Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: The worst cop ever and his family are tormented by supernatural forces that are plaguing the countryside.
Review: Wow...where the hell is this praise coming from?! "The Wailing" was a big hit in Korea, critics are loving it, and it's (currently) sitting at a 7.5/10 on IMDb. Did I watch a different movie than everyone else? This was utter shit. The story is nonsensical, the characters are annoying, the tone is uneven and genre-confused, and the running time is agonizingly long (two and half hours...really, was that necessary?). Oh, sure, there are some positives like the cinematography that showcases the beautiful landscape of Korea. But, I suppose, the main highlight is that the ending, admittedly, is a decent payoff to all the shenanigans. Though...who would want to endure all the bullshit to get to that point?
I'll just jump into the complaints--the movie makes no fucking sense! I've yet to read a plausible explanation from anyone who "loved" this trash. Here's the best I got: some demon or whatever is haunting a small town and trying to gain a physical form. The demon is either failing because the hosts are too weak or because this old man is thwarting the demon's plans. This old man is mistaken for being the source of the possessions which causes the main character and his flunky friends to try and kill the old man. Likewise, some shaman makes matters worse by fucking with the old man as well. Complicating matters further....the old man believes some ghost chick is the demon. Eventually all these zany antics result in the main guy accidentally killing the old man who is subsequently possessed permanently by the demon who gains a physical body. The shaman becomes the unwitting tool of the demon, probably due to fear, and the ghost chick just does whatever it is she does. The film then ends with the demon, somehow, still controlling the main guy's daughter in order to make her kill the whole family. The end? That's how I interpreted the film, and I honestly don't care if I'm way off or not since the plot is too much of a fucking mess and doesn't even come close to explaining things in the concise manner I've provided. And the nonsensical issue is exacerbated by the next issue at hand...
The tone is completely uneven as if the filmmakers didn't have the first clue of how to present this movie. For, maybe, the first hour to 90 minutes, the film plays out like a comedy-horror. Whaaat? The main guy is a bumbling fool and put into increasingly preposterous scenarios like this was coming from Abbott and Costello. This would be perfectly fine if the film didn't suddenly thrust itself into this serious horror film out of nowhere. Who do I blame here...editing, the director, who? And again, this problem is confounded by the running time that makes the film feel like it more than overstays its welcome. Notice how all these problems intertwine with one another? Anyway, there are countless scenes that do not need to be included that do not add, in any conceivable way, to the plot or helping to understand the characters. Speaking of which, the characters are insufferably annoying--especially the main guy who is a Jar Jar without a doubt. Thank Rika that sumbitch dies at least! And, seriously, who the hell was that ghost girl supposed to be? She's a damn liar that's for sure considering she lies about the old man and about the main guy's family surviving if he just waits. Wrong! His wife and mom were dead before he even got there! Just...ugh...I can't go on.
As I mentioned, there are a few positives. For like the hundredth time now, the cinematography is awesome while the story sucks. There are plenty of amazing shots, and the lush outdoors of rural Korea are a sight to behold. Though I hated the characters, the acting is pretty good from everyone; the little girl was especially good (though a little bitch) since she committed fully to the role. Finally, the payoff was surprisingly respectable with the audience watching a situation unfold where we don't know who to trust. The shaman is saying one thing, the old man is saying another thing, and the ghost girl is brought to the forefront. This standoff of who's lying and who's telling the truth was done well; it was strangely reminiscent of a Western minus the guns. If the entire film had been as good as the last 10 minutes you'd hear me singing the praises along with everyone else. Unfortunately, you have to question if sitting through 135 minutes is really worth it just for that?
