Body is a wonderful piece of horror cinema. It is also going to be a real bitch of a movie to review as the movie hinges on a brilliant plot twist near the end which I want to avoid giving even the slightest hint to. So with that in mind I will attempt some sort of review. Please accept my comments may be even more vague than normal, but this film should be seen without any spoilers.
Chon is a student living with his sister, he is constantly plagued by bad dreams. These dreams involve a woman being dismembered, a strange cat & a fetus. He also suffers from daytime hallucinations & occasional memory loss. While Chon is preparing some prawns for dinner he suffers a hallucination as the prawns start to move & bleed heavily. Chon badly slices the tip of his finger & his sister takes him to hospital. The doctor treating Chon’s wound refers him, to Chon’s surprise to a psychiatrist Dr Usa, who herself is under increasing strain at home with her distant husband Dr Sethee. When Chon goes to see Dr Usa she acts very uncomfortably around him. Chon’s nightmares & hallucinations start to increase in intensity & he is drawn to a door in his house covered by a large piece of furniture. When Chon opens it he sees a vision of a woman being dismembered on the floor. Chon also sees visions of a ghostly woman who he eventually identifies a Dr Dararai. Dr Usa also starts to investigate Dr Dararai as there seems to be a connection between her & Dr Sethee. Dr Usa discovers Dr Dararai is an expert in hypnosis & has recently gone missing. The assistant who gives Dr Usa this information dies that evening in an accident with barbed wire. The Dr who refered Chon to Dr Usa also dies in an accident with acid. Chon rushes to see Dr Usa, convinced anyone he tells about Dr Dararai dies. But the real truth is much more horrifying.
Body is a stunning movie, one that really grips you from beginning to end. The first two-thirds of the movie play out like a typical (albeit well made) Asian ghost movie. It is as the film reaches its conclusion that the movie shifts dramatically with a plot twist that makes you completely re-evaluate what you have just seen. The twist itself is very reminiscent of two classic yet completely different movies that I obviously will not name here. Once you have seen Body you will know exactly which two movies I’m referring to. Again I will apologise for my hesitancy to give any details but I went into this movie knowing next to nothing about it & that is the way I believe it should be seen. The acting by the entire cast is first-rate & the film itself looks wonderful. Director Paween Purijitpanya was obviously given a decent budget & has taken great care in making a beautiful looking movie. Purijitpanya allows the plot to develop, slowly unravelling the mystery & keeping you (the audience) hooked. The ghost apparition of Dr Dararai is a wonderful creation, while sticking to the Yurei (thanks Andrew, anyone wishing to know more about the Yurei should check out Andrew’s blog Lucid Dreams. It can be found on my links) imagery, the ghost is more than just your usual long-haired spirit. the effects for Dr Dararai are excellent. Sadly the same cannot be said for the cat or fetus, which both stand out as poorly done CGI. These are pretty much the only downside to this movie. There are a few loose ends that don’t quite add up at the movies conclusion. There are things to do with Chon’s sister & don’t quite make sense but these are minor quibbles & don’t detract from the movies impact. The film I can safely liken this to without spoilers would be The Forbidden Door. Like that movie Body changes completely near the end & becomes something completely different. I really don’t want to say anymore for the reasons I have already stated.
Body is a wonderful film you simply must see. Intelligent, gripping & jaw dropping. It’s a real shame this movie isn’t well-known. Like Noroi it seems to have slipped under most people’s radar. Please take my word for it & see this movie. A Thai classic that can stand side by side with Shutter & from me that is high praise indeed.
“You’ve already become the hero of our story”
Every now & then a movie comes along which simply blows me away & restores my faith in genre movies. As every genre buff will know too well, for every great movie there are 20 utter stinkers. Hansel & Gretel is one of those movies that demonstrates just how good a movie can be. It is nothing short of genius & could sit proudly & justifiably in my Hall Of Fame.
Eun-su is a salesman & travelling by car to see his mother who is ill. Along the way Eun-su calls his pregnant girlfriend & they get into an argument. As they argue Eun-su’s car hits a rock & he loses control, flipping the car in the crash. Eun-su wakes a few hours later, dazed, in a dark forest. He wanders off to find help but soon collapses again. When he wakes, he sees a girl with a lantern. She tells him her name is Young-hee & guides him to her house in the middle of the wood. There is a sign by the fence which says “the home of happy children” They are met at the door by Young-hee’s parents & her two siblings Man-bok her older brother & Jeong-sun her little sister. Once inside Eun-su begins to notice the parents acting nervously & strangely. He is told he can rest at the house overnight & leave in the morning. Eun-su tries to leave the next day but he gets lost in the forest & as it gets dark is forced to return to the house. As he arrives back Eun-su passes the parents, who inform him they are leaving & ask if he can look after the kids for a short while. The longer he stays in the house the more disturbed Eun-su becomes. The TV plays the same violent cartoon endlessly, even though it isn’t plugged in & he hears noises in the attic. When Eun-su investigates the attic he finds the children’s mother. She tells him that she is not the children’s parent but like Eun-su was brought to the house after her car broke down. She warns Eun-su that the kids are dangerous & not to be trusted. Eun-su tries to leave again but meets Man-bok in the forest, he is accompanied by a lay preacher & his wife whose car has broken down. What is the children’s sinister secret & who is the preacher & what does he want with the children?
