12 February 2016

PREMONITION. 2004. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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PREMONITION. 2004. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY NORIO TSURUTA. STARRING HIROSHI MIKAMI AND NORIKO SAKAI. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a Japanese horror film produced by Takashige Ichise, the chap who produced such J-Horror classics as RING, THE GRUDGE and DARK WATER. It's the story of an ordinary schoolteacher, Hideki Satomi, who has an extraordinary gift. He didn't ask for it, he doesn't want it and it's almost certainly going to destroy his life and the lives of his wife and daughter. What the hell is it...? You may well ask.

Poor beleaguered old Hideki has the power to foresee the future. Not the good stuff, mind you. Only the bad shit and the disasters, like train crashes or school students being stabbed to death by maniacs or little girls burning to death in a car crash. See what I mean about the bad stuff? The poor guy. 

The foresight takes the form of newspaper reports, which appear mysteriously to Hideki just before the predicted disaster is due to happen.

 Hideki only finds out he has this power accidentally, just a few seconds before his own adorable little daughter Nana is killed in a horrible automotive accident. This accident, which dominates the film and is extremely hard to watch, tears Hideki and his wife apart.

Hideki totally blames himself for not having prevented the accident in time, even though he only had a few seconds of forewarning. His missus, Ayaka, doesn't at first believe any of his nonsense about newspapers and premonitions and suchlike.

When Hideki continues to have premonitions that turn out to be spot-on, however, Ayaka has no choice but to hop on board the crazy train with her tortured hubby. Together, they track down a rather strange chappie called Rei Kigata, a man who knows even more than Hideki does about the so-called Newspaper Of Terror phenomenon.

On arrival at Kigata's eerily deserted home, the couple find out how Kigata handled his own unwelcome, uninvited premonitions and what effect his actions had on his own health and well-being. Hideki then decides that he will follow in Kigata's footsteps and try to prevent these disasters when he gets forewarning of them, regardless of the consequences to himself.

The main disaster he would have wished to prevent, however, is the harrowing death of his own beloved child. Can he go back in time and save his little girl's life? And what will be the cost of such an action? The climax will have you in floods of tears, just like it did me.

This excellent film doesn't really feel like a horror movie while you're watching it, despite the disturbing scenes it contains. Who- or what?- is crawling across the floor of that padded cell, for example, and who's that softly tap-tap-tapping on Hideki's door? Rather, it just feels like the tragic, really sad story of a man who blames himself endlessly for something that's not his fault.

It's hard to watch but it's so worth it. Don't watch it if you need cheering up, however. It won't cut that particular mustard, haha. Based on a cult manga comic book from the 'Seventies, it's a top-notch chiller that'll make you think, shudder and cry like a baby all within the space of two hours.

And if you develop a lifelong fear of newspapers as a result of watching this film, well, it can't be helped. It's a small price to pay. Oh, listen, is that the sound of THE DAILY NONSENSE dropping through the letterbox...? Well, what are you waiting for? Go and get it and give us the good news...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com





THREE... EXTREMES. 2004. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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THREE... EXTREMES. 2004. TARTAN ASIA EXTREME. DIRECTED BY FRUIT CHAN, PARK CHAN-WOOK AND TAKASHI MIIKE. STARRING MIRIAM YEUNG, LEE BYUNG-HUN AND KYOKO HASEGAWA. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This strictly over-18s horror film is a collaboration between three of the Asian horror genre's finest directors. Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook and Takashi Miike have each contributed a segment. The segments are entitled DUMPLINGS, CUT and BOX and are famous for containing shocking and extreme (hence the title!) horror sequences. The films are from Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan respectively. Talk about a cultural pot-pourri...! I love it, love it, love it.

DUMPLINGS was by far my favourite short film. It tells the story of Mrs. Li, a rich housewife who looks to a local- but extremely dodgy- chef to prolong her youth and beauty. Desperate to retain- or should that be regain?- the love of her unfaithful husband, Mrs. Li eats dumplings cooked for her by the strangely youthful-looking Aunt Mei because said dumplings apparently contain restorative and regenerative powers.

Mrs. Li wolfs down the dumplings in the full awareness that they contain a truly gruesome secret ingredient. Just how far is this desperate housewife prepared to go to attract the attention of her louse of a cheating  hubby? You won't believe how far she's prepared to go...

