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What would you call an extreme body modification? Full body tattoos?
Genital piercings? Although many people thinks that it's pretty
extreme, others push these boundaries further and that's what you will
see in this documentary. "Flesh & Blood" allows the viewer to see the
world of a cult figure, a body modification artist Steve Haworth and
his clients/friends. Originally a designer and manufacturer of medical
equipment, Steve began making body jewelry and became a piercer in the
1990. In '91 he opened his first piercing studio in Phoenix and it did
so well, that Steve opened another one near Arizona. Haworth is a
pioneer of 3D body art, he invented the concept of implanting steel
under the skin and he is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records
as "most advanced body modification artist" for over decade now. Those
who are bored with traditional tattoos and piercings comes to Steve
from all over the world. Have you ever seen a metal mohawk (metal
spikes implanted into scalp)? Well, you can see it in this documentary
amongst the other precious things related to body modification.
At the beginning of this documentary Steve Haworth explains, that he is an ARTIST and flesh is his medium. He modifies people to be more unique. For a doctor to modify a persons body away from what society calls "normal" is against their code of ethics, so if the doctor do what Steve is doing, he would lose his license. That's why all of Steve's clients has to put up with pain during the procedure, because a non-doctor administering anesthetics can be arrested for the unlicensed practice of medicine. This raises the question about the legality and safety of Haworth's body modification procedures. You see, surgical procedures needs to be done by a licensed professional (Haworth doesn't have any), but Steve explained, that what he is doing is a big difference between practising medicine and doing 3D body modification and he has all legally, ethically and constitutionally rights to do his work, although some people has issues with what Steve is doing (even the Asocciation of Professional Piercers).
I believe that most of ordinary viewers will seek for the answer in this film, like why people are doing such things? Well, if you wonder why, this documentary isn't the best source in this case, simply because it doesn't explore too much, why people are doing this, although you will hear some explanations why they get modified (usually it's 1 of 4 basic reasons). Instead of seeking answers to such questions, Larry Silverman shows us the process of Steve's work, his and his friends life, relationships. Some of these modified persons looks strange indeed, but the director shows us what's inside of these persons and even if they're totally different from the outside, viewers will find the similarities between themselves and the people in this documentary. One girl in this movie even says: "all my entire life I've always wanted to be a housewife, raise a family, cook and clean and take care of my husband", now how strange and different is that? After all, we're all people. The film also contains flesh-hook suspension chapter, where the viewers are introduced to the act of suspending a human body from hooks that have been put through body piercings. Have you ever been invited to the backyard barbecue party, where the main fun is human suspension? Well, here's you chance to see such party in this movie, alongside girls 18th birthday party, where the main present is to be suspended for the first time. Also there is some similar footage from the clubs. For example a tug o'war game, but with hooks! Can you imagine that? At the end of this movie, we will see what happened later (after 1 year at first and after 2 years later) to the Steve and his friends. Someone changed, someone break up, Steve introduced us to his kids and so on. Nothing extraordinary, just simple life.
The director Larry Silverman has made a very good job. He put a few years into this documentary and he touched various sides of body modification, alongside other subjects that do not apply to it. The documentary could do without a little tragic love story in my opinion, because it really drops out of context, but if it was added to please the ordinary audience, than it might be a good step.
Over the past decade the Japanese ghost stories gained much attention
and popularity. I believe that it started after Hideo Nakata's "Ringu"
was released. No no, I'm not saying that Nakata started the whole
"ghost thing", take a look at Japanese folklore - you'll find plenty of
ghost stories there, and of course there was a lots of ghost movies
before, but only after "Ringu", subject of ghosts in the movies gained
so much worldwide popularity. Now we have a huge amount of "Ringu" and
"Ju-On" clones and nobody tries to be a little more original. Well
actually it's not the problem - it's really hard to make or think of
something new these days, because everything is in some way a clone of
something, especially when we talk about movies and music, but it
doesn't mean bad! It's really possible to make something interesting
and pleasurable for the audience. Anyway, this movie isn't actually an
another clone of "Ringu" or "Ju-On", but unfortunately "J-Horror
Anthology: Legends" isn't something original either.
