Posted: 03/27/2005


Living Hell [Iki-jigoku]


by Barry Meyer

It’s been called the Japanese Chainsaw Massacre…but without the chainsaw. Purchase this DVD here.

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Life has been difficult for the recently crippled Yasu (Hirohito Honda from Battle Royale), he’s been bound to a wheelchair, his mother has vanished, his father and brother think he’s crazy, and his sister (Rumi from Tomie) shelters and coddles him. But, if Yasu thinks he knows what suffering is, he’s in for a rude awakening. A very rude one! After a neighborhood family is violently murdered, two mysterious relatives—the mute Grandmother (Yoshiko Shiraishi) and her ghostly pale Granddaughter (Naoko Mori)—suddenly arrive at Yasu’s doorstep and insinuate themselves in his home and life. It’s not long before the wheelchair bound boy begins to suspect the two visitors are up to no good. And, of course, no one believes him when he tries to convince them that they’re harboring some maniacal killer freaks in their home—until it’s too late, and they all end up at the business end of some real sharp tools.

Living Hell has been nicknamed “the Japanese Chainsaw Massacre” by fans, despite the fact that there is not one chainsaw in sight. Come to think of it, there’s nothing in this flick that even remotely resembles the Tobe Hooper classic. Director Shugo Fujii’s killer flick seems to aim more towards the stylishly mysterious “horrors” of directors Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock—two of his cinematic idols—but only with a lot more blood added. He doesn’t quite match the legendary skills of his idols, but Fujii is able to chisel out a pretty impressive Japanese horror flick that separates him from the more traditional Asian horrors, like Ringu and Ju-On. Living Hell isn’t always successful in its efforts, but it manages some genuinely startling creepiness, along with spilling oodles of blood.

Barry Meyer is a writer living in Jersey who has seen his fair share of Bigfoot sex flicks.

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