Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Supîkâman: The Boo (2004)
This short film is not what you'd expect from the director of of the misanthropic ANATOMIA EXTINCTION and the arterial-spray epic TOKYO GORE POLICE. It tells the story of an odd creature (or is he a human mutant?) called the Speakerman, who served duty in a small mining village by sounding the siren/megaphone that is his head to tell the workers when it was time for lunch and to alert people in case of a mining accident. When the mine closes, Speakerman ends up lonely and in search of new friends and meaning in his life. The film plays like a warped fairy tale and is oddly affecting despite its weirdness. I'd even go so far as to recommend it as a film for children were it not for the climactic fight between Speakerman and a Cannibalistic Shushi Chef... SPEAKERMAN shows that Nishimura is capable of much more than just pumping geysers of gushing blood all over movie sets and is worth tracking down for people who are interested in watching something different.
Genkai jinkô keisû (1995)
This was fascinating to watch. TOKYO GORE POLICE is far from a direct remake of this film, though there are commonalities. The Engineer is already in this short and he does infect people by inserting a piece of mutant flesh/tumor into the opened-up bodies his victims. There is also already some of the satire regarding the privatization of the Tokyo Police Department. But that's where the similarities end.
The story is about a man who becomes infected by the Engineer and slowly mutates. The chase scenes between the man and the Engineer are very reminiscent of Tsukamoto's TETSUO: THE IRON MAN, in my opinion. Once infected, the Engineer's victims go on relentless murder sprees (there is a hilarious nod to DEATH RACE 2000 in a scene of vehicular homicide) and it is made quite clear that this is seen as the only way to get the exploding population (the world's in general and Japan's in particular) back under control.
In short, ANATOMIA EXTINCTION is sort of set in the same creative universe as TOKYO GORE POLICE but ANATOMIA EXTINCTION and TOKYO GORE POLICE tell totally different stories.
Nishimura showed plenty of talent with this early short film and in retrospect it is both surprising and a bit sad that it took so long for him to be recognized and given more chances to work. ANATOMIA EXTINCTION is definitely something fans should seek out to discover where Nishimura started from.
Zangyaku jokei-shi (1976)
The Art of Vaginal Mutilation
This film just fascinates me. I like to picture a meeting in a conference room at Shin Toho Studios in late 1975 or maybe early 1976. A number of Japanese men in suits, looking the part of serious businessmen, sit around a table and discuss what kind of movies they are going to make. Suddenly, someone suggests an anthology film about vaginal mutilation. There is some hesitation but the vote in unanimous. CRUELTY OF THE FEMALE INQUISITION (Zankyaku Onna Keishi) is given the go ahead and Shinya Yamamoto is brought on board as director.
When I said anthology film I wasn't kidding. CRUELTY OF THE FEMALE INQUISITION is a series of shortish episodes that take place at various points in Japanese history. The only thing they have in common is that at the end a vagina is ripped, torn, burned etc.
The first story takes place during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). A general comes home from war only to find his daughter having an affair with some young lad. She must be punished! So they stick some bamboo rod in her.
Second story is about a farmer who comes home from work to find his wife doing it with a priest. So he takes the huge scissors he used for work and stabs her in the crotch. Repeatedly.
The remaining stories concern an ukiyo-e artist's exploits, a princess having her vagina torn apart by a bunch of horny ninjas and a female convict having her labia roasted during interrogation.
Maybe this film is kinda messed up.
If you have seen Teruo Ishii's JOY OF TORTURE then you can probably picture how this film works structurally. I should also say that since this is a Japanese film and was made in the 70ies you never actually see any close ups of the genital mutilation. It's all very effectively suggested and sold through the actresses' performances.
It may be interesting to know that director Shinya Yamamoto went on to direct the one and only Harry Reems (he of DEEP THROAT) in HARRY AND THE GEISHA (Ikenie no Onna-tachi) two years later.