Director Fruit Chan later expanded this horror short into a full-length feature film. From a grisly appetiser to a main course of pure gastric abomination, as it were. As Mr. Burns from THE SIMPSONS might say: 'Excellent....!'

The second segment is about a movie director who comes home from shooting one day to find that a disgruntled extra whom he's employed in the past has planned a series of nasty surprises for the director and his wife. There are a couple of clever twists in this horror short and it features Lee Byung-hun, the handsome co-star of I SAW THE DEVIL (2010), an excellent Korean horror flick.

The final segment was probably my least favourite. Takashi Miike, director of the truly twisted film AUDITION, presents us with a film that's quite arty and metaphorical in places, which I found a bit annoying. It's the story of a female novelist who unwittingly committed an act of such heinous atrocity in her childhood that it haunts her to this day. What exactly has she done, and will she someday have to pay the piper? Be sure your sins will always find you out...

These three films make for an incredibly entertaining night's viewing. You certainly couldn't find a better way to showcase the different talents of these brilliantly talented directors. Treat yourselves to a great night in with THREE... EXTREMES. And remember, a nice big plate of dumplings would make a delicious side-dish if you're feeling peckish. They have these amazing restorative powers, you know. I wonder what's in them...?

  AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com





11 February 2016

RING 2/ RING 0: BIRTHDAY. A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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RING 2 and RING 0: BIRTHDAY. A SUPERNATURAL DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

RING 2. 1999. STORY BY KOJI SUZUKI. DIRECTED BY HIDEO NAKATA. STARRING MIKI NAKATANI AND RIKIYA OTAKA.

RING 0: BIRTHDAY. 2000. BASED ON 'LEMON HEART' BY KOJI SUZUKI. DIRECTED BY NORIO TSURUTA. STARRING YUKIE NAKAMA AND SEIICHI TANABE.

The original RING (RINGU) film from 1998 was probably the film that gave birth to a new era of Japanese horror films. It also gave us Sadako, the poor creature who was thrown down a well and left to die by her mother's psychiatrist husband and who gets revenge on people by crawling out of television screens and killing 'em a week after they've watched a haunted videotape. If that sounds strange to you, well, it's all a rich tapestry, haha.

RING 2 is a direct continuation of RING. It picks up the story almost where the first film left off. A young woman called Mai Takano and a journalist called Okazaki are searching for answers to the mysteries left unsolved in the first movie. For one thing, where is Reiko, the reporter whose husband and father were both killed by Sadako after separately watching the haunted videotape?

The search for Reiko leads Mai straight to Reiko's little son Yoichi, an adorable kid with psychic tendencies who appears to be channelling Sadako. Obviously, this isn't a good thing and the kid's gonna need to be exorcised. Just another normal day in crazy old RING-town, haha.

The film is confusing as hell and I didn't really enjoy it, to tell you the truth. There isn't even much horror in it, which is disappointing and kind of defeats the purpose. Sadako in the well at the end is the only cool bit in the whole film. 

I preferred RING 0: BIRTHDAY, which is a prequel to the original RING. Yes, yes, I know it's the last film in the RING trilogy but it's really the first story of all, set as it is thirty years before the original film. Are you confused yet? You and me both, film fans. You and me both...

We get to meet Sadako as a human girl living in the world of human beings in this film. She gets the lead role in a play after the leading lady is mysteriously bumped off by a long-haired figure dressed all in white. A long-haired figure dressed all in white...? Hmmm, it surely doesn't take a genius to work out who that could have been.

The director of the play, Shigemori, who'd been involved with the dead woman, is all over the beautiful Sadako like a rash, as is the sound guy, Toyama. Personally I think that Sadako is mopey, miserable and about as exciting as a glass of tap water, but apparently she's sexually irresistible to these two men. Ah well. You know men. They go where their genitals dictate, haha.

The rest of the troupe distrust and fear Sadako, however, and they blame her for the death of their friend and co-worker. The show must go on, though. What does the play's opening night hold for Sadako? And will Sadako's parentage, more specifically her unknown father, have any bearing on what happens next?