I think this might be another instance where I hate the English-speaking fanbase of Asian horror. The same problems that they would criticize, say, "Ju-on: The Grudge 2" over are hailed as brilliant here. Realistically, this is a mess of a film from any objective view since it can neither explain its own plot coherently nor keep a consistent tonal expression throughout that overly bloated running time. There are saving graces throughout that torturous running time, however, you will be left wondering why you even persisted to the end altogether. I guess if you are the type who thinks "A Tale of Two Sisters" is the best thing since sliced bread, then this is for you. For me, I was both bored and annoyed throughout and shocked that such a mediocre film is being held up as some kind of paragon of modern horror.
Notable Moment: During the end when you don't know which character to believe is telling the truth. The tension created was commendably presented.
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Monday, January 23, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Before his wedding, a groom encounters a bizarre party and a supernatural creature.
Review: So...if you remember from "V/H/S," there was a segment called "Amateur Night" in which a couple guys pick up a chick from a bar that turns out to be a monster of some sort. Well, this is the feature-length version of that tale. "Amateur Night" was one of the better segments, but was it necessarily worthy of being its own movie? Eh, yes and no. Yes, in the fact that they could have went anywhere with the material, and, no, in the fact that they did not deliver on the premise. I'd also add that it's highly unlikely that this was intended to be a continuation or prequel to "Amateur Night;" the story beats are recreated in the film along with her seemingly finding a perfect mate, hence, negating the short's story line.
Starting with what worked...it was cool to see an expansion of supernatural elements. First, we have clarity that the girl in "Amateur Night" was a siren, but then we get a glimpse at a few other freaks and people who can seemingly wield mystical powers. I'd like to add, the original segment was probably intended to be referenced when the villain, Nyx, calls the people who summoned the siren amateurs. Speaking of which, Nyx was probably the most interesting character of the story given he's the only one who knows how everything works, merely hinting at all the other forces at work. I do want to note that the guy playing Nyx, Justin Welborn, was also Dante the Great from "V/H/S: Viral." Not to be outdone, the original actress, Hannah Fierman, does return as the titular character. She pulls off that creepy vibe quite well...though...I'm not seeing the hot angle whatsoever; I'd lump her in with Achita Sikamana in terms of unusual looks. Hmm, other than these aspects there isn't much else to say...I mean, I did like the mansion party, that moves around, idea, but that's been done plenty of times before.
Now, as for the film's faults, they become quite clear the moment the main characters open their mouths. The acting is significantly worse than I thought it would be. Strangely, it does get better as the story progresses, but, still, it's hard to overlook. This might be a nitpick but--whatever--the lighting was horrendous and hurting my eyes; it's as if each scene were lit up by a single light bulb next to the camera. The siren herself has some shitty effects with a few moments mirroring a sci-fi channel original. You kind of have to see it for yourself, however, "Amateur Night" appeared to handle the effects better and that's just sad. Another annoyance is the unclear limitations of the siren's powers. Is everyone just a shitty shot or do bullets not hurt her? Finally, I'll simply address that there were too many zany antics going on that were not done well; yeah, I'm looking at that tail-rape scene and Jonah's nonchalant phone call afterward--among many other ridiculous scenes.
Overall, this wasn't really that good. Sure, a couple ideas did spice things up, but the entire film fails to be as memorable or scary as the initial short. I think the main problem was the, almost, lighthearted tone the film instilled, intentional or not. When the siren is saying things like "I like you" in this story's context, it comes off as humorous, yet, in the short, this same line was used as an effective form of ominous foreshadowing. It's just little things like this that show a stark contrast in vision between short and movie. The other major detractor is the low-budget presentation that is not masked for shit. Essentially, this is rental material that is easily forgotten in a day, but it didn't have to be that way. "Siren" has its high points, yet, it fails to outdo the short its based upon.
Notable Moment: When Jonah is talking on the phone to his bride to be and is speaking all calmly. Who would just have a little chitchat after being raped by a monster, their friends are dead, and they could die too at any moment?! You wouldn't be like, "Oh hi, honey, it's good to hear your voice." You'd be screaming, "HELP! Call the fucking police, my mom, aunt Ethel...ANYONE! HELP!"
