Tetsuo (1989)

How to even start with this movie…Uhm, well…

 

It starts with a random, disturbed guy called “The Metal Fetishist” (played by the director himself) who’s wandering in some decayed urban area, barefoot. He enters a shack hoarded full of metal junk where he stabs himself in the foot, and injects himself with an iron pipe and goes through some kind of a metamorphosis. A glimpse of an everyday life of an extreme metal fetishist where it just went a little too far, I guess. He then screams and runs like a lunatic and gets hit by a car driven by a typical Japanese salaryman who then gets infected by a biomechanical virus. As the title screen rolls, he gives us the “Tetsuo Dance” before he wakes up in his apartment and gets ready for work. As he shaves, he notices a small metal point on his cheek, which pops out and starts shooting blood over his face as he touches it. Sounds weird, you say? You’ve seen nothing yet. I won’t spoil much more than this, other than our salaryman slowly transforms into a grotesque hybrid monster of flesh and metal with the desire to destroy the whole planet. And yeah, his penis also transforms into a big metal drill that no one would want to mess around with.

 

Tetsuo, aka The Iron man, is an explosive result of an inner frustration that the young director Shinya Tsukamoto had built up after an unstable relationship to his dad, growing up in heavily industrial surroundings, and the extreme pressure of the Japanese working culture. The environment is what makes a human, as they say, and Tetsuo is a prime example of that, and could be seen as a pretty alternative artistic view of the breaking point of the human mind, if you will – even though the film is open for countless interpretations. This is Tsukamoto’s fifth film, at the age of 29, after making some shorts and other projects he would never be satisfied with, and at the top of this his father kicked him out of the house right before the filming. Fortunately, due to the success and the cult-following of Tetsuo, he quickly became a prominent filmmaker in Japan with titles such as Bullet Ballet, A Snake in June, Nightmare Detective and also made two sequels to Tetsuo, called Tetsuo: Body Hammer and Tetsuo: Bullet Man, the last one with a soundtrack by Trent Reznor . He’s also known for his acting roles in Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer, Takashi Shimizu’s Marebito, and Martin Scorcese’s Silence. His dad should be proud by now.

 

Tetsuo is shot on 16 mm, in black and white, with a budget of his day job at that time. Mostly filmed in one of his co-workers cramped apartment over 18 months with hard and difficult conditions (which is not hard to imagine at all), where the cast and crew also lived during the production. The conditions came to a point where the actor who plays the salaryman got the urges to escape the set several times because of shooting days that never seemed to end, while crew-members just came and left. The whole production was such a nightmare, according to Tsukamoto, that he considered to burn all the negatives. And we should just be glad he didn’t, because Tetsuo is a truly insane, hyperactive, nightmarish cyber-punk/art-house/body-horror masterpiece that easily could be describes as Eraserhead on crack cocaine. Very aggressive, graphic, experimental and completely bizarre and truly one of a kind. It’s one of those “what the hell did I just watch-films“, and it’s clearly not for anyone, especially for those who’s epileptic. The technical aspects is from another planet (Planet Japan that is) with some really impressive stop-motion effects, camera work and costume designs. It has a great and sharp sound design and a really heavy, industrial soundtrack by Chu Ishikawa that fits the intense imagery perfectly.

 

So, what else is there to really say about this movie, other than: just watch it! Watch it on a big screen in a dark room with loud sound.

 

Tetsuo

 

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Country & year: Japan, 1989
Actors:Tomorô Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, Shinya Tsukamoto, Naomasa Musaka, Renji Ishibashi
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0096251/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mimic (2017)

Hee-yeon and her husband moves to the countryside together with their daughter and the husband’s mother, who is suffering from dementia. Their son, Jun-seo, disappeared five years ago and Hee-yeon is struggling with accepting the fact that he might be dead. One day, she finds a mute little girl in the forest nearby, and decides to take her home. Soon, the little girl starts speaking and claims that her name is the same as Hee-yeon’s daughter, and things start to make the little girl’s intentions questionable.

