Archive for takashi miike

Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1999

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by goregirl

This is the final top ten horror list of the decade!! Other than my announcement of the winner of the Criterion contest on Friday, this will also be the last post I will be doing for this feature!! I am completely 90s horror’d out! And speaking of the Criterion contest I want to remind you that the contest ends this Thursday, February 28th at noon (Pacific Time – West Coast of Canada yo). If you entered, poke your head in on Friday, March 1 to find out if you were the lucky winner! The last year of the decade was an entertaining one and heavy with Japanese titles with four picks from the country. Film number one I rated 5/5, Films two through nine I rated 4/5 and film number ten was rated 3.5/5. I also rated the following three films 3.5/5; Los Sin Nombre, Top of the Food Chain and Hellblock 13.

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#10 IDLE HANDS
Directed By: Rodman Flender

No one is more surprised I like this film than me. As I have mentioned in previous posts I have felt really spurned by the volume of North American made horror films with a high school theme. I did rather like the idea of a possessed hand-ala-Evil Dead 2 and throwing in two mates coming back from the dead was a nifty twist. There is a little mockery of the genre and some good laughs in this silly horror-comedy with a significant body count, creative deaths and decent effects. It is not without some problems but Idle Hands was pretty fun!

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#9 TERROR FIRMER
Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman

Terror Firmer is one of Troma’s funniest and most outrageous films since the 80s! Cheap, sleazy and gory fun with lots of Troma regulars and appearances from Ron Jeremy, Lemmy, Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Eli Roth and of course the face of Troma, Lloyd Kaufman playing himself! It is a Troma film about making a Troma film and as you would expect it is ridiculously schlocky, tasteless, full of boobs, bodily fluids and tons of over-the-top violence. Troma’s trailer really says it all…

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#8 SLEEPY HOLLOW
Directed By: Tim Burton

Ichabod crane is sent to the tiny town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a trio of murders by decapitation that may be the work of a malevolent spirit known as the Headless Horseman. Johnny Depp was all over the place in the 90s and here he plays the eccentric and eager Ichabod Crane; one of the first of many Tim Burton films he would star in. The film screams Burton with its lovely gothic sensibility and a touch of playful menace. While I certainly would not call the film scary, it does have its suspenseful and mysterious moments. It also has Christopher Walken as the horseman and you can’t go wrong with that! Walken is quite creepy in the role and I really dug the makeup on his character! I still have the special orange popcorn bucket from when I went to see this in the theatre! Sleepy Hollow is classic Burton entertainment!

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#7 THE 13TH WARRIOR
Directed By: John McTiernan

This is one of many films from the 90s I seen in the theatre and haven’t revisited until now. When this showed up on the IMDB horror list I thought what the hell? This is a horror film? This is a big flashy Norse legend kind of thingy and it does in fact have ancient mythical creatures that come from within the mist and eat human flesh! How could I forget such a detail? The film looks like a million bucks and so does Antonio Banderas; the man is not hard on the eyes. The 13th Warrior is jammed-packed with giant battling big sweaty men on horseback with literal names (Hyglak the Quarrelsome, Ragnar the Dour etc), elaborate costuming, impressive set pieces and cinematography and a surprising amount of blood.

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#6 HYPNOSIS
Directed By: Masayuki Ochiai

Three suicides that occur on a single night may actually be murder and could be related to a popular television hypnotist and his muse Yuka. The strange suicide-murders continue to leave the police department mystified. A well-seasoned cop and a young psychoanalyst team up to attempt to solve the puzzle. I picked this film up in Chinatown for $2! As much as I love these finds, I have been burned by Chinatown cheapies. The subtitles in this film are unbelievably bad! Spelling mistakes and some seriously questionable phrasing. I am going to blame this on my cheap copy because otherwise I quite dug this film. The characters were a bit of an odd lot! There are a whole lot of cranky middle-aged cops that are awfully shouty! The young psychoanalyst and lovely Yuka the hypnotist’s muse are definitely the highlights here. Poor Yuka is one messed up little gal! Hypnosis has kooky psychedelic hypno-visuals, creative deaths and an interesting premise with a few twists I did not see coming. Hypnosis was a first time watch and was a great surprise.