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A girl suddenly realizes that a supernatural force compels her friends and family to try and kill her.
Review: Uhh...whaaaat...? I know I've used this line before, but the story here is so incoherent it's as if someone threw away every other page of the script. Wow. What an absolute fucking mess. The sad thing is that there was a lot of potential wasted, and, considering this was based on some comic, they didn't even utilize the explanations offered from the source material. If you like your movies to make sense, and give you any sort of explanation for why the events are unfolding, then look somewhere else. The actions of the characters don't make sense either which only adds to the frustration. However, for me, the worst aspect was this presentation to the film as if it were a heart-wrenching, emotional family drama for the ages. I want to say it's pretentious yet the nonsensical story flow and editing was too busy fucking up whatever cornball vision the director had. Realistically, this should have been a straightforward thriller with light supernatural elements and an emphasis on mystery. Instead, we get whatever the fuck this was supposed to be.
The basic premise is actually really interesting at first. While attending her aunt's wedding, the main girl, Ga-in, witnesses the bride thrown from a balcony by the groom seemingly. Later on, Ga-in's other aunt kills the bride while she recovers in the hospital. This strange case of murder appears to connect to another boy at Ga-in's school--with the killers claiming they can't explain what came over them. After having horrific visions, Ga-in realizes that she is the next person to be targeted for death. All the people around Ga-in explode into fits of homicidal rage when in close enough proximity. Miraculously, Ga-in manages to survive these encounters and decides to seek answers. I'll leave the story recap these since that's essentially it for the positives. I think most people will find this story line to hold great promise, however, it goes nowhere quickly. The last thing I'll add is that the picture does look polished and Ga-in's high school(?) looks so awesome--I want to go there!
Sooo...what the hell is the cause and why is everything happening? It's not explained for shit! According to the comic it had to do with a family curse after killing some fucking magic snake so there's that I guess. But, going with the film, nothing is addressed in a meaningful way. First up...Ga-in acting all nonchalant with everyone trying to kill her. Umm, no. No one would just be hanging out at school and shit with everyone out to get you. On top of that, she never questions the supernatural nature of anything or make a connection with her visions. I mean, by the time her mom is trying to kill her you'd think that would at least be the time to wonder what it could all mean...RIGHT?! Then we have this moronic "twist" with Ga-in's boyfriend always wanting to kill her, because his dad was poor and went crazy or something? Alriiiiight...I guess we'll roll with that one. This has nothing to do with the fucking supernatural so why is it tacked on?! By the way, Ga-in is supposed to be a high school student, right? But the boyfriend is like a doctor or far enough into med-school that he's doing rounds? Whaaat the fuck...? Anyway...making matters significantly worse is when some old dude pops up out of nowhere to tell Ga-in...well...he doesn't explain shit but the movie seems convinced he does. If anything the old guy complicates matters further since he introduces this mysterious man on the phone subplot. Oh that's just fookin' great. Another stupid plot twist at the end is that the guy from earlier, that experienced a similar event of people killing, is actually the mastermind of all this...I guess...? He's like a demon or something and supposedly just a figment of Ga-in's imagination...EXCEPT that everyone in her school fucking saw him, you stupid fucking movie! And even if he's some demon, that doesn't explain why he's doing any of this, why he was (probably) the guy on the phone, what he gets out of this, why he would semi help Ga-in, what are those visions supposed to mean, etc. My goodness! Nothing makes a lick of sense in this godforsaken movie! Believe me, there are a ton more problems, but I'm growing wary of this bullshit so I'll leave it at that.
This could have, very easily, been something special, legendary even. Unfortunately, the final result is nothing short of a complete debacle. The story starts off incredibly strong but falls to pieces before the first act comes to a close. The ending is not only unsatisfying but downright idiotic and nonsensical no matter how hard you try to fill in the, nearly, endless story gaps. Of course I do not recommend this, but I do realize others may be intrigued by the enticing plot summary. I'm warning you now, this movie will disappoint you or make you spiral into a murderous rage similar to the characters. I'm giving the film a generous rating considering how mad it made me, but I appreciate the potential and cinematography.
