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Recently in made for TV Category

Melancholia
[Merankoria]

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.



Mail

Genre: Supernatural TV Mini-Series

review in one breath

Following his recovery from blindness, paranormal investigator Akiba Reiji has tracked down and dispensed with dozens of malevolent spirits. His adventures bring him into contact with Mikoto, a young woman sharing similar abilities. As Akiba's 100th ghostly encounter approaches, a flood of long absent memories suddenly returns. This Western release contains a recently popular theatrical release of a popular Japanese TV mini-series.



Juusan Yoru 3
[Thirteen Nights 3]

Genre: Supernatural Ghost Stories

review in one breath

Juusan Yoru was a brief yet popular TV series appearing for thirteen episodes. The series revolves around a popular radio show hosted by DJ Endo Kumiko (who appeared the same year in Tomie: Rebirth), dedicated to "paranormal spiritual research". Throughout each of the 30 minute episodes, the guest commentator is Tsunoda Jirou, a well-known author and director specializing in the supernatural. The entire TV series is now available on 4 sequential videos, Juusan Yoru 1: Reikai Kara Shoutaijo (Thirteen Nights: Written Invitation from the Spirit World), Juusan Yoru 2, Juusan Yoru 3: Jitsuroku Kyoufu Shoutaijo (Thirteen Nights: True Accounts of Terror), and (you guessed it) Juusan Yoru 4. I haven't yet found a copy of either the second or fourth video and thus cannot provide you with the subtitles or reviews. (Sorry.)



Juusan Yoru
[Thirteen Nights]

Genre: Supernatural Ghost Stories

review in one breath

Juusan Yoru was a brief yet popular TV series appearing for thirteen episodes. The series revolves around a popular radio show hosted by DJ Endo Kumiko (who appeared the same year in Tomie: Rebirth), dedicated to "paranormal spiritual research". Throughout each of the 30 minute episodes, the guest commentator is Tsunoda Jirou, a well-known author and director specializing in the supernatural. The entire TV series is now available on 4 sequential videos, Juusan Yoru 1: Reikai Kara Shoutaijo (Thirteen Nights: Written Invitation from the Spirit World), Juusan Yoru 2, Juusan Yoru 3: Jitsuroku Kyoufu Shoutaijo (Thirteen Nights: True Accounts of Terror), and (you guessed it) Juusan Yoru 4. I haven't yet found a copy of either the second or fourth video and thus cannot provide you with the subtitles or reviews of those. (Sorry.)



JU-ON

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

Here is a creepy Japanese movie straight out the Ring tradition. Shimizu Takashi is the director here, working with both Kiyoshi Kurosawa (director of Cure, Charisma, and Kairo) and Hiroshi Takahashi himself (screenwriter of the Ring trilogy). What this triad brings to the table is a classic japanese horror film relying on mood and sound and Japanese cultural intuitions about the fate of wronged souls.



JU-ON 2

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

The following review is full of "spoilers", though I doubt these will reduce the chill factor of seeing the movie. At the time of writing this, the TV movie version of Juon 2 is currently unavailable in a dubbed or subtitled version (at least in the U.S.) and so this review serves more as an explanation of the story rather than as a teaser aimed at getting you to go out and see the movie. Word has it that remake rights for Juon 2 have already been secured by an American production company (as has Juon) and so the day may soon come when Hollywood will have its own version of the following story (no doubt greatly modified, though).



Ravaged House
[Tadareta Ie : "Zoroku no Kibyou" yori]

Genre: Tale of Dismal Collectivism and Local Superstition

review in one breath

In a rural village, a young man is suddenly stricken with a mysterious and terrible disease which transforms him into an unrecognizable mass of festering sores. Fearful of the local towns people's opinion and reaction, the family strives to keep their diseased son hidden from sight. But when the nosy mayor and his delinquent son take things into their own hands, the horrible secret is brought to light with dreadful consequences for everyone involved. This is the last tale in Hideshi Hino's Theater of Horror Hexology.



Lizard Baby
[Watashi no Akachun]

Genre: Embryonic Terror!

review in one breath

In an attempt to overcome writer's block, an aspiring horror screenplay writer uses his wife's pregnancy as the backdrop for a new gripping and well-received tale. As both his story and the subsequent film progress toward their completion, his finds his real-life situation paralleling the more horrifying elements of his imagination, not least of which is his wife's giving birth to a LIZARD BABY! This is tale five in Hideshi Hino's Theater of Horror Hexology.



Dead Girl Walking
[Kaiki! Shinin Shôjo]

Genre: Postmortem Teen Angst

review in one breath

Although young Yuri suffers a fatal heart attack she finds herself unable to play dead. Instead, she lurches around dropping various body parts as she becomes more isolated and ostracized from her family and friends. When all other relationships and physical cohesiveness abandon her, she must decide her own fate. This is the second volume (of six) of manga artist Hideshi Hino's "Theater of Horror" now available in Region 1 release.



