which sex is portrayed mainly as a weapon (sex with monsters, rape and torture), and only briefly used as a form of romantic expression, though in such a way as to not consider the film hentai. The film portrays demons as beings that can walk in human form and seduce their prey much like a Siren, instilling castration anxiety in the viewer through use of demons with vagina dentata.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: There are lots of demons, melting tits, succubi and even tentacle rape. If you liked Akira, you could probably get into this movie too. The ending wasn’t one I saw coming, and though it kind of annoyed me for being too perfect, it wasn’t totally predictable (or maybe I’m just dumb).

Wicked City starts off pretty exciting too. Just like Bio Hunter, within the first five minutes a couple is having sex. She didn’t turn into a demon during the sex like the woman had in Bio Hunter, so I was a little disappointed. BUT THEN, right after they do the deed, she turns into a spider monster with a vagina-mouth. YES. These people delivered.

Here is a clip of the spider woman scene I just described, and below I’ve posted the full movie which can be watched on Youtube in English.


Day 16: Noroi – The Curse (2005)

By Sam Reeve

Halfway through Japanese Horror Month, and thank goodness, because I got my obsession with Japan out of my system about a week ago. Lordy lordy…

Today’s featured film is Noroi (The Curse), directed by Koji Shiraishi. It’s a “found footage” film that reminded me a lot of The Poughkeepsie Tapes, so if you enjoyed that style, you’ll dig this too.

Noroi starts off with a narrator telling us about Mr. Kobayashi, a documentary filmmaker who follows stories of paranormal activity. The narrator tells us that Mr. Kobayashi has finished making a documentary called Noroi, but that several days after its completion his house was burnt down. His wife’s body was found inside, but Mr. Kobayashi himself was missing.

The “found footage” part of it that consisted of Mr. Kobayashi’s own film starts with him helping a woman who hears terrible noises coming from her neighbour’s house each night. The neighbour, a crazy woman with a young son, screams at Mr. Kobayashi when he attempts to interview her. The crazy woman moves away shortly after, but two days after the move the normal woman and her daughter die in a car crash.

Mr. Kobayashi follows up on more strange cases, and finds that they’re all linked, often because of this crazy lady. Everything leads back to a small village where sorcerers had performed rituals to summon the demon Kagutaba.

As the filmmaker and his cameraman get deeper and deeper into the history of this curse and those it affects, things get creepier and more dangerous for them. People start dying, go missing or randomly commit suicide, all due to some curse that has touched their lives. Of course because this movie starts with telling us how things ended for Mr. Kobayashi, we know it doesn’t go anywhere good for anyone.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: I found this movie to be pretty damn good. I don’t always like the “found footage” movies, since a few well-known bad ones have really soured it for me (I’m looking at you, Blair With Project), but Noroi was surprisingly good. Noroi was incredibly suspenseful despite being fairly low on the visuals of creepy stuff. It made you think creepy ghosts or demons were gunna pop up on the video more often than it really did, and I was on edge for much of its duration. This movie had me drawn in and creeped enough that I couldn’t even get out of bed to answer my phone or pee until it was over.

The twists and turns the complicated plot takes you on are pretty damn interesting, as were the multitude of characters we met throughout. Mr. Kobayashi was a character who really didn’t tell us much about himself, but through his actions you can see he’s a pretty normal, good guy who wants to help out these terrified people. He was actually pretty admirable I thought.

Below I’ve posted the full movie, which you can watch on Youtube with English subtitles. I recommend viewing it in HD since it’s already such a poor-quality video, and would likely look insanely grainy otherwise. Enjoy!


Day 12: Katakata (2006)

By Sam Reeve

Katakata (Rattle Rattle) is one of three shorts that make up the anthology film Unholy Women. I happened to come across it by its lonesome in Youtubeland, so I haven’t seen the other ones. This one wasn’t a total waste of 30 minutes so it’s worth checking out the whole movie.

