23 January 2017

LEY LINES: PART 3 OF TAKASHI MIIKE'S BLACK SOCIETY TRILOGY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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LEY LINES (1999): PART 3 OF TAKASHI MIIKE'S BLACK SOCIETY TRILOGY OR BLACK TRIAD TRILOGY. DIRECTED BY TAKASHI MIIKE.
STARRING SHOW AIKAWA, SAMUEL POP ANING, TAKESHI CAESAR, YUKIE ITOU, MICHISUKE KASHAWAYI, KAZUKI KITAMURA AND DAN LI.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

The 'BLACK SOCIETY TRILOGY' has got to be controversial Japanese movie director Takashi Miike at his absolute finest. It consists of three separate stand-alone films, but they're all connected in terms of place and theme and the kind of seedy, ultra-violent characters you might find in them. The films are SHINJUKU TRIAD SOCIETY (1995); RAINY DOG (1997); and LEY LINES (1998).

LEY LINES tells the story of three Japanese young fellas of Chinese descent who run away to Shinjuku, Tokyo (remember that the first film in the trilogy is called SHINJUKU TRIAD SOCIETY?) in the hope of making their fortune, or whatever it is that young 'uns hope to achieve when they do that. They're a likeable enough bunch of lads, even though at least two of them were almost certainly never going to set the world on fire, academically or otherwise.

Ryuichi is the heart-throb of the bunch. He looks like an Asian Cristiano Ronaldo, the highly-paid and devastatingly good-looking footballer on whom I've had the biggest crush for, like, forever, haha. Well, Ryuichi looks a lot like him and he's the moody, surly, strong silent type as well, so I can imagine that women will go crazy for him. He's exactly the type that women think they can change, a real bad boy with a bad attitude. As if changing a guy were ever actually possible. Seriously, don't get me started on my pet subject...!

Shun is Ryuichi's younger brother, a studious, quiet lad who's possibly tagging along because he wants to live life in the fast lane for a bit the way his older, more troublesome brother seems to do. Maybe he's tired of being teased by Ryuichi for always being a swot and a goody-two-shoes. Those kind of jibes can hurt sometimes. Maybe Shun's just fed-up with it all. Whatever his reason for joining the road-trip, he's here now and the things he experiences are wild beyond his maddest dreams.

Chang is the third lad. He's what we here in Ireland would refer to as a 'head-the-ball,' a bit of a loose cannon or a wild card, but not in an evil way. He's just a bit mentally unhinged, haha. Anyway, the three of them decide to cut loose from their everyday lives and leave their parents' homes to go and live in the city and- ahem- sell drugs. Yeah, great start, guys. Way to make it big...!

They almost immediately run afoul of a violent gang boss, mainly because they're naïve little greenhorns who haven't the common sense to keep their heads down when in the presence of gangsters, but the most interesting thing that happens to the hapless trio is their association with the Chinese prostitute Anita.

They meet her at a noodle place, where she works upstairs servicing clients while people eat their hot grub downstairs. She robs them on the auspicious occasion of their first meeting, and it just sort of goes from there, haha.

Anita is probably my favourite character, after the hot sexy Ronaldo-lookalike, obviously...! She's a beautiful young woman of twenty-eight but man, she has a shit life. She allows men to use her for sex because maybe that's all she knows, but her job is soul-destroying and she's battle-hardened and world-weary to the max. You can hardly blame her, what with the stuff she has to put up with from men every day. Her life basically sucks, man.

There's a crazy connection between Anita and the three lads, though, and when Tokyo becomes too hot to hold the miscreants, for a little while the four of them actually believe that they can escape to a new life overseas. But, life being what it is, there's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip, as they say. Somehow, I wouldn't count on 'em starting a carefree new life in sunnier climes anytime soon...

As this is a Takashi Miike film, you'll find him enthusiastically exploring one of his favourite themes of the problems of assimilation faced by non-ethnically Japanese people in Japan. You can also expect lots of the usual sex and violence, which is probably what ye were really hoping for, heh-heh-heh, ye horny perverts, ye...!

A couple of things you should look out for, therefore, include a rather interesting but decidedly X-rated way to rouse an unconscious guy out of his stupor and, if you've ever wondered what exactly women have to go through at the gynaecologist's office, wonder no more. It's all here, folks. It's all here, but not in a good way...

The good news is that all three films in this magnificent trilogy by one of Japan's most acclaimed film-makers have been out on DVD and Blu-Ray since January 16th, 2017, courtesy of ARROW FILMS. They all come complete with extra features, the delicious details of which I'm including for you now to drool and slaver over, haha. Here they come:

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
High Definition digital transfers of all three films
Original uncompressed stereo audio
Optional English subtitles for all three films
New interview with director Takashi Miike
New interview with actor Show Aikawa (Rainy Dog, Ley Lines)
New audio commentaries for all three films by Miike biographer Tom Mes
Original theatrical trailers for all three films
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films.