Prayer Beads [Omoinotama Nenju]

Genre: Horror Anthology

review in one breath

This is a 9 episode collection of Japanese horror vignettes, all either directed or supervised by CG/FX guru Masahiro Okano. With stories ranging from psychedelic sci-fi to traditional folk horror, from the sentimental to the macabre, this collections presents a number of entertaining tales with impressive cinematography. In relation to the other Japanese horror anthologies released in the West, this collection stands near the top in terms of cinematic quality and visual polish.




Ring: The Final Chapter [Ringu : Saisho shu�]

Genre: Ringu-based TV series
Director: Hiroshi Nishitani, et al. (1999)

review in one breath

This is a 12-episode, 10-hour, made-for-TV adaptation of Koji Suzuki's now infamous novel, Ringu. This originally aired on Fuji TV in 1999 only months after the theatrical release of Nakata Hideo's genre-busting film. Loosely based on the original tale, this is a quasi-horror crime thriller which despite a far lesser shock value than the film, remains a very polished and entertaining series.


Tales of Terror from Tokyo - Volume 1
[Kaidan Shin Mimi Bukuro: Night 1]

Genre: Collection of 15 Terrifyingly Unscary Tales

review in one breath

Culled from the long-running TV series of Kaidan Shinmimi Bukuro, this collection of 15 short tales from various directors sets a new standard for anti-climactic "horror" stories ranging from the unscary to the utterly dull.


Dark Tales of Japan
[Nihon no Kowai Yoru - Tokubestuhan]

Genre: Five Supernatural Ghost Tales

review in one breath

This is a collection of made-forTV tales from J-Horror TV's 2004 series entitled Nihon no Kowai Yoru (Frightening Night of Japan). Each tale is by a different director including Tsurata Norio and Shimizu Takashi. These range from monster tales to ghost stories.



Curse, Death & Spirit
[Honto ni Atta Kowai Hanashi: Jushiryou]

Genre: Early Short Horror Stories by Nakata Hideo

review in one breath

This is a trilogy of very early (short) horror "films" by Ringu director Nakata Hideo. Though produced on a made-for-television budget, Nakata's central intuition regarding the malicious nature of departed spirits comes through loud and clear.



Kazuo Umezz's Horror Theater Vol 1:
House of Bugs / Diet

[Umezu Kazuo Kyoufu Gekijou: Mushitachi no Ie / Zesshoku]

Genre: Powerful Psychological Horror

review in one breath

This collection contains two horror stories based on manga by Umezu Kazuo. These are both very effective tales of psychological horror in which audiences will find themselves led along truly bewildering paths. This is the first of three volumes and is well worth watching. Director Kurosawa Kiyoshi directs the first tale here.



J Horror Anthology: Legends
[Inagawa Junji no Densetsu no Horaa]

Genre: Six Supernatural Traditional/Urban Legends

review in one breath

This is one of two recently released collections of ghost tales from the prolific productions of Inagawa Junji, Japan's predominant contemporary master storyteller of Japanese ghost tales. Here you experience six supernatural "legends" ranging from the ancient to the modern .


J Horror Anthology: Underworld
[Inagawa Junji no Senritsu no Horaa]

Genre: Six Supernatural Ghost tales

review in one breath

This is one of two recently released collections of ghost tales from the prolific productions of Inagawa Junji, Japan's predominant contemporary master storyteller of Japanese ghost tales. Here you experience six supernatural ghost stories haunting contemporary Tokyo-ites.


Kadokawa Mystery & Horror Tales: Vol. 3
[Kadokawa Horaa Bideokan: kiken na kaori no onnatachi]

Genre: Three Supernatural Ghost Tales

review in one breath

This is the third and final of the Kadokawa Horror Bideokan series. This third collection contains three genuinely creepy and unique Japanese ghost tales which are nothing short of entertaining. In light of (re)viewing all nine tales in this series, I can wholly recommend this for some refreshingly creative and effective ghost tales.



Kadokawa Mystery & Horror Tales: Vol. 2
[Kadokawa Horaa Bideokan: O-daidengaeshi no karakuri emaki]

Genre: Three Tales of Ghosts and Horror

review in one breath

This is the second in a series of three collections released by Kadokawa Films. Each of the three tales contained herein is an impressively effective and well-done supernatural tale, making for a very strong horror collection.



Kadokawa Mystery & Horror Tales: Vol. 1
[Kadokawa Horaa Bideokan: zekkyou yashiki e youkoso hen]

Genre: Three Tales of Horror or Karmic Woe

review in one breath

This is the first in a series of three collections released by Kadokawa Films. Each collection contains three tales by (potentially) up and coming directors versed in either supernatural horror or dismal karmic consequence.



Scary True Stories: Ten Haunting Tales from the Japanese Underground
[Honto ni Atta Kowai Hanashi]

Genre: True (!!) Ghost Story Vignettes

review in one breath

Well, here we are, back at the beginning. Some well informed sources say that this series of "true ghost stories" spawned what we now know as J-Horror. Directed by Tsurata Norio, this early collection of ten ghost tales sets the tone and ambiance for the avalanche of japanese horror films which will follow.



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