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Ju-Rei: The Movie (Murakami Kenji 2003)


[Ju-Rei: The Movie]

Genre: Low-budget Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

I just want to say that I appreciate the fact that this title explicitly declares itself to be JuRei: The Movie . Although its embarrassing to admit, I actually entered the video store looking for JuRei: The Musical. Thus the foresight of Broadway Productions in providing this descriptive title certainly saved me quite a surprise!

I also must confess, I have a rather long-running love-hate relationship with Broadway Production. On the "love" side of things is their utter daring and willingness to continually produce cutting-edge horror films. On the "hate" side of things is their complete inability to produce anything even slightly horrific. (!). For a glimpse into the chaotic nightmare which is Broadway, you can check out their Rensa or Cursed Cassette Tape.

Actually, the title JuRei: The Movie is to differentiate it (for good reason) from Broadway's straight-to-video production of the same name. Of the five versions of Ju-Lei/Ju-Rei, I've been able to get ahold of four and have reviewed each on this site. (I'm still hunting for Ju-Lei 2.) They are:

Ju-Lei: Shinrei Mystery File (2000)
Ju-Lei 2: Satsujin Genba no noroi (2000)
Ju-Lei 3: Noroi no Ekusosisto (2001)
Ju-Rei: The Movie (2003)
Ju-Rei 2: Kuro Jurei/The Uncanny (2004)

Like the video version, JuRei: The Movie consists of short stories revolving around the theme of hauntings and ghosts. However, rather than the documentary style of the former, JuRei: The Movie presents three fully dramatized episodes. Since none of the episodes are formally titled, I've had to resort to my own titles. I only hope they adequately convey the horrors awaiting any future viewers of this film.

Episode 1: Glowing Babies from Hell

While the young Ichiko is undergoing surgery at a local private hospital, a strange sickness overcomes her which not only requires a prolonged stay, but also subsequent surgeries. During the midnight hours of each evening, in a feverish state, Ichiko believes she is being visited by a (CREEPY) little girl. When she asks the head nurse regarding this, the nurse nervously suggests that it is simply little Yasuko in the next room.

When Ichiko's friend visits her in the hospital, the friend witnesses some very strange phenomena, including glowing babies from hell. After doing a little internet research, the friend soon discovers that the hospital's death rate has historically increased dramatically during a full moon. Looking outside, she see's the largest full moon in human history hovering over the hospital. Meanwhile, back at the hospital, the ghostly Yasuko creeps ever closer to Ichiko in the wee hours of the night.

When Ichiko finally decides to visit the room of Yasuko, all hell breaks loose. Not only does the head nurse suddenly turn hostile and violent in the hallway, but upon entering the room, Ichiko's world is turned upside down. But that is only the beginning of her horror. In rather helpless circumstances, she discovers that the entire hospital is possessed by glowing babies from hell.

Episode 2: Glowing Naked Men Falling from the Sky

This episode proved to be much more entertaining that the first. While episode one was confined to the sterile hallways of the haunted hospital, episode two provides prolonged views of twenty-something japanese girls in bikinis, giggling and hugging each other. (!) Then, after that, we get some sweaty sex scenes. (!!!) Of course, you ask: What do these possibly have to do with the JuRei theme? And (of course) the answer is absolutely nothing but who cares?

ANYWAY, episode two explores the potential darkness inherent in possessing sudden unusual powers. Hearing this description, one would easily think of stories such as Unbreakable or (US) TV dramas such as Smallville. But of course Broadway has a completely different perspective. Strange things begin to happen when any one of our group of bikini babes sneezes. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, a bikini babe's sneeze sends a glowing naked man plummeting from the sky. The poor nude soul dies on impact, of course. However, along with his glowing genitalia, each naked man (and there are several of them) holds something representing the deepest secret of the sneezer.

Once the bikini babes figure this out, they chase each other down with pepper and feathers, intent on making each member sneeze and thus make their deepest secrets known. (Never mind the fatal fall of a glowing naked man each time they do this.) The first secrets all involve rather raunchy scenarios, none of which is outdone, however, by the large robotic dildo which falls from the sky (and which all the girls look at, mouth agape, with manifest curiosity and respect). However, by the time they tickle the quietest girl into sneezing, what they find to be her darkest secret causes them all to flee the premises screaming, with her in hysterical pursuit.

Episode 3: Life is like Television

This is the most philosophical of the episodes and is convincingly acted by several child actors. The story starts with a discussion between the young (elementary school aged) Takumi and his terminally ill younger brother Mikio. Once alone in the hospital room, the dying Mikio asks his elder brother what to expect after death. Takumi certainly has his own opinion, namely that spirits rise to a spirit world which could be called heaven. When Mikio presses for proof, Takumi suggests that the "ghosts" of this world are proof of an afterlife. Young Mikio, however, has never seen a ghost, and seems much more convinced that life is like a television. Once you are done watching it, it is simply turned off. In the same way, death brings the end of thought, emotion, memory. It is the end of everything, including "darkness".

Following the death of Mikio, this conversation continues to haunt Takumi. He and his friends decide to investigate the matter by attempting to photograph ghosts at a nearby "haunted hotel" which one of the boys had recently read about. Entering the hotel late at night, their adventure begins. Will they survive the night in the haunted hotel? Will they possibly capture evidence of ghosts on their photos? Will they learn what that girl is doing with her head between that guy's legs?

This film is certainly more polished in terms of cinematics and special effects than the previous Broadway productions I have endured, er, I mean watched. But if I am asked to recommend it or not, a personal conundrum arises. On the one hand, I can easily say that there is without doubt no mental stimulation generated by watching this. However, I feel that I somehow mature by experiencing a Broadway Production. I believe the sensation is akin to that of never fully appreciating mobility until an ankle is broken, or never appreciating speech until your larynx is stricken. Thus simply for your proper appreciation of all that is good and wonderful in this world, I can honestly recommend this or any other Broadway Production.

However, if you are prone to suicide following great disappointment, please do not watch this.

Version: Unsubtitled VHS

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Did you read my review or not? Nope One "sex" (could be nude wrestling) scene which would have rescued this film had it been extended to the full 90 minutes. Okay, I (unwillingly) admit it! Glowing naked blue men plummeting to earth every time a bikini hottie sneezes deserves at least one green skull.

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