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Executive Koala
[Koara Kacho]

Genre: Bruce-Lee-Martial-Arts Musical involving an Axe-Wielding-Psycho-Killer Salaryman who happens to be a 6- Foot Tall Koala.

review in one breath

Tamura is a highly successful and functional business manager at his beloved pickle company. Everything he touches in the realm of business turns into success to the company's great delight. The only things he seems to have going against him are (1) he is a huge, towering fuzzy Koala in an otherwise wholly human world, and (2) he suffers from frequent memory lapses. Oh, and every time his memory fails, a grisly murder occurs. Just a coincidence, right?


Genre: DNA-fueled Doppelganger Slasher

review in one breath

Mirai's life suddenly seems headed into the crapper! First, her father throws himself in front of a train, then she has to move in with some increasingly strange relatives, then she starts seeing creepy things to the point of a nervous breakdown, and finally her best friends start showing up bloody red and DEAD. And then the real weirdness starts! This is a made-for-TV horror flick directed by Z-Grade maestro Ezura Takaaki.

Late Bloomer
[Osoi Hito]

Genre: Realistic Spiral into Despair and Violence

review in one breath

A cerebral palsied man gradually falls in love with one of his care takers, but the emotional elation it causes brings with it a deepening despair as the gap between his dreams and physical reality prove overwhelming. In the face of unrequited love and the dismal realization that fate has dealt him a terrible hand, his imaginations grow violent -- imaginations he soon acts upon. This is a truly unique film which is both uncompromising and unapologetic in its depiction of a fully functional heart and mind trapped in a physical cage.

Kazuo Umezz's Horror Theater Vol 2
[The Present / Death Make]

Genre: Santa Slasher and Guppy Mantis Monster!

review in one breath

This is the third and last volume of the Kazuo Umezu Horror Theater collection and contains episodes five and six of the six-episode whole. Unlike the child-centric tales in volume 2, these two episodes are squarely aimed at adults, at least in terms of the horror and gore meted (meated?) out. In the first story, you better not cry, you better not pout... or Killer Santa will feed your BRAINS to his reindeer. In the second tale, a group of amateur clairvoyants gather to confront their inner demons, which may or may not turn out to be a giant fish-faced bug from Hell!

Tokyo Psycho
[Tokyo densetsu: ugomeku machi no kyoki]

Genre: Fact-Based Psycho Thriller

review in one breath

First, Yumiko begins receiving very creepy love letters from a secret admirer. Then, her closest friends begin disappearing. All clues point toward Mikariya, a former classmate who allegedly killed his family but was deemed criminally insane. And now Mikariya is back, intent on making Yumiko his bride. From the director of Tomie, this film is based on true infamous crimes in Japan, and depicts an amazingly twisted Tokyo psycho!

[Kirei: The Terror of Beauty]

Genre: Cosmetic Surgery-Fueled Psycho Thriller

review in one breath

A prosperous cosmetic surgeon is approached by a woman utterly crippled by an inferiority complex over her lack of beauty. When the woman hands over wads of cash during her request, the doctor quickly agrees and a series of initial surgeries are scheduled to fix eyes, nose and chin, etc. But with the completion of each surgery, the woman desperately pleads for another and then hands over another mountain of cash. When the doctor finally asks a psychiatrist's opinion of the woman's never-ending hunger for more surgery, he strongly warns against any further procedures and worries for the safety of the doctor, leaving the doctor to decide between this advice and the huge sums of money.

Kill Devil
[Kiru Oni Gokko / Kill Tag]

Genre: B-Grade Youth Slasher De-Fanged

review in one breath

The year is 2025, the entire human genome has been decoded, and the genetic fingerprints for human violence have been identified. In a highly classified attempt to study the effects of this genetic disposition to violence, a small group of youth exhibiting the gene are abducted and kept on a deserted island. With all past memories erased, they are left to fend for themselves using only their immediate reflexes.

The Guard from Underground
[Jigoku no Keibin]

Genre: Slasher Horror

review in one breath

Akiko's first day on the job soon turns out to be the most hazardous day of her life as she inadvertently discovers the murderous activities of a recently hired security guard. This early film by director Kurosawa Kiyoshi pays tribute to the era's slasher genre and already demonstrates his fascination with societal relationships and psychological horror.

