By Sam Reeve
Today’s film for Japanese Horror Month is more of a historical drama than a horror movie, but a decent one nonetheless. Onibaba (Demon Hag) was directed by Kaneto Shindo. Interesting fact: Shindo directed his last movie at the incredibly old age of 98!
Set in the 14th century during a civil war, Onibaba tells of a mother and her daughter-in-law who live in a hut situated in the middle of a reed field. They kill soldiers who wander into the field, taking their weapons and armor to sell for food. Hachi, a friend and fellow soldier of the woman’s son, returns from war with news of the son’s death. Despite how much of a pig Hachi seems to be, the widowed girl starts hooking up with him, much to the dismay of the old woman. To punish the girl, she wears a demon mask she took from a dead samurai and scares her. The mask, it seems, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, which inevitably punishes more than just the girl.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Although it’s really not scary at any point in the movie, I can appreciate that it was made a long time ago and was perhaps a lot more shocking back then. I found it interesting to see the amount of nudity and sexual content in such an old film, but then again the Japanese don’t seem as prudish as Western Christian cultures.
The story was alright, and I enjoyed it most for the cultural aspect of it. If you like Japanese folklore than this modified tale will interest you.
The last scene was pretty awesome at least, when the [SPOILER] mask gets stuck on the woman’s face and then rips her skin off.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: The guy the girl hooked up with was seriously douchy and gross, so it seemed only right for the older woman (whose son the girl had been married to) would meddle with the affaire. It annoyed me that she was the one who got punished in the end and not the girl, who seemed kind of slutty and immature. But maybe that’s just me.
If you want to watch Onibaba, you’ll probably have to source a dvd or torrent it. Good luck!
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.
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!
Demons: Encounters with the Devil and His Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessedis available now on amazon.
by Justin Grimbol
A LIFE ON FIRE is a crazed book. It is about a man who shifts back and forth between realities. Both realities are bleak. One is filled with alcoholic benders and crappy jobs. The other world is haunted by Demons. In one world his girlfriend is dead. In the other the dead don’t seem, well, fully dead.
The subject of this book is depressing. Alcoholism and death are some bleak shit, but the story is not overly grim. At times it is downright hilarious.
One of my favorite characters is Mr. Holman. He’s a dimwit who is constantly inventing things that already exist. He invents shoes with wheels, and a double bladed knife, and an edible container for ice-cream. Hilarious.
At one point Gerald goes to an old friend for solace. They drink together, and though they are both obviously alcoholics, the scene’s not depressing. Instead, I found their relationship to be hilarious and touching.
I’m not say this book is a buddy comedy, or bromance or anything like that. The demons are really disturbing and they pop up when you least expect it. This book had me on edge. It was hard to put down.
Here’s an interview I did with the the author:
Justin Grimbol: Do you consider A LIFE ON FIRE to be a horror novel, a Bizarro novel, or both?
Chris Bowsman: I used to love labeling things and arguing with people over a band or a book’s proper classification. To some extent, I guess I still do, but it gets really difficult when that thing is yours. If someone asks me what type of book it is, I usually say ‘kind of weird horror,’ but if someone calls it Bizarro I wouldn’t argue. I’m a huge fan of Bizarro books and authors, so I don’t mind being associated with them. Andy (Prunty, the publisher), Greg Seymour (Grindhouse editor) and I spent a bit of time talking about which genre it fits best, but ultimately decided it’s not that important.
JG: Were any of Holman’s invention ideas edited out of the book? If so, which ones?
CB: Ha, no. Most of my content editing is done as I’m writing, so it’s not like there are chapters that I pulled or anything like that. It’s been awhile, but I’m pretty sure I tried to think of the most asinine things I could, with the intention of going back and replacing them with something better. In real life, I’m a retail manager, so Mr Holman is kind of my homage to every dumbass customer who has ever asked me something stupid.
JG: What’s the lamest invention you have seen actually exist?
CB: Oh, wow… there are so many stupid things in the world. The Snuggie has to be at the top of the list. When I was a kid, I had something called a snake bite kit. It consisted of a suction cup and a razor blade, so if you got bit by a snake, you could cut open the wound and suck the poison out. Using such a device would likely cause the poison to act more quickly.
JG: What are your favorite books?
CB: I’m sure I’ll leave something out, but off the top of my head: Stephen King’s BAG OF BONES
JG: What are your Pet-peeves?
CB: The biggest one lately is people who won’t answer a fucking question. I manage an auto parts store and have to ask people lots of questions about their cars. After the year, make, and model, I sometimes have to ask which engine is in the car. They’ll often reply with “Does it matter?” I then have to explain that sometimes it does, then they won’t believe it would possibly make a difference, and I have to insist that it often does, all the while pretending I don’t want to smash their head into the counter.
If you’re buying parts for the car, and the clerk asks which engine is in your car, just tell him. If it didn’t matter, they wouldn’t ask.
JG: What’s the worst horror movie you have ever loved?
CB: I love Andy Warhol’s Flesh For Frankenstein and Blood For Dracula an awful lot. The obvious stuff like Evil Dead/Army Of Darkness… I should also mention Jack Frost. If you haven’t seen it, a prisoner is being transported in a blizzard, and the paddy wagon runs into a truck full of toxic waste. The prisoner’s spirit, having combined with the toxic waste, comes back to life in the form of a psychotic snowman.