Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

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Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Sat Feb 18, 2006 2:51 pm

Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (196 Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro

Directed by Hajime Sato

Starring Tomomi Sato, Teruo Yoshida

So bad its good!

Ed Wood would have been proud of this film, as inept as his own Plan 9 from Outer Space while trying to deliver a similar message to The Day the Earth Stood Still, genuine B Movie Sci-fi/horror junk, with all the accompanying bad acting, cheesy sound and visual effects.

An aircraft carrying a politician, an arms dealer and his wife, a young American widow and an assortment of other passengers including a suicide bomber crashes in the middle of nowhere after a close encounter with a UFO. One of the passengers (an assassin) takes a stewardess hostage and decides to make his own way from the crash scene. Unfortunately he stumbles across the flying saucer which has landed and he's drawn in, a grey blob like alien enters his brain and takes control of him. Under the influence of the aliens, he's directed to suck the blood of the other survivors. Why (as if a reason is needed) simply because humans are nothing more than warmongers so the aliens have decided to destroy us before we destroy ourselves?

Meanwhile back on the aircraft, the politician is being more than a little friendly with the arms dealers wife, the arms dealer must know what's happening as he's lurking in the background, obviously something shady is going on here. The surviving pilot tries to rally everyone together and keep their spirits up which considering the circumstances and the passengers is damn hard work.

Needless to say, the passengers are killed one by one either by the alien controlled assassin or by their own stupidity till only two are left, they escape only to clash into a series of clich B Movie endings.

The story is complete tat; the passengers are picked for very obvious and relevant reasons. The politician and arms dealer are hand in glove, one needing a contract to supply a war being fought for no other reasons than power and profit while the other is looking for a big backhander plus some time with the others wife to push the deal through government.

The American widow carries a framed photo of her deceased husband, Japanese style with a black ribbon, he was obviously a soldier who has died in Vietnam, during the film she screams about how his face was literally melted by napalm, needless to say it doesn't take too long before she's joined him on the other side. The film is interspersed with staccato edited images from Vietnam, shots of US troops, Viet troops and women and children, harsh and brutal, they seem totally out of place within the context of this schlock B Movie.

Interesting use of colour, terrible special effects (especially the plane crash), overwrought acting and overused storyline. Absolute tosh, only recommended to those who enjoy really ineptly made sci-fi/horror B Movies.

Despite the fact that this is a junk movie, some of the conversations between the passengers are just as relevant today as they were then, a war for profit, arms dealers and corrupt politicians conspiring together and suicide bombings, somethings never change.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 12

R2 Pal dvd available from Artsmagic. Couldnt find any R1 info (arent you lucky)

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:34 am

Dark Tales of Japan (2005)

Directed by Norio Tsuruta, Takashi Shimizu and others

A collection of five short stories all shot on digital video and made for TV under the moniker of J Horror.

1. Spiderwoman - typical urban myth with a very flat look, poor standards of filming and acting and horrendous CGI at the end.

2. Crevices - are you afraid of gaps, cracks or crevices? No! A luckily short episode with again pathetically poor performances and production standards.

3. The Sacrifice - at last something half decent, this appears to draw from myth and folklore to give it an edge over the others, performances range from fine to wooden but theres just not enough time to develop the story properly.

4. Blonde Kwaiden Another really weak pointless episode, childish special FX.

5. Presentiment like The Sacrifice this could be developed into something good, original and interesting, just not enough.

All the stories are strung together by some strange old woman on a bus who asks anyone if they want to hear a scary story, really original huh!

So in all honesty, avoid it like the plague, overall it is utter crap.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated (laughably) 15; I wouldnt worry about letting a 12 year old watch this (except its garbage).

R2 Pal dvd released by Anchor Bay (A company that should know better).

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:55 am

Still to come......

Another Heaven
The Discarnates
Evil Dead Trap
Grudge 2
Ring 0
Ring 2
School Day of the Dead (Yes that is a genuine film title!)
Wild Zero

and more, and more, and ...........................................................................................

