Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

Tokyo Gore PoliceNow, time for some J-splatter horror insanity to make your hair wet n’ sticky. Director Yoshihiro Nishimura had primarily worked as special makeup effects supervisor on numerous films since the early 1980s. After working on The Machine Girl, he was asked if he wanted to direct his first full-length feature for the American distributor Media Blasters. The result was a remake of his earlier student film Anatomia Extinction from 1995. Like most people in the Asian movie business, he worked fast and furiously and completed the film in only two weeks, and with some pretty amusing results.


We’re in a futuristic dystopian Tokyo where the police force has been privatized, and the city is now an out-of-control violent gore-zone. Tokyo is also being threatened by a scientist under the name “The Key Man” who, with a key-shaped virus, injects people around the city and turn them into mutants called “Engineers”. It’s even worse than it sounds and there seems to be an army of them that spreads like banana flies. So, who’s here to save the day? Say hello to Ruka (Eihi Shiina), the most skilled, cold-blooded and dangerous of the special police squad of “Engineer Hunters” who slices her targets in half with her blade like it was just a regular day. The actress behind Ruka is the same shy and quiet lady we saw in Takashi Miike’s Audition. Yes, that lady. She’s also deeply traumatized after witnessing her father, who worked as a police officer, getting his head blown to pieces like a big watermelon by an unknown assassin. The motive? Who knows. She deals with the pain by some self-mutilation while she’s obsessed about one day catching the one who killed her father.


And good luck with that. We get invited on a crazy, red-soaked journey where blood pours endlessly out of wounds like garden hoses, an effect that gets pretty old after a while as it gets overused to death. The use of blood was so messy and all over the place that the cameras had to be covered in plastic. So in that regard, the film surely lives up to the title.


It also has to be pointed out that Tokyo Gore Police is not to be taken one bit seriously. The film has a zany manga vibe in the same style as Meatball Machine and The Machine Girl, where we have silly fight scenes filled with video game logic and some other, bizarre, mind-bending WTF moments. There are many highlights and unique scenes here that include a cute mutant girl whose half body is formed like a hybrid of a snail and the mouth of a crocodile that chews some poor guys’ dick off. We also have a mutant guy with a big elephant trunk as a penis which he uses as a machine gun. A chair urinates on a crowd in a fetish club. Yes, really. And there’s much more. Also watch out for a minigun that shoots fist knuckles. To amp up the madness all up to eleven, the film is sprinkled with some spicy satire aimed at Japan’s extreme trend of suicides. The most notable is the cute, colorful billboard commercials around the city where pre-teen girls in school uniforms joyfully promotes the new hot thing on the market The wrist cutter. Kawaii! Only in Japan, as we say.


And of course, the big question is: Is this the goriest film ever made? No, but it’s certainly on the top ten list. Tokyo Gore Police is overall a fun watch, but drags somewhere in the middle. It’s wild and experimental, which mostly works best as a creative showcase of old school special effects.


Yoshihiro Nishimura was planning a sequel at some time, but that doesn’t seem to happen. Anyway, he’s had a pretty fruitful career as director since TGP and made films such as Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl and Helldriver, which also seems worth checking out.


Tokyo Gore Police Tokyo Gore Police Tokyo Gore Police



Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura
Writers: Kengo Kaji, Maki Mizui, Yoshihiro Nishimura
Original title: Tôkyô zankoku keisatsu
Country & year: Japan, 2008
Actors: Eihi Shiina, Itsuji Itao, Yukihide Benny, Jiji Bû, Ikuko Sawada, Cay Izumi, Mame Yamada, Ayano Yamamoto, Akane Akanezawa, Tsugumi Nagasawa



Tom Ghoul












Tokyo Gore Police Trailer from Derek Lieu on Vimeo.

The Slit-Mouthed Woman (2007)

The Slit-Mouthed WomanIn a Japanese town, stories about Kuchisake-onna (The Slit-Mouthed Woman) are spread around. She’s a woman who’s got her mouth slit from side to side, dressed in a coat and wearing a face mask to conceal her looks. Carrying a rusty pair of scissors in her hands, it is said that she kidnaps children and kill them. She also asks those she meets on the street if they think she’s pretty, where the wrong answer will lead to horrible consequences. All of this, of course, sounds like a bunch of superstitious baloney, and only the children are taking this ridiculous story seriously while the adults just scoff at it. That is, until several children start disappearing. One day, a child even gets kidnapped right in front of the school teacher Matsuzaki. Together with her colleague she tries to uncover the truth about the legend of the “slit-mouthed woman”.