You remember in the first film that we found out a little bit about Sadako's daddy? 'Frolic in brine, goblins be thine...?' You remember that bit, right? Well, it's about to become crucially important. We are what our parents made us, right? Well, Sadako had a nice normal (albeit psychic) mother and, well, a demon straight from the depths of the ocean for a baby-daddy. That was always going to cause complications down the line and guess what? Here they come, right on time...

I preferred this film to RING 2 because of the Sadako-Shigemori-Toyama love triangle. I'm a sucker for a doomed love story. Overall, however, I would have preferred it if both stories concentrated on people watching the haunted videotape and then being killed a week later by Sadako crawling out of their television sets. That's a great storyline and it's why I love the original RING film. The ONE MISSED CALL films have a similar plot and I absolutely love them to bits.

Instead, both RING follow-ups veer off wildly in other directions and the results are very much a mixed bag. Still, if you're a fan of the original film you'll almost certainly get something out of watching these two sequels. Just make sure it's not a haunted videotape you're left with. That, as we say in the vernacular, would be an epic fail...


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com





9 February 2016

JU-ON: THE CURSE. 2000. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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JU-ON: THE CURSE. 2000. CREATED AND DIRECTED BY TAKASHI SHIMIZU. STARRING YUREI YANAGI AND CHIAKI KURIYAMA. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is the very first instalment in the GRUDGE series, the collection of brilliant Japanese supernatural horror films that spawned a whole host of imitators. Let me tell you, of all the GRUDGE movies I've seen, this one is the scariest by far.

As it probably had the lowest budget of all of them, this makes me happy. I love it when really good, top-notch horror can be made on the cheap. Let me tell you what it's all about, my little children of the night. What wonderful music you're all making, by the way...!

A nice, mild-mannered schoolteacher called Kobayashi is the central character in this grim little tale, a story, by the way, which any horror director would have been thrilled to come up with. If you only had one idea in your whole lifetime, just imagine if it were this one! You'd be set up for life. I wonder how long Takashi Shimizu spent yearning to make this one film, his one really big, really good idea? Years, maybe? Who knows? It was totally worth waiting for, though.

Kobayashi, whose wife Manami is knocked up with his child, has a bit of a problem. A young fella from his school called Toshio Saeki hasn't been showing up for class. It's Kobayashi's job to pop round to the child's house and see if there's a reason for his absence from school.

He pops round, all right, and sees the nipper hanging around the seemingly empty house, which is portrayed as creepy and isolated from the start, even though there could well be neighbours around about for all we know. Even surrounded by houses, the Saeki residence would still come across as solitary and as lonely as the grave.

The little boy is covered in bruises, bumps and scrapes and he doesn't seem to be quite well. The house is a bit of a tip as well. No adults are anywhere in sight. Who's been looking after little Toshio? Not unnaturally, Kobayashi is concerned that there might be something terribly rotten in the state of Denmark. He decides to take a closer look around the house, never a good idea in a horror film. The house is silent and dreary. I wouldn't set foot in it for any amount of money, even if it were just a set.

Up in one of the bedrooms, Kobayashi discovers Kayako's journal lying around the place. Unable to resist a sneak peek, he's utterly horrified to find out from the pages of the diary that Kayako has a massive, massive crush on him. More than that, she loves him. This is a woman he's barely noticed when she's been dropping off and picking up her son at the school. He's happily married with a wee baby on the way, for Chrissakes. This is totally all news to him.

The journal isn't all that Kobayashi uncovers in the deserted upstairs of the Saeki gaff. From the moment he reads the journal, his life becomes a living nightmare. Horror piles upon horror to give us the spooking of a lifetime. What is contained within Takeo's sack, and what the hell is he doing to it? Who's that coming down the stairs? Who's little Toshio miaowing down the phone to? 'What's that coming over the hill? Is it a monster? Is it a monster...?' All these and other questions will be answered, as usual, in non-sequential order.

In other news, Chiaki Kuriyama, better known perhaps for her performances in KILL BILL and BATTLE ROYALE, undergoes a terrifying ordeal in an empty classroom. And, in the now-sold Saeki house, a mother who thinks she sees her battered, bloodstained daughter Kanna lumbering painfully up the stairs is in for the shock of a lifetime.

This last scene was the most frightening for me. I mean to say, the mother is too scared by what she sees going up her stairs to ask her own daughter what on earth's happened to her. When the girl turns around and reveals herself, well, let's just say that it's a sight you won't forget in a hurry.

