ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: COMIC BOOK SCARES – JUNJI ITO ON FILM

It should come as no surprise to followers of this column that on top of being huge film geeks, the Fiancé and I also happen to be pretty big comic book geeks. Granted my personal collection is limited to what I call estrogen titles (“Gloomcookie”, “Blue Monday”, “Hopeless Savages”), but I will also read whatever my Fiancé brings home. Except for one title which I still can’t work up the nerve to read: Junji Ito’s “Gyo”. We were turned on to Ito by Sinister Sam (God of all that is Cool) who raved about his beautifully terrifying horror comics, but every time I just flip through that book I get the heebee-jeebees. Giant sharks that totter around on mechanical spider legs… eep! Needless to say, Ito is wildly popular in Japan and a number of his books have been turned into successful movies. One of these movies has even turned into a franchise to rival “Ringu” and Ju-On so we knew we had to check it out. So being that it was my Fiance’s chance to program we settled in for disappointing “Tomie” and the visually stunning “Uzumaki”.

It was a pretty good turnout to start off with again with 12 people in attendance, even the perpetually late Andrea showed up on time. As usual, with subtitled discs my Fiancé forgot to check the audio options and we spent the first five minutes with no idea what anyone was saying. This happens so often now that I’m starting to think that that’s how foreign movies are supposed to work: you get five minutes of just the original language so that you understand that it’s a foreign movie, then after a bunch of people start yelling “Subs!” little white or yellow letters appear near the bottom of the screen and then you know what’s going on.

On second thought, we may have been better off watching the movie in Japanese and making up our own translation because for a “horror” movie, there wasn’t a whole lot of scary. There was a lot of talking and obvious foreshadowing and Asian horror clichés that didn’t have that much to do with the story. Although a pretty good concept – demon girl capable of regenerating her body tortures people and makes them go insane – the film unfortunately tries to cram too much story into one movie and the story isn’t all that interesting. Our protagonist is a spineless nut bag too busy bonding with her cigarette pushing shrink to notice that her boyfriend is cheating on her. The film also suffers from a limited budget, much like “Ju-On: The Grudge”, but seems better able to roll with it. Unfortunately, it really was kinda boring.

Most of the comments during the film were about “Nightmare on Elm Street” to which the plot seemed to have some similarities or how damn skinny all of the girls were. Seriously, eat a sandwich, it won’t kill you. Andrea was preoccupied with her “starfish human” theory which we all tried hard not to pay any attention to. The best non sequitors in the film came from the detective character who very nonchalantly made the supernatural connection. During his introduction he asserted that “people don’t like detectives because they smoke”. Well good, thanks for clearing that up. We still weren’t sure how he knew that the strange case of Tomie dated back to the Meiji period, but I suggested that he was actually a time traveling spirit sent to destroy her. Owen threatened to go home if that was the case, but being as it wasn’t (only a minor spoiler) he had to go the long haul with the rest of us.

The DVD contained trailers for the next 4 Tomie movies so we decided to check them out to see if maybe one of the them was a little scarier and a whole lot faster moving. The second film, “Tomie: Replay” seemed much more promising and apparently it’s closer to the original Manga. The third one, “Tomie: Re-birth” looks very sappy but might also be worth checking out. The fourth one was obviously shot on DV for the video market and is probably best left alone. From what I can tell it was made just after the first one but doesn’t really seem to affect the continuity at all. But the fifth film, “Tomie: The Final Chapter — Forbidden Fruit” could be both the best and worst film of the series. It seems to take place before the first film and looks just like a Tatu video, complete with catchy yet insipid pop music and kissing school girls. Like I said, this one could go either way.

Time for a break. The story continues in part two of ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: COMIC BOOK SCARES – JUNJI ITO ON FILM>>>




Posted on September 1, 2004 in Features by
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