Hansel & Gretel is a wonderful movie, it brings to mind classic Tim Buton (circa Edward Scissorhands) & Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) yet in many ways this movie even eclipses those directors & their movies. It is yet another example of why, when it comes to the horror genre the Korean film industry seems to be head & shoulders above every one else. Visually the movie is stunning. The cinematography & set design are superb. The interior of the house looks incredible & the scenes in the forest are, at times breathtaking. The movie is quite long, clocking in at just under two hours. Director Yim-pil Sung takes his time weaving his plot, giving plenty of time for character development. The acting is first-rate, each & every cast member puts in a faultless performance. The acting by the three child actors is staggeringly good with a special mention to Shim-eun Kyung who plays Young-hee. Her performance at the movies’ climax is incredibly emotional & powerful. What Yim-pil Sung has created with Hansel & Gretel is a wonderfully dark adult fairytale. Visually stunning & carefully scripted, it’s a truly a minor masterpiece. It’s a complex movie & not just another “evil children” movie. While the children seem to be the villains of the piece, as the movie draws towards its climax all is not what it seems. If you fail to be moved by this movie then quite frankly you have no soul. I will admit this movie will not appeal to everyone. Anyone looking for endless gore & carnage will be incredibly disappointed. This is not a traditional horror movie. But for anyone looking for something different & intelligent should look no further than this movie.
Are you still sitting here reading this? Go see this movie, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed, instead you will be rewarded with something special. Not that I really need to say it but this film is highly recommended.
“You won’t die from getting your hand cut off, after all I only have one arm too”
I must start this review with an apology for the heavy Asian bias on the site at the moment. Rest assured there are some European reviews on the way soon. For today’s review its back to Japan for 2008’s The Machine Girl, an over the top splatterfest directed by Noboru Iguchi, the man responsible for RoboGeisha & Mutant Girl Squad, with special effects by Yoshihiro Nishimura who would go on to direct Tokyo Gore Police.
Ami is a high school student living with her younger brother Yu after their parents were framed for murder & committed suicide. Yu & his friend Takeshi are in trouble with the school bully Sho the son of a vicious Yakuza gang leader Ryugi. Sho & his gang throw both Takeshi & Yu off a building killing them both, distraught Ami swears to seek revenge. She goes to Sho’s house but is overpowered by the Ryugi & his bodyguards. Ami is beaten & tortured, losing an arm in the process. After managing to escape she makes her way to the garage run by Siguru & Miki (Takeshi’s parents) The couple agree to help her & while Siguru builds Ami a new machine gun arm, Miki starts to train Ami in combat. Ryugi tracks down Ami & sends a squad of ninja assassins to kill her. In the subsequent battle Siguru is killed, but not before he has finished the machine gun. The two women then arm themselves (Miki with a chainsaw) & head to Ryugi’s hideout for the showdown.
The Machine girl is another over the top splatter film in the style of Vampire Girl Versus Frankenstein Girl & Tokyo Gore Police. The plot is a secondary device used purely to link the scenes of action & carnage. The end result is just dammed enjoyable. The fight scenes are well choreographed & the splatter while not at all realistic is done with a real zeal & trust me there is a lot of splatter in this movie. Limbs are hacked off, faces sliced open, hands are deep-fried, faces pulped & the arterial blood sprays literally soak the screen. It’s a movie with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. The drill bra has to be seen to be believed & The Super Mourners squad had me in tears of laughter. The acting ranges from passable to downright awful yet somehow that doesn’t really matter. Minase Yashiro as Ami & Asami as Miki put in decent performances as does Honoka as Ryugi’s vicious wife. The rest of the cast ham it up for all they are worth, with special mention going to Kentaro Shimazu as Ryugi whose performance is so over the top it makes Vincent Price look like a subtle & restrained actor. While the movie’s energy & sense of fun can compensate for most of the film’s flaws, the CGI is dreadful & should never have been used. While the practical effects are a mixed bag quality wise, the CGI looks awful & does detract from the movie as a whole. fortunately for all it’s flaws Machine Girl’s positives outweigh the negatives & the movie provides a hugely enjoyable 90 minutes of insane carnage & craziness.