Notable Moment: When the bride takes a little tumble. This was still early enough into the story that there was hope for it to be good.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: While on a journey to become a master, a martial artist must battle a slew of villains while trying to rescue a singer.
Review: Ironically, while trying to create a nod to the Kung Fu films of the '70s, "The Last Dragon" turned into one the most '80s-riffic movies of them all. We are talking such levels of cheese that you'd think someone were parodying the era from today's perspective. For some, this '80s overload might be too much, but, for people like me, this is simply glorious to behold. You have a badass soundtrack (including all kinds of movie-specific songs), outlandish clothes and outfits, big hair, random instances of dancing, pizza (of course), and shenanigans of the highest order. When all of these elements combine you have an extremely fun and entertaining film that is the ultimate product of its time.
To help demonstrate the cornball nature of the plot, I'll cover some of the story beats. Our main character, "Bruce" Leroy, attempts to find a new master after reaching the limits of his current Kung Fu training. Something you will probably notice is that there is very little in the way of Kung Fu with lots of Japanese aspects oddly mixed in. Sure, why not, right? Anyway, Leroy is considered a dorky outcast by his family, owners of a pizza shop. A local villain, the infamous Sho'nuff, wants to fight Leroy...because...he just needs to...but Leroy becomes more concerned with another villain trying to capture a singer named Laura; Laura is played by an '80s hot Vanity. This particular villain, a shady businessman named Eddie Arkadian, eventually switches his focus to killing Leroy after Leroy continually meddles with his scheme. Of course, Leroy and Laura develop a little romance after the frequent rescues and it's some next level cornball shit...but it works. After a constant stream of zany antics, Eddie assembles a horde of fighters to kill Leroy which includes Sho'nuff who has been antagonizing Leroy's friends and family in the background. While trying to rescue Laura, yet again, Leroy struggles with the large number of fighters, but he too is rescued by his Kung Fu students. This fight is downright fun, with a cliched little kid kicking ass, and just all out ridiculousness. Finally, after a huge buildup, Leroy fights Sho'nuff and gains the upper hand. Unfortunately for Leroy, Sho'nuff has supernatural, Kung Fu powers that allow him to overpower Leroy. However, just when Leroy is about to die, he realizes that the master he's been seeking is himself and he too gains these Kung Fu powers, dubbed "the glow." I promise you, it's cooler than it sounds yet still cheesy as fuck. So...with Sho'nuff defeated, Eddie tries to shoot Leroy who can now catch a bullet with his teeth! The cops arrest Eddie out of nowhere, everyone puts on white outfits to dance for no discernible reason, and Leroy finally gets his girl, Laura. Suffice it to say, it's absolutely amazing to watch this plot unfold!
Look, this movie is certainly not for everyone. In fact, there is a good chance the average viewer will think this is borderline retarded. The problems with the film are plain to see with questionable acting, some weak effects, a lack of understanding when it comes to individual Asian cultures, and a general sense of idiocy weighing everything down. Despite these flaws, it's important to understand this is a cult film of epic proportions. The fun factor is simply too much--off the damn charts--and you were never meant to take anything seriously; the filmmakers were definitely having a good time with the material. If you love the '80s, this is one of the quintessential movies for you, a must-watch. I've watched this movie since I was a kid so it's hard for me to imagine what someone would think upon seeing it for the first time. Nevertheless, I am confident that the right audiences will appreciate this prime example of '80s magic where everything just comes together.
Notable Moment: When those two goofballs prop up a boombox and suddenly start dancing in the middle of the movie theater. This is so ridiculously absurd that it becomes awesome!
Final Rating: 6.5/10
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A father and son coroner duo investigate a mysterious cadaver discovered at a crime scene.