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Sat Apr 22, 2006 1:54 pm

Shikoku (1999)

Directed by Shunichi Nagasaki

Starring Yui Natsukawa (Distance, Zatoichi), Chiaki Kuriyama (Battle Royale, Kill Bill), Michitaka Tsutsui

Labelled as a horror but actually a nicely filmed romantic drama (albeit with traditional ghost story attached) revolving around friendship, love, death and the rich Shinto-Buddhist environment of Shikoku.

For those who may not know, Shikoku is the smallest of the four main islands that make up Japan, its name can have two meanings, either four countries or land of the dead, the second certainly comes into play for this film.

Hinako, Fumiya and Sayori were all born on the island of Shikoku and were very close friends until Hinako had to leave with her family for Tokyo. Many years later she returns to the island and seeks out her old friends only to find that fate has been cruel to Sayori.

After finding Fumiya, their old friendship is re-kindled and slowly develops into romance but there is a third party involved, the ever lingering spirit of Sayori. She had a deep relationship with Fumiya before she died at the tender age of 16 and still hasnt let go of that love.

Hinako discovers that Sayoris mother (who is a high priestess) has been making a yearly pilgrimage around the 88 temples of the island since the death of her daughter; this has deep significance especially considering she has been making the pilgrimage in reverse, one more time and there could be deep repercussions for the whole island.

Can Hinako and Fumiya prevent the mother from completing her pilgrimage or will Shikoku become (as its name implies) the land of the dead.

You can see the influence of Ringu on this film although its far more traditional in its construction, the island and villages are very attractive as are the cast. Yui Natsukawa looks far too young to be playing Hinako, a character in her early thirties (although she was actually that age herself). Chiaki Kuriyama plays the role of Sayori with a degree of subtlety (in a pre-Battle Royale role); her distinctive looks and obligatory long hair make her ideal as the ghostly figure.

There isnt a great deal of depth to the story but it just about hangs together, the rich tapestry of Shinto-Buddhism related to the island of Shikoku certainly adds more than a degree of interest.

Not recommended for gore-hounds or fans of shock type horror but if you prefer the more subtle ghost films of yore, theres a good chance youll enjoy Shikoku.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15

R2 Pal dvd released by Ventura, extras amount to a short Behind the Scenes and interviews with the director and main cast.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:31 pm

Premonition (2004) Yogen aka J-Horror Theater Vol. 2

Directed by Norio Tsuruta

Starring Hiroshi Mikami (Tokyo Decadence), Noriko Sakai (Ju-on: The Grudge 2)

Groundhog Day of the Dead.

Ill admit I was expecting this to be awful, thankfully it wasnt and in certain respects it was quite good though not exactly scary. Based on the cult manga Newspaper Of Terror, the story follows a husband and wife who split up after a tragic accident robs them of their only child. The husband blames himself because he believes he foresaw the event through a newspaper article that described the accident and he did nothing about it.

Reunited through a series of events including finding proof that others have the same type of premonitions, sometimes driving them to madness, the couple decide to make another go of their marriage. But, through another newspaper report, the man foresees a train crash and amongst the names of the dead is his wife! Despite everything hes learnt about these premonitions and how they have been decreed by fate, he decides to change the future and pulls his wife from the train.

By saving her life he has forfeited his own, taken from his mortal existence and revisiting scenes from the near past, each altered due to his crossing fate, he eventually ends at the start. This segment brings to mind Groundhog Day because he will relive the accident that took his daughter until he can figure out how he can change events and save the childs life.

In many ways this is similar to other recent Asian horrors but there is a strong air of Karma and Buddhism to it as well. The performances are generally fine, none of them really stand out (excluding the overworked bug eyed approach of Hiroshi Mikami) but they all gel together well. As far as the effects are concerned, theyre a mix of old school masks and make-up which work well and cgi, which ranges from good to awful. The DTS soundtrack adds a lot to the film, throwing effects all over the place creating an eerie atmosphere. The stereo and Dolby 5.1 tracks are fine as well.

Overall then, a lot better than I was expecting, could have improved some of the special effects, (especially when you see what can be done with a minuscule budget ala Shinya Tsukamotos "Vital"). A thoughtful story with at least a little basis in reality and pretty good performances.