The Slit-Mouthed Woman (aka Carved) is based on a Japanese legend about the Kuchisake-onna, which is said to originate from sometime between year 794 and 1185, where the story is that a beautiful woman was mutilated by her jealous husband. He suspected her of being unfaithful to him, and thus he wanted to destroy her appearance. Later, it is said that she became a vengeful spirit who wanted to inflict the same pain and suffering on others as she experienced herself. The legend has many variations, and this movie has its own way of telling this story, set in a modern time.


The movie is directed by Kôji Shiraishi, who seems to have been directing a load of movies every year for quite some time, and is also the director of the found-footage/mockumentary horror movie Noroi (2005). Like many J-Horror movies, the supernatural is looming over everything, but the difference here is that it’s also mixing elements from a typical western slasher flick, which makes it an interesting combination. There is a bit of mystery, tension, and murders, all merged with the unmistakable dread-filled atmosphere of the supernatural J-Horror film. The makeup of The Slit-Mouthed Woman is decent, she’s genuinely creepy despite seeing her in full daylight most of the time, and unlike many J-Horror movies with ghostly villains, this one has a lot of scenes shot during the day.


The movie has a dark atmosphere and relies on some drama in order to fuel the characters as it becomes clear they also have their inner demons to struggle with, which they must come to terms with before trying to take on The Slit-Mouthed Woman. While the movie is somewhat predictable, and is not able to avoid the mistake of slowing things down a little too much during the second half of the movie, it’s still a very decent J-Horror movie about a well-known Japanese urban legend.


The Slit-Mouthed Woman The Slit-Mouthed Woman


Director: Kôji Shiraishi
Writers: Naoyuki Yokota, Kôji Shiraishi
Original title: Kuchisake-onna
Also known as: Carved
Country & year: Japan, 2007
Actors: Eriko Satô, Haruhiko Katô, Chiharu Kawai, Rie Kuwana, Kazuyuki Matsuzawa, Kaori Sakagami, Sakina Kuwae, Yûto Kawase, Rio Nakamura, Ryôko Takizawa



Vanja Ghoul








Shutter (2004)

ShutterSmile to the camera!


We follow the young Thai couple, Tun and Jane, as they are on their way home after spending an evening with some friends. Their existence gets turned upside down when they accidentally hit a woman on a dark road. While Jane wants to check on her as she was also the one being behind the wheel, Tun panics and orders Jane to stomp the pedal and just leave the woman behind. Jane is soon to struggle with guilt, night terrors and never seems to be able to smile again, while Tun does his best to forget the whole thing and move on with life. Dream on, bud.


Tun is a freelance photographer and starts to see glimpses of a pale, creepy woman through the lens and eerie white shadows in his pictures which screams bad vibes. These are analog pictures, by the way, before the era of digital cameras took over. To get some answers other than “your camera is broken”, Tun and Jane speak to a photo expert who sells fake ghost photos to a glossy magazine. He also shows them an album which he claims is a collection of real shit, taken by polaroids and still images from security cameras, which is quite impossible to fake. Quick info for Gen Z; polaroid was a camera which gave instant physical pictures rolling out of the camera seconds after taking them. We see a collage of some creepy vintage photos, and some of them you might even recognize. I get a little nostalgic by especially seeing the classic image of The Grey Ghost Lady of the Willard Library, one of the first of its kind I was exposed to when I was hunting for this stuff in the darker corners of the web in the early 2000s, way before social media. Good old times.


All photos here are taken from the web and the film gives a credit at the end by addressing – The producers would like to thank in advance the owners of any spirit photographs or photo representations that were not properly credited for their use in this motion picture. –


Anyway, things get progressively worse and bleak for the couple as they get haunted with visions, more night terrors and more spooky stuff that appears in the photos. Tun develops a chronic neck pain while his friends from his schooldays mysteriously drop dead by jumping off buildings. Huh… As Jane starts her own little investigation, she stumbles upon some clues that expose a dark, disturbing past of their hit-and-run victim.