Katakata is about a young woman, Kanako, who returns from a date with her fiance, only to be struck on the head by something falling outside her apartment building. She wakes up and continues on, but while getting ready for bed she hears a creepy voice in her apartment, then promptly receives a call from her fiance saying his ex-wife tried to kill him. A knife-wielding woman in red attacks Kanako and chases her around the apartment complex. At first you think she’s human and the ex-wife of her fiance, but that theory is quickly dashed to pieces when she starts moving her body in inhuman ways, crawls around on ceilings, and is able to appear out of nowhere.

Oh, and she also reveals her true form. Pretty fetching, if I do say so myself.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Besides the fact that you get to watch this hottie (pictured above) chase around an innocent girl, I got nothing. But really, it had its freaky parts: the rattling sound you heard each time the monster lady appeared was like their own version of Jason’s weird hushing noise in Friday the 13th, and they don’t really let up for very long on the horror, so it’s an intense ride.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: The ending was pretty cliche. I won’t give it away, because it’ll ruin the first 80% of the movie, which was pretty good. Actually there was kind of a double whammy of cliche at the end, so that was a bummer.

You should still give Katakata a shot, it’s worth the time and good for a quick dose of j-horror. I would also recommend watching all of Unholy Women. I haven’t yet, but the premise for the second one seems hilarious (man must go on date with boss’s sister, who wears a burlap sack during the entire evening out, then shit gets weirder).

Below is Katakata with subtitles in English. Enjoy!


Day 11: Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

By Sam Reeve

If you’ve been paying attention to Japanese Horror Month, you may have noticed the post about Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl. Today’s film, Tokyo Gore Police, was done by the same guy. His name is Yoshihiro Nishimura and when I picture fantasize about him he’s wearing a crown that sprays blood and probably drinking some kind of eyeball cocktail.

Tokyo Gore Police is not for the squeamish – you will see gross shit, strange things that leave you speechless, and an insane amount of blood. This is the kind of movie Elizabeth Bathory would masturbate to.

Set in a very chaotic Japan, Tokyo Gore Police is essentially a story of vengeance. A young girl witnesses her policeman father’s assassination. This girl grows up into Ruka, the awesomely hot and incredibly lethal Engineer hunter. Engineers are mutants who, when injured, sprout crazy new weapons from their wounds. I won’t give away the rest, but I can assure you it’s rather satisfying.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If you’re a regular here on Bizarro Central it could mean one of two things: One, you keep accidentally ending up here while searching for porn, or two, you like weird shit. If it’s the latter, I’m guessing you’ve either seen this, want to see it, or have been unfortunately kept in the dark.

Well, guess what? I’m here to enlighten you with a few pictures of what’s in store.

If you’re unconvinced so far and still need my soothing words to convince you to see this, I guess you should read on…JUST KIDDING. I have nothing more to say other and am tired and want to go to bed. This is a great movie to share with others – don’t be lame and watch it alone! Bring it to a party or a family gathering.

And watch this trailer if you still need convincing or if you already love TGP and need a refresher. Cheers!


Day 7: Kakashi (2001)

By Sam Reeve

Like many of the movies and shows I’ve been watching for Japanese Horror Month, I found Kakashi on my magical travels through Youtubeland whilst sleep deprived. I went into this film knowing nothing about it and without having read the video description below it. The movie, though not super awesome, did manage to be pretty creepy at times. When I read in the description beneath the video that it was based on a manga by Junji Ito (known for Uzumaki and Tomie), it made sense. That dude creates some unnerving shit.

If you’re not familiar with Ito’s work and still thinking “should I really click that blue link to find out who he is?“, just look at a few of these pictures from his mangas.

Kakashi reminded me of both Twin Peaks and Pet Sematery. It starts off with Kaoru checking her missing brother’s apartment for clues. She finds an envelope with a letter from his ex-girlfriend, asking for help. Assuming her brother has gone to the village from where the letter originated, Kaoru heads there too.

Spooky shit happens as soon as she gets there. While driving through the tunnel that leads to the village, her car stalls. She meets lots of creepy villagers on her way in who don’t respond to her or have vacant stares. All of them are preparing kakashi (scarecrows) for the upcoming kakashi festival.

