Archive for anthology

RAMPO NOIR (2005) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Japan, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2013 by goregirl

Rampo Noir is a four story anthology based on the work of Edogawa Rampo. The handful of films I’ve seen based on Rampo’s stuff has been superb! In fact, three of my favourite discoveries since starting this blog have been Blind Beast, Horrors of Malformed Men and today’s subject review Rampo Noir (this is my third viewing of Rampo Noir). The tales of Edogawa Rampo must have been scandalous when they were originally published; and then again Rampo’s work is the kind of twisted that never goes out of style. Rampo Noir has a slow but steady pace and little dialog through most of its runtime; all the stories focus heavily on their visuals. Fantastic set pieces and imaginative camerawork compliment the deliciously gruesome images. The cherry on top is Tadanobu Asano who is featured in three of the four segments. I could watch a three hour documentary on how paper bags are made if Asano was in it. Rampo Noir is a strange, surreal, sick little collection of Rampo’s work. The filmmakers might take liberties with the stories, but the visuals give off a perfect Rampo glow.

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MARS CANAL
Directed By: Suguru Takeuchi (Shiritsu tantei Hama Maiku -Japanese TV)

The first story in the quartet is Mars Canal. The film is only a couple minutes long and is silent for most of its runtime. Tadanobu Asano plays a man naked and alone in some barren landscape that may or may not be mars. He has flashbacks of his last violent moments with a lover. Mars Canal’s visuals are extraordinary and the second half left me tripping balls.

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MIRROR HELL
Directed By: Akio Jissoji (Mujo, Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis)

The second story in the set is called Mirror Hell. Several women have been found with their faces melted off; a beautiful and unique hand mirror is found at the scene of each death. The mirrors are traced back to artisan Toru who is carrying on his long family tradition of mirror making. The visuals are simply amazing in Mirror Hell, with a generous array of mirrors used at every second in a variety of unique ways. Another visual stunner with a nice bit of kinky exploitative goodness thrown in to the mix. The violence is not graphic but is certainly creative; I was rather impressed with how the director chose to represent the melting of the women’s faces. Tadanobu Asano stars as the detective working on the case and Hiroki Narimiya is Toru the mirror maker and both are perfect in their roles. Mirror Hell is a beautiful, twisted and intriguing story with visuals that will leave you avoiding your own reflection.

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CATERPILLAR
Directed By: Hisayasu Sato (Splatter: Naked Blood, Rafureshia)

The third story in the collection is Caterpillar. Oh bloody hell is this a nasty one! I loved it! Caterpillar is without a doubt the gnarliest and most graphic of the anthology. A lieutenant returns from the war and his wife in desperation does what she must in order to keep her hubby from returning to the battlefield. She essentially transforms him into a caterpillar cutting off his arms and legs; her actions become more perverted, disturbing and brutal as each day passes. The psychedelic sequence shot from the perspective of a caterpillar is just brilliant! The less I say about Caterpillar the better, but it is gruesome and its finale is a perfect payoff. I am torn on whether this one or the final segment Crawling Bugs is my ultimate favourite of the lot.

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CRAWLING BUGS
Directed By: Atsushi Kaneko (his other director credit is for a TV Series called Soil but he is a successful manga artist…some might even say manga god)

The final film in the anthology is Crawling Bugs; manga artist Atsuchi Kaneko’s debut film. Again, Tadanobu Asano stars this time as a limousine driver with a bad case of germaphobia and a serious crush on his celebrity passenger. As hallucinogenic as each of these entries are Crawling Bugs is the mother of them. Have you ever wanted to be with someone so badly that you would be willing to kill them to do so? The imagination of the obsessive limo driver is a weird, blue-skyed, flowery, sun-shiny, rainbowy sparkly ass-kicking head trip! Crawling Bugs is bizarre, charming and hilariously fucking sick!

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Love, torture, revenge, obsession and Tabanobu Asano; what more could a person want? Rampo Noir is a sense titillating and grotesque vision that bleeds the lines between fantasy and reality. Love it or hate it Rampo Noir’s images leave a mark. Despite being a touch more style than substance it is such a hypnotic trip that the stories themselves seemed secondary. This is my third viewing of Rampo Noir and it will not be my last. Rampo Noir gets my highest of recommendations; a perfect score.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Akio Jissoji, Atsushi Kaneko, Hisayasu Sato, Suguru Takeuchi

Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Yûko Daike, Chisako Hara, Masami Horiuchi, Mikako Ichikawa, Hanae Kan, Ryûhei Matsuda, Kaiji Moriyama, Tomoya Nakamura, Hiroki Narimiya, Tamaki Ogawa, Nao Ohmori, Yukiko Okamoto, Minori Terada, Susumu Terajima, Yumi Yoshiyuki

TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE (1990) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2012 by goregirl

I love anthologies! When I find one where all the stories are solid it is extra special! If Tales from the Darkside: The Movie had a darker connecting story that better suited the trio of films I might have given this collection a perfect score. The wraparound story featuring Debbie Harry isn’t awful; it is just far too light and cheerful. It really messed with the collection’s vibe. Debbie Harry plays betty, an upper class housewife preparing for a dinner party. She opens a large pantry door to reveal a neighborhood boy she intends to serve as the main course. She has given him cookies and a book of horror tales to keep him entertained. To stall his demise the boy convinces Betty to allow him to read her a story. Each segue features the boy convincing Betty to listen to another story. It also ends on far too buoyant a note in comparison to the three films it serves. All three of the segments are entertaining and all are fairly dark in tone. The wraparound is a weak link but the three segments are more than good enough to overcome it.