Review: This film reminded me a lot of "Interstellar" in that they're both utterly amazing until the ending rolls around to pretty much destroy everything! I have discussed occasionally how shitty movies will put me to sleep, but "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" was that rare experience where it forced me stay awake in a page-turner-esque manner; this might not sound like high praise but it is. The atmosphere is nailed so perfectly that you can't help but be intrigued by the story line. You MUST know where this is all heading! Unfortunately, after a phenomenal buildup, the revelation we get is moronic and predictable. In fact, in an effort to explain the plot, things become confusing since not all the threads we were given tie up coherently. I don't know...on one hand the film is impressive in almost every regard, and exceptionally original to boot, however, it's just so damn hard to ignore the sour taste the ending leaves in your mouth. Argh! WHY?!
One of the strongest aspects to the story is the father and son combination. They aren't merely family members but also coworkers--this creates an unusual, yet interesting, character dynamic. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch feel believable as family with their subtle exchanges and banter; you can definitely picture these two on an average day outside of the film's setting. Enhancing the situation is the very fact that these two are coroners working out of an old-timey morgue. The usage of the bells on the cadavers' feet, the narrow corridors, and, of course, the storm brewing outside, create such a level of ambiance and sensation of dread...it's quite remarkable really. Then we come to our Jane Doe herself. I definitely have to give the director credit for the constant closeups of the face as you are in a perpetual state of anticipation of her movement. There is toying with your audience and then there is fucking toying with your audience! The moment they started examining her body I was completely immersed in the mystery and had to keep going until I uncovered her secret alongside the characters. Each bizarre thing they discovered had my imagination on fire...I just kept hoping they weren't going in the direction I suspected out the gate. Few other horror movies could create this incredible atmosphere, and I will certainly give credit where credit is due. If there is any aspect all audiences can agree on it's that you want to figure out what is Jane Doe's story. Finally, the film looks great on a technical front with some nice, creepy music lending a hand.
Ugh...and now I have to explain what went wrong. So what is this great mystery...what is Jane Doe really? She's a witch. That's it. That's the big reveal. And it's not even as straightforward and sensible as that--oh no--her spiel is that she was a normal girl turned into a witch accidentally during the Salem witch trials (facepalm). Making matters worse is that we cannot even declare this explanation as accurate due to numerous plot inconsistencies and the whole "it's all in your head" twist. Oh for the love of fuck! Okay, so if she was a regular girl "accidentally" turned into a witch then how the fuck was she surviving so much damage as a human? Likewise, why would puritans use magic themselves in the first place? On top of that, I highly doubt her torment would have included things like rape and some kind of tattooing. But let's say the characters are wrong in their assumption...well, we still have inconsistencies like Jane Doe regenerating her eye color only to go back to the original later. Or the notion that her body can be damaged by cuts yet the fire does nothing? Why would she have scarring if her regenerative powers are magical? If she was kept at bay by the magical bindings (presumably), then how did she control the first family at the initial murder scene? Why does she love that dumb song on the radio given the likelihood that she's been exposed to much music over the centuries is highly implausible? If everything was in the characters' heads, then she must have some degree of omnipresence to pick the perfect timing to screw with them. Alternatively, if she can possess them or enter their minds, then why wait as long as she did for this to happen? Fuck it! I could go on all day with this shit. Of course there are hints that something is not right given the line about another clear night only for it to suddenly become a hurricane, but simply resorting to "it's all in their heads" is a total cop out. The worst part is that the efforts to explain things for the audience just creates more problems that become annoying and stupid.