This is the debut film of the talented duo Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom (sorry if I butchered their names). The movie was released at the peak of the J-horror craze during the hot trend of displaying pale, skinny, scary Asian ghostly ladies with glitchy body movements with their long black hair obscuring their face followed by a series of jump scares. A gimmick that got more and more old to the level of almost parody until it fizzled out with bad sequels and remakes. It was easy to assume that Shutter was just another J-horror, even though this one is from Thailand. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that they reinvented the wheel here, but what makes this one stand out is the idea of the phenomenon of capturing ghosts on camera, a concept which has always intrigued me. It’s also a damn good horror flick which is still solid twenty years after its release, and one of the very few movies in the ghost film genre that still fills my heebie-jeebies meter scale up to ten.


Although there is a ghost lurking here, the film relies more on solving a mystery as the suspense and tension builds up to the maximum. The director duo has a great understanding of the more subtle ways to trigger the deepest primal fears of the audience by exposing them to the unknown, a pretty rare skill we don’t often see. James Wan with his two first Conjuring films, Scott Derrickson’s Sinister and Hideo Nakata’s Ringu are maybe the only ones than can match. As minimal as the effects are, the scares are probably the most inventive I’ve seen in the genre, which still slaps most of the similar and modern horror films to shame. The scene where Tun is alone in a photo studio where the lights turn off and his camera starts to flash on its own is one great example of how simple, yet effective Shutter is. A razor sharp sound design also does the trick and the fitting soundtrack during the opening credits already sets the tone. A modern classic.


The film has been remade not just one or two times, but actually three times: Sivi (2007) from India, which has been seen by hardly anyone, Click (2010), also from India, which looks more like a cheap version from Asylum, and the American Shutter (2008). I’ve only watched the last mentioned, which I don’t remember much of other than it gave me a good night’s sleep. And in order to not get confused, Shutter is also released with the undertitle The Original.




Directors: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom
Writers: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom, Sophon Sakdaphisit
Also known as: Shutter: The Original
Country & year: Thailand, 2004
Actors: Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Achita Sikamana, Unnop Chanpaibool, Titikarn Tongprasearth, Sivagorn Muttamara, Chachchaya Chalemphol, Kachormsak Naruepatr



Tom Ghoul













Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in a Manhole (1988)

Guinea pig: Devil's experimentI smell rotten fish.


A man credited as The Artist has recently lost his pregnant wife to cancer and lives alone in his crampy, depressing crib somewhere in the urban jungle of Tokyo. The only thing left in his vacant life is his art painting and two gossiping neighbours living in the apartment under him. To keep his sanity and inspiration going he often visits the nearest sewer system, something which we artists all do. One day while visiting the sewer, he stumbles upon a young mermaid, whom he instantly gets attracted to. Who wouldn’t. He immediately starts to draw her before he takes her with him to his apartment where he puts her in the bathtub. And it’s all kawaii from here on with a cute love story which’ll make everyone’s heart melt. Uhm, well, not exactly.


Because there’s something really wrong and messed up with this mermaid, you see. The Artist tells us that there once was a river where the sewer system was built on, which the mermaid seems to have been stranded on. And it appears she’s been stranded too long in the sewer which has infected her, and her body starts to fall apart in very grotesque ways because of that. The Artist is anxiously optimistic though, and does whatever he can to nurture and save her.


And there’s only that much I can say without spoiling the whole thing given its one-hour runtime with an actual story to tell. This is also the second last film in the Guinea Pig series which steered completely away from the snuff/found footage-style of filmmaking to the traditional approach. We have the other films in the series which focused more on splatstick comedies filled with cringe kindergarten-level humor aimed for six-year olds, and no one seemed to take this seriously other than Hideshi Hino. In other words; Flower of Flesh and Blood and Mermaid in a Manhole are those two in the series that’s worth watching.


Like Flower of Flesh and Blood, it’s based on Hino’s manga with the same title, and open for any interpretation as it’s sprinkled with metaphors all over the place which will leave you down in the deepest mental rabbit hole, and lost far under any icebergs. On the surface level, the film works as a tragic and morbid body-horror love story with its plenty of gore, bodily fluids and lots of worms, projected from a deep psychotic feverdream by David Cronenberg – and is a perfect watch while enjoying sushi. Yum!


