Category Archives: Japanese Cinema

Cinema Schminema’s Favorite Horror Movie Moments

Every year, round this time, t.v. stations start playing things like “100 Scariest Movie Moments!” and “100 Scary Movies You’ve Never Seen!” and so on and so forth (and did I just totally sound old there by saying “t.v. stations”? Can you still refer to them as such?) so I thought I’d do some things along similar lines here for Halloween Month.  Hopefully, you find it fun (and if not leave me a very nice comment asking me to never ever do this again, please). I wasn’t entirely sure what to entitle this since some of these may be scary, some may be stupid and some may be just WTF? so we’re just going to go with “favorite” horror movie moments.  This is also (obviously) not a full list just my current top five.  There may be more forthcoming.  Oh and….

*WARNING -  SPOILERS AHEAD*

So if you haven’t seen a particular movie and don’t want to know what happens in a certain part, get the heck outta here now! 

I.

My first favorite horror movie moment comes from my all-time favorite Korean horror flick EVER.  A Tale of Two Sisters is an ethereal, stunning vision based on an old Korean fairytale/folk tale full of WTF? that only Asian can bring.  It’s a quiet horror with much more going on psychologically than anything else (although there is the requisite “girl with hair in face shot”).  Every one that I have made watch this has liked it and been frightened and there’s several jumpy moments through out but my very favorite punch in the gut from this flick is when the viewer discovers that Su-yeon has been dead the ENTIRE time.  Even better, Su-yeon finds this out at the same time as us.

II.

To some this may not be a horror movie but to me it is.  There’s lots of reasons why but I won’t go into them here, mostly because I’m doing a guest post for Tyson over at Head in a Vice on Black Swan and that sort of thing will be throughout.  There’s a ton of favorite scenes for me in this one (and no I am NOT going with Mila and Natalie getting it on, even if it was totally hot) but my absolute favorite moment in this film is when Natalie is walking home one night from rehearsal and she passes herself.  Only it’s not herself, right?  One tiny insignificant moment but it explains so much about her character and sets us up for the visual trip that’s about to happen.

III.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Suicide Club (Unrated) (English Subtitled), then I highly suggest you get on that right away.  This was the first Asian movie I ever saw and it blew me away, mostly because it was crazy and even though I’ve now seen it countless times, I’m still not entirely sure what happens here.  My favorite moment from this movie is actually at the beginning.  54 schoolgirls link hands and throw themselves in front of an oncoming subway train.  THAT is how this movie begins.  Everything about the moment chills me from their smiling faces to the blood splattered other passengers who witness the whole thing.  Perfectly executed in my opinion and from there it only gets more WTF?  In fact, you can watch the entire clip below:

IV.

Alice by Jan Svankmajer is another film that is purely subjective as to whether it’s horror or not but if you find skeleton puppets, homicidal rabbits, stop animation and lots of Freudian dismality terrifying then this absolutely counts.  The film is full of disturbing moments but for me the most disturbing moments here are when Alice becomes a doll (because dolls are CREEPY) and her time spent with the Mad Hatter.  This is one of my favorite movies of all time and Svankmajer is one of my favorite directors of all time.  You can actually watch the whole thing on Youtube for free!

V.

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed while not nearly as wonderful as the original is still a treat as it furthers the lycanthrope lore.  The sequel finds B. constantly on the run, doping up on monkshood till she finds herself in rehab where she befriends a little girl named Ghost.  An EVIL little girl named Ghost.  That kid is twisted.  And frightening.  But the best moment here is at the end when we find out just how scary little Ghost can be when after trying to (claiming to) help B the whole time, she instead turns quietly psychotic and locks B up in wolf form to be her playmate forever and ever and ever.  The monster here isn’t B as a werewolf or even the abusive drug dealer in rehab, it’s something far more sinister.

2LDK

Fan of offbeat comedies? Ever had a roomie with whom you just could NOT get along? Then 2LDK is for you!

Aspiring actresses Nozomi and Rana belong to the same talent agency, share an apartment, and have just auditioned for the same part in a film called Yakuza Wives. (Not the brightest of ideas to have these two living together on top of everything else…..).  Add to this their clashing personalities and the fact that they then discover they’re both after the same guy and yikes.

What starts as minor skirmishes (omg, she totally used my Rehab shampoo from Lush!! [side note: I love Lush and love the shout out they get here]), quickly escalates to full out war.  War with power tools, I might add.

Say hello to my little friend….

Not that this battle is simply limited to power tools, oh no.  There’s electrocution, knives,and fists amongst others.  So who will win the war, the part, the guy???

The action never leaves the apartment so it’s up to the two actresses to carry the film and trust me, they do.  The action is quick and non-stop once it starts and while there are some minor plot problems due to voice overs that allude to murky past events, the film is amusing, violent and well done.

The Machine Girl

First things first: Wow, f’ing wow, holy cow, I’m in love. I’m in love with this movie, I’m in love with The Machine Girl herself. When the Japanese want revenge, man, they REALLY know how to go about achieving it. They don’t half-ass it, not at all. Whereas Bruce Willis would go around shooting some dudes and maybe blowing up a few things, the Japanese have an all out gore fest that’s way more creative.