The special effects are for the most part simple but extremely effective and scary, unlike in some modern horror films when the CGI just seems to take over and annoy everyone, if you know what I mean.

 And, by the way, does the Saeki house pass the 'psychic' test? You can bet your ass it... Well, I suppose I shouldn't say for fear of that dirty word, spoilers. Eugh, such a dirty, dirty word, haha. I feel all grubby even thinking it.

 Any-hoo, if I haven't said it already, this film is the best of all the GRUDGE movies, American-made or Japanese. In my own humble opinion, of course. You guys can make up your own minds. But when I turn out to be right, you can wire that apology money to my bank any time you like, heh-heh-heh...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com










JU-ON: WHITE GHOST AND JU-ON: BLACK GHOST. 2009. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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JU-ON: WHITE GHOST AND JU-ON: BLACK GHOST. 2009. A SUPERNATURAL DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

JU-ON: WHITE GHOST. 2009. WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY RYUTA MIYAKE. STARRING AKIKO HOSHINO.

JU-ON: BLACK GHOST. 2009. WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY MARI ASATO. STARRING HANA MATSUMOTO.

These two short-ish Japanese horror films can be watched consecutively on the one disc to make one full-length film. That's how I did it, anyway. To me, they represent good stark horror, probably cheaply made, the kind that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. Okay, so they're not as good as the actual JU-ON: THE GRUDGE films but, one, they don't set out to be and, two, they're still powerfully spooky films nonetheless.

I watched them both back-to-back one Saturday afternoon and, afterwards, I was glad that it was time for THE VOICE UK and the Saturday night takeaway (the chipper kind, a snackbox meal and a can of fizzy drink, not the Ant 'n' Dec kind, I hasten to add. The very idea...!) and not for beddy-byes.

I generally tend to watch my horror films just before bedtime because it's the only time I get a chance to do it uninterrupted. I do, however, tend to head up the wooden stairs to Bedfordshire in a state of unnerved high alert for goblins, ghouls and ghosties as a result. Still, whaddya gonna do...? You have to do what you can when you can, right?

Both of these supernatural horror flicks were made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the GRUDGE series of films. For those readers not in the know, the GRUDGE movies, the brainchild of genius film-maker Takashi Shimizu, tell the story of a woman and her son who are brutally murdered by their husband/father, Takeo.

The woman is called Kayako. The reason for her slaughter is a suspected infidelity on her part which, when it's discovered by the hubby Takeo, becomes motive enough for her bloody death. The rage and sadness surrounding the murders of the mother and her son and, incidentally, the family cat as well, are turned into a grudge or curse.

This curse will affect everyone who comes into contact with it from now on. As people seem to be positively queuing up to get into the murder house, there's a lot of scope there for many, many sequels, haha. In fact, there were a couple of follow-ups, unless my memory serves me ill.

JU-ON: WHITE GHOST was first up on my disc. It's the disturbing story of a young man who does a Takeo Saeki, which is to say, he kills his whole family after becoming possessed by his own mirror image, always an interesting notion. Unfortunately, he doesn't just kill his family. He begins to sexually abuse his own little niece Mirai as well.

Mirai has no-one to turn to but her friend Akane. Akane, being only a child herself, is unable to help her friend. Believe me, the guilt for having left her friend to her grisly fate never leaves her. And who- or what- is the hideous old lady ghost who keeps popping up around the place scaring the living shite out of people? As if I'd tell you that, haha. Me no give spoilers...!

JU-ON:BLACK GHOST has a terrific central plotline. Told in non-sequential order (like all the GRUDGE movies!), it's the story of a young girl called Fukie who's discovered to have a cyst in her body, a cyst which is causing all kinds of problems for the child.

When the cyst is found to be not a cyst at all but the remnants of Fukie's- get this!- unborn twin, the fun and games really start, by which I mean of course the horror and misery. There's no fun and games...! When Fukie's desperate mum asks her psychic sister Mariko to perform an exorcism to expel the unborn twin from Fukie's body, the s**t really hits the fan. I think you'll be (un)pleasantly surprised by the results...!