Kaoru finds the house of Izumi, her brother’s ex, and doesn’t get a warm welcome, but is allowed to stay the night. From here, shit gets weirder with Kaoru having dreams that skirt reality, more ominously silent locals, and hints throughout the film that the scarecrows aren’t what they seem.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Kakashi was actually a bit creepy. It’s obvious from the moment Kaoru steps into the village that 1) she shouldn’t be there and 2) no one wants her there. That’s a pretty unnerving feeling, at least for most normal people, and I found it getting to me. There are plenty of ghost appearances, plot twists and creepy Japanese hicks to make you curl up just a little closer to your mom’s shitty cat that keeps you up all night.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe I’m retarded, or maybe some of it was lost in translation, but there was some confusing stuff in this movie. Like how I couldn’t figure out until almost half-way through the movie that Izumi was actually someone who Kaoru knew (she was apparently her roommate in school) and not just some random pen pal girl of her brother’s. She does mention knowing Izumi to the girl’s parents, but she made it seem like she was a mere acquaintance from school.

There’s also some weird possession/brain washing stuff you’ll get to near the end, and the details of that never really came about and it seemed too awkward.

The villagers creeping on the girl was great and all, but it would have been nice to understand their motivations. At first it seems like they don’t want her there so she can’t interfere (they tell her to leave, try to drive her away by saying her brother isn’t in their village), but then they try their best to keep her stuck there (lie about her car being fixed before jumping her). I don’t feel it quite added up, but hey, what do I know?

Below is the full movie Japanese with English subtitles. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 


Day 4: Ringu (1998)

By Sam Reeve

Today I bring you Ringu, the film directed by Hideo Nakata which inspired the American remake The Ring. Ringu was actually based on a novel of the same name written by Koji Suzuki. The film’s male lead Hiroyuki Sanada may be familiar to North American audiences for his roles in The Last Samurai, Sunshine, and LOST.

Now I haven’t seen the American one since it first came out, so my memory of it is a little fuzzy, but the plot for both seems mostly the same, but with enough differences that you don’t feel like you’ve watched the same movie twice.

The movie starts off with two teenage girls discussing the rumours surrounding a cursed video that, after watching it, kills you seven days later. One of them had actually watched it exactly a week prior, and you can guess what happens to her a few scenes later.

A female reporter (pictured above) has been interviewing people regarding the popularity of the rumours, who also just so happens to be the aunt of the girl who dies at the beginning of the film. She follows leads, ends up getting a hold of the movie, watches it and freaks out.

The rest of the film is her and her ex-husband (to whom she also showed the video) trying to solve the mystery and lift the curse, all while the clock counts down to their possible demise.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: I don’t remember the American one being particularly bad, but this is definitely better. Ringu really is quite creepy, and unlike the remake, it has far less violence and special effects, which works really well.

The acting is good, as is the story, and I really preferred the characters in this one compared to the remake. The way the lead characters’ son is portrayed is also a million times more effective in my opinion. I thought the American actor who played the son was creepy as hell, which honestly made me not care so much if something happened to him. Though the little Japanese boy in Ringu was a little weird in that he could communicate with ghosts, he was cute as fucking hell and a much more realistic child.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: There’s not too much I can say, honestly. See it!

Ringu has also spawned a couple of sequels and a prequel, none of which I’ve seen and which don’t sound as appealing as this one. If any of you have seen them, feel free to let us know in a comment below how they were.

Below I’ve posted the full movie that can be watched on Youtube with English subtitles. Enjoy!

 


Day 3: Matango (1963)

By Sam Reeve

For day three of our Japanese Horror Month, I bring you Matango, directed by Ishiro Honda, famous for having directed several of the Godzilla movies, including Godzilla, Godzilla King of the Monsters, and Mothra.

The story tells of a group of rich people sailing around on a yacht, only to encounter a storm that sends them drifting to a mysterious island. They find a wrecked ship, the insides of which are covered in fungi, and they decide to clean it up and move in. Stranded with little food or supplies and unable to call for help, the group forages for food, fights amongst themselves and tries to figure out why the crew of the old ship went missing.