Shudan Satsujin Kurabu
[Group Murder Club]

Genre: Slasher / Supernatural Horror (Comedic)

review in one breath

I've watched quite a few Japanese films and TV dramas, but I must confess that I have not seen anything from Japan that quite resembles Shudan Satsujin Club. This is part schlocky slasher and part bizarre comedy. In some respects Shudan Satsujin Club strongly alludes to the comedic horror style of Evil Dead.

Christmas Eve
[Kurisumasu Ebu]

Genre: Slasher Horror

review in one breath

Christmas Eve is a straight-to-video slasher horror with a rather bizarre twist. Director Saiga Toshiro, who does not have any other films on Western radar with the exception perhaps of Hogi Lala (2002) and whose most prominent work is likely the several Mahjong-themed videos he directed, employs a huge variety of cinematic techniques in iChristmas Evei undoubtedly in an attempt to make this a cool, MTV-styled horror piece. In addition to the often jarring camera techniques, Saiga throws in some rather bizarre temporal shifts which will undoubtedly keep the audience conceptually at work trying to figure out what the hell is going on in the storyline.

Akuma ga Sumu Ie 2001
[The House Where the Evil Lives 2001]

Genre: Slasher / Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

If you had the pleasure of reading my extremely insightful and witty review of Shudan Satsujin Club, you may recall my suspicion that a general (Japanese) societal hatred of cute, high school-aged girls may be afoot. After watching Akuma ga Sumu Ie 2001 I am now convinced that nubile japanese females may soon be an endangered species.

Doll Cemetery
[Occult tanteidan: Shiningyou no Hakaba]

Genre: Killer Dolls, Clowns from Hell, and ZOMBIES!!

review in one breath

A group of emo high school kids start an "Occult Detective Club" in order to explore and solve paranormal phenomena. No sooner do they set their minds to this than they fall headlong into into a supernatural abyss of vengeful zombie dolls intent on exacting fatal retribution for Barbie-neglect. This is the fourth tale in the "Hino Hideshi Theater of Horror" hexology.

Boy from Hell
[Jigoku kozu]

Genre:Manga-based Z-grade Schlock-gore Horror

review in one breath

When her only child is tragically killed, prominent surgeon Chiba Emma will stop at nothing to bring him back. For both audiences and victims alike, this unfortunately entails a gamut of schlock-gore violence and the creepy de-evolution of a loving mother into the MILF from Hell. This is volume one (of six) of manga artist Hideshi Hino's "Theater of Horror" now available in Region 1 release.

Nightmare Detective [Akumu Tantei]

Genre: Gloomy Psychic Crime Horror
Director: Tsukamoto Shinya (2006)

review in one breath

Tokyo police are baffled by a series of grisly deaths which at first glance appear to be obvious suicides but after further investigation have all the earmarks of homicide. Eyewitnesses to some of the cases report that the victims violently killed themselves in their sleep while screaming for help. When it is discovered that each of the victims had phoned a mysterious individual known only as "0", a detective calls the number only to soon thereafter die a gruesome self-inflicted death in his sleep. At their wits end, the cops ask the help of a bedraggled psychic said to possess the ability to enter people's dreams.

Carved [Kuchisake Onna]

Genre: Urban Legend Horror
Director: Shiraishi Koji (2007)

review in one breath

The well known urban legend of a slit-mouthed woman comes suddenly to life in a small Japanese town, terrifying first the children and then adults while wreaking havoc on a few unfortunate victims. This is a modern re-telling with a few unique twists of a century-old tale of a horribly disfigured woman whose vengeful spirit abducts children and submits them to a grisly fate.


Genre: Extreme Cat Fight to the Death

review in one breath

2LDK is directed by Tsutsumi Yukihito and was originally released in Japan as the first half of a cinematic "double feature" entitled Duel (2003), the second feature of which is director Kitamura Ryuhei's Aragami. The (well-known) story goes that Tsutsumi and Kitamura made a wager as to who could develop the more exciting "duel" film given the following criteria: (a) the film must only involve a duel (to the death) between two individuals, (b) the film set must be limited to a single location, and (c) the film must be shot within seven days.

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