I love Japanese horror as it so often blends a sophisticated story into some of the most frightening cinematic moments in the genre. This collection is slow, boring, very cheaply produced and not in the least bit scary. Let us dive into what stories they present, shall we? Crevices, in my opinion, is the very best short on the DVD. It’s about a man who has to go to an old friend’s apartment due to the fact that the friend has not paid rent in three months. When the manager shows him the apartment, the man is shocked to discover that the room is covered in red tape. He takes the tape down and looks around for clues to his friend’s disappearance, but it’s not long before strange things begin to happen. Crevices is all about the horror and the fantasy present in the mundane. Zombies and elaborate curses certainly have their place, but what could be scarier than danger attributed to something that is all around you, something you don’t even give a second thought on a normal basis? The way the camera is handled really adds to the creepy factor. There are several wonderful shots that really add to the mood. The filming method is simplistic and not at all flashy, which adds to the feeling that there is much to be feared in normalcy.
Some people complain about Presentiment’s slow pace, but I think the film is very suited to it. It allows the tension to gradually rise and for the viewer to get more and more suspicious about the three passengers right along with the man. It also gives the viewer a sense of what the man must feel- that time in the elevator is stretching out and running in slow motion when he needs desperately to be on the fast track. I also really enjoyed the acting. The three passengers made this short shine, for me.
Thirdly, I’ll talk about Blonde Kwaidan, because there isn’t really a lot to say. Ironically, the Shimizu film that prompted my friend to purchase for me is the one that stands out as the worst. I didn’t even manage to find much humor in this one, aside from one or two lines. It’s about a Japanese man on a business trip to America; he is to stay in the house of an executive director from his work because the executive director is on vacation. The man has a great obsession with blondes, and is beside himself with jealousy to see a photo of a beautiful blonde girl he assumes to be the executive director’s girlfriend. Soon enough, though, he starts to see things out of the corner of his eye and get the feeling of being touched.
The last film is called Sacrifice. This is about a woman who is asked out by a co-worker. She declines him, but finds out that another girl also turned him down and what he told that girl was this: “I’ll put a curse on you.” Interestingly, the “cursed” girl quit a short time after that. The protagonist starts to find mutilated bugs on her desk and one night arrives home to see a shape in blood (and the fake blood they used was a terrible quality- bright lipstick red) outside her door. The story’s plot isn’t too bad, and the special effects aren’t terrible, but it just drags on and in the end hasn’t much substance to it. The apparition was really very unnecessary and just seemed to be added for extra “scare” value (though I really didn’t find it scary… just ugly). The funniest thing about this one is Fukuda, the man who puts the curse on the girl (whose name, you probably have gathered, I have forgotten). He’s probably the creepiest guy I’ve ever seen. If I turned around in the light of day on a crowded street and saw him behind me I’d probably still scream. He almost looks like he would be very mild-mannered, yet he is so obviously a stalker, and obsessed with curses to boot.
Chinese horror flick Baby Blues starts off with blogger Snowy and songwriter Tao getting married, and moving into an old house, where Snowy takes a liking to a doll left by the previous owner. Soon, Snowy is pregnant with twins, which is unusual since neither Tao nor Snowy have a history of twins in their family. Then, a homeless man who lives at the end of their road issues a chilling warning – move out … or else. During the purchase process, Snowy grows fond of a doll left behind by the previous owner.
The overall execution of it left the movie only as eerie rather than terrifying to watch. There were very few moments that made one jump out of their skin; in fact rarely was there such a scene. Baby Blues is a letdown in its plot pacing and its use of horror elements. Leong places too much emphasis on small sequences and amplifies the audio in moments that are not always necessary. Things begin to improve as the story picks up in the 3rd act and the characters realize the extent of their predicament. However, this comes a tad too late as it all ends just when the momentum rises.
Struggling to make the next big hit, Hao seeks inspiration for the doll and comes up with a seemingly audacious tune that his music producers disapprove. One day, a music diva, played by Kate Tsui, arrives in town and at a press interview, sees Hao and asks to collaborate with him. This line between personal life and work is blurred when Tian Qing asks to interview her and finds out a possible affair that Hao may have with her. Lam’s real-life girlfriend Karena Ng plays Tian Qing’s sister and Hao’s sister-in-law, and her introduction into the film by means of staying over with the couple is by far the most random of appearances. She and Hao become aware of the consequences of keeping the doll and realise that it may be cursed, but it is too late as the doll has already taken over Tian Qing’s mind.