Gekka no ran (1991)
Passable Yakuza Noir
This early effort from now acclaimed writer/director Takashi Ishii was made in 1991, three years after he had made his directorial debut on ANGEL GUTS: RED DIZZYNESS. Unfortunately this film, a V-Cinema (short for Video Cinema, i.e. direct-to-video) effort he wrote and directed for Nikkatsu, must have been even lower budget than the ANGEL GUTS films. However, that's not to say that GEKKO NO RAN (translation: MOONLIGHT ORCHID) is without its merits.
The story concerns a yakuza who has to witness the killings of both his wife and young daughter but when the assassin is about to shoot him, his gun fails and he flees. 10 years later, we find the protagonist to have become a seemingly emotionless professional gambler. Then, one night, he stops a girl from jumping off a bridge and as a result starts to have feelings again. Just then this other girl is kidnapped by the very same gang who murdered his previous woman. Of course he must do his best to save her as well as take revenge for what happened in the past.
The story is obviously quite by the numbers and the production values are nothing to write home about either. Still, there are quite a few nice touches. The cinematography already shows a bit of the style Ishii would develop later on in his BLACK ANGEL and GONIN films. And since the script was written by Ishii, of course the protagonist's murdered wife was called Nami. (All female main characters in Ishii's stories have that name.) I can't say I am very surprised that this film hasn't seen release in the West. It's not bad but far from great as well. It will undoubtedly be of interest to fans of Ishii's work and die hard fans of yakuza movies. There are certainly many worse films than this among the countless direct-to-video this genre produces every year in Japan.
Za ikenie (1986)
This is NOT a pinku eiga
In the year 1986, the Nikkatsu Studios made a series of films with titles such as ZA GOMON, ZA MANIA, ZA S&M, ZA IKENIE. Many of those also had sequels. These were all directed by the same trio of "directors" (I use that term loosely), star the same actors and actresses and were all filmed in the same sets (i.e. dilapidated buildings, empty warehouses), using even much of the same props (i.e. sex toys).
The interested viewer really shouldn't let the pretty, painted cover artwork for these productions fool them into thinking these will be quality productions of any merit whatsoever. What you will end up spending your hard-earned cash on are pathetically, cheap, trashy (and pixel censored) Japanese porno movies.
ZA IKENIE has almost no plot whatsoever. It's just about a bondage master and how he amuses himself with two of his sex slaves. There is one amusing scene at the beginning where a girl is strapped onto the roof of a car and driven through a fairly busy street while nobody seems to think this in the least bit odd. Only in Japan, I guess. I also chuckled at a mangled, Japanese version of "Silent Night" that is sung by the cast while they have sex under a Christmas tree. Those two scenes are the only reason I gave this film a 2/10 rating.
These ZA-movies may have been a sort of missing link between the pinku eigas of the 70ies and early 80ies (a genre I love dearly) and the AV (Adult Video) porno movies of nowadays. If that makes them interesting viewing from a film-historic perspective you will have to decide on your own.
Jigoku kozô (2004)
Perfectly captures the visual style of Hideshi Hino's manga work
THE BOY FROM HELL is the best cinematic representation of legendary Japanese manga artist Hideshi Hino's overall visual and storytelling style so far, even beating out 1988's MERMAID IN A MANHOLE, which was directed by Hino himself. While other entries into the HIDESHI HINO HORROR THEATER hexalogy of short films may be better films when viewed out of context, THE BOY FROM HELL stands as the single best adaptation in the series.
A theme that is almost always present in Hino's manga work is the isolation and suffering of the outsider, the freak. There is a brilliant scene in THE BOY FROM HELL where the titular resurrected monster happens upon a group of children playing ball. When he approaches them, wanting to join in, the run away screaming. Despite the grisly murders Daio has committed up to this point, you still feel sorry for him in that scene.
Another thing that director Mari Asato and screenwriter Seiji Tanigawa (working from Hino's eponymous manga) nailed perfectly is the mix of grotesque horror imagery and gore with pitch black comedy that permeates so many of Hino's comics. The most wonderful examples of this are the ridiculous fake nose they put on the detective and a birthday party for Daio, during which he is forced to wear a mask similar to that of Hannibal Lecter in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS to keep from from devouring the other little kids. Of course that doesn't work so well in the end ...
