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

OOOOOUUUAAAAAAAAAAAAHH,HHNNGHHHUUAAAAAA, HUUNNDGGHOOOUOAAAAAAAAA, EEEEEEEEEEEH, EEEHHHHH, OOOOOOH, AAAAAAAAAHHUGHH, AAAUUUOOOAHHHHHHOOAAAA, GGHHHHHIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAGHH, GGGGHHHHHHHHHIIIIII, AAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHFFHHH

 

… 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
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0225009/

 

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
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10530176/

 

Vanja 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.

 

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