A box-set of the Guinea Pig series was released first time on DVD outside of Japan twenty plus years ago by Unearthed Films. It’s of course out-of-print and only available if you’re willing to pay an insane ridiculous fuck off-price. As much as I’m a supporter of physical media I can’t say with a good conscience that it’s worth it. Nope, sorry. They’re not on any streaming services, but all of the films are on YouTube and a playlist can be found on


Guinea pig: Mermaid in a Manhole


Writer and director: Hideshi Hino
Original title: Ginî piggu: Manhôru no naka no ningyo
Country & year: Japan, 1988
Actors: Shigeru Saiki, Mari Somei, Masami Hisamoto, Gô Rijû


Related posts: Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985) | Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment (1985)



Tom Ghoul













Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)

Guinea pig: Devil's experiment Flower of Flesh and Blood, the second installment in the Guinea Pig series, was made simultaneously with the first one, and they couldn’t be more different from each other. This one is written and directed by Hideshi Hino who had already established himself as a horror manga artist with his nihilistic and misanthropic one-shot comics Hell Baby (1982) and Panorama of Hell (1984). Besides of making horror comics Hino was also interested in working in the film industry, and directing a short film under the Guinea Pig banner, based on one of his own comics, would be a perfect arena to test the bloodsoaked waters.


It’s night in Tokyo and a young woman is being stalked by a car as she walks down the street. A person comes out of the car and kidnaps her. She then wakes up in some torture chamber with bloodstains on the wall while tied to a bed and it’s all bad vibes, to put it that way. We then get introduced to the killer – a ghastly-looking man with a pencil mustache, white face painting, red lipstick, a demonic grin and he’s dressed like a Samurai. Welcome to your worst nightmare. If she wasn’t terrified enough already he gives her a quick foretaste to come by holding a chicken, cuts its head off and tosses it at her as he says This is your fate! He then jabs her with a big dose of some strong drug which knocks her right into wonderland before he gets ready for the killing ritual. The only thing missing is some classical background music.


To keep some of the snuff elements, the killer looks at the camera as he breaks the fourth wall by saying something to the viewer in a disturbing poetic manner. It’s all in Japanese with incoherent subtitles from google translate but let’s just pretend he says something like:

What you are now about to witness is hundred percent real! No fake amateur bullshit!

The one who took the bait was Charlie Sheen, of all people, after he got a VHS copy of Flower of Flesh and Blood from the film critic Chris Gore in the early 90s. This story is widely known and legendary but here’s a breakdown: When Sheen saw the film, he got shocked as he thought he’d just witnessed a real snuff film, and reported it to the FBI. They confiscated Sheen’s copy and launched an international investigation to track down those who was involved in the film, including the American distributor and Fangoria writer Chas Balun. FBI eventually found Hideshi Hino in Japan who then showed them a making-of documentary of the film while he probably laughed his ass off and were forever grateful for the global hype and free advertisement, thanks to Charlie Sheen.


Compared to the first one, Devil’s Experiment, this is on a whole another level on all aspects like day and night, with the same runtime of 40 minutes, and works so much better for its purpose. This one is also shot like a more traditional film with use of different camera angles, competent use of lighting to create a rotten atmosphere and a great showcase of really impressing shock effects which will make every weak stomachs turn to pure panic attack. Even though there’s some cheesy and out of place sound effects here, this is overall a nasty piece of straight-forward horror gore show and top tier torture porn with a flavor of visual stylishness, plain and simple. Not for everyone (no, you don’t fucking say) which could as well share the same universe as Nacho Cerdà’s wet’n sticky necrophilia dream Aftermath (1994). But for us lower level horror ghouls with a more morbid appetite for sick undergroundish stuff like this  and just want to see a cute and drugged-out Japanese girl being brutally dismembered to the unrecognizable with as real-looking effects as can be, wrapped up with a nice dessert of maggot-infested body parts, well … this is a perfect gore meal – just for you. Itadakimasu!


Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood


Writer and director: Hideshi Hino
Original title: Ginî piggu 2: Chiniku no hana
Country & year: Japan, 1985
Actors: Hiroshi Tamura, Kirara Yûgao


Related posts: Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in a Manhole (1988) | Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment (1985)



Tom Ghoul













Guinea Pig: Devil’s Experiment (1985)

Guinea pig: Devil's experimentIn the mid-1980’s the amateur filmmaker Satoru Ogura wanted to shock and disgust with a series of grotesque films. Sounds cool enough. His first (and only) film was Devil’s Experiment, a 40 minute faux snuff film which became the start of the notorious, bizarre, goofy and overhyped Guinea Pig film series.