 

In many cultures, there’s been stories about spirits or creatures that will mimic the appearance or voice of our loved ones, in order to trick us. You might be familiar with one of the many variations of the creepy story where a child is hearing his/her mom calling out (usually from downstairs) but on the way for the mother’s calling voice, the child sees his/her real mother saying: “Don’t go. I heard it too!” (this has actually been made into several Creepypastas as well). Something being able to mimic someone we know is a terrifying concept, and long before I even knew anything about mimics at all, I actually had nightmares as a child where I’d hear my mother’s voice from two places at the same time (usually inside the house). Upon approaching my mother (from the voice I decided to choose) I always knew I’d chosen the wrong one, even though she looked exactly like my real mother. Creepy, right?

 

In “The Mimic” (Jang-san-beom), the plot is inspired by the myths about the Jangsan Tiger (nope, not the striped feline we’re all familiar with, but a creature with long white fur). The Jangsan Tiger is an urban legend, and this creature mimics a person in order to lure people away, and, of course, eat them. It’s supposed to lurk around the Jangsan mountain near the city of Busan, the area where Hee-yeon and her family moves to. In fact, the film’s Korean title “Jang-san-beom” literally means “Jangsan Tiger”.

 

“The Mimic” blends family drama with horror, and mixed with this folktale it actually works pretty well. The movie is beautiful to watch with the scenic images from the forest and mountain area, which adds to the atmosphere of the film. The movie warms up the mood for us with a man and his mistress dragging his wife out to the cave in the forest to kill her, only to confront the creature by hearing his wife’s voice from inside the cave after he’s murdered her. We do not see the creature/spirit at any time during this scene, and in fact it is clouded by mystery very much throughout the entire film, which makes it even more chilling. What you can’t see is almost always the scariest, isn’t it? It builds while still keeping you guessing.

 

“The Mimic” is a slow-burning supernatural horror film with gorgeous cinematography, and while it may not keep you at the edge of your seat the entire time due to the movie’s pacing, it definitely manages to build up a creepy atmosphere and tells a lore-filled tale pretty well.

 

The Mimic

 

Director: Jung Huh
Country & year: South Korea, 2017
Actors: Jung-ah Yum, Hyuk-kwon Park, Jin Heo, Rin-Ah Shin, Yu-sul Bang, Jun Hyeok Lee, Hae-yeon Kil, Yul Lee, Ju-won Lee
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt7046826/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wailing (2016)

The Wailing (2016)Jong-Goo is a police officer that lives a quiet life in a little village with his wife and daughter. One day he is called to the scene of a gruesome multiple murder case, where a family member of the murdered people is covered in blood from the victims. His skin is covered in strange boils, and he appears to be in a state of stupor. Soon, more incidents similar to this occur all over the little village, and some of the villagers start to blame a newcomer to the area: a Japanese man (played by Jun Kunimura, known for his roles in “Ichi The Killer”, “Audition” and “Kill Bill”) who’s taken residence in the woods. Jong-Goo starts a battle against time to figure out what is happening, as his daughter also starts showing the symptoms.

 

“The Wailing” is a Korean horror movie that lasts for 2 hours and 36 minutes, but thanks to great cinematography and some really weird and strangely entertaining scenes, it manages to spend its time well without becoming a hassle to watch through. It’s quite beautiful to watch with its misty mountains and forest locations. The story’s pacing is good enough, we are being told things gradually while still pondering about the mystery behind the murders and “possessions”, and the Japanese newcomer (is he really the bad guy here, or is something else going on?).

 

There are some comedy elements in the movie (which was for the most part intended, I think), especially an exorcism scene that is so dragged-out and insane that it actually gets oddly hilarious. The protagonist’s facial and emotional reactions are almost cartoony sometimes, and the mix of being dark and vicious with being so colorful and sometimes comedic makes it a pretty weird watch. The story keeps you guessing throughout the entire movie, until the ending reveals the true villain in its full form.

 

The Wailing

 

Director: Hong-jin Na
Country & year: South Korea | USA, 2016
Actors: Do-won Kwak, Jung-min Hwang, Jun Kunimura, Woo-hee Chun, Hwan-hee Kim, Jin Heo, So-yeon Jang, Do-yoon Kim, Kang-gook Son
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt5215952/

 

Vanja Ghoul