Memories (1995)

Memories (aka Otomo Katsuhiro’s Memories) is an animated science fiction anthology film from 1995, and it is based on three of Katsuhiro Otomo’s short manga stories: Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder. While Katsuhiro is best known for his work on Akira (both the manga and the movie), he does have other works that are worthy of recognition, and Memories is one of them. Since there are three segments, I’ll write about each of them separately:

 

MAGNETIC ROSE:

The crew at The Corona, a deep space salvage freighter, encounters a distress signal while out on a mission. They decide to respond to it, and come upon a spaceship graveyard orbiting a giant space station. Intrigued, they want to take a closer look, and once inside, they are met with a splendor of European interior and furnished rooms showing various states of decay…almost like a haunted house in space. The ship belonged to a opera diva named Eva Friedel, who disappeared after her fiancé was murdered. They split up in order to find the source of the distress signal, and start experiencing what could be perceived as paranormal encounters, like strange noises and visions…

 

Magnetic Rose is the longest of the three segments, and I guess the best description would be that it’s a little bit of Event Horizon mixed with a haunted house tale, and it’s my favorite of the three. The artwork of the ship’s interior, together with the atmospheric setting and eerie vibe throughout makes this a solid science fiction ghost story. It’s chilling, beautiful and filled with all the right ingredients for a spooky story.

 

 

STINK BOMB:

Nobuo Tanaka is working at a lab, but feels really down as he’s battling a bad case of the flu. He mistakes some experimental pills for being cold pills (which are, in fact, part of a biological weapon program). He takes one, and soon develops a deadly body odor which kills everyone in the laboratory (except himself, of course). Not realizing what’s going on, he reports the incident to the headquarters, who instructs him to deliver the experimental drug to Tokyo. Upon traveling there, his body odor grows stronger and kills everything in his path…

 

Stink Bomb, with its pretty absurd premise, goes in a very different route from the more serious and chilling segment Magnetic Rose. This is absurd comedy hour all over, and strangely upbeat as you see both humans and animals drop dead as the confused and horrified Nobuo keeps going in order to complete his mission. It’s funny and weird, utilizing its dark humour pretty well.

 

 

CANNON FODDER:

In a walled in city which considers itself to be constantly at war, everyone’s livelihood depends on maintaining the enormous cannons which are placed all over the place. We follow the story of a young boy and his father, who works as a cannon loader. And while the city constantly fills their news regarding “successful bombings” of the “enemy”, there actually exists no evidence of any of this…or any evidence of there actually being an enemy at all.

 

Cannon Fodder is the segment which differs most in art style, with the characters being drawn with what is a little reminiscent of the “Animal Crossing”-style red triangle noses. But it’s also the segment which, although not providing any overt horror, gives most food for thought. It’s a story about a city and its people, constantly riled up with fear over that horrible and dangerous “enemy” that they constantly need to battle…except there is no evidence for this enemy’s existence whatsoever, other than what their local media is telling their citizens. It’s a grim depiction of how people can be misled by their leaders into a war against something that doesn’t even provide a threat…

 

 

Overall, Memories is holding up really well despite its age. The animation is fluid and visually mesmerizing, as well as hauntingly beautiful, and each segment provides a different yet captivating experience.

 

 

Directors: Kôji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Writers: Satoshi Kon, Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Original Title: Memorîzu
Country & year: Japan, 1995
Voice actors: Shigeru Chiba, Hisao Egawa, Kayoko Fujii, Nobuaki Fukuda, Ami Hasegawa, Isamu Hayashi, Yu Hayashi, Michio Hazama, Masato Hirano, Hideyuki Hori, Hiroaki Ishikawa, Takkô Ishimori, Tomoko Ishimura, Tsutomu Isobe
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0113799/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felidae (1994)

FelidaeFrancis, a tomcat, moves to a new neighborhood with his owner, and quickly gets involved in a series of cat murders that’s been going on for some time. He meets a local cat named Bluebeard, who shows Francis one of the recent victims. Bluebeard is convinced that “can-openers” (cat slang for “humans”) are behind these murders, but Francis disagrees and takes it upon himself to investigate this further. As he delves further into the mystery, Francis comes upon more mutilated cat corpses, a cat suicide club, a blind feline, and old VHS tapes featuring brutal experimentation performed on cats by crazy scientists. Francis tries to put all the pieces together in order to solve the mystery and find the culprit, while also suffering from terrifying nightmares.