Right from the start I knew that this will be a compilation of low budget ghost stories. Yes, not horror, but ghost stories. That's probably because that "J-Horror" in the title - most of people likes to use "J-Horror" as the description for the Japanese movies with ghosts. And don't get me wrong, because I've said low budget. I have nothing against low budget movies, in fact I love low budget movies much more than high budget films. Anyway, lets get to the point: "J-Horror Anthology: Legends" is a movie, which contains six short ghost stories, or you can call it a compilation of six short movies, it doesn't matter. All stories starts from introduction of a storyteller Junji Inagawa. The endings are the same - with Junji's conclusion. Inagawa's role here is to speak as a philosopher, but he'll rather put a smile on your face than impress you with his "philosophy". First of all I'll describe the plots of these shorties. Let's go.
"HEARTBROKEN TRIP" is a story about the girl named Chiharu. Her boyfriend dumped her right before her vacation, so she planned to go there with her friend Yoshiko instead of him. On the trip day Yoshiko called Chiharu and said that she have some business to take care of, so Chiharu should go there now and Yoshiko will be right there after she'll finish her business. When Chiharu arrives there she hears about some ghost rumors. The rest... Well, you'll see.
"YAMAMBA" starts from two journalists - they go for a report on mysterious creature Yamamba, in some small village. Nobody wants to talk there about it, because there is an old saying in the village: "The one who talks about Yamamba, will be eaten by Yamamba", but like always, there is one kind man, who tells where to keep digging and journalists head on to deep woods, to face the mysterious Yamamba.
"LOST SOULS" is a story about the couple. They are heading back to Tokyo through the night and decide to stop somewhere to eat. When they find the place, they noticed a strange smell after the mysterious family walks in. The restaurant cook tells the couple that they should not look at the family if they want to get home alive and the horror starts here.
"NURARIHYON" is the shortest story and thanks god for that, because it's also the worst story of all six. It's a story about Nurarihyon - a friendly ghost with a deformed form of head. The story in the movie doesn't give any explanation why he has such strange form of his head, so it's just probably because he's a ghost. Anyway, one little boy gets friendly with Nurarihyon. What will happen and why Nurarihyon is a friendly ghost - you'll see after watching this tale.
"PEONY LAMP" is one of the Japan's famous ghost tales. Well that's what the storyteller at the beginning says. It is a love story between a samurai and a ghost - daughter of shogun, who committed suicide after her father said that he'll never permit her wedding with a samurai.
"SHE-BEAR" is the story about a woman who's carrying a teddy bear and tearing the human body parts off. It isn't that fun, like it sounds. Believe me.
So... The really good thing about the whole movie itself is that these six stories are pretty short. You can sit through all of them till the end even if you don't like the story. But probably this is the only good thing. It looks like every story was filmed in a few days, in a rush, and that the directors of these short ghost tales just wanted to finish them as soon as possible. The stories that have to be scary in this film isn't scary / spooky / creepy and stories that have to be more dramatic fails too. It seems that nobody realized, the main goals of these tales, while filming this. From the technical side of this film - everything seems to be fine, but everything else isn't...
So if you're a die hard fan of the ghost tales - give this a try. Also I think that these stories could be interesting for the kids. There is a sequels from the same "J-Horror Anthology" series, but after watching this, I've preferred to skip watching them. Maybe I'm just too old for all these "ghost things"?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After I watched "Girl Student" (this is the official English DVD title
of this movie) and the end credits start rolling, the first thing that
I've thought was where the director Hiroyuki Kawasaki missed the point
and went wrong? From the beginning this movie had a great potential,
but towards the end it was pretty disappointing actually. It wasn't a
bad movie. It was disappointing because there could be much more things
and ideas in this film that could have been used to make it better, but
it wasn't. But there was a simple reason for that - "Girl Student" is
an film adaptation of one of the most famous SM writers Oniroku Dan's
novella "Jogakusei". Oniroku Dan is an Japanese SM novelist that has
been called "the most celebrated writer of popular SM novels in Japan".
