The Danger After Dark Collection
by Del Harvey
TLA Video makes a must-have offer of three contemporary Asian horror flicks.
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First coming into prominence as one of the leading lights in the new wave of pink eiga erotic films of the late eighties, Takahisa Zeze has gone on to become a rather versatile director. In his 2003 futuristic gangster masterpiece, Japanese pop stars Gackt and HYDE star in this wild hybrid of futuristic science fiction, John Woo-style gunplay, and gothic vampire horror. Moon Child follows a group of childhood friends as they advance in a futuristic criminal underworld. Sho (Gackt) feels he is doomed to walk in his idol Kei’s (HYDE) footsteps as a vampire with the gift of eternal life and the curse of blood thirst. Over time, their tight friendship becomes corrupted because of their rivalry and love for the same woman. Filmmaker Zeze brings a stylized sting to the blood draining and hyper violent proceedings.
[aka Jisatsu saakuru] (2002)
In 2002, former poet turned film director Sion Sono wrote, directed, shot in the record time of two weeks (and assembled in four) what would later become his most successful movie to date: Suicide Circle (Jisatsu Saakuru), a disturbing thriller about Japan’s incredibly high suicide rate. In the film, a wave of unexplainable suicides sweeps across Tokyo after 54 smiling high school girls join hands and throw themselves from a subway platform into an oncoming train. Detective Kuroda (Audition’s Ryo Ishibashi) and the rest of the police force are baffled as the bloodbath triggers a wave of teenage suicides throughout the city. When a cryptic phone call tips off police to a strange website that appears to be tracking the suicides before they happen, the question becomes, are they really suicides at all? This outrageously bizarre, wicked social critique in the form of a creepy and enigmatic detective mystery examines the despair of disaffected Japanese youth and the influence of pop culture on their lives. From international film festival favorite to cult sensation, Suicide Club is a study of contemporary morality that is gruesome, darkly comic and vividly original.
Written and directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, a former visual artist, this twisted and skillfully paced black comedy packs a startling amount of inventiveness, razor-sharp wit and filmmaking fervor to tell the story of two roommates at odds with the world and each other. In 2LDK, which roughly translates to “2-Bedroom, Living Room, Dining Room & Kitchen,” two struggling actresses share a Tokyo apartment. As it turns out, they end up competing for the same film role and the same boyfriend. Pretty soon, their petty squabbles turn into all-out war. When they break out the power tools and electrocution devices, you know these two ladies have forfeited more than their security deposit. Director Tsutsumi has been hailed one of the most promising filmmakers in Japan, and he pushes the film’s premise to the extreme, making for an unforgettable, non-stop barrage of laughs, fights and ultra-violence.
Altogether, these are three of the best of Japan’s recent crop, complete with the requisite violence, pathos, and mayhem. This set is the perfect gift for any Asian film lover.
Del Harvey is a film teacher and writer living in Chicago.
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