 

Horror/thriller movies come in all forms, and animation is absolutely no exception. While some animated thrillers have become more and more known over the years (especially some anime classics like for example Perfect Blue) there are others that have been kept more obscured. So when opening the Animated Horror section here on Horror Ghouls, we thought it would be fun to start with a feature we expect few of you have heard of before: the German neo-noir cat thriller Felidae!

 

Now, don’t let Felidae’s cover fool you, this is absolutely no film for kids. While animated movies have never really been something that was supposed to only be aimed for kids, and have often targeted an adult audience, it’s a very common belief among a lot of people to believe that “cartoons are for children” (although those people are very, very wrong…but there are people out there who believe “Disney” is a synonym for “animation“, so what can you do). If a parent unwittingly brought this one home for their children to watch under the presumption it would be a kid flick, I hope the majority of them were smart enough to switch it off as soon as the first murder appears on the screen (which is pretty early in the movie). If not…well, then those kids ended up watching an animated film with nightmarish dream sequences featuring mutilated dead cats on puppet strings, mutilated cat corpses, horrible experiments done on cats, and scenes with Kama Sutra pictures on the walls. Oh, and a somewhat cheesy sex scene, of course. Much of the film’s murder plot would probably not be easily comprehended by children anyway…I doubt many 7-year olds would understand the film’s references to acts committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, for example. Felidae is purely intended for adults.

 

Felidae

 

Felidae was directed by Michael Schaack, and based on a novel by the same name written by Akif Pirinçci. This animated feature from 1994 has pretty decent animation, and especially the “puppetmaster” nightmare scene is quite awesome with its stylish animation (which appears a bit different from the rest of the film, and thus makes it stand out). There are a lot of scenes that are beautiful to watch, with atmospheric painted backgrounds. The character design is…interesting, in some places. While you have the protagonist Francis, a more natural-looking cat with realistic movements, you have some characters that are very stylized. Like one of the “bad guys”, Kong, and his two neutered henchmen. Still, the stylization of the characters doesn’t actually distract from the rather dark and realistic tone of the film.

 

The movie follows a typical noir detective formula, and the mystery behind the murders is a bit more complex than what you might be led to believe from the start, with references to eugenics and racial purity. At the time Felidae was made, it was the most expensive animated feature produced in Germany, costing 10 million marks (approx. 5 million dollars). It was mainly animated by TFC Trickcompany in Hamburg, but they also outsourced some of the animation to 10 different studios, from London to Seoul. While it did get an English version, it never got any wide release in neither the US or UK, but the English version was included on the German and French DVD releases.

 

Now, if you want to check this one out it’s almost impossible to get on DVD anywhere (except maybe a used one on eBay, which is how we got it actually) and it doesn’t appear to be on any streaming sites. So your best chance here is probably YouTube. The official trailer for this movie doesn’t include any of the violent scenes, so it has actually been classified as “YouTube Kids”. Probably just because it’s animated. So regarding that incorrect “all cartoons are for kids” belief many people seem to have, I simply rest my case…

 

Felidae

 

Director: Michael Schaack
Country & year: Germany | Denmark, 1994
Voice actors: Ulrich Tukur, Mario Adorf, Helge Schneider, Wolfgang Hess, Gerhard Garbers, Ulrich Wildgruber, Mona Seefried, Manfred Steffen, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Michaela Amler, Christian Schneller, Tobias Lelle, Frank Röth, Alexandra Mink
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0109791/

 

Vanja Ghoul