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#5 THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
Directed By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez

The Blair Witch Project is the made on the cheap film that started the shaky hand held camera and found footage craze. When this was out in the theatre I went to see this with a huge group of friends and we all loved it but these days I can nigh find a comrade who even likes this movie. Oh well, I still think this film is great!! It is so simple, subtle, scary, well-paced and if I had not known better I could easily have mistaken it for a documentary. The three central characters never seemed like they were acting to me and they don’t look beautiful or glamorous at any point in the film. The scene where Heather Donahue is staring into the camera crying and shaking, she literally has snot coming out of her nose, like you would if you were lost and weeping in the cold night! I am not exactly an outdoorsy camping sort of girl; I prefer the comfort of the cottage and the idea of being lost in the woods is actually quite frightening to me. Never mind finding freaking creepy trinkets that look like they were made by bent cult members. Despite it being seemingly unpopular to do so, I really dig The Blair Witch Project.

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#4 GEMINI
Directed By: Shin’ya Tsukamoto

Yukio, a well to do doctor has his life turned upside down when his identical twin brother, abandoned for a disfiguring birthmark, returns for revenge. This film is all about contrast. Yukio and his family are very reserved and the scenes featured in their home are done so with muted tones. The scenes shot in the slum are the polar opposite. The actions are exaggerated and the colors are loud. The costumes were fantastic! The traditional garb is amazing and the Cirque du Soliel-esque slum wear was an extreme contrast that worked beautifully. The music was bizarre but perfect and the performances are absolutely top notch across the board! Gemini is an extremely effective story about revenge, love, betrayal and class war.

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#3 WILD ZERO
Directed By: Tetsuro Takeuchi

The action revolves around the Japanese garage punk band Guitar Wolf. A trio of coiffed, leather-bound super cool rockers. Ace, our main character is a wannabe rocker and number one fan of Guitar Wolf. One fateful night he finds himself in the middle of a gunfight between Guitar Wolf and an evil hot pant wearing wigged club owner. Guitar Wolf recognizes the lad as having a heart dedicated to the true spirit of rock and roll and makes him a blood brother and furnishes him with a “wolf whistle” to blow if he is ever in trouble. Trouble comes quickly in the form of UFO’s and the living dead. Along the way we meet an adorable transsexual desperate for love and a bad ass female weapons dealer. Wild Zero Features guitar picks used like ninja throwing stars, a naked woman blasting zombies in the shower, a UFO sliced in half with a samurai sword, more exploding zombie heads then you can shake a stick at, and of course, plenty of rock and roll, guitar punk sensibility. Wild Zero is way too much fun…I love it!

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#2 THE NINTH GATE
Directed By: Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski is one of my favourite directors; I ranked him #14! A rare books expert is hired by a well-known collector to retrieve the two remaining copies of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows allegedly written by the Devil himself, needless to say shit happens. First and foremost The Ninth Gate has one of the best scores from the 90s; one I must add to my collection soon! It also has an outstanding cast that includes Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin and Emmanuelle Seigner. The Ninth Gate despite all the Satan shtick is very much a suspense thriller with an exciting build-up, beautiful sets and an intriguing story. One of Polanski’s best in years.

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#1 AUDITION
Directed By: Takashi Miike

Takashi Miike rocks! Sure, a few of his films are a miss but how can you not appreciate the man’s literally unclassifiable array of films? I am a big fan of Visitor Q, Ichi the Killer, Gozu and The Happiness of the Katakuris. I also loved his more recent entry; a real departure from the aforementioned bit of craziness; 13 Assassins. Audition was my introduction to this incredible film maker and it still remains as one of his only straight-up horror features. A widower arranges a fake audition for a film role with a friend in hopes of meeting his future bride. He finds the perfect woman in Asami Yamazaki, but the seemingly sweet young woman is not what she seems. Hahaha!! That is the understatement of the decade! The movie definitely has a slow start but personally I think it adds a lot to the impact of the seriously insane twist in the film’s final section. Audition has a truly gruesome and surprising ending that was such a spectacular shocker the first time around! I love the subtlety of the first half of the film and the way Miike uses sound and off-camera events to pique the viewer. Audition is not only one of my favourite films of the decade but of all time!