Let’s start at the beginning–with the fabulous opening scene of Machine Girl (“Ami”, played by Minase Yashiro) teaching a few bullies a lesson they won’t forget. The splatter starts immediately and doesn’t end. The even better thing though? The splatter is of the hilariously cheesy “are we in the 80s?” kind that makes this even more of a maniacly fun romp. From arms getting fried into tempura to a medieval ninja device that is part mace and part bear trap, this is one insane ride through a schoolgirl’s quest for vengeance.

Ami and her brother, Yu are orphans who’s parents were accused of murder and committed suicide (the details of this accused murder are not revealed). Alone in the world, they only have each other to depend on and each is fiercely protective of the other. Unfortunately, Yu and his friend Takeshi are being relentlessly bullied by a group led by the son of the ninja-yakuza clan (oh yes, not just yakuza but also ninjas.) Of course our bullies take things too far and Yu and Takeshi tragically die. While the police say it was suicide, Ami is positive this isn’t the case and goes on a one schoolgirl hunt for the truth. And just fyi, the truth involves a drill bra. (Yes, you did read that correctly.)

Hands down, this is one of the best Japanese “revengesploitation” movies I’ve ever seen. If you love Japan, if you loved Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste”, if you love *me* at all, go watch this movie. Now. Seriously. The words “drill bra” are in this review, why are you even still reading??

Uzumaki

I’ve discovered lots of new fears thanks to the Japanese–the sound of a schoolgirl’s laughter…..teenage girl zombies….girl pop bands….unexplained visitors….and thanks to Uzumaki, I can add a new fear to my ever growing list of phobias.  SPIRALS.  Until now, I thought nothing of the spiral shape but suddenly….they’re everywhere….and they’re terrifying….

"Trust me when I say this is terrifying....."

Uzumaki is set in a small capeside town, where inexplicably the inhabitants start becoming obsessed with spirals.  Snail shells, vortexes, washing machines, whorls–nothing’s off limits here if a spiral is involved.  And speaking of the aforementioned things, they all factor in this movie, in one way or another.  People turn into giant snails.  A man commits suicide in a washing machine (did you know that was possible??  I didn’t.  And please, don’t try that at home, kiddos).  People are even slicing off their fingertips in an attempt to escape the evil evil spirals but alas, not even that can stop the towns peoples ever growing obsession and unique (and disturbing and sometimes disgusting) deaths.  At the center of it all is a young girl and her steadfast boyfriend who appear to be the only ones unaffected, the only ones who see the madness happening around them.  They try to save their families but….well, hell it’s a Japanese horror film, we all know how that’s going to go.

The movie is based on the episodic manga of the same name and while I’ve never read it, my research has shown this to be a fairly faithful adaptation, highlighting certain stories from the manga but having a different ending (it was finished before the manga).  There are some truly horrendous in an oh so good but oh so bad way special effects.  My favorite, was the tornado like spirals placed in the background that make it look like your t.v. screen is getting sucked away.  So….strangely….hypnotic….for some reason….

I personally think this was Japan’s answer to Terror Toons.   Doesn’t matter though.  It’s creepy, awesome, quirky, what the F— enough for me to want to add it to my collection!

Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf

Immediately after watching this, my friends turned to me and asked, “What the hell did you just make us watch???”  *sheepish grin*  I can’t blame them really. Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf is just bloody disgusting but in this can’t stop looking at a car crash kind of way.

Hailing from Japan, this 2001 film takes two different Edogawa Rampo stories and turns them into one long violent body part drenched orgy.  The movie starts with a dwarf carrying a severed arm.  (Coincidentally, that is the ONLY reason I rented Blind Beast.  I saw the words “dwarf with severed arm” somewhere and knew I simply HAD to watch.  I’m an extremely simple and easy to please girl at times.)  So yeah, dwarf scurrying around carrying severed limbs.  Got it?  NOW add to the storyline, a blind artist/serial killer who kidnaps women, keeps them locked up in a chamber of horrific mannequin body parts, does things with them I’d rather not mention, and who has evaded the police for long enough to make me wonder what kind of police task Japan has.  The guy’s BLIND.  And he hangs out with a dwarf.  How freakin’ hard is it to find him??  Next, just for fun, throw in a beautiful singer/dancer…..a wicked stepmother…..a private investigator who sees everything but tells nothing…..and there you have your movie.  Confused yet?

I can’t say the storyline flows but then again that might be the fault of cultural differences and idiosyncracies lost in translation.  I can say the movie went on for much longer than it should have (and it’s only 95 minutes).  The novelty of the dwarf/serial killer/blind guy relationship wears off pretty quickly, as do the images meant to shock and appall.  From my various readings about Blind Beast, it seems it was part of a movement called “ero-guro” (erotic-grotesque) so I must commend director Teruo Ishii on accurately portraying this.

The piece de resistance?  The blind artist/serial killer’s warped fantasy play which was immaculately staged, vivid with color and darkness and entirely beautiful in an “I’m a homicidal maniac” kind of way.  It’s also seemed a much more natural ending for the movie than the actual one.


So should you watch?  I liked the movie but unless you’re specifically a fan of the genre or just a fan of the eclectically weird, I’d stay away.

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