I hesitate to recommend THE BOY FROM HELL to the casual horror fan or even fans of Japanese horror. It is wildly different from the slow paced malevolent hair-ghost stories of recent years and hearkens closer to the ero-guro films of the 70ies, while also adding plenty of elements from campy fun splatter movies of the 1980ies. If you like those and/or are already familiar with Hino's manga publications (a fair number of which are available in English translations) then this is a movie you should seek out. Everyone else may come away confused and maybe disappointed.
Ecstatic Stigmatic (1980)
The story of the ecstatic life of Little Rose.
ECSTATIC STIGMATIC starts strong and immediately fascinates. Through the narration of someone, probably a doctor, maybe a psychiatrist, we are introduced to Little Rose, a young woman who is institutionalized in a mental hospital. We are told that she becomes stigmatized because of an "hysteric ailment" and that she was the leader of a blood-letting cult. Then, a new narrator starts talking about Little Rose much less scientifically and much more respectful, almost as if holding a sermon for a saint. All the while, we see Little Rose convulsing on her bed in one of her fits of ecstasy, which are always accompanied by stigmata.
That's what happens in the first 20 minutes of the film. The film gets a little muddled or maybe just harder to decipher after that. There are several layers of flashbacks to Little Rose's childhood and her life with her parents, who were both performance artists.
ECSTATIC STIGMATIC is pretty interesting, occasionally even fascinating experimental film that came out of the New Yorker "New Cinema" movement. It's certainly worth seeking out for lovers of strange, trippy, experimental art-house film-making.
Hellraiser: Deader (2005)
It could have been great ...
HELLRAISER: DEADER is pretty good, especially in the first half which has two of the more intense and creepy scenes I have seen in a DTV flick in a while. I'm talking, of course, about the first videotape and when Amy explores the abandoned house.
Where DEADER fails is when it tries to tie into the HELLRAISER mythology. As has been well publicized, DEADER started out as an original screenplay by Neal Marshall Stevens that Dimension Films bought for no less than 1 million dollars. Then they lost faith in it and let it collect dust before hiring Tim Day to do a rewrite and turn it into a HELLRAISER sequel. I don't blame the guy, because he probably did the best he could, given such a ridiculous task. But it's a shame that DEADER did end up like this. Without the 30 seconds worth of Pinhead at the end this could have been a minor genre masterpiece. As it stands, it's just a bizarre, schizophrenic film with some outstanding moments, some scenes that really work and some that really don't. Once again, shame on Dimension Films for wasting this opportunity.
In addition to original screenwriter Stevens, director Rick Bota also deserves some praise. He's made a good looking and often tense film that is never less than competent. Hopefully he'll be able to break free from his current job at Dimension eventually. The guy has talent.
Panic and Puke
This early short film from the director of PINOCCHIO 964 and RUBBER'S LOVER didn't do a whole lot for me, though I will readily admit that the extended throwing up scene in the middle made me squirm in my seat and wish it would end. I am pretty desensitized to violence and gore by now by now but for some reason I can't quite stomach scenes where people puke for more than a few seconds. So props to Fukui for provoking a reaction. GERORISTO seems to be about one woman's violent revolt against society as a whole, especially the Japanese society where you always have to be polite and blend in. She does the exact opposite, stumbling wild-eyed through the subway, yelling at people on the street, clutching them etc.
A disappointing mess.
What a huge disappointment this film turned out to be! It's just frustrating to watch as writer/director Shugo Fujii fails to capitalize on all the promise his film help up to the last third. There was something really disturbing about the torture and cruelty in this movie that instantly won me over. The evil old woman and the corpse-like teenaged girl who invade a seemingly normal household are quite freaky and used cleverly and effectively. There's a subplot about a newspaper reporter getting on the trail of the two madwomen that injects a lot of tension into the narrative. But one downright silly climax (that is filled with annoying overacting and megalomaniacal laughter) and about ten unnecessary twists (which make both Shyamalan's antics and the ending of Haute Tension look coherent in comparison) later only a distant memory of the above mentioned virtues remains. A Living Hell could and should have been a modern horror film classic but instead it turned into a disappointing mess.