Many of his stories have been filmed. Probably the most famous Oniroku
Dan's novel is "Hana to hebi" ("Flower and Snake"). This is the work
which made him famous. The first "Hana to hebi" movie based on Oniroku
Dan's novel, was filmed back in 1974 and not so long time ago, in 2004,
Takashi Ishii filmed newer version of "Hana to hebi". Second part of
"Flower and Snake" followed in 2005. So, as in other Oniroku Dan's
novels, the main "Girl Student" subject is SM.
The story of "Girl Student" starts in the bar, where two men are sitting and waiting for a girl. One of them was an talented AV film director, other is a popular SM novelist. They haven't seen each other for a three years. The film director faded into obscurity after the accident which blocked his way to success - his wife was acting in his AV movies, so one day he couldn't bear it anymore and he run away with his wife right from the movie set. After all these years the film director decided to return to this business to earn money, because one rich boss of the big property company want to film a movie that is based on his favourite SM book titled "Female Slave", which was written by the novelist who is sitting in the bar with the film director. The girl they are waiting is the actress of the movie. When the girl arrives, the director introduces her as 19 years old student of music university. She needs a big sum of money (5 million yen), because of her family business, which is nearly closed because of owing a lot of money. The next day all three of them arrives at the house of the boss who finance movie to show him the actress. He likes her very much and he invites them all to a table to celebrate it. During the conversation at the table the actress only now knows, that this will be an AV movie. She says that she've never thought about doing such thing and rejects the role, but the director of the movie and the boss strip her and throw the girl at the cell. The boss tells her that before the movie will be finished, she'll have to live in the cell and be his slave. Meanwhile the other actor arrives at this apartment - it's a good looking young guy. After he've been told to take away all of his clothes, they lock him up in the cellar with the actress girl. Two actors prisoners have been told that now they have to build up their relationship. To let them obey their masters they will be treated as a cat or a dog. That's where the main SM fun starts. To reach this moment Hiroyuki Kawasaki needed more than a half time of total runtime of this film, but I can't say that it was wasted.
So what are the good and the bad things about "Girl Student"? Well there is a plenty of good things actually! First of all interesting storyline - it holds you up in attention all the time. Second thing is the actors. Especially the appearance of Shô Nishino (she plays the actress-prisoner girl) in this movie. Her role is to be kind and shy and she've done it perfectly! Also Kiichirô Wakayama (he was playing a novelist) had done a pretty good work with his character. The novelist in this movie is kind of a mysterious character - he seemed to be a nice person almost whole movie, but viewers feels the whole time that it isn't the real face of the character and somewhere in the end he'll show his real face. The other actors also was pretty good. Talking about the SM scenes - there aren't many of them (although the main subject of the "Girl Student" is SM). There are few SM scenes, but I would say that they are more erotic, typical scenes like in most of "pinku" movies. But this film has many other good things that are related to SM. For example how the two actors-prisoners are forced to surrender their dignities - they are treated like an animals, thrown naked in the cell without toilet or any other thing and they're forced to make love to each other. The only disappointing thing was the ending. I won't spoil it, but it was kinda disappointment to me. But as I've said before - it could have been better if it wouldn't be a film adaptation. I don't think that the director Hiroyuki Kawasaki or the screenplay writer Kôsuke Komatsu had done something wrong. I believe that they strictly followed Oniroku Dan's novel and that's why the ending was dull...
P.S. - totally unnecessary thing in "Girl Student" DVD was an replacement in English subtitles of original character names by such names as Justin, Sally, Mr Sam, John, so instead of Yoshimoto we get Justin, instead of Morita-san we get Mr Sam and so on. Totally unnecessary thing in my opinion.