The film's ending is beautiful, stunningly artistic and unbearably sad. I cried for ages after it finished. LEY LINES has been referred to as 'the most technically accomplished of the Black Society Trilogy.' Whether it is or it isn't- I personally think that all three films in the trilogy are flawless in every conceivable way- it's a marvellously powerful piece of film-making that you should on no account miss. Over and out, my darling film buddies. xxx

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com











15 January 2017

BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL. (2014) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL. (2014) DIRECTED BY SHINICHI FUKAZAWA. STARRING SHINICHI FUKAZAWA, ASAKO NOSAKA AND MASAAKI KAI.
DISTRIBUTED BY TERROR COTTA : A SUBSIDIARY LABEL OF TERRACOTTA DISTRIBUTION.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Aw, this is the most fun I've had watching Japanese horror in a while. It's a loving tribute to the video nasty genre by a guy who probably didn't have a lot of money at his disposal but who instead had a dream, a vision of the kind of film he wanted to make.

And he damn well went right ahead and made it, people, and the results are a terrific blood-splattered comedy that respectfully references some of the greatest horror films ever made. It goes to show you that a mere piddly lack of money should never stand in the way of good art being made. Let's take a closer look, dear readers...

It's a simple enough story. Shinji, played by the director himself, is a handsome young hunk of a fella who took to body-building after he broke up with his girlfriend about a year ago. The girlfriend is back on the scene now, but seemingly not in a romantic way.

She's a journalist writing an article on haunted houses and psychic phenomenon and the like, and she wants Shinji to get her access to an old abandoned spooky house once owned by his father. Shinji, who's apparently been doing nothing but exercising and oiling his magnificent muscles since the break-up, readily agrees. Well, it's not like he's got anything better to do...!

The house is as haunted as f**k thanks to a terrible secret that Shinji's Dad buried there years ago under the tatami mat. It looks like it might be the house from THE GRUDGE, that most famous of Japanese horror films about a woman who was brutally murdered by her own hubby and who then holds an evil 'grudge' against anyone who ever has anything to do with the house ever again.

A lot of Japanese houses look like they might be the 'GRUDGE' house, mind you. All that differently-sized rectangular wooden panelling and the delightfully cluttered back lanes with the hedges and the wooden fencing and what not.

The house also reminds me of one from a brilliant Japanese horror film called CLOSET, in which the titular closet dispenses monies willy-nilly to the family who's just moved in. One day, however, it will be time to pay the piper...

Anyway, Shinji and his ex-girlfriend bring along a psychic on their visit to the house, a studious-looking fella who quickly divines that something dastardly has happened there. He decides to see if he can 'summon up' the spirit of the wronged party.

This is a terrible idea. It's a bit like accidentally finding yourself in hell and deciding to poke a slumbering Satan with a stick. Let sleeping dogs lie, mate, didn't anyone ever tell you that?

But there's no talking to this fella. By the time he's done his thing and stirred up the ancient evil that's been lying dormant in the house for years, the place is crawling with demons. It's not for nothing that the film is known as 'the Japanese Evil Dead,' you know.

Shinji is utterly magnificent as he battles with the demons. He's like Bruce Campbell with his boomstick, but with barbells in place of the boomstick, as he puts manners on the ghosts and ghouls who inhabit his Dad's old house. Sometimes, all a guy's got to rely on in life are his deliciously bulky muscles...

The demons are like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees in that they just flatly refuse to go down. But Shinji channels his inner Ash and Bruce Lee, that fantastic expert in martial arts, to gain mastery over the house and its evil occupants. His quips are hilariously funny and witty, as well, as he brings down one opponent after another, although they're all just kind of different incarnations of the other, if you know what I mean.

The film uses the cutest and quaintest-looking stop-motion animation, which of course calls to
mind the king of same, dear old Ray Harryhausen, and some of his best films like JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. 

There's an unholy amount of blood and gore in the film, which utilises what looks suspiciously like minced beef for guts and peoples' innards. It's innovative, original, exciting, creative and imaginative, the things they do in the film to enchant the viewer.

Even the music is perfectly chosen to fit in with the theme of 'loving tribute to horror.' Some of it sounds a bit like TUBULAR BELLS, the theme tune to THE EXORCIST, and there's a gorgeous recurring tune that sounds like a version of electronic 'Seventies band Popul Vuh's haunting music in Werner Herzog's NOSFERATU (1979), starring Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani and Bruno Ganz.

The good news is that this brilliant horror gem of a film is coming to DVD in 2017, courtesy of Asian horror distributor TERROR COTTA, a subsidiary label of TERRACOTTA DISTRIBUTION.

This release will be the first to feature both English subtitles and original artwork from Graham Humphreys, who just so happens to be the artwork designer from Sam Raimi's original EVIL DEAD series. Don't tell me this film doesn't have a smashing horror pedigree as long as your arm, haha.

The movie is only an hour long as well, which just goes to show you that something doesn't have to be miles long to have artistic merit. Enjoy the film, folks, and always remember to let sleeping dogs lie. As a motto to live by, I've always found it to be as good a one as any...!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com