In horror movies, couples, children and dolls are common sights that are usually involved at the core of most stories. Helmed by UK-born Chinese director Leong Po-Chih, it is these tools that Hong Kong horror flick Baby Blues make use of in its plot, but what comes out as a result does not live up to expectations. Watch it if you feel like watching something creepy, with haunting sounds but just too jittery for a horrifying one.
Five young people, a quiet doll maker in a wheelchair and her dedicated helper, a chained old man in the basement and a mysterious young girl in red… all together in a lonely doll museum in the woods. What starts out as a fun trip to pose for new dolls soon turns into a nightmare that not everyone will survive. As for the characters, it’s a horror film, you’re not really expecting anything memorable. I found I remembered names and faces better than most Asian horror films I’ve seen, which suggests there must have been some hidden character development that I didn’t consciously notice. The typical stereotypes are out in force in this movie each one having some kind of character quirk that sets them apart from the others, from shy and quiet Yeong-ha and her doll Damien, to the outgoing bimbo Seon-yeong.
The plot itself was fairly cool, even though the ending, which bought together many of the loose strands of plot, seemed a bit confused and didn’t really do anything for me, although it did have a couple of really cool plot-twists that I won’t ruin here. The basic plot is a bunch of kids are invited to be modelled as dolls by a famous reclusive old doll maker, they have to stay in the creepy house (adorned with scary dolls, some big some small) and things start to happen as our heroine Hae-mi starts to explore areas of the house and things start happening to the other inhabitants. The movie is well made. The visuals are stunningly good. Plot is pretty exciting, but acting by some of the actors are spotty that takes away from the near perfect production of this film. Korean movies have made a giant leap forward in the 21st century, and it shows in this movie. I think this movie is better produced than some of the venerable Japanese horror movies.
You’ll cover your eyes and ears during some parts. The tension is extreme throughout the movie and it constantly changes your perception of the horrors that the characters encounter. What I mean by this is that once you think you’ve figured out how the horrors can take place, the movie throws something different at you to make you think different. It’s a little reminiscent of The Grudge, and adds a new twist to the “evil doll-genre”. All the actors did a great job, but the once who really stand out are the guy who invites everyone to the mansion and Yu-Mi. Especially Hae-Mi as Yu-Mi delivers a stunning performance. The story is very strong with a lot, and I mean A LOT of twists as well as impressive writing. The plot throws something different at you every 10 minutes or so, never leaving you bored or making you take your eyes off the screen. Only watch this if you want to enjoy a rich story, get freaked out, scared out of your mind and love dolls!
There are some unexpected shocks and one sweetly nasty kill scene, as well as a certain poignant and interesting emotional current. Coming onto the emotional and psychological side of the film brings us to the main problem, that being that the film never quite manages to gel its plot, its horror and its underlying themes, with a rushed final act, kinda silly finale and an overall feeling that there should have been more scares or grue. I mean, its not completely dry but somehow when I bought it and read on the box that it featured strong and bloody violence, I expected something more than a film that has less grue than a number of 15 certificate horrors I’ve come across. Its not even that I demand gore with my horror, but this was one that blatantly doesn’t deserve its 18 certificate. As well as this niggle, though its one I’ll almost certainly revisit, I’m not sure I can see its themes and their treatment holding up on repeat viewings. There are moments that called be called trite and fairly weak and undistinguished characters too. Altogether I’d say this is quite a nice effort from director Yong-Ki-Jeong, original, fun and interesting, but it definitely needed more thought, more intensity and better characterisation. Just about worth a watch if you really dig Asian horror and need to catch them all, but more casual viewers likely will not be so impressed.
Cult has borrowed from quite a few well-known US and Japanese horrors and put them to good use, with Paranormal Activity‘s multi-camera technique being the most obvious. But I’m not one to shy away from low budget: Some of my very favorite horror films have had tiny budgets. And the movie has three things going for it: First, all three of our actresses turn in quite respectable performances, as does Mari Hayashida as Tomoe. Second, you don’t often see either in JHorror films, or “Paranormal Activity” genre films, that priests and exorcists are treated as having abilities as real as those of the evil spirits.
This is an odd little movie, obviously a B quickie. I’m not going to write a novel about it, but since there are no reviews or description at all at the time I write this, a little commentary might prove useful to someone. So, we start with the premise that three C-list actresses (level-headed Yuu, delicate Mari, and attractive-but-bubbleheaded Mayuko, all playing stereotyped versions of themselves) are being pushed by their management company into doing a reality-TV project where they tag along with a traditional exorcist who’s tasked with cleansing evil spirits from a house newly purchased by Tomoe Kaneda and her daughter Miho. The whole film is presented reality-TV style with a mix of footage from “hidden cameras” and and from the trio’s one-woman camera crew. Unsurprisngly, you learn almost at once that the evil spirits are real. And presented to us in low-budget CG.
