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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!