Category Archives: Introduction to Japanese Horror Film, Updates

Curse, Death and Spirit (NAKATA Hideo, 1992).

Curse, Death and Spirit is a compilation of 3 episodes of the popular Honto ni Atta Kowai Hanashi/Scary stories that really happenedNorowareta Ningyō/The Cursed Doll; Shiryō no Taki/The Spirit of the Dead and Yūrei no Sumu Ryokan/The Haunted Inn. Although Nakata had previously directed a short thirty minute film, Natsugetsu Monogatari/Summer moon story, Curse, Death and Spirit  arguably are what brought Nakata to the attention of Hiroshi Takehashi who co-wrote the script for Ghost Actress, Nakata’s directorial debut and with whom Nakata worked with on both of the Japanese Ring films.

The episodes are pretty bog standard Japanese ‘scary tales’, but the brevity of the narratives are well suited to Nakata’s minimalist directing style – which has not changed much over the years – and the focus on horror as emanating from within the family, in particular the relationship between the mother and child, a solid foundation for both Ring and Dark Water. The now over- familiar figure of the vengeful female ghost or yurei, functioning as the return of the repressed, adds a consistency of theme as well as vision which unites the three episodes.

THE CURSED DOLL

The Cursed Doll has a doll possessed by the spirit of a young girl who returns to haunt her sister, who has no memory of her. While the theme of dolls coming to life is sufficiently creepy, the doll never appears life-like and is obviously being positioned, pulled and pushed in scenes affecting the believability of this so-called scary true-life story.

THE SPIRIT OF THE DEAD

In The Spirit of The Dead, the ghost of the past who threatens the present is a mother who lost her young son while camping in the woods, whose unquiet spirit haunts the woods attempting to be reunited with her lost son. However, unable to differentiate between her son and those of other women, she takes their lives in an attempt to have her son with her in the afterlife. While the performances are nicely realized, and the appearances of the ghost eerie, the end is a tad predictable.

THE HAUNTED INN

The best episode, or the one I like the most, is The Haunted Inn, which to me seems to have a great deal of potential as a feature length film. Here, three young school girls visit an old inn and come face to face with the unhappy ghost of the family of the previous occupants of the inn. The use of a video-camera by the girls to capture their break, and the appearance of the ghost with her long black hair obscuring her face, broken body and white costume are precognitions of the future which become fully visualized in RIng.

The three episodes are available as an extra on the Tartan release of Nakata’s  Kaosu/Chaos (1999).

Or they are available on DVD, via Amazon –  Curse, Death and Spirit

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UK Premiere: Tormented 3D (Shimizu, Japan: 2011)

For all of those who live in London, the UK Premiere of Shimizu’s Tormented 3D (aka Rabbit Horror) is taking place this coming Friday at the Rio Cinema as part of the Pan-Asian Festival. The screening begins at 11:30 pm and directions to the cinema can be found at Rio Cinema.

Tickets can be booked directly through Asia House

About the Film 

According to Asianwiki, the plot concerns “A young woman searches for her younger brother who was dragged away into an alternate world by a rabbit …” see Asianwiki for more details. 

Who wouldn’t want to see a film about alternate worlds and giant rabbits?

About the Director

Shimizu is a prolific Japanese director and the director of one of the best, if not the best, contemporary Japanese horror film, Ju-on ( 呪怨: 2000), as well as its sequel Ju-on 2 ( 呪怨2), and the US remakes, Ju-on: The Grudge and Ju-on: The Grudge: 2. He also directed the more experimental Marebito (稀人: 2004), which is well worth checking out if you haven’t already seen it.

I will not be able to attend because it is too far away for me to get home easily that early in the morning, but I am interested to know what people think.