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DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #35 – #31

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on July 15, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #35 – #31

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

Here is a quintet of directors I don’t think get nearly the love they should! I’m getting down to the nitty gritty here; the next list I post will bring me to the mid-point of this project!

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#35. Hiroshi Teshigahara

What I’ve Seen: Pitfall (1962), Woman in the Dunes (1964), The Face of Another (1966), Man without a Map (1968), Rikyu (1989), Gô-hime (1992)

Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara sadly only made 11 films! I have seen six of his 11 films and they are all magnificent! Absolute masterpieces! I had borrowed Woman in the Dunes from the library and was waiting in the queue far too long for Teshigahara’s Pitfall and The Face of Another. I couldn’t bare it any longer so I actually bought a used copy of the Criterion 4-disc set from a guy on Craigslist. I had already seen Woman in the Dunes which I gave perfect marks so I felt confident I would at least enjoy the other two. Enjoy them I did! They blew my mind actually! I am so pleased to own this set, which evidently was in absolute mint condition! I have already watched the trio twice! Perfectly constructed films full of striking visuals and intriguing richly drawn characters that make me drool they are so freaking good! In addition to his directing he also became the Grand Master of the School his father founded that taught ikebana (Japanese style of flower arranging). This dude was multi-talented! Hiroshi Teshigahara died on April 14, 2001 at the age of 74, and should be celebrated as one of the great masters of Japanese cinema!

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#34. James Whale

What I’ve Seen: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)

I have seen just five of the 21 full length feature films directed by James Whale. Four of five of these are the best that classic horror has to offer! Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein are his trio of pure gold I gave a perfect score to. Fantastic sets and costumes, beautifully acted, unique and inventive visuals and effects made these delicious gothic fairytales come alive. Whale had commercial successes with several titles but apparently all good things must come to an end and Whale’s career in the movie industry petered out. James Whale left an indelible mark on film and the horror genre in particular. His 1931 Frankenstein and its sequel Bride of Frankenstein have been the inspiration for multiple decades of filmmakers. James Whale committed suicide on May 29, 1957 at the age of 67 after a long, troubling bout with his health. James Whale is a legend. Word.

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#33. Jacques Tourneur

What I’ve Seen: Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Leopard Man (1943), Days of Glory (1944), Out of the Past (1947), The Flame and the Arrow (1950), Nightfall (1957), Night of the Demon (1957), The Comedy of Terrors (1963)

I have given four of French-American director Jacques Tourneur’s films a perfect score. Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, Out of the Past, and Night of the Demon are all magnificent. Be warned, Out of the Past is the only one of the four that is not a horror film; but it is one of my very favourite film noirs. Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man were all produced by the immensely talented Val Lewton whose films have given me copious amounts of enjoyment since starting this blog! Tourneur and Lewton were a quality team; I wish they had collaborated more! Tourneur made 36 full length feature films and was an amazing creative talent who’s extraordinary, moody and beautifully filmed masterpieces should be given the ample respect they deserve! Jacques Tourneur died December 19, 1977 at the age of 73 and is one of Goregirl’s Gods!

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#32. Takashi Miike

What I’ve Seen: Audition (1999), Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha (1999), Dead or Alive 2: Tôbôsha (2000), Visitor Q (2001), Ichi the Killer (2001), The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001), Deadly Outlaw: Rekka (2002), Gozu (2003), One Missed Call (2003), Izo (2004), The Great Yokai War (2005), Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006), Sukiyaki Western Django (2007), Detective Story (2007), 13 Assassins (2010)

Japanese Director Takashi Miike is one interesting cat. He covers a variety of genres in each one of his 74 full length feature films. Okay, I have not seen nearly that many of his films, I’m basing that on the 15 I have seen. The man is a movie making machine! This is certainly an eclectic list of flicks! One of my favourite horror films from the past couple decades has been Miike’s intense Audition. Most of Miike’s films are not straight up horror but do contain elements. The ultra-violent weirdfest Ichi the Killer, the disturbing family drama Visitor Q, the bizarre horror musical The Happiness of the Kutakuris and the samurai epic 13 Assassins are all films I have given high marks to. I could recommend checking out any of the fifteen films on this list, but I was a little mediocre on Deadly Outlaw: Rekka and Sukiyaki Western Django but otherwise a quality library. Miike is one of the most talented and original filmmakers working today.

