I always tend to prefer quality over quantity but TALES OF TERROR, a lengthy anthology movie condensed from a Japanese television series, goes all out in the opposite direction. It offers no less than 33 separate ghost stories in five minute segments, told one after the other with barely time to draw breath in between each movie. Inevitably, with the sheer quantity of movies on offer, many of them are instantly forgettable and a lot of the others kind of roll into one, featuring very similar plot elements that have a tendency to merge together.
Things kick off with The Elevator, a brief skit about a haunted lift that's not bad, but not particularly great either. It then picks up and reaches an immediate high with The Visitor, a rather good story about a little girl visited by her zombified auntie. The ghost is left unseen which makes the chills all the more unsettling. Kengo Nishioka features a woman haunted in her apartment by the ghost of a head and is bizarre rather than terrifying, while Cassette Tape is entirely predictable; RING gave us a haunted VHS tape, so this had to come along sooner or later.
The Backward Suit is a weirdo comedy that feels like it was directed by Takashi Miike (it wasn't), while other efforts like Off the Shelf, Spilt Water and My Sister's Room are entirely unmemorable, despite the best efforts of the not-bad actors participating. School Excursion is your garden-variety GRUDGE rip-off, featuring a creaky door and not much else, while Enlightenment is the pretty boring story of a young woman acting scared. Waiting Room features a supposedly creepy kid while the overblown Exam Room 1 & 2 are silly and involve a naked ghost girl, although neither are as entertaining as they sound.
Forgotten Item, a more subtle effort involving ghostly girls, works well and has virtually no clichés, and it's a shame more of the shorts aren't like this. The Train has a good idea but poor execution let down by lack of money, while Drop of Blood is dull and Stones is different but has a silly ending. The Lover features some hilarious CGI effects and Covering the 100 Tales is different but unengaging. There's a trilogy of sorts with Please Don't, No More Please and Come if You Dare!, a kind-of found footage effort told from the point of view of a young man with a video camera, featuring poltergeist-style shenanigans and some Uri Geller spoon-bending.
The quality continues to vary as the anthology continues. Take a Good Care of Him is funny, quirky and decent, but its successor, Fox & a Bath, is silly (and doesn't have a fox in it!). An Interrogation features some creepy imagery and Family Crest has a ghost samurai, but then we're back to the GRUDGE rip-offs with Getting Closer and its licking ghost. Don't Ever Open It has a bratty ghost kid, The Garden has awful direction (think Jess Franco on speed) and a weird caged guy, and A Motel has a creepy voice. Let's Play and Handprints, the final two stories, are spoilt by some excruciating dull narration from some boring, office worker-type guy sitting in a chair and telling the stories instead of showing them. The latter has a nice final image, but that's about it.
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