23 April 2018



'The water will make you calm. It will make you empty, happy. You'll be born again, like me.'

'Lunatics like you have it easy, while citizens like me go through hell.'

'Woman is a lower life form than man, isn't she...?'

'But inside of me is empty...'

This film is a masterpiece of unsettling Japanese horror. It's a serial killer movie, with the kind of detective that we've seen before in Japanese films but never get tired of. Well, I never get tired of 'em, anyway!

Dark glossy floppy hair, tired, attractive face, neat suit and a long flappy COLUMBO-style overcoat, buttons optional. Emotionally repressed, troubled home life, doesn't get on with the wife, often separated and wife is stingy about visitation because the marriage has broken down and she feels like being a bitch.

In this case, there are no kids but the marriage of Detective Takabe to his missus is deeply strained. The wife is suffering from a mental illness, and it's strongly implied that Takabe's emotional constipation, his complete inability to discuss his feelings, has contributed greatly to her indisposition. Men, tsk tsk, what are they like...?

As if he didn't have enough on his plate, Takabe is dealing with a series of horrific murders the like of which he's never encountered before. The murders are seemingly bizarre and random and it seems like they could pop up literally anywhere, that's how random they are. It seems like there's no rhyme or reason to 'em and they're committed by different people, which of course is unusual in serial killer cases.

They do have connecting factors, however, these gruesome murders, and there's no shortage of suspects. Far from it. The suspects in each murder are usually to be found near the body, and they're all perfectly willing to be taken in and questioned at length by the police. 

They don't deny having committed the dreadful murders of which they're accused. They just don't seem to have any sensible motives for having killed their victims, if there ever are any sensible motives for committing murder. They don't seem to have a clue why theydunnit, if you get me. It's all terribly out of character for them.

It begins to look to Takabe and his friend Sakuma, the police psychiatrist, almost as if all of these people were in some kind of trance when they slaughtered their victims. Could someone have been hypnotising the killers into doing what they did? It would have to be someone who'd had contact with each of the suspects.

As a matter of fact, there is one guy who's been around each of the suspects. His name is Mamiya, and he's a scruffy young fella with a shameful excuse for a moustache. He's wandering around Tokyo with extreme short-term memory loss, claiming to various puzzled policemen and health officials that he doesn't know who or what he is. Naturally they have to take him in and try to look after him.

When he comes to the attention of Detective Takabe, a battle of wills begins between the two men. Mamiya infuriates Takabe by only answering a question with another question and never giving a straight answer to anything. Other officials try to question Mamiya and they just end up losing their tempers and giving up. 

It's impossible to get anything out of him. I mean, I've known guys who were tight-lipped in the past, keeping information like their real names, real mobile numbers and real marital statuses a deadly secret from the women they chatted up, but Mamiya takes the biscuit. He's so un-forthcoming about where he's been and who he is that he makes these other schmucks look like feckin' amateurs.

Takabe and the psychiatrist Sakuma both experience disturbing visions after meeting Mamiya. Takabe tries very, very hard not to let the insidious little shit get into his head, but Mamiya is a past master at his craft. He's an expert at getting into peoples' heads.

With his little cigarette lighter (fire) and any water that's to hand, he weaves his wicked
spells, lighting the blue touch-paper and then standing well back with that sly little grin of his while the havoc he's unleashed takes place all around him...

Kiyoshi Kurosawa says himself that he adores using dilapidated old buildings in his films, and the settings are gorgeously derelict and creepy. That rambling old bleak barn-type structure is fantastically spooky. Kurosawa's really, really good at placing his action in scary, delightfully threatening-looking decaying old places.

Koji Yakusho, the actor who plays Takabe, is handsome and he plays the harassed cop with a troubled home life brilliantly. He ends up putting his wife into a mental hospital where she already has a history of being a resident.

It's almost like he's doing it because he has too much work on, though, and he needs the hospital to babysit her for a bit because he doesn't need to be dealing with her shit while he's up to his tonsils in the hypnotism-murders. He really seriously needs to get his act together with regards to his marriage. The prognosis with regards to the pair of them is not good.

I loved the old Edison phonograph and the creepy old recording from 1898 and all the stuff about Mesmer, the man from whom we derived the phrase 'to mesmerise' which means, you guessed it, to hypnotise.

Franz Mesmer lived from 1734 till 1815 and he was a German doctor with an interest in astronomy. He called himself a conductor of 'animal magnetism' and I do believe that, as a doctor, he treated numerous people with his hypnotism, with varying degrees of success. Some people believed in his processes. Others viewed him as a charlatan.

I know that people go to hypnotists nowadays to help them to stop smoking or over-eating, but I don't know anyone who's ever done it so I haven't a clue if it works. I'd personally be afraid to be hypnotised, as I have more than the usual number of skeletons in my closet and I would hate to have any of 'em show up unexpectedly while I was 'under,' lol.

I adore the idea of the 'police box,' which is literally a sort of police kiosk with one or two coppers in it dealing with police business, sort of like as an extension of the regular-sized police stations. It's something we probably couldn't have over here in Ireland because we wouldn't have the manpower. Not enough people are applying to join our Garda Siochana, see? It's a bit like the priesthood. Absolutely no-one's applying to wear the collar these days.

Anyway, with regard to these police boxes, the Guards probably wouldn't be able to cope with the volume of tourists looking for directions to the Guinness Storehouse. Yep, that's what our coppers mainly do on the streets of Dublin, lol. Stupid tourists.

Roaming the streets in packs so that we regular Irish people get pushed off the pavements onto the streets, risking life and limb under the chariot wheels of those reckless bloody eco-cab drivers. The number of times I've nearly been run over by one of those law-breaking gobshites...!

Where were we, anyway? The state of Dublin streets gets me so angry, haha. CURE is out today on home entertainment release, courtesy of EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT, for the first time ever in the UK. It's part of the excellent THE MASTERS OF CINEMA SERIES and it comes in a Dual Format Edition featuring a Limited Edition O-card for the first 2,000 copies only.

There are some brilliant extra features included, all of which I've found the time to watch. The interview with Kim Newman, one of my favourite film critics, is most enjoyable and entertaining, and he's such a natty dresser and always in a good mood as well.

There are also two interviews with the director in there. Find out how he worked his way up to where he is today by doing straight-to-video films with the most intriguing titles and by doing something he calls 'pink films.'

I believe, without being an expert on the subject, that these are sort of trashy sex films without going so far as being actual pornos, lol. There's no shame in making trashy sex films,
even for the guy who has worked extensively with Japanese acting legend Show Aikawa and who 'would like to make films in which confusion and sophistication co-exist.' 

He's a genius at what he does, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and his back catalogue is to die for. Watch CURE. It's positively 'mesmerising.' See what I did there...?


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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