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LOT 249

Edward Bellingham is an intelligent and awkward university student who is a strong contender for the Penrose Fellowship. After being accused of stealing a Zuni Fetish from the museum where he works he is passed over in favor of peer Lee. Edward doesn’t believe for a second that Lee is capable of writing a winning essay and his instincts are correct. Andy’s girlfriend Susan wrote the essay on his behalf and furthermore framed Edward for the museum theft. Susan’s brother Andy lives on campus above Edward and is present when Edward receives his new acquisition; Lot 249. Inside the crate marked Lot 249 is an authentic mummy full of rotten flowers. Although it is pretty damn clear where Lot 249 is headed it is a fun trip getting there just the same. The mummy looked pretty damn cool and there are a couple nasty deaths; although neither of them were graphic. The performances are great! I always enjoy Steve Buscemi and he is definitely a highlight here as central character Edward Bellingham. I quite enjoyed Julianne Moore here also. She plays a huge bitch! She is spoiled, bossy and snooty too. Moore does a nice job playing the unlikable character. Christian Slater and Robert Sedgwick as Andy and Lee respectively are both decent also, but their characters don’t demand much. I loved the final twist! I thoroughly enjoyed Lot 249, although it was my least favourite of the trio.

Starring: Christian Slater, Robert Sedgwick, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Michael Deak

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CAT FROM HELL

The second story appropriately called Cat from Hell is all about revenge. Millionaire Drogan hires hitman Halston to kill a cat. $50,000 up front and another $50,000 when Halston brings him the tail. Drogan believes the cat was responsible for the death of his sister Amanda, her friend Caroline and hired hand Gage and Drogan believes he will be next. Halston takes the job laughing the old man off as crazy and senile; but Halston is about to find out this kitty has claws. Black cats are awesome! This particular kitty is really a hero! I don’t want to give away all of the goodness but let’s just say Drogan’s Pharmaceutical company engages in unsavory practices and this cat has a legitimate case for vengeance. Cat From Hell has solid suspense, a little light humour and the perfect setting. The big old fancy mansion was perfect and provided the segment with great atmosphere. The finale is surprisingly gory and peculiar, I loved it! There are a few shots where you can tell it is not a real cat, but it is easy enough to forgive. William Hickey is so neat with that crazy voice of his and he is very convincing as the powerful, unscrupulous and terrified rich old man. David Johansen is also top notch as hitman Halston. The real star of this segment is the bad-ass black cat who positively roars! Meow-licious!

Starring: David Johansen, William Hickey, Alice Drummond, Dolores Sutton, Mark Margolis

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LOVER’S VOW

They definitely saved the best for last! Lover’s Vow is the story of struggling artist Preston. Preston meets his agent Wyatt in the local bar he frequents. Wyatt tells Preston that the gallery showing his work is dropping him and he will no longer be his agent. A bad night is about to get worse when he witnesses the owner of the bar decapitated by a gargoyle. The gargoyle corners him but instead of killing Preston it swears him to secrecy. Preston is never to speak of their meeting. As Preston makes his way home he runs into a beautiful woman walking alone. The woman introduces herself as Carola and they fall in love. Carola gets him hooked up with another gallery and things begin looking up for Preston. Several years and two children later Carola and Preston are celebrating the ten year anniversary of the night they met. Will Preston carry the secret to his grave or will he divulge the secret to his true love on their special night? James Remar is very likable and empathetic as Wyatt and Rae Dawn Chong is charming as Carola; the two have great chemistry together. The gargoyle is pretty cool. It looks just like you would expect a gargoyle to look if they were real; except taller and thinner. Its face was slightly comical particularly the eyes. It was no less intimidating however when it easily lops a guys head off! Lover’s Vow has a well-written, intriguing story; the best of the trio. I actually think this segment would have made a great feature length film. Lover’s Vow has a brilliant finale, great performances and a perfect mood and tone.

Starring: James Remar, Rae Dawn Chong, Robert Klein, Ashton Wise, Philip Lenkowsky

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WRAPAROUND FINALE

I would have liked to have seen Betty eviscerate the boy and serve him for dinner. That does not happen. The wraparound was cutesy and really seemed like it belonged to another series of tales; perhaps one intended for children. Debbie Harry is sort of fun, but the kid was mildly irritating. Meh. The wraparound just did not work for me.

Starring: Debbie Harry, Matthew Lawrence

I really enjoyed Tales from the Darkside: The Movie! Great performances, well-filmed, solid makeup and effects, and seriously entertaining stories; it is a shame about the wraparound but otherwise Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is top notch! Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: John Harrison