Dark Tales of Japan is a collection of made-for-TV J-Horror stories, shot by popular Japanese directors. The result is a Twilight Zone style anthology that aims to please those who can't get enough of Japanese ghost films, but unfortunately it fails due to rather cheap production values, poor effects and a lack of genuine scares.
In 'Would You Like To Hear A Scary Tale?' (directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura), which acts as a 'wraparound' story for the whole anthology, a creepy old lady boards a late-night bus and proceeds to tell a scary story to the driver (despite his not being too keen on hearing one). She's obviously a ghost, but isn't the slightest bit frightening.
The Spiderwoman (also by Nakamura), follows a couple of magazine reporters who are writing an article on a mysterious monster that has been repeatedly sighted in the town of Ibaraki. The intrepid investigators track down the creature... and soon wish that they hadn't! A couple of creepy moments and some rather fun dodgy CGI make this tale just about watchable.
Next up is 'Crevices' (directed by Norio 'Ring 0' Tsuruta), in which a young man finds out exactly why a missing friend has plastered his apartment with red tape: it's to keep out the creatures that lurk in the crevices! Lots of creepy atmosphere make this the best of the bunch.
The Sacrifice (directed by Koji Shiraishi) is the title of the third story, and although lacking in scares, it is made watchable by the presence of the gorgeous Yû Yamada who stars as a young woman cursed by a creepy workmate, but who is ultimately saved by her mother (who sacrifices herself to a giant disembodied head with strange eyes!).
Blonde Kwaidan, the low point of the whole film (despite being directed by perhaps the most well known of those involvedTakashi 'The Grudge' Shimizu), is a (mercifully) short story which features a Japanese businessman in Hollywood, who comes face-to-face with a blonde ghost. Yawn!
Before the film is rounded off with another 'scary' story from the ghostly bus-lady seen at the beginning of the film, Masayuki Ochiai (director of the upcoming Shutter remake) delivers the fairly enjoyable Presentiment, in which a trio of ghosts scare the hell out of a poor man trapped in a lift.
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