Wârudo apâtomento horâ (1991) Poster

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Often humorous tale of a yakuza soldier trying to empty an apartment house of immigrants is more notable for who made it rather than for the film itself
dbborroughs21 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I recently pulled this out of the collection because I saw that this was based on a story by Satoshi Kon, director of Paprika, Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers. I had originally picked up because it was the first live action film by Katsuhiro Ôtomo, the director of Akira and Steamboy. Watching the film again for the first time in probably a decade I was struck by how unremarkable the film is. Don't get me wrong, its a good little film, but its nothing special.

The plot concerns a yakuza soldier who's sent to clear out a small apartment house of the immigrants who live there. The bosses need them driven out because unlike Japanese residents they can't be paid to leave. Once there our hero finds that his predecessor has disappeared and that the tenants are rather friendly. He also finds that there is an evil spirit with a dislike for the Japanese living in the building.

Not really scary, the humor often undercuts the scares, the film is a good but unremarkable little thriller (though I do have to say that watching the film again for the first time in 10 years I was shocked at how much of the film stayed with me). I think I probably would have liked it more had it not had the word horror in the title since its not really a horror movie (except that it has ghosts in it). Its been suggested here and elsewhere that the film can be seen as an allegory for the attitudes of the Japanese (or other countries for that matter) towards immigrants and its probably true, but I'd like the films main story to be more compelling than its subtext.

In the end the film is worth seeing. I'd give it a 6.5 out of 10. Its worth a look if you come upon it, however its not worth searching high and low for (as I did originally) since its a film more interesting for the people connected with it making rather than the film itself.
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Less a horror flick than an entertaining comedy
db2157 July 2008
World Apartment Horror comes with big names attached. Directed by Katsuhiro Ōtomo (Akira, Steamboy), based on a story by Keiko Nobumoto (Macross Plus, Fly Peek!, Tokyo Godfathers) with a screenplay by Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue), high expectations are understandable.

To an extent it satisfies. It was interesting to see how a crew of anime staff produced live action – the camera angles and aesthetics in places are visibly reminiscent of anime productions, but certainly not limited by them. The characters are entertaining (Ita's attempt at Yakuza suave is straight out of Dance Till Tomorrow or Black and White). It is a good film.

Briefly, Ita is a young Yakuza pimp given the job of evicting an apartment block of its foreign tenants. The job sounds easy enough, but unfortunately for Ita most of the residents know little Japanese, and communicating who he is and what he wants becomes a losing battle. He tries several techniques to get them to leave – including racism, sex with the door open and karaoke (nerds like me will recognise the Urusei Yatsura TV series theme) to no avail. He winds up playing mah-jong with them, defeated. Then weird things start happening to the room he is staying in, and himself. Now, only a huge black American can save him... or can he???!?! The film is less a horror flick than a simple comedy with interesting undertones. The clear theme of racism, which is apparently particularly bad in Japan (a country which only opened its doors to outsider trade and immigration a couple of hundred years ago), is tackled well. I particularly enjoyed the simplistic yet succinct retaliatory comment made by one of the Koreans: "Japan is rich, don't be cheap". Our global society works, and has done for a long time, as a playing field of prosperity and poverty, where players move according to their needs and opportunities. And why not? The horror aspect is weak and simple, though entertaining... for a while. The style resembles an (unfortunately) watered down version of Ōtomo's brilliant Domu manga and Rintaro's Doomed Megalopolis, but the film seems to peter out towards the last 40 minutes. The skill in, and the charm of, the movie is in the comedy, and when that moves aside for the terror aspects the whole clearly suffers. A better film would have managed the two together, light-heartedly.

The script and acting are of a high standard (with the exception of one or two of the English-speaking cast), but the set lighting seemed to me a serious flaw in design. Many scenes are so dark as to make it almost impossible to see what is going on. Perhaps it was the VHS copy I was watching, but YouTube DVD trailers make me doubt it. In this way it is visually reminiscent of many impressive HK flicks, such as Wong Jing's To Live and Die in Tsim Sha Tsui or Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together. Unfortunately this doesn't sit well with the script.

However, overall it delivers pretty well and is entertaining and original. A decent film.
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Otomo makes an assured move from Manga and Anime to live action in this excellent comedy horror film.
Matthew Grenham17 August 2001
"Akira" director and Manga writer/artist Otomo Katsuhiro's first live action film is a stylish and clever blend of horror, comedy and Yakuza pic.

Closer in tone to "Roujin Z" than "Akira" and with more than a passing resemblance to Otomo's manga work "Domu", "World Apartment Horror" is, on the surface a light and humourous comedy of cultural misunderstandings ("Me Yakuza man!" shouts Itta at the immigrants, "Ah Yaku-san" they shout back.) set in a crumbling apartment block, and a tale of a demon in a toilet who doesn't like the Japanese and will do all it can to drive mad the Yakuza who are sent to evict the immigrant occupiers. Under the surface however, much like "Roujin Z", the film manages to make some serious comments about Japanese society, in this case about immigration and racial (in)tolerance.

Otomo's skill is in creating a tone where the horror aspects sit comfortably next to the comedy. Like "An American Werewolf in London", the funny parts are really funny and the scary parts are really scary, and combine to make a film that feels complete in every way.
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Stylish Cult Horror-Comedy With An Anti-Xenophobia Message.
meddlecore29 October 2017
World Apartment Horror is the first, super stylish, cult-as-f*ck, live action feature from Katsuhiro Ôtomo- who is better known for his manga style animes like Akira and Steamboy.

It is a horror comedy about a young yakuza- named Ita- sent to run a group of foreign tenants out of a dilapidated old apartment building...so that it can be torn down and rebuilt.

But, when he gets there...not only are all the tenants super nice. There is a ghost haunting the building that specifically targets Japanese people- having already run all the local tenants out, and driven the last yakuza guy mad.

Ita starts to go pretty mad himself, before the tenants intervene- with their African American witch doctor friend- to give him an exorcism.

Turns out, the sister of the Indian guy had committed suicide in the apartment, and he had come to run the Japanese out with her tormented spirit as revenge.

The rest of the yakuza show up to bully the tenants out, but this time Ita fights with them- and to establish the building as a world apartment.

This is a great little horror comedy that Ôtomo uses to criticize and condemn the rampant xenophobia that plagued japan after the war. Do Japanese people really think of themselves as caucasian, and look down at other asians for being...Asian?! That seemed pretty weird to me...but might be understood as a remnant of the nazi influence on the collective conscience of japan. Or...so I'm guessing, at least.

Either way, this is a great film that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Comes highly recommended.

7 out of 10.
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