In the Devil’s Experiment we witness a young woman being tortured by a group of people while someone filming the whole act handheld in found-footage style. The torture happens in several stages/segments. They start soft by smacking her in the face while being tied to a chair. After she’s been bruised up they kick and throw her around the floor like a rag doll. In the next segment she sits on a rotating chair as they are spinning her a hundred times or so, which seems more like a harmless prank than torture, but whatever. They shove a bottle of whiskey down her throat to make her puke so we can go over to the next segment.


And already some minutes in there ain’t a single moment of realism here and I have a hard time to believe that anyone who saw this on VHS in the 80s thought they were witnessing a real snuff, because … bro, c’mon, seriously… This is amateur hour-boolshit on its lowest to such extent that it just made me shake my head and chuckle. This shit was actually promoted as a real snuff film when it circulated on the VHS market in Japan, you see, and still to this day it rises concerned questions from naive numbskulls if this is authentic or not.


Then there’s the acting, and oh my lord, haha …


The lady who portrays the victim couldn’t care less. She seems bored most of the time and acts more as if she’s sitting on a vibrating chair on The Howard Stern Show while she makes some cute moaning sounds such as:

uuhh iuuing uhh tahh iiimghh


Then they peel her skin and rips off her fingernails with a plier. An her only reaction is:

ahh ehh uhn … 


There’s also a moment where she smiles. Director Ogura auditioned a bunch of women who was eager for this role and this was the best he could pick.


In another segment they pour some frying oil over her while she’s tied to a bed. Her reaction is some orgasm and growling sounds. She’s either the worst actress of all time or she’s supposed to have a larger pain threshold than Rambo. I’d guess my first assumption.


They also toss some fresh animal intestines on her while they laugh and giggle like a bunch of schoolyard bullies. Watching blurry still images of this scene would make every gorehound cream in their pants and assume she’d been brutally butchered up, but don’t get fooled.


The scene with the eye at the end was well done though, I give it that. But besides from that the whole package is so bad, sloppy, tame as a newborn duckling and downright laughably inept that it actually makes Hostel look like a legit snuff film straight from the deepest dark web. Woof.


Guinea pig: Devil's experiment


Director: Satoru Ogura
Original title: Ginî piggu – Akuma no jikken
Country & year: Japan, 1985
Actors: A group of uncredited amateurs


Related posts: Guinea Pig 5: Mermaid in a Manhole (1988) | Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)



Tom Ghoul













964 Pinocchio (1991)

964 Pinocchio

Ready for some fucked up Japanese cyberpunk acid-trip that will blow your mind to smithereens and probably put your endurance test to a whole new level? Then let me introduce 964 Pinocchio which starts off like every normal Disney film.


964 Pinocchio, or simply called 964, is on the outside a young boy with a cute little unicorn haircut, but on the inside he is a broken, demented, helpless cyborg, manufactured in some clinic to be used as a sex slave. Unfortunately 964 can’t get an erection, so some doctors brutally drills through his skull to wipe out his memory and turn him into a lobotomized vegetable before he gets thrown out of the clinic like a dog – and gets a rough welcome to the bleak and depressing society of urban Japan. At least he’s able to walk, and soon finds himself in the isolated environment of Tokyo where he meets the homeless girl Himiko. And the most normal thing in this movie is that he actually meets a girl that’s a fully functioning human being, even with some level of empathy. She invites him to come and live with her in some abandoned industrial shithole, where she does her best to learn him to speak, and cruises along shopping malls to snap food straight from the counter. All filmed in guerilla style, by the way, where all the civilians are unaware extras, and done in a hurry before someone finds out and calls the police.


Where we thought the film was seemingly normal, they fall in love, and the moment they exchange their tongues to each other, the image freezes before fading to black, and the the shit is about the get serious. Our unicorn-haired fuckdroid infects Himiko with something that makes her go noodle-shit crazy of some epic proportions, starts to abuse him, and … holy fuck almighty, how am I even going to describe what happens for the next hour and so. Get ready for a lot of close-ups of insane facial expressions, puking, frantic running, some brief low budget body-horror and just overall a relentless odyssey with screaming, shouting and moaning like



