Now in Technicolor

I watched a couple of horror movies lately, but I haven’t had a lot of time to write proper reviews for them. I’ve got quite a few films I want to see in my queue, but thanks to work I’ve not really had enough time to watch many of them. For the few I’ve seen in the last couple of months, here’s a few mini-mini-reviews.

  • Marebito (A Stranger from Afar) is a 2004 film by Takashi Shimizu (director of Ju-On) starring none other than whacko director and actor Shinya Tsukamoto (director of Tetsuo The Iron Man, among others). It’s an intensely strange film about a man who is either losing his mind or has become one of the few who realize that there are many horrible things dwelling below the surface of Tokyo. Depending on what you believe, he either brings a strange naked girl back from the depths below the city or he’s a lunatic who is is treating his own daughter like an animal. Either way, the film is interesting but sort of nonsensical. It leaves plenty of little clues around for you to think about, but it never really reaches a meaningful conclusion. I’d say watch it if you are a fan of movies that might have some hidden inner meaning or might just be really poorly told.
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock is another cryptic film. Directed by Peter Weir in 1975, this film is about the disappearance of several girls and one of their teachers at a vaguely threatening volcanic rock in Australia. The girls are part of a much larger group, and they seem to vanish without a trace among the boulders and rubble. The circumstance of their disappearance is made even more confusing by a few eye witness reports. But even though the film is centered around the site of the rock, the bulk of the content concerns how the remaining classmates and teachers react to the disappearance. It’s complicated and doesn’t really ever reveal its hand, but I enjoyed it quite a bit for the shear creepiness factor that the film is able to impart to a bunch of rocks.
  • Equinox (or The Equinox, depending on which version you see) is a 1970 horror classic. By today’s standards it is simplistic and campy to the extreme, but it’s an important film in the modern history of American horror cinema. It was created entirely by high school students, including a young Dennis Muren, who went on to be the special effects wizard behind Star Wars, The Abyss, and pretty much every other great effects movie. Though it is sort of hilarious to watch now, you can see elements of the film that clearly influenced later movies like Evil Dead.
  • Imprint is a film created by Takashi Miike (director of approximately 3 – 5 films a year, including Ichi the Killer and Audition) as part of Showtime’s Masters of Horror series. As the story goes, Miike was asked by Showtime to make a movie and to go all out, since Showtime can run its own films without any censorship. Miike was probably the wrong person for them to go to, because Imprint plays out like a gauntlet of gore, with each scene doing its very best to one-up the previous in depravity and suffering. It was far too much for the Showtime execs, and was never shown in America. I don’t know why they were surprised, however, as it’s pretty true-to-form for Miike. The problem with it is, despite all the gore and bloodshed, the movie still isn’t very good.

There you have it. What have you guys been watching?

5 thoughts on “Now in Technicolor

  1. As for horror, I’ve been watching Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When the Cicadas Cry). It’s an animated TV show that’s currently airing in Japan (there are fansubs that cover the first dozen episodes or so now, no official US release announced yet) and man, this is one well done horror/mystery show. The really neat thing is that the story is told in 4 episode chunks and at the end of each chunk, the story appears to be reset – kind of like the Japanese horror version of Groundhog’s Day.

  2. I saw Death Note in Japan. It was big movie over there in June and since it’s backed by Warners it’ll probably get somekind of international screening at some point next year.

    The story is based on a huge Manga out there (of the same name). Basically, some loner student comes into possession of a note book called Death Note. If you write the person you want dead in the book and think about them in the next 40 seconds, then that person dies of a heart attack. So it’s kind of a play on Ring where you see it from the killer’s perspective. But sadly, it does fall on it’s arse when the needless love story comes into it and when it turns out the Death Note belongs to a Faustian/Goth/Bad CGI Monster.

    Yeah, it gets pretty stupid. You’ll see what I mean when it gets it’s international release.

  3. OH YEAH! That’s that film I really want to see!

    Sounds barmy, sleazy and wrong. Plus it has the guy from Tetsuo!

  4. *lol* So they say to Miike that he can do whatever he wants and are suprised that the outcome is more than they can show on TV? Did they even do some researches about the movie makers, before they asked them to do one for their Masters of Horror Series ^_~

    And for Marebito… well films done by Shimizu never really seem to fit together in a big story and a satisfying end. They are all just clutered little interesting tidbits, that never come together as a whole.

  5. About Shimizu.. Actually I think Juon 2 (theater) was one of the better ghost stories to come out of anywhere in the last decade or so. That is to say if you stand it alone, without the rest of the series, and ignore a scene that has a laughable attempt at horror using a wig. I did, however, walk out of Marebito at a screening. No one else think the voice over narration ruined any chance of it being slightly creepy or disturbing?

    The last film I saw was the director’s cut version of “The Red Shoes”, a Korean ghost flick from last year. Completely different film from the theatrical cut. More along the lines of “A Tale of Two Sisters”, where as it’s not so much as terrifying, but more disturbing. Also, amazing central performance from Kim Hye-soo.

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