Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: An anthology of five tales told by a ghostly grandma aboard a late-night bus.
Review: Despite being made-for-TV, this wasn't half bad. Oh, sure, much of the special effects are horrendous and the budget limitations are palpable, but they managed to work with the material well enough to get the job done. My main gripe is that none of the stories are particularly interesting or memorable. It's not that they're bad--they simply lean toward the mediocre side of things. This isn't to say that you shouldn't give it a watch, however, you should keep in mind that average tales mixed with shoddy effects could come off as a disappointment; I mean, this ain't "Ju-on: The Curse" here. Finally, there is a separate issue only affecting the Western DVD.
Wraparound: If you were like me, you were probably wondering where the fuck is the wraparound discussed on the wiki page?! I don't know why it's not included, but you're losing out on about 10 minutes of material as well as the plot element that pieces everything together. True, the wraparound has no bearing on any individual tale, but it adds to the experience. Thankfully, someone did upload a, seemingly, complete version on youtube. So...all that happens is this ghostly old lady haunts a bus and its handful of passengers they pick up. She does address us, the viewing audience--which is a nice touch--and she creates a kind of interlude between segments. I actually thought there was a lot of potential here for a larger story, but things just kind of end abruptly once the driver runs away after having enough of the ghostly shenanigans. Overall, it's annoying this content was cut, but it's not exactly going to make or break the film as a whole.
The Spiderwoman: I want to say this entry was striving for satire; in a way, we see the depiction of how easily urban legends spread around Japan. For this urban legend we have the titular spiderwoman that people claim to see with all manner of conflicting accounts. Two journalists investigating the sightings come across the actual creature as she can take a human form. By the end, one of the journalists is magically turned into a...Spider-Man...? Eh, just no Kirsten Dunst, please, for the love of fuck! I guess this segment was okay if you don't take things too seriously. Unfortunately, the special effects are exceptionally terrible which really drags down the final impression. It sucks too because the filmmakers were finding creative ways to make it look like someone had a bunch of limbs earlier in the tale.
Crevices: This segment felt like an unofficial prequel to "Kairo" (or "Pulse" whichever you prefer). I mean, you've got a ghost being kept at bay by red tape so what else am I to make of that? Anyway, a guy comes looking to find out what happened to his missing friend. At the missing friend's apartment, there is nothing but red tape everywhere which baffles the guy and an accompanying landlord. While taking off the tape and looking for clues, the landlord suddenly disappears into thin air. Finding a video recording of the friend, the main guy realizes that some Sadako-clone is haunting the apartment and somehow can appear within any crevice. It makes little sense if you think too hard about it so just roll with it. Shocking no one, the guy tries to tape up every edge in the apartment only to miss one and die. I think this tale kind of embodies my issues with this film--it's not bad but you just shrug your shoulders and move on.
The Sacrifice: Okay, now this isn't the best entry, but it's got a little extra spice if you know what I mean. That's right, another sexy babe! And, WOW, this chick, Yu Yamada, was totally doing it for me--she looks like she could be Rika's fookin' sister! I can't stand the dyed hair, but exceptions can always be made! Wait, where was I? Oh yes, there is a story here. Apparently, when the main girl, played by Ms. Yamada, was little she saw her grandma die in order to save the ailing mother. This was some kind of sacrifice to a spirit or demon or monster or whatever the hell it was supposed to be! Now, as an adult, the main girl is somehow cursed by a dorky dude she rejected. With this curse growing stronger, the girl's mom decides she will sacrifice herself to this same...entity...in order to save our dear, sweet Ms. Yamada's life. Sure enough, this cancels out the curse and kills the dorky guy in the process as well. Then this leaves Ms. Yamada to now be the mother of my children so she can keep the sacrificial tradition going...or at least that's how it ended in my head. But seriously, this was just another so-so tale. It was kind of original, I suppose, but we don't really know why anything is happening.
Try and tell me she couldn't pass for Rika's evil, yet sexy, twin?
Blonde Kwaidan: I guess this entry was the best despite it being really short and ending in an idiotic way. Some businessman is visiting the USA and staying near Hollywood. His reactions are amusing and he loves all the blonde girls he sees. I especially loved when he discussed that Hollywood was going down for pointlessly doing nothing but remakes. You're fucking telling me, dude. Later on, after staying at another businessman's address, the guy is haunted by a blonde equivalent of Kayako. And now we know why you don't see long-haired, blonde ghosts running around...they look ridiculous; there is just something about the black hair that works. And I'm not joking about the whole Kayako thing--the blonde's body is found in a similar way to Kayako, and it's the same director, Takashi Shimizu, behind this tale. What ruins this entry is that it ends just when things are getting interesting. I can appreciate the jokes and humorous tone, but, due to general pointlessness and ending things prematurely, I can see people thinking this was the worst.
Presentiment: Lastly, we come to the longest tale of the bunch. Again, this could have been something special yet the potential is squandered needlessly. A guy plans to rob his company and then flee with some side chick. Hmm...it's almost as if they don't want you to feel bad when he dies. So after pulling some next level "Mission Impossible" shit, the guy goes to leave the building when he becomes trapped on the elevator with three shifty characters. If you can't tell they're ghosts within one second you might need your horror credentials revoked. Ahh, but here's the spin--the ghosts have nothing better to do than to watch other people become ghosts. After somewhat, and rightfully, guilt-tripping the guy, he realizes they're ghosts when the rescuers say he's the only one on the elevator. Surviving the incident, the ghosts wonder what went wrong until some kind of "Final Destination" shit kicks in to finish him off. The ending is somewhat fitting since the ghosts wonder if the guy's lover will die next since she kept threatening to commit suicide if the guy doesn't leave his family for her. The grim reaper...I guess...informs them that she won't die for like 50 years and will have three kids. Hah. That's a good one.
All things considered, this film is slightly above average. More so, if you got screwed over with the Western release of the DVD, then I'd drop the rating down to a 5/10 since you're getting screwed out of the wraparound. There are plenty of positives without a doubt, however, the negatives are substantial. If there had been at least one impressive story that stood above the rest that could have alleviated the lackluster nature of the rest; instead, each tale is more or less of the same quality. Of course I got a new chickadee out of the experience, but others won't see much of a benefit from Ms. Yamada's inclusion. Nevertheless, I still think Asian horror fans might get a kick out of this. Casual moviegoers will probably want to avoid this one though.
Notable Moment: During the "Blonde Kwaidan" segment when the main guy is driving down Hollywood Boulevard. It's just a funny scenario, and he's such a cliched tourist, but the icing on the cake is taking a shot at shitty remakes of Asian movies.
Final Rating: 5.5/10