Of course there are also mushroom people on the island who, for reasons unknown, are lonely and want the others to become like them.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: I wasn’t super keen on this flick, but I did like the special effects. The weird mushroom forests and creepy ship were pretty awesome, and there were a few parts that were a little spooky.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: I was imagining these people trying to fight off the mushroom monsters the whole time, which sounded pretty sweet. The primary antagonist, though, ends up just being the stranded folks themselves. The first hour of the film is them fighting over food and the women, which was interesting (survival stories can be pretty cool), but wasn’t at all what I had expected. You don’t even get any real action with the mushroom monsters until the very end, which disappointed me a bit.

The film may still be worth seeing if you’re a fan of Honda’s work, and it was big enough in Japan to have spawned a line of toys:

Many have called it a “great” horror film, but I wasn’t won over. If you decide to check it out for yourself, let us know what you think in a comment below.


Day 1: Versus (2000)

By Sam Reeve

For those coming in late, October is Japanese Horror Month, as decided by me (because I said so). Each day I’ll be subjecting you poor folks to a review of a different Japanese horror film or anime series. To kick this month off, let’s take a look at Versus, a zombie-action-fantasy-whatever film directed by Ryuhei Kitamura (the guy who also brought us The Midnight Meat Train).

Versus isn’t really a straight-forward zombie movie. It starts off with the protagonist (who’s never named) getting broken out of jail by Yakuzas. A fight breaks out between them when our hero discovers they have a kidnapped girl with them too. Of course he saves her and they flee into the forest, but this forest is special. The forest of “resurrection” brings back the dead, so the bad guys who get killed all end up as zombie bad guys who can still talk and use guns.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Yakuzas are all eccentric as hell and dress like they’re from the Matrix.

The Yakuza boss, the girl and the convict are all reincarnates, and the boss has some plan to use her blood to open a portal and gain power. Wackiness ensues, with lots of bloody fight scenes, cheesy lines, and flashbacks to ancient Japan when the two opponents first fought.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: This film delivers top-notch action, but also doesn’t take itself too seriously, like how the well-choreographed fight moves are punctuated with ridiculous whooshing noises. Tak Sakaguchi, the lead actor, was  actually an underground fighter before he was discovered and offered a role by Kitamura, so he actually knows his stuff when it comes to martial arts.

My favourite line in the whole movie came from this guy, the cop on the trail of the escapee:

Sidekick Cop: “Where do we start?”

Big Gun Cop: “Don’t worry, tracking people is what I do. I was raised in Yellow Stone National Park in Canada. I’m a natural-born hunter”

I watched an English dub, so I have no idea if that was a dubbing error, an error in the original Japanese script, or done on purpose. I like to think it’s the latter, so don’t ruin it for me.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: The only thing I wasn’t keen on was the very, very end of the film. Watch it, and you’ll know what I mean. Imagine if at the end of Inception, when that little thing is spinning and you don’t know if it’ll topple or not, instead of the movie cutting out it actually just shows you what happens. It would suck, right? That’s sort of what happened here. There would have been a great ending with a lot left to wonder, but done in a good way. Unfortunately we don’t get that, and it bummed me out the film hadn’t ended about a minute earlier.

Youtubeland was unfortunately low on good clips for me to share, and this one (which is awesome), is dubbed in French. They don’t say anything too important, so if you don’t understand French I think you could still get a feel for what this movie is like. If you liked the Evil Dead movies, you’re sure to get a kick out of this too.

At the bottom I’ve posted the full English-dubbed copy of Versus that I watched on Youtube (it’s also in HD). Enjoy!


Coming Up: Japanese Horror Month

By Sam Reeve

If you’ve been paying close attention to Bizarro Central lately you may have heard about my new obsession with weird Japanese stuff, brought on by my discovery of Chindogu. In the spirit of Halloween (and to get this out of my system), I’ll be featuring a different Japanese horror film or TV series each day in October.

There will be a wide variety of movies and shows, including old black & whites, over-the-top gory flicks, and even a hefty dose of anime horror. Just as I did for last December’s Month of Weird Art, I’ll try to include background information on the creators, plus clips, pictures and links to interviews.

Enjoy!


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