In closing The Machine Girl is a great beer & pizza movie. If You liked Vampire Girl Versus Frankenstein Girl or Tokyo Gore Police you will love this. An outrageous over the top splatter fest with a huge sense of fun, highly recommended.
“For one million Baht you have to be shared”
Art Of The Devil is a horror film from Thailand dealing with witchcraft & directed by Tanit Jitnukul. Sadly despite being one of the better known horror films from Asia in truth it isn’t a great movie & the blame for this lays firmly on the director’s shoulders.
Boom is a young girl who meets Pratan, a successful & married businessman. The two embark on an affair & Boom soon falls pregnant. When Boom tells Pratan she is pregnant he gives her one million Baht for her silence but tells her he won’t leave her. Later he wakes her, informing her that for one million Baht she must be shared. As Pratan uses a camcorder, Boom is chased & gang raped by some of Pratan’s friends. Boom interrupts a family birthday party for Pratan’s daughter, telling him one million Baht isn’t enough. Furious, Pratan drags Boom outside & throws a wad of money at Boom while repeatedly slapping her. He warns her never to come near his family again. Boom enlists the help of a black magic priest to take revenge on Pratan & his family. Once Pratan & his family are dead, Boom makes an offering to the spirits & as she leaves sees a vision of the dead family & is hit by a car. Boom loses her baby in the accident. Pratan’s first wife inherits his house & fortune & Boom infiltrates this family by marrying the eldest son. Boom starts to use black magic to dispose of this family to claim the house & money for herself.
I’m still not sure quite how he managed it but Tanit Jitnukul took all the ingredients of a good movie & somehow turned them into the mess that is Art Of The Devil. It should have been a great movie. The story is sound enough, the acting is decent & the SFX are ok. It is the manner in which Jitnukul tells the story that ruins Art Of The Devil. The non linear narrative does the movie no favours & wanders almost aimlessly. The exposition is done in black & white in the present & the bulk of the story is told as flashbacks. Sadly this is handled badly & the film becomes muddled & confused. Subplots are thrown in at random, like the reporter who begins to suspect witchcraft & the Albino child spirit who is never completely explained & doesn’t really make sense given what she is. For a film of this type there is also a distinct lack of atmosphere & tension. Even at the movie’s climax it lacks any urgency or drama & just meanders to the end credits. The shame of it is that with a little care this could have been good. Supaksorn Chaimongkol puts in a good performance as Boom & Arisa Wills as Nan, the film’s main protagonist puts in a decent performance too. Most of the cast do the best they can with the script. Some of the death scenes work well, standouts being the vomiting of razor blades & Nan’s brother smothered by eels. Sadly the positives just don’t outweigh the negatives & it is that which makes Art Of The Devil a missed opportunity.
Sadly I just cannot recommend Art Of The Devil. It should have been good but it truly is poorly made & ultimately disappointing.
“I think this will cost lives”
If I was feeling charitable & kind I would say that Shirome is a perfect example of the law of diminishing returns. Writer/Director Koji Shiraishi has made three mockumentaries, starting with the incredible Noroi, followed by the average Occult & lastly Shirome, by far the worst of the three. I could have said that but I’m not feeling charitable & Shirome is a lazy piece of filmmaking that is nothing more than a cheap cash in. This is a truly lazy & lame piece of moviemaking that Shiraishi should be ashamed of making.
For his latest mockumentary Shiraishi poses as the maker of a reality TV show where celebrities are taken to a haunted location to research the myths & legends surrounding the location. He persuades the J-Pop teen girl band Momoiro Clover to take part in his latest show. The girls will be taken to an abandoned school where there is a shrine to the demon Shirome. Shirome is said to take the form of a butterfly & will grant wishes to those who are sincere in thier wish & belief in Shirome. Should the wishmaker not be sincere Shirome will destroy the person, either driving them mad or leading them to suicide. Several unexplained deaths have been attributed to the legend of Shirome. The girls are briefed on the legend by a creepy expert in the myth & are then taken to the school accompanied by a monk & a medium. Once at the shrine the girls will perform their latest song & ask Shirome to allow them to appear on national TV to boost their popularity.