Unfortunately, there’s even more not to love. First, from the moment it starts, there’s the “cinematography” (if that isn’t too grand a word for the combination of camera, scenery and lighting work) on display here. It’s as if they took the concept of “shoot it like a reality show” to mean that they should simply point the camera and hope for the best. All of the backgrounds, for example, are well-lit and dull, and in the rare instances where they have some telling detail, they actually — no kidding — freeze frame and zoom in on it. Then, we see that not a single one of the male actors bring anything. And, in fact, as the movie goes along, the male performances get steadily worse. On top of that, the script is, well, thin. What it adds up to, I think, is that there’s just not a single scary or creepy moment. Not the loveliness of chills down your back, nor tension in your breathing, nor even the short shock of unpleasant surprise.
You even less often see a movie that portrays the priests/exorcists as knowing stronger/more skilled people to call when they’re over their heads. As what begins as one junior exorcist trying to clean a house for the sake of one middle-school girl widens out into a larger struggle. Should we expect something good to Koji Shiraishi whose track record borders on absolute trash? Subtitles are a problem for lots of people and I can understand why. Finally, the ending might as well be a fade out on the words “We have irrational hopes for a sequel!” In all, I’m not angry at having spent the time to watch, but honestly, if you ask me in three months, I imagine I’ll be hard-put to remember this movie.
In Hong Kong, Wu Zai-Jan is arrested for lingering in the hall of the Police Department with a weird white make-up on his face and brought for interrogation with Inspector Han and his team. The suspect is mentally retarded and tells that he has murdered a man named Cheng Fai. He also calls the detectives “wolves”. The detectives go to Cheng Fai’s apartment to investigate and they find that the supposed victim is alive. They return to the precinct and discharge Wu Zai-Jan since he is a retarded making them waste their time.
Fairy Tale Killer is a Danny Pang thriller with a promise beginning that becomes a messy “Saw” rip-off. Inspector Han is expecting to be promoted and has a troubled marriage, with his autistic son that he does not love and his estranged wife that does not accept his attitude towards their son. On the next morning, Inspector Han and his team have to investigate a murder case and they find that the victim is Cheng Fai, who was found dead in a park with seven stones in his stomach. Han and his team realize that they made a mistake releasing Wu Zai-Jan and they decide to cover their steps in the previous day solving the case. They discover that Wu Zai-Jan is a psychotic intern of a mental hospital that has just escaped from the facility and is also very connected to an intern that draws in her cell. When other victims are found dead in murders that recall fairy tales, Han and his team fight against time to avoid the fairy tale serial-killer from committing other murders.
It’s a shame that a good set-up like this would have made into an interesting thriller. But Danny Pang’s unfocused direction serves the biggest culprit here. While he does have a knack for visuals, he fails miserably to deliver any sense of mood or atmosphere to make this as creepy as possible. Instead, everything here feels so lifeless and what he can do the most is thrown over a couple of over-the-top score to deliver jump scares that’s hardly scary at all. The pace is also awfully slow, and the story is all half-realized ideas with little payoff. Even all the cast here are sleepwalking throughout their roles. Lau Ching-Wan is terribly wasted here. Despite his would-be complex role, he looks completely lost here.
Pang is not a bad director but this film shows that he should write scripts on which he can focus his best ideas to and not try to throw everything into the mix. A serviceable if slightly overambitious and needlessly jam packed story, Fairy Tale Killer is a well made but clumsily constructed distraction. Ugh. Pass.
Misa Kuroi is an adorable high-school girl who arrives at her new school when it is falling under an evil supernatural force. Trying to figure out who’s behind the supernatural attack, Misa also has to deal with assumptions by her fellow classmates that believe she is the one behind it all. Misa and twelve other students are kept late after school hours one day to retake an exam. Then, after sunset, the entire school is deserted, and the students find themselves trapped inside and their teacher no where to be found. One by one, the thirteen students are picked up and disposed of in horrific and graphic fashion. It is up to Misa to try and gain the trust of her fellow students so that she can protect them and stop the evil before it’s too late.
Here’s a sexy and bloody by-the-numbers supernatural teen horror film that somehow manages to be fresh and exciting. The tight and intelligent script is matched by high production values, interesting characters, slick special effects, and a haunting musical score. The direction is smart and generates a tense atmosphere of ever-increasing dread without dipping into cheap thrill exploitation. Highly recommended as a late night scare-fest. There’s not much of a background to the witch Misa in this story, as she’s pretty much thrown right into this one and we got to accept it, even though this vagueness could frustrate. This would be the first of four chapters of this character. And the second entry (which is so-so and reminded of “The Terminator”) would go onto be a prequel, which explained a lot about Misa’s past and how she became to be a witch. The static script throws around plenty of witchcraft mumbo jumbo and lets the mystery unfold perfectly fine with few well-disguised red herrings and pawn-figures. The usual twists are also thrown in for good measure.