I should mention one scene that is typical of the sort of bad directing you get in many horror films.

The wife gets in her car but it won't start, leaving her car she grabs her bags and belongings and the camera zooms in on the mobile phone she's left behind (obviously important point!). The husband, desperately trying to contact her rings the mobile. Switch to train station, the wife fumbles in her bag realising she doesn't have her phone, zoom in again to the mobile phone, ringing unanswered on the car seat.

I found this sequence to be ineptly handled, it's obvious she's left the phone behind without the initial zoom, as it is also obvious that nobody can answer the phone. Showing her fumbling through her bag and especially the repeat zoom of the phone in the car are just excessively laboured and pointless.

Recommended as a rental if you enjoy a decent horror film but are a little fed up of the tortured soul with long flowing black hair returning from the grave to reap revenge type of Asian horror.

BBFC rated 12 though for some reason the dvd carries an 18 rating?

Cheers Trev

R2 dvd released by Tartan video. The picture quality is good considering the low budget, excellent sound tracks, particularly the DTS.

A surprising amount of extras including:

Behind the scenes - Around 40 minutes long, which takes a fairly in-depth, look at several scenes.
A separate feature on the use of digital effects.
Cast and crew interviews, 6 altogether.
Press conference and original trailer.

Of course there are trailers for other current and future releases as well.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:35 am

Junk (2000) - Junk: Shiry-gari

Directed by Atsushi Muroga

Starring Natsuki Ozawa, Kaori Shimamura

Junk by name and as disposable as junk by nature.

The US army are carrying out experiments in a deserted factory outside of Tokyo; the purpose is to bring life back to the dead using a green liquid (reminiscent of Re-Animator). The experiment works but not as intended, a woman is brought back from the dead but as a flesh eating zombie (surprise surprise!).

A gang rob a jewellers and co-ordinate to meet at a deserted factory with the potential buyers of their haul. While waiting at the destination one of them is attacked and bitten, leaving him for dead the others panic and run out of the building, straight into the arms of the buyers. The second gang have no intention of paying for the Jewels, in typical style they draw their weapons, killing another of the robbers before chasing the surviving members back into the factory.

A special squad from the US army arrive at the factory, their sole intention is to blow it up destroying the zombies and any evidence of the experiments. They are surprised when they hear a woman screaming so split up, one to set the self destruct, the other to check if there is anyone still alive.

Wading through the zombies isnt too difficult when you know how to kill them but the last creation wasnt a normal one, she was a zombie that could think and reason, a super zombie that could move as fast (if not faster) than a normal human. The story revolves around the rescue of the one surviving gang member (another fled the scene), destroying the super zombie (who has a very nasty habit of re-appearing when you think she's been destroyed) and blowing up the factory. Needless to say, itll take a sacrifice or two to get the job done and the ending is left open to allow a sequel.

Very straight average zombie flick, most comparable with Romeros films but without the social commentary or dark humour. Effects wise, this is truly old school and stands up well against other films, zombies chewing intestines etc. I cant say theres any real reason to see the film, its just gross out entertainment that feels more American in style than Japanese, still if you love zombie flicks this won't let you down.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 18

R2 dvd released by Artsmagic

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:40 am

A Frightful School Horror (2001) Kyoufu Gakuen aka Terror School

Directed by Yamaguchi Makoto

The title is, lets say a little deceptiveThe film is made up of three short stories, all set in schools on the last day of the summer break. The acting at times is frightful but unfortunately the stories arent, also I cant imagine anyone finding the film horrific, unless theyre around five years old! As you can see, school is the only word that actually fits within the title, Spooky School Tales would be far more fitting in my opinion.

1. The Newcomer from Hell

Again an awfully deceptive title, three girls hang around their Junior school on the last day of summer break hoping to see the new kid, one of them catches sight of an elusive girl who constantly disappears whenever the others arrive. She manages (eventually) to follow her to a storage room that is strictly out of bounds to pupils and spends the day playing with her, but things are never what they seem and she ends up having a probably fatal accident in the storage room. Clearly the other girl is the lonely ghost of a pupil who had died in the same room sometime in the past, and now she has a permanent playmate.