Okay, so what could have been done differently? If they wanted to keep this witch idea, they could have thought up something better than her being a failed magic ritual. Just say she's a fucking witch that people keep trying to kill, but she won't just die unless Sam and Dean are on the case. I was actually hoping we'd discover that the skin was simply put on to something else similarly to "Hellraiser." The realization that she had symbols under her skin doesn't even make sense given this whole witch trial shenanigans. And the thing I was hoping for most was that they would discover what put her down permanently to begin with--not this dumb comatose concept. It would have been infinitely cooler if the autopsy unraveled all the efforts someone else went to to keep her dead only to inadvertently free her by mistake. When they finally cut open her head, that should have been the final thing that was keeping her at bay. With her free at the end, that would have played on the "curiosity killed the cat" theme they had going on what with the girlfriend wanting to see the cadavers and literally fucking killing the cat. Oh well, whatever. Should have just made her a werewolf and have Rudy show up to shoot her.
I hate to make it sound like the movie was not good, because it's downright awesome--one of the best in a while! It's just that when your expectations are built up, and the momentum of the story is sucking you in, you just want it to fully blow your mind. Believe me, regardless of the ending, "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" is more than worth your time. If you want an original story, an excellent mystery, and some serious atmosphere, then this film has you covered. If you also aren't the type to think all that deeply about a film or the plot details, then you may come to love this. For me, I'd say the first hour is absolutely thrilling, engaging you ferociously every second with the possibilities that lie before you. Sadly, the last half hour falls off the track and leaves you severely disappointed the longer you dwell on the reveal. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this for horror fans and easily see this as a nice rental or date movie for casual viewers.
Notable Moment: Even though it's in the trailer, the buildup to the first bell ringing scene is effectively creepy.
Final Rating: 7/10
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers
Plot Summary: A series of six episodes from a Japanese TV show about various horror legends...supposedly.
Review: First and foremost, that title is what has been slapped on the DVD; the Japanese title is "Inagawa Junji no shinjitsu no horror." So I don't know what others might call this series around the world. What I do know, however, is that the segment, "She Bear" (or She-bear), has been floating around youtube for a long ass time. The other important aspect to note is the extremely low-budget nature of each tale. Some of these stories would have been significantly better with a sufficient budget to back them up. Essentially, this set feels incredibly similar to "Dark Tales of Japan" which I reviewed previously. Although...it's a trade-off since the tales are better here yet the sets and picture quality are noticeably worse. Oh well.
Wraparound(ish): Okay, there isn't an actual wraparound, but there is a wannabe Rod Serling setting up each episode which is the only way to know these tales were from the same series. Considering how short the segments are, it does help to know for certain these are all connected. In fact, despite there being six episodes, the total running time is still only about the length of an average film. As for the wannabe Rod, sometimes his ramblings have little to do with the story. Also, they don't do a very good job of masking his obvious line reading; sure, this is a nitpick, but it takes away a part of the mystery.
Peony Lamp: I don't know what the hell a peony lamp is, and I didn't really see any lamps connected to this tale, but this is the segment that felt closest to any kind of Japanese legend. There is some noblewoman that is in love with a samurai, but the two are forbidden to be together. Unable to cope with that life, the woman kills herself and haunts her samurai lover unbeknownst to him. When a servant of the samurai realizes the truth he tries to assist by blocking the ghostly woman until her time left in the world passes; if the samurai is touched by her he will be taken to the afterlife too...or whatever. Of course shenanigans ensue when another suitor of the samurai makes the ghostly woman jealous, turning her into a yurei seemingly. Since ghostses are tricksy, the noblewoman convinces the samurai that her time has passed, and things are safe, only to realize it's still night. The next morning the samurai is found dead like a dumbass. I liked this segment a lot due to that classic, ghost story vibe. Also, that chick was willing to kill herself to be with you...that's loyalty you can't buy!
She Bear (She-bear?): Two schoolgirls are walking along wherever when they stumble across a warning to avoid the She-bear. Then they go home and nothing happens. The end. Who am I kidding...of course they come across the She-bear! I guess she is supposed to be some kind of supernatural creature, given her teleportation abilities, though it's not explained for beans. Our beloved She-bear carries around a teddy bear with jewelry inside and, occasionally, the limbs connected to it like a finger or ear; she uses large scissors as her weapon of choice. For no particular reason, She-bear fixates on our little schoolgirls and chases them around until they figure out to simply give her all their jewelry willingly. Unfortunately for them, they held out on one item and the segment ends with an angry She-bear about to collect. Overall, this is probably going to be the highlight for most although I thought it was simply okay. Gotta love the gratuitous upskirt shots and a character named Rika though.