Miho Kanno plays her new friend who shows her around school. You may recognize her from her role a few years later as the first Tomie. Prolific actress/voice actress Ryouka Yuzuki (aka Kanori Kadomatsu / Ayumi Nagashii) plays a schoolgirl who is having a lesbian affair with the teacher played by Mio Takaki (an actress from a few Ultraman films). The lesbian affair and its resulting nudity seems to be an idea of the producers to appeal to the exploitation audience and really doesn’t add anything to the film. I found the end to be, like a lot of movies that build you up, quite disappointing, but the attractiveness of the actors and the relative originality of the plot more than made up for it. Yoshino Kimika’s character Misa is captivating – you can see she’s no normal Japanese high school girl. Yoshino’s doubtful earlier movie career must have brightened considerably on the release of this movie.
Then the movie ends. It has its moments and for the most part I enjoyed it, I liked the kills and I liked that the one guy I thought they were going to make the jerk turned out to be okay. There is a bit of sexual scenes in the movie, but nothing that really lasts all that long, just adds a hint of spice. The main problem with this film though is the fact it just seems to be a sequel, that we should have been introduced to this character and seen her in all her glory. She is made out to be so powerful, but she does not really do a whole lot in the entire movie other than be held captive like all the other students. It was an okay movie, but I do hope the other two parts are a bit better at presenting themselves. Late night scare-fest aside, if I have to judge the film on a critical level, I have to split it down the movie. See it but it is nothing memorable.
The debut feature from director Juno Mak, Rigor Mortis is an homage to the film series Mr. Vampire. Featuring several actors from that series, this film brings the hopping vampire to life once more, and does it incredibly well. Ghosts and spirits are already known to loiter the halls of the building, but when a grieving resident attempts a ritual to bring her husband back from the dead the residents are forced to confront the evil of the supernatural including a vampire like creature that terrorizes the residents. Filled with some remarkable effects complimenting the very dark and dreary setting of the depraved building, Rigor Mortis is pea soup thick with atmosphere. Asian cinema has always been the front runners in bringing ghost stories to the masses (Dark Water, Ju-on, Ringu), and director Juno Mak has surrounded himself with a top effects team to bring his creatures to life.
Rigor Mortis is a throwback and homage to 80′s Chinese vampire movies and it honestly looks visually stunning. It centers around a public housing tower in Hong Kong where the tenants include zombies, ghosts, and vampires. Fans of the Mr. Vampire series may end up scratching their heads wondering where the comedic punch from their series has gone as Rigor Mortis has hardly two laughs to share from credits to credits. It’s as serious as a heart-attack even if the EKG indicates it only to be a mild one. Suicides, rape and even the placement of harm’s way of a small boy are some of the serious overtones that engulf the moods of the film.
Without any knowledge of the Mr. Vampire series, as well as some of the rituals at the heart of the film, some viewers may not fully understand everything that’s happening. Don’t let that sour your idea of the film though. It’s atmospheric, visually exciting, and has enough bloody violence and crazy fight sequences, to please the fans. The only thing lacking, is the pace. There’s no middle ground here, so scenes are either very slow, or incredibly fast. It can cause the film to drag, but there’s always some bloody insanity waiting just around the corner. Great spirits, awesome action, and a few laughs, make Rigor Mortis one to watch.
Now, it must be said that unlike Mr. Vampire, Rigor Mortis is all about atmosphere and fear, not gory laughs. And it does reasonably well at that, at times. A lot of the visuals are unsettling; the vampire, for example, looks a bit like its been stuffed in a blender with car parts and photos from BMEzine. But there’s far too much going to really latch onto to something to fear, someone to care about. So the result is creepy but cacophonous, like two hours of Rob Zombie yelling incoherently. The confusion prevents the film from really getting going, which is a shame, because Mak shows a lot of promise and making the ridiculous frightening.
Mak served in the war during the beginning of the Rattanakosin Dynasty. At war he became friends with Ter, Puak, Shin, and Aey, whose lives he saved. Once the war was over, Mak invited his four friends into his home in Phra Khanong town and introduced them to his beautiful wife Nak and his newborn baby boy Dang. A rumor was going around in the village that Nak had died giving birth to her stillborn baby, Dang. The source of this rumour; Aunty Priak, owner of local liquor store was found dead floating on the river a few days later. The four friends felt it’s time to tell Mak the possibility of Nak and Dang could be dead and lingered as haunting ghosts and risk their lives. It’s up to Mak to choose love or reality.