"Kanda-gawa inran senso" (or "Kandagawa Wars") is a debut work of now
pretty famous Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Most know him from
his later movies like "Sweet Home", "Cure", "Seance" or "Kairo" and if
you're looking for something similar - forget it. These are totally
different films comparing to this one. "Kandagawa Wars" was a first
commercially distributed Kurosawa's movie. It hadn't much success, but
nobody was hoping for it actually. Why? Well you have to see it just
once to understand why - Kurosawa wasn't taking this movie seriously
while making it, but that's the main goal. The director clearly wanted
to make a silly "pink film" in the best "pinku" traditions (which means
a lot of erotic scenes) and he have done it all perfectly!
The story starts when one of the student girls Masami witness sexual intercourse between mother and son while spying on other people through her binoculars from the window in the opposite apartment block, which stands in the other side of a small Kanda river (that's why the movie is titled as ""Kandagawa Wars"). She calls her friend Aki, which lives in the same apartment block as Masami, to witness this incest act, but Aki missed it at the first time. It's not a big problem, because the next evening mother and son are doing the same dirty things again, so this time Aki saw the whole thing with her own eyes. Two girls decide that it's just intolerable and they have to rescue poor boy from his evil nymphomaniac mother at any cost. That's where the war between two girls and the mother starts...
What I liked about "Kandagawa Wars" is a lot of sex scenes, as it should be in "pink films". We see the sexual intercourse not just between mother and son, but also between Aki and her boyfriend Ryo, which actually doesn't satisfy her at all. Also I don't want to spoil the whole storyline, but in the end we'll see a sexual intercourses between Aki's friend Masami and Aki's boyfriend Ryo and Aki will seduce that boy which had sex with his mother. How this will all happen? You'll know after you'll watch this movie, but one thing which you can say now - there is a plenty of erotic scenes in this film. Almost forgot that there is a one sexy scene with Aki and Masami also, so "pinku" lovers will definitely be enjoyed by these variations. But there is also a darker side of this movie... As I've said before - Kiyoshi Kurosawa wanted to make a silly "pink film" and he succeeded. But that's the reason why you can't take this movie seriously. This movie can put a smile on your face and there is some laughable moments (for example the last scene, right before the end), but it's not because of humour in the movie, but because of silliness. Overall - it's a pretty nice "pinku" film, but definitely it's not a movie for the fans of the Kiyoshi Kurosawa's horror films.
Mark Hejnar, a co-founder of the "Fast'n'Loud" radio show in Chicago in
1983, have been making short films and videos with his band "Pile Of
Cows" since the early 80's, and "Affliction" is a film that he's most
well known for. "Affliction" won "best documentary" award at the
"Chicago Underground Film Festival 1996" and Mark had put more than 3
years into this project. It was promptly rejected from the next handful
of festivals he had tried to enter and in 1998 Hejnar did a 12 city
European tour with it, which was a great experience for him as he said.
In this 45 minutes documentary, Hejnar shows his viewers some strange stuff with "unusual" personas. Basically movie starts from a segment "Eye Gouge" with this one guy. If you've witnessed one of his shows then you should know what to expect from him. He likes to hammering nails up his nose, eating lightbulbs, sticking his arm in a bear trap and so on, so you'll see a bunch of self-mutilation segments from him. Next individual you'll see is Mike Diana. Most know him as obscene cartoonist who was jailed and charged with obscenity in his hometown for his comic zine "Boiled Angel", which is also featured in this film. I've actually know him as one of Nick Zedd's friends, because I've saw him in Zedd's movies before. Anyway, Mike Diana clearly shows us what he really thinks of religion by vomiting on a bible and a crucifix. Besides Diana's puking segments, there is featured one more his segment in "Affliction".
For the shock rocker GG Allin's fans there will be a pleasure to see GG's onstage antics, plus GG's after show in Atlanta, 1992, where he eats french fries covered with diarrhea and there will be a little more footage with GG in this film. I just want to mention that Mark Hejnar knew GG from the mid 80's. While GG was in prison, he said to Mark, that he was still serious about the suicide onstage, so Mark decided to start shooting GG's shows and antics. The idea was to document the events as they happened before it was all over, so Hejnar toured off and on with GG Allin for the 2 years, documenting GG on camera. Hejnar got close to 150 hours of unreleased GG Allin's video footage, as he said. Also Mark announced that he was making the full length GG documentary, but it has been almost ten years ago, so it's hard to tell about the destiny of this documentary now.