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#31. Jim Jarmusch

What I’ve Seen: Permanent Vacation (1980), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1991), Dead Man (1995), Year of the Horse (1997), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Broken Flowers (2005), The Limits of Control (2009)

I have seen all 11 full length feature films from American director Jim Jarmusch. He also has a film in pre-production; Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) which needless to say, I am anxious to see! I absolutely love the deadpan humour, the chance encounters, the great casting and the exceptionally likable no-good-nick characters he often features in his films. I love the black and white photography and the real-time lingering of his camera on his subjects. The man is not afraid to show someone chewing on a piece of toast and reading the newspaper. It is superb how he mixes languages in films; like in Night on Earth which is about the adventures of various cab drivers on one particular night in various cities around the world; each segment is subtitled appropriately. There is something charming yet bleak about the way Jarmusch looks at his own culture that is very appealing to me. I gave Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law, Night on Earth and Dead Man perfect marks! And Mystery Train and Ghost Dog would not be too far behind. Jim Jarmusch is a true American original whose films I eagerly anticipate.

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VISITOR Q (2001) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Japan, movies with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2012 by goregirl

Takashi Miike is one of Japan’s most interesting directors working today. More accurately, Miike is one of the most interesting directors working today in any country! Miike’s director list is huge, and I must admit that there are numerous titles I have yet to see. His body of work covers a variety of genres but generally speaking you can count on the inclusion of violence. Some of my favourite Miike titles I have seen thus far are Audition (1999), Ichi the Killer (2001), The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001), Gozu (2003), Three… Extremes (Box segment) (2004), Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006), 13 Assassins (2010), Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha (1999) and the subject of this review; Visitor Q. Miike also did one of the best and nastiest Masters of Horror episodes; Imprint (2006). I have many Takashi Miike films still to see but I have enjoyed the man’s work enough to watch several of his titles multiple times.

I bought Visitor Q in Chinatown a bunch of years ago, and the DVD had no English option, but I watched it anyway. It left me glove-slapped and slack-jawed. If you have seen Visitor Q you’ll understand why and if you have not you are in for a head trip. I have now visited Visitor Q three times and it still messes me up. Visitor Q is definitely not a straight up horror film. It is more of a dysfunctional family drama with comedy, thriller, mystery and horror elements.

Visitor Q opens with a middle-aged man documenting the life of a teenage sex worker. The man proceeds to have sex with the teenager who we learn is actually his daughter. Visitor Q is a mysterious stranger who comes into this man’s life after bashing him on the head with a rock. Visitor Q comes to live with the family and changes their lives in various ways. As mentioned the film opens with a father paying his daughter for sex. At home a teenage son is beaten and bullied by a group of his peers and in frustration violently lashes out at his mother. Mother is covered in raw and painful-looking lash marks and limps from the beatings. Mother is a heroin addict who occasionally turns tricks to pay for her habit. In the end Visitor Q helps the family to re-connect and in their twisted way the family loves again as you will witness in the film’s sunshiny-disturbing final image.

While the family takes dysfunctional to new extremes they nonetheless represent a typical family unit at their core. A father going through a mid-life crisis, a mother running for the shelter of “mother’s little helper”, the teenage children estranged, distant and attempting to find their place in the world. A family unit we have seen in a dozen films before. Takashi Miike however shows the breakdown of the family unit in his own unique and twisted way.