What I liked the most about the movie is the perfect combination of horror and comedy. It’s not like “scary movies” where the ghost is also funny and all.There is time where you are terrified with the horrific events but then the movie takes you to the opposite end of those emotions by putting some genuine comedy around it.I repeat,I quite liked how perfect the combination is.The stupidity of the boy characters and how well those characters are played out bring a lot of laughter (with tears in my case) is brilliant.And there is drama, some tiny plots that goes quite well with the story,and human emotions of love which does not want to let go of love even after death.This movie is highly recommended if you like to laugh a lot, and missing it just because you are not a fan of horror movies or Thai movies in common, would be a big miss. Being in a foreign language and in set in the past, I am sure a lot of the nuances are lost in translation. However visual horror and slapstick comedy is universal. While “Pee Mak” is also a horror film, the more commercial and memorable aspect of this film is actually more of its comedy. The horror takes a back seat to the comedy here. You just simple have to watch those hilarious sequences of the silly gang at the dinner table, playing charades, in the haunted house of the amusement park, the boat on the river and in the Buddhist temple with the monk! These scenes were laugh-out-loud funny beyond words!
If you are a fan of the best part of 4bia and Phobia 2, you will find yourself in the familiar company of the four irrelevant dudes. I thought we would be jaded since we are fans of the mentioned anthologies but we were laughing like nuts at all the ingenious situational comedy. There are also quite a number of pop-culture references like Ang Lee, David Blaine, 300, Last Samurai thrown out at us with gusto. It did get a bit repetitive in the middle act but the final climatic act in the monastery saved it. Pisanthanakun even brought on the indispensable melodrama then and it managed to surprise me with a nice twist on the legend I know quite well. Pisanthanakun could also balance the movie very well – shifting from comedy to horror in a heartbeat. But he had great help from the four actors whose comic timing is just impeccable.
The comedy appears too rowdy or overdone to me, but most audience will like it. The horror part is well done too but I find the romance part the best, very touching. So it’s like watching 3 nice movies of different genre for the price of one. I enjoyed those twists as the film goes along. Very intelligently done. The male lead, probably the best-looking actor today put away his good look and proved that he can act well. Don’t miss the end credit parts where they show in a small screen. There are many scenes there that continues after the movie end. They may use it as a sequel since the movie was so successful in Thailand and most neighboring countries. Don’t miss it.
When most people find a wallet filled with money, you’re first reaction is to look around, but then comes the big conundrum; take the money and dump the wallet, or take a look at the I.D. inside and track down its original owner. Most would probably return such an important item. But if you’re a girl and find a badass pair of heels, feeling guilty for not returning them no longer applies. Heels do wonderful things for us ladies. They make us taller, our legs look great, we feel sexy and in charge, what else could a woman ask for.
After finding out her husband was cheating on her, Sun-jae’s played by Hye-su Kim (Three Extremes 2) only option is to take her daughter and become independent. After moving into a crappy, yet efficient apartment Sun-jae is in great need of some confidence. On her way home from work, she finds a pair of lovely heels in the subway. Already having a wide variety of shoes at home, she’s ready to add another pair to her collection. Not only are they perfect, she now has the boost she needs to get through this rough patch in life, she’s also dating a handsome interior designer named In-cheol played by Seong-su Kim (Sweet Sex and Love). But even when she’s plagued by visions of terror and becomes obsessed with the shoes to the point of refusing her daughter to play dress up with them, nothing seems to separate her and the “red” shoes.
All that quickly changes when her only best friend Kim-mi Hee played by Go Soo-hee (The Host and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) steals the shoes out of jealousy. Only this time the shoes aren’t as patient as before, she is brutally attacked by a spirit and has her legs chopped off, and soon after her daughter becomes a target. Now realizing the shoes have brought nothing but evil into her life, she and In-cheol are in search of an answer and an owner. Little do they know, its plastered all over the city. Its only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose, and devours Sun-jae’s life for good.
Nominated for the 2007 Korean Film Awards – Best Art Direction, The Red Shoes will leave an impression on anyone with the slightest obsession with shoes, to take it down a notch or five. And with one scary as hell opening scene, this film will most certainly leave you on the edge of your seat wanting more blood. After seeing this film several times with different friends, they’ve all said the same thing, as I’m sure you will mention as well. “Those shoes aren’t red, they’re pink!” It’s a metaphor my friends. As always, keep an open mind and enjoy this flick. And most importantly, don’t take things that don’t belong to you.