Other interesting individual in this movie is Full Force Frank. Dating back to 1989, Full Force Frank had published some notorious zines where he had promised to commit a massacre one day. In every issue of his zine, he ranted and raved about his killing plans. He was so determined and so outspoken about them that even the FBI came looking for him (or so he said). In "Affliction", Full Force Frank shows his collection of guns and basically talks about mass-murder. Mark Hejnar had never seen him or been at Full Force Frank's apartment by the way. Hejnar wanted to do an interview with him, but instead of that, Full Force Frank had sent him a video cassette with the material that you'll see in "Affliction". In the end of this documentary Hejnar announced that "frank dropped out of sight awhile ago" and yes, it is true. Full Force Frank mysteriously disappeared in the late summer of 1991. He discontinued his pen-pal relationship with everyone, never giving an explanation, but from the beginning of September 1996, he appeared in the internet under the name Joe1orbit and have been an active Usenet poster. Also he was featured in Adam Parfrey's book "Apocalypse Culture 2". Later he created "Forbidden Truth" website that is still online today. I can say that he is pretty talented writer by the way. Anyway this guy is some sort of urban legend. There was so many stories and guesses about him and who he was, that he created urban myth.
Besides the individuals that I've mentioned before, you'll see some cool and weird in-between segments. For example some weird excerpts from Ron Zisook shorts and so on. Mark Hejnar is a really talented director - just look at his "God Loves Over Dose" or "Cumdumpster" videos. "Affliction" was really worth those 3 years of Mark's work. 45 minutes is pretty short of course and after watching this documentary I've wanted to see more and more of this kind of stuff, but you know - it's that kind of situation, that you just can't get enough of it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Shinji Imaoka had made a great work on this movie! Besides the title of
the "best director" at the "Pink Grand Prix 2004" ceremony, he could
proud that his movie "Tamamono" (aka "Lunchbox") was chosen as "best
pink film of the year". Also Yumika Hayashi was judged as "best
actress", and Lemon Hanazawa as "best new actress" for their work in
this film. So as you see, "Tamamono" had a great success.
Aiko (played by Yumika Hayashi - Japanese AV idol, others should know her from her role in the famous "Naked Blood") is a mute girl. One day, while sitting with her lunchbox, she saw how a bike of a man, who works as a postal carrier, fall down while he was delivering mail, so she decided to help and picked up scattered letters on the street, but that man saw her and wrongly accused her that she knocked over his bike on purpose. Being in a hurry, he leaves Aiko standing and holding picked up mail in her hands. Working in a bowling alley, Aiko frequently have sexual intercourse with her boss after the work, while he give her a ride home, but she is not happy about that at all (probably because she know that he's married and he won't leave his wife), so she decide to return the mail, that she picked up on the street, to postal office, just to meet the mailman, whom wrongly accused her for knocking his bike. That's how relationship between Aiko and a postal carrier Yoshio (played by Mutsuo Yoshioka) begins. But everything is not that simple - Yoshio doesn't seem to love Aiko at all and all he need from her is sex. Besides that, Yoshio's co-worker Ikumi (Lemon Hanazawa) also have an relationship with him and soon Yoshio tells Aiko, that he can't date her anymore, but Aiko finds it difficult to let him go.
There is a three main characters in this movie - Aiko, Yoshio and Ikumi and everyone of them have a quite different personality. Aiko is a kind and lovely person, and she is easy to manipulate, while Ikumi is totally different - she'll get what she wants at any cost, she is the person who manipulates others. But there is a small link between Aiko and Ikumi and it is shown every time when Aiko sees a head that tells her that she should "go for a strike", so she doesn't give up. And the end of the movie shows that link between these two characters. Yoshio's character is the most unlikable. There is no single part in this movie, where viewers could actually feel some kind of sympathy for him. Like Aiko, he also can be easily manipulated. As a man, he has no will at all. But unlike Aiko, Yoshio isn't a nice person. So how you see - Shinji Imaoka have created an interesting relation between characters based on psychological aspects.