… and here you basically have most of the script in a nutshell. And it’s of course natural to compare 964 Pinocchio to its big brother Tetsuo, where also director Shozin Fukui was one of the crew members on that film. Shozin Fukui probably thought to himself that “hah, I can make something more insane that this, even with a much longer runtime. Shiyou! ” When Tetsuo had its perfect runtime of 65 minutes and was able to hold on a certain narrative, flow, and knew where to stop, this mofo on the other hand, goes on for one hour and 37 minutes with scenes that drags on forever with little to no direction. There’s a scene lasting for ten minutes during the last thirty minutes, where 964 runs frantically through the streets of Tokyo while looking like a demented cyberpunk version of the Joker, and of course screaming his lungs off. And that scene feels more like three hours. Pure deranged misery. I will at least give the film credits for its energetic, handheld camerawork which gives off some early Peter Jackson vibes, and the intimate illusion of being present with 964 through his endless, tortuous, kinetic nightmare. The actors give it all with full dedication and Haji Suzuki as 964 is a diabolical force of nature. Others will also pick up a laundry list of metaphors, cryptic symbolism and social commentary between all the monotonous screaming, running and whatnot that only the inhabitants of planet Japan are able to perceive with a straight face. I can recommend 964 Pinocchio mostly as an endurance challenge and just congratulate in advance to those who manage to sit through it in one single setting without any pause. Good luck.


The one and only 2004-DVD release from Unearthed Films went out of print ages ago, but is to be found on eBay, very pricey, though.


964 Pinocchio 964 Pinocchio 964 Pinocchio



Director: Shozin Fukui
Writers: Shozin Fukui, Makoto Hamaguchi, Naoshi Gôda
Also known as: Screams of Blasphemy (UK)
Country & year: Japan, 1991
Actors:Haji Suzuki, Onn-chan, Kôji Ôtsubo, Kyoko Hara, Rakumaro San’yûtei, Kôta Mori, Tomio Watanabe, Anri Hayashi, Kyôko Irohani, Michiko Harada, Yûko Fujiwara, Yoshimitsu Takada, Naoshi Gôda


Tom Ghoul













The Call (2020)

The CallSeo-yeon is a 28 year old woman who has traveled to visit her sick mother in the rural area where she grew up. Finding that she has lost her cellphone, she goes to her rundown childhood home where she finds an old cordless phone. Soon, she starts receiving calls from this phone, where a woman claims she is being tortured by her own mother. Thinking of it as someone who have just dialed the wrong number, Seo-yeon decides to investigate the matter when more calls from this mysterious woman comes through the old phone. She finds out that the woman making the calls, Young-sook, lived in the same house in 1999…which is also the year Young-sook claims to live in when making the calls. Seo-yeon lives in 2019, which means there’s a 20 year timegap between her and the caller. The two women make contact through the phone calls, and starts exchanging information about the time they live in and their own lives. Seo-yeon explains that when she was a child, her father died in a fire. Young-sook is then able to prevent Seo-yeon’s father from dying in that accident, and Seo-yeon’s life immediately changes: both of her parents are now suddenly there and healthy, and their house is no longer in the rundown state it used to be in. Happy about the turn of events, Seo-yeon starts searching for Young-sook in order to find out what kind of life she is living these days, in the present…only to find an old newspaper article about how Young-sook was killed by her mother during an exorcism. Seo-yeon tries to warn Young-sook about what is going to happen, and by doing so, unleashes an unexpected chain of events.


The Call is a South-Korean Netflix horror-thriller, directed by Chung-Hyun Lee, which is an exciting ride from start to finish. I hadn’t read much about it before watching it, so I didn’t know anything about how the movie’s plot would unfold (and that’s the best way to experience movies like this, in my opinion). At first it gives the appearance of being a rather sweet story about two girls meeting each other despite the difference of time being between them, but it all transpires into something much darker. The two main characters, Seo-yeon and Young-yook, are delivering strong performances, and I really liked the turn of events unfolding throughout the story.With a runtime of almost 2 hours, there wasn’t really a moment without suspense or some kind of excitement, but it isn’t until the first two thirds of the movie that the plot starts to delve into its more sinister part.


There is a mid-credits “twist” that apparently felt a bit off-putting to some people, but overall it just points out the numerous twists and turns that could be caused by so-called time traveling (a concept that could easily be considered a bit paradoxical by itself). I didn’t think this ending ruined anything per se, but it definitely gave assumptions of the possibility of a sequel.


