15 January 2017



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...!


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:


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