In conclusion I would recommend this movie for everyone, not just a lovers of "pink films" genre. There is enough sex scenes during this film, as in the best traditions of "pinku" genre and the end of the movie is also awesome. Chosen as "best pink film of the year 2004", do I have to say more? I guess not! The only really sad thing, that it was one of the last Yumika Hayashi's movies... She died on June 28th, 2005 - the next day after celebrating her 35th birthday...
I believe, that almost everyone of those who've heard something about
Monte Cazazza, also have heard about his crazy antics and his sick and
strange sense of humour, as many would say. For example a story of
"cement waterfall" in the college of arts and crafts, where Monte
created a cement waterfall that permanently disabled the main stairway
of the building, or a story of "skylab crash" in 1979 (when American
space station "skylab" was going to crash), where Cazazza and Genesis
P. Orridge was digging a huge pit all day long for a three days, so it
would look like "skylab" have crashed in Cazazza's back yard. And it's
just a few of a many Cazazza's pranks, so from the beginning of this
movie I knew that I will see some of Monte's pranks here as well.
If you saw one of the many shockumentaries, which was gaining popularity back in the late 80's, then you basically know the content of these movies. "True Gore" is a bit different and as Cazazza said in one of his interview, where he talked about the video screening of "True Gore" - "it's much better than the "Faces Of Death". Of course you'll see here injuries and deaths - some are real, some are faked. There is one suicide attempt moment in this movie, where the man tried to kill himself with a shotgun. He shot himself, but somehow, by the miracle, doctors saved his life. We see a photo of this man right after the accident - a mess that reminds that it was a face before, and after we see how this man have to live with his "re-constructed" face. Also you'll hear an audio recording of the last speech of Jim Jones (the founder and leader of the "Peoples Temple", which more than 900 members committed suicide in the November 18, 1978). Maybe it's not so rare, because there was a segment with the last speech of Jim Jones at TOPY's "First Transmission" before and even the picture disc LP with this speech was released in 1983 by Jordi Valls (aka Vagina Dentata Organ) and have provoked outrage on a number of occasions, but anyway it's pretty rare material.
As I said before - "True Gore" is a bit different from other shockumentaries. Except death-based themes, we can see for example an extracts from Cazazza's short movie "SXXX-80" or extracts from the live performance of Cazazza and band "Factrix" video called "Night Of The Succubus". There is even a Cazazza's video clip in this movie (you can find the one on youtube by the way). Talking about Monte's pranks that I've mentioned before - I've liked the faked interview with an anonymous female necrophile played by Debra Valentine, and an anonymous serial killer played by Cole Palme. I've remembered the intro ("psychiatric" review) from the CD "The Worst Of Monte Cazazza" - it has the same goal - everything has to be serious. The interviews with these two "psychos" in this movie is like a real ones. It was shot in one take, actors was reading from the script and despite the fact, that it wasn't real, Cazazza created a very eerie atmosphere during all "interview". Brilliant work Monte!
So, what can I say? "True Gore" is pretty entertaining piece in my opinion. Maybe because it's rare, maybe because it was created by Cazazza and Co., but it has something different, that most of other shockumentaries doesn't have and you just don't feel like watching them again after you watched it once, but "True Gore" is a bit different. Cazazza is listed in this movie as "creative consultant", but he is the main man responsible for this movie. So take a look at it if you'll get a chance.
There are 3 versions of this movie by the way (2 English and 1 Japanese). They are a bit different. The first (original) English version is uncut and it is basically the same as Japanese, but in English and isn't censored. The second English version was officially released on VHS by "Wavelenght Video". For some reasons several scenes from the original were cut and instead of them few alternating scenes were added from "Empire of Madness" aka "True Gore 2". Actually "True Gore" came out in Japan first, while the film makers was fighting with the distributors in US. All versions are hard to find. The original uncut English version is the rarest, since it was never officially released. Anyway, it's easier to track down the Japanese version (some people even thought that Japanese release was the only film version existed!).