All in all, The Call is an exciting and gripping Korean thriller, which was released on Netflix globally on November 27, 2020.


WARNING: watch the trailer at your own risk, it pretty much spoils the entire movie. Which seems to be a common mistake in many trailers these days…


The Call


Director: Chung-Hyun Lee
Original title: Kol
Country & year: South Korea, 2020
Actors: Park Shin-Hye, Jeon Jong-seo, Sung-ryung Kim, Lee El, Park Ho-San, Moon Chang-gil, Oh Jeong-Se, Kyeong-sook Jo, Grace Lynn Kung, Ryu Kyung-Soo, Dong-hwi Lee, Jonny Siew, Yo-sep Song, Chae-Young Um


Vanja Ghoul















Satan’s Slave (1982)

Satan's Slave

The film starts off at a burial ceremony with an upper-class family who’s lost their mother to a mysterious illness, and sets the eerie tone right off with Islamic chants and the feeling that there’s something wicked in the air. That same night, the family’s son, Tomi, receives an unexpected visit from the dead mother in a ghostly form, who knocks on his window and hypnotizes him to go out in his pajamas, while his sister Rita is witnessing the incident. Tomi goes to a fortune teller (who is wearing some really big sunglasses) who can tell through his tarot cards that Tomi’s life is full of darkness, and that the coffin his mother was buried in is suitable for the whole family, and that they are all in danger – and that he must defend himself with black magic.


In his bedroom, Tomi makes a small altar with a little red box, using horror comics and cheap satanism paperbacks as decorations. No one but Tomi takes this seriously, and his sister thinks he’s losing his mind. Since the father of the family is a stressed and busy entrepreneur with bloodshot eyes, he hires a maid (Darminah), who looks pretty much like the fortune teller we saw minutes earlier, only without the big sunglasses (Uh-oh, nothing shady with her, of course not). At the same time, Tomi has upgraded his altar down in the basement, and this time he’s decorated it with candles and and several Halloween masks by famous Universal monsters. He is also being haunted with night terrors where he is sacrificed by a satanic cult. And that’s not far from a premonition when the sisters receive some creepy phone calls, and the house caretaker, Karto, starts to die slowly of asphyxiation.


I see people comparing Satan’s Slave to Phantasm (1979) and yes, there are some similarities to spot here, without diving to much into comparisons . The eerie and slightly surreal atmosphere is all over the place, and it mixes traditional superstition with some more obscure Asian folklore that we have to thank  Wikipedia for being able to understand. I can mention the image we see of their dead mother, which is actually a “Kuntilanak”, a mythological, vengeful female astral spirit who’s associated with – yeah, take a wild guess – black magic. Sadako from Ringu could also be placed into a similar category, just to mention a more known example. And even though writer and director Sisworo Gautama Putra took some obvious influences from Phantasm, the film has its own unique distinctiveness.


And no, just to make it clear, this is not at the same level as the acid trip Mystics in Bali , which came from the same country the year before Satan’s Slave. The plot is pretty straight-forward and far more conventional than expected, really. The downside is that it doesn’t manage to get especially scary, and maybe the laughable goofy acting is to blame for that, especially during the second act. The film looks really great, though, filled with atmosphere, haunting visuals and a fitting synth score. The make-up effects are also great. There’s some obvious fog machines hiding on the set which can make it look somewhat outdated, but will for others just add more to the good ole’ retro charm. So overall, if you don’t take it too seriously, Satan’s Slave is an entertaining flick, with a lot of ghoulish fun that’s perfect to add on a Halloween-playlist.


Thanks to the acclaimed remake that came in 2017, Satan’s Slave was for the first time released on DVD and Blu-ray from Severin Films with polished quality. It’s also available on Shudder.


Satan's Slave Satan's Slave


Director: Sisworo Gautama Putra
Original title: Pengabdi Setan
Country & year: Indonesia, 1982
Actors: Ruth Pelupessi, W.D. Mochtar, Fachrul Rozy, Simon Cader, Siska Widowati, H.I.M. Damsyik, Diana Suarkom, Doddy Sukma, Ali Albar, Adang Mansyur, Moesdewyk, S. Parya, Dewi



Tom Ghoul















Tetsuo (1989)

TetsuoHow 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.




Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Country & year: Japan, 1989
Actors:Tomorô Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, Shinya Tsukamoto, Naomasa Musaka, Renji Ishibashi



Tom Ghoul