2. The Cursed Science Room

Three girls spend their last day of their holiday practising for the school swimming team, the sight of a tiny frog freaks them out leading one of them to relate the tale of The Cursed Science Room. This story revolves around three girls investigating a science room where another pupil was supposedly murdered and had her face removed. Fact and fiction blur as the same actresses are used to play out the roles in the story and the ones in the pool. In the end the fantasy leaks into the reality, as one of the girls appears to see something strange in the pool.

3. The Crucified Girl

Where do they get these titles? A quick note on this last spooky tale because I feel it depends on your knowledge of Japanese mythology surrounding crows particularly dead ones. Another group of High School girls spend their last day of summer break practising dance, the sight of a dead crow upsets one of the girls and this leads to series of bizarre occurrences for her and several other girls. No crucifixion though!


The camera is used to add effects to what is undoubtedly a very low budget enterprise, from the very soft focus first episode to the deliberate blur and strange angles of the others, apart from that there is very little in the way of effects, mainly fake blood.

The acting. In the first episode the acting is fine, mainly because its young children doing what comes naturally, running, playing and generally being themselves. The second and third stories suffer through stiff performances, you feel the cast were picked because they were attractive and either good at swimming or dance, not because they could act!

The film comes across as a Japanese version of Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark which would work fine for a young mainly female audience, but according to the dvd this shouldnt be viewed by anyone under the age of 18? Sounds like a marketing scam to me.

Recommended? Not in the slightest, only slightly better than compilations like Dark Tales of Japan.

Cheers Trev.

No BBFC rating and despite the box, Id rate it as PG.

Dvd distributed by Winson, a Hong Kong based distributor.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:19 am

Infection (2004) Kansen

Directed by Masayuki Ochiai

Starring Mari Hoshino, Tae Kimura, Yoko Maki

A run down hospital, a disgruntled and sometimes inept staff, an accidental death, an emergency admission with an unknown infection. Could this be the makings for a good film?

An inept director, a couple of actors incapable of acting, an attempt at a clever plot that is so badly paced you would have more fun attempting to shave with a cheese grater, oh and dont forget some really awful special effects.

Before watching the film I checked over some of the cast interviews, one in particular said he was reprising a role hed played in a T.V. version but wasnt too sure how good his performance was in the film. Well I can happily confirm that his acting was absolutely dire (along with the majority of the cast).

I guess somebody has watched von Triers Kingdom and maybe a few too many episodes of the X-Files, whatever the cause theres no excuse for this steaming lump of bile. Theres certainly no reason why drivel like this gets released on dvd while a terrific number of far better Japanese films are left to rot.

As a final point, this is No.1 in a series called J-Horror and I did wonder why Tartan released it after releasing No.2 which was Premonition. Now I know why, if I had seen Infection first, theres very little chance I would have made the effort to see Premonition which although by no means a great movie, is far superior to this.

Recommended? About as recommended as eating frozen broccoli or sharing your bath with an electric toaster.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15 (yet the dvd carries an 18 rating?) questionable marketing by Tartan again?

A bilious volume of extras including

Around 8 cast & crew interviews (good way to apportion blame).
Behind the scenes (learn how to direct a shot, badly!)
And quite a few other little bits and pieces.

The most horrifying thing about Infection is that someone out-there is actually going to part with his or her hard earned cash for it.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby A » Tue Jul 25, 2006 6:36 pm

So, it's another stinker. Seems that J-Horror is really producing a lot of em... Hope you get to see some decent horror in the near future.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:33 pm

I'd be more than happy if I could prevent one person from buying any of the bad films, Tartan should be ashamed of some of the absolute crap they're releasing, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if they were at a decent price but 20 G.B.P a time, never ever worth it.

To be fair, the packaging is very good and the discs come with a cartload of extras but, and this is for all distributors, a crap film is a crap film and nothing will change that.

Cheers Trev.


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