Visitor Q himself reminded me a little of Coffin Joe. Coffin Joe is a character from Brazilian horror films portrayed by José Mojica Marins. Coffin Joe is an evil character who despises morality and religion. Coffin Joe taps in to people’s darkest desires and inspires them to embark on a path of sin and depravity. Visitor Q is a more public-friendly generic version of Coffin Joe but his goal is much the same. According to Wikipedia Visitor Q’s plot is similar to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema. Oddly enough I had borrowed Pasolini’s Medea from the library only a week ago. I have not seen Teorema so I can not comment on the similarities. I added Teorema to the library queue though so you’ll be reading a review soon. Visitor Q does in fact help the family find cohesion and happiness through their depraved acts. By the time the final credits role you will witness incest, necrophilia, violent death, copious body fluids and a family unit strengthened.

Visitor Q is done in a documentary style; which nicely complimented the dark material. The father is a television reporter whose current subject is today’s youth. He is, in fact acting as reporter in the opening scene where he has sex with his daughter. The film is stark and its flawed characters are exposed like an open wound. The voyeuristic nature of the film made me feel a bit uncomfortable at times. Miike balances these elements with humour, although it too, is of the warped variety. The actors and actresses in Visitor Q were called on to put themselves out there in a big way. The film is very well cast and everyone is perfect in their roles. Although I think Ken’ichi Endô and Shungiku Uchida who played the father and mother deserve special mention.

Visitor Q is an unclassifiable, joyfully warped curiosity. Visitor Q fascinates me, disgusts me, makes me laugh and even on a third viewing leaves me slack-jawed. Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Takashi Miike

Starring: Ken’ichi Endô, Shungiku Uchida, Kazushi Watanabe, Jun Mutô, Fujiko, Shôko Nakahara, Ikko Suzuki

Gokudô kyôfu dai-gekijô: GOZU – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Japan, movies with tags , , , on June 25, 2009 by goregirl

gozuDamn! This is a bloody difficult film to review! It took an insanely long time to write this. There really isn’t anyone quite like Miike. The man has cranked out a ton of films, and he continues to come up with horrific, bizarre and original visions. Gozu is not as bloody as other Miike fare. It makes up for it though, with peculiar characters and wickedly twisted images that you won’t soon forget. He serves it all up with a hearty helping of dark humour.

Ozaki, a senior member of the Azamawari crew is becoming unhinged. Paranoid and anxious, he believes a Chihuahua is a Yakuza attack dog. During a crew meeting, he shares his thoughts with the chairman. After which, he walks out into the street and begins violently beating the tiny dog to death. The chairman immediately cites Ozaki insane, and orders his understudy, Minami to take him to a disposal facility. Their journey is full of road blocks and the detour takes them down a series of twisted paths full of violence and pecularities with destination unknown.

I had trouble writing this review because GOZU is a difficult movie to describe. This is a surreal journey you need to experience for yourself. A parade of strange individuals are marched out before you. Each one, delightfully demented and adding another strange new twist to the story. The innkeeper is a particular treat. Minami’s insecurities are exposed and we are left to laugh at the absurbness of it all. There are threads of mothering, homosexuality and questionable gender roles
sewn through that had me wondering what the hell Miike was getting at. The films final scene is still rattling about in my head as I write
this. The scene is utterly fantastic and absolutely unforgettable but what exactly does it all mean? It is basically a series of absurb events linked together to form something so strangely unique that you cannot take your eyes off of it. Is what you are seeing actually happening? Perhaps we have crossed over to another plane of reality? This is my first and only time viewing GOZU. This is a film that almost demands multiple viewings. There is no clear cut story here. There is a lot left
to your own interpretation. I will definitely watch this film again. It reminds me also, that I need to rewatch my favorite Miike masterpiece VISITOR Q sometime very soon. If you are a fan of Mikke’s work, and you haven’t seen this one, what the hell are you waiting for? For anyone else, if you are open minded and like your films warped and your humour dark than dive on in.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Takashi Miike

Starring: Yûta Sone, Sho Aikawa, Kimika Yoshino, Shohei Hino, Keiko Tomita, Harumi Sone, Renji Ishibashi, Kenichi Endo, Kanpei Hazama, Masaya Kato, Tamio Kawaji, Sakichi Satô, Tokitoshi Shiota and Tetsuro Tamba