Yamaba: This title appears to be spelled wrong on the DVD menu. I mean, I could be wrong, but the subtitles spell it as "Yamamba" and I hear that second "m" when characters pronounce the word. Anyway, a cute journalist and cameraman--I'm guessing--investigate some bullshit about a deity called Yamamba. When trying to interview the locals of some village, the two eventually become lost in the woods. Stumbling upon a random house, the two are invited to stay the night by a shady woman only for the cameraman to become that night's dinner. Yummy. When the journalist figures this out she runs away from monsters that turn out to be the villagers they interviewed. The story ends with my cute little journalist about to die at the hands of horrendous CGI. This was another decent story save for the laughable effects. I think more time could have been spent building things up, but the ADHD crowd will appreciate this kind of pacing.
Nurarihyon: This was the dumbest of the tales by a significant margin. A pumpkinhead ghost...uhh, haunts...a little boy for reasons unknown. This is apparently a friendly, yet mischievous, spirit that gets his rocks off by being annoying. One night, thieves decide to rob the boy's family but are dispatched by the ghost's psychic powers. Yet...the ghost is magically hurt by a sword? Uh huh. Once the thieves are moronically defeated, the ghost disappears and moves on to be an annoyance somewhere else. Umm...thanks...I guess. Dude, I don't know what the fuck was happening here, but, mercifully, this was the shortest story of the six.
Heart Broken Trip: This is probably the best tale overall, but it's also hindered by shoddy effects. Another cute chick decides to spend a weekend away with her friend to help get over being dumped. Once at the...spa...hot spring...fill in whatever anime cliche...the main chick settles in alone, because her friend is running late. That night, after coming out of a bath looking like 10 times better, the cutie becomes haunted out of the blue by various ghosts. In particular, I was impressed by the mirror ghost; that's how you utilize a low-budget effectively! Just when the cutie appears doomed, her friend finally appears and saves the day. Shocking no one, the friend is also a ghost and died when heading to the trip. I don't know if the writer felt like viewers might interpret these two as lesbians or something, but they beat it into your head that the friend was sad about also getting dumped by her boyfriend. And that's it. There probably should have been more story elements at play to explain the random ghosts, but the tale is respectable for what it is.
Lost Souls: I wish this and "Heart Broken Trip" had swapped positioning, because this episode ends things on a sour note. A young couple cruising around in the middle of oblivion suddenly become hungry for Ramen. Surrre, why not. At some seedy restaurant, a family of ghosts haunt the place and will drag you to hell seemingly if you look at them. The mullet-wielding boyfriend is able to ignore the ghosts, however, the dumb girlfriend just can't help herself. When trying to drive away, the two are magically drawn to the location in which the ghost family drowned. The episode ends with the ghosts adding the girlfriend to the family so to speak; well, either that or they're just giving her a nice back rub! Hmm, it's not that this is a bad story, but it's more that nothing is explained and ends abruptly. In fact, a lot of these stories needed some fleshing out to build up the tension.
All things considered, this series was merely above average. There are too many glaring flaws that cannot be overlooked, yet, there is a charm to the presentation. Most of the individual tales could have been better with more time and better budgets, but I respect their efforts nonetheless. There are better sets out there to fill that J-horror void, however, I only paid like $5 for this DVD so I'm not complaining. I imagine the complete set is floating around the internet in some shape or form since I saw that "She Bear" segment years ago. Regardless, I'd recommend this most for Asian horror fans as casual viewers will likely not be impressed with the experience.
Notable Moment: During the "Nurarihyon" segment when the thieves go flying. This is painfully embarrassing to behold.
Final Rating: 5.5/10