These two-films-in-one would be perfect for fans of the original GRUDGE films who just want the series to go on for a little longer. Though Kayako and Takeo don't really show up in either of them, their little boy Toshio drops by to say a quick hello. This was a most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I just thank God I didn't have to go straight up to bed in the dark afterwards...!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com





6 February 2016

BLOODY BURLESQUE: A HORROR SHORT. 2016. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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BLOODY BURLESQUE. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY AWARD-WINNING FILM-MAKER PATRICIA CHICA. PRODUCED BY MICHELLE ROMANO. STARRING TIFFANY SHEPIS AND TONYA KAY. AVAILABLE TO WATCH ON YOUTUBE FROM FEBRUARY 1ST, 2016. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

There isn't a man alive who wouldn't want to see a beautiful woman strip down to her scanties to perform a sensual, sexy burlesque dance for his personal edification, right? Right. I'm a heterosexual female, but even I like the idea of watching the art form that is burlesque. Womens' bodies are beautiful in any scenario. What's not to like?

And if, in the absence of a real-live burlesque dancer performing privately for you in your very own living-room, you could watch a short film in which one of the most gorgeous women imaginable got her jugs out and danced for you for the very sustainable time of less than three minutes, you'd be happy enough, right? Right.

That being the case, you need to watch this short film. In honour of WOMEN IN HORROR RECOGNITION MONTH, Patricia Chica has created BLOODY BURLESQUE. It's part of an anthology of horror shorts for the annual MASSIVE BLOOD DRIVE PSA, curated by the Soska sisters whose names I'm sure you will recognise from such films as AMERICAN MARY and HELLEVATOR. It's a super, super super good cause, the donating of blood to those who need it, and I've always loved the idea of horror shorts. They make my butt look fabulous.

Anyway, the film is short so I won't give too much away, but it features scream queens Tiffany Shepis (SHARKNADO 2, THE VIOLENT KIND, THE HAZING) and Tonya Kay (AMITYVILLE TERROR, WITHIN THE DARKNESS). The stunning Tonya Kay is the lady getting her kit off for your enjoyment. Her striptease is more than just a quick waggle of her infinitely delectable tits and ass to music, however. Her body is covered in writing, see?

Words like death, leukaemia, disease and infection adorn her perfect skin. Before the short film has ended, however, she has rubbed out the words by drenching her body with a red, liquidy substance you gore-hounds might recognise. Yes, we're talking blood here, people. Ms. Tonya Kay looks immensely fetching, even covered from head to toe in fake haemoglobin, and the whole thing is strangely uplifting and positive, despite the macabre nature of the performance.

The rubbing out of death and disease and all those other nasty words during the baptism by blood is of course symbolic. Hopefully the film's very obvious message that giving blood is not only good but vital will send you rushing to your nearest Blood Donation Centre with your sleeves rolled up and your arms exposed, ready to receive your free sugary cookie and a sticker with the words I GAVE BLOOD TODAY on it. Some centres even have balloons. Who wouldn't want a balloon? I want a balloon, for crying out loud.

I know that all you big strong men (and women!) out there won't let the fear of a little prick put you off doing what you know you need to do. If it helps, all the gorgeous women involved in the creation of this terrific short film will be incredibly grateful to you. Sadly, they won't be able to express their gratitude in any personal way, and if you try to force the issue, well, that's called stalking and it's very much frowned upon in civilised society, haha.

I had a stalker once myself, believe it or not, even though I'm not a big famous celebrity like these ladies in the film. His name was Dave (still is, I presume, unless he's changed it) and he spent a lot of time in the bushes outside my house during the freezing cold winter of 2010. I confess to feeling desperately sorry for him when it snowed, knowing that he was outside freezing his bollocks off, and I used to bring him out the odd cup of steaming hot Bovril. He was actually very grateful for my kindness and we had some lovely chats while I waited for him to be done with the mug.

Anyway, just to add that Patricia Chica's past involvement in the Montreal burlesque and fetish subcultures add an authenticity to this horror short, the concept of which she says came to her through meditation. I personally wouldn't have the patience for meditation but, as a writer, I've had plenty of ideas come to me in dreams. Sadly, none of 'em have ever made it on to the big screen yet, or even the small screen. Sigh. I'll let you all go for now. I've got to iron my horror shorts and I know you guys have got to go watch this film and then give blood, haha.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com