I cannot even begin to describe just how disappointed I was with this film. I knew it wasn’t going to come close to the incredible Noroi. I even suspected it wouldn’t be as good as Occult but this was just awful. What we have with Shirome is 80 odd minutes of Japanese teenage girls screaming… constantly! Momoiro Clover are a real teenage girl group (ages between 13 & 16) & Shiraishi pulls every clichéd trick in the book to frighten his young stars. While Shiraishi may have succeeded in terrifying his young stars he fails to even slightly spook his audience. With Noroi, Shiraishi weaved an incredibly creepy & unsettling story which really got under the skin of the audience. Anybody that knows me or has just browsed this site will know just how highly I regard Noroi. It is without a doubt the pinnacle of creepy-assed movies & one that has the power to pull you into the unfolding horror on repeat viewings. Shirome has none of Noroi’s atmosphere & its runtime just kind of passes you by. If it wasn’t for the constant high-pitched screaming & crying you could easily nod off at any point in the movie. Shirome is also sadly predictable, several times during the movie I guessed what was going to happen next & was right each time. The film’s ending is painfully obvious & reeks of a lack of thought & effort. It seems to me that Shiraishi was just going through the motions in the hope of a quick buck, made off of his reputation as Noroi’s creator. There really isn’t a whole lot more I could say about it. The movie is incredibly shallow & linear, leaving little to mull over.
Shirome is sadly just a dull, underdeveloped & ill thought out movie that offers little in the way of atmosphere, scares or originality. You could have more fun spending 80 minutes watching flies fuck. A desperate disappointment of a movie. One to avoid.
“The child is not yours anymore”
I must admit to being surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. There is nothing original here, coupled with a small budget, patchy SFX & even patchier (is that a word?) acting, it shouldn’t have been as much fun as it turned out to be. It does what it says on the tin with a real zeal & relish. Although I will give a plot synopsis in the next paragraph this movie is basically Inside crossed with Frontiers topped of with a little splash of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Adjie & his heavily pregnant wife Astrid are traveling to the airport with three of their best friends, where Adjie & Astrid will leave to start a new life in Sydney. Along the way they stop off to see Adjie’s estranged sister Ladya. Ladya is persuaded to join them in traveling to the airport to see them off. No sooner have they set off when they come across a woman Maya, wandering aimlessly at the roadside. Maya tells the group she has been robbed & the group agree to give her a lift home. Once at Maya’s home she introduces the group to her mother Dara, a soft-spoken, elegant woman who insists the group stays for some dinner as payment for their kindness. Adjie & Astrid go to one of the bedrooms so Astrid can rest, the others sit down for the meal. They are joined at the table by Dara’s other two children, both male. The wine they drink from is drugged & soon the friends wake to find themselves bound & gagged in a makeshift slaughterhouse & what does Dara want with Astrid’s unborn baby?
The first twenty minutes of this movie moves very slowly, establishing cast & characterisation. Once the friends are drugged the movie really picks up the pace & copious amounts of blood is split. As I have already stated the movie “borrows” heavily from other films. The scene with the police in Inside is lifted straight from that movie & placed in Macabre. You could easily spend the entire movie spotting all the homages (that’s a better word than ripoffs don’t you think?) from other genre movies. The SFX are a mixed bag, sometimes highly effective, the scene where a guy’s face is pulped by a rifle butt springs to mind. Yet at other times awful, the CGI flame effects are laughable & the blood has a horrible orange tinge to it, much like the blood in Romero”s Dawn Of The Dead. The acting from some of the supporting characters is straight from the Keanu Reeves School Of Ham. Despite all of this, the film has some decent plot turns, some imaginative splatter & moves at a good pace. But it is in it’s two stars that Macabre really shines. The movie’s heroine Ladya is played by Julie Estelle who is quite frankly stunning (sorry I’m male I can’t help it) Her performance strikes the right balance between plucky & vulnerable & gives you someone to root for. The film’s biggest plus is Shareefa Daanish, her performance as Dara is chilling. There have been some great villains in Asian cinema like Kyung-chul from I Saw The Devil. Daanish’s Dara is up there with the best of them. A soft, almost monotone spoken elegant psychopath, Dara is truly a horrifying creation, capable of truly extreme acts of violence & quite handy with weapons ranging from a chainsaw to a hairpin. It’s worth seeing this movie just for Daanish’s performance.
Macabre is never going to be considered a classic, but you know what, fuck it. It entertains, isn’t that the whole point. Despite it’s derrivative nature there is enough in the way of freshish ideas to make it work. Just a real funtime & as mentioned before worth the rental price for Daanish’s performance alone. Recommended.
“Now I understand why Kang killed all his buddies”
GP 506 is the second feature film from writer/director Kong Su-chang, following his well received debut movie R-Point. I probably should have reviewed R-Point for this site already but despite it being a well made & impressive debut it is also an overly long ghost story & those of you familiar with me & this site will know that I am a less than enthusiastic fan of ghost movies. It is for that reason I haven’t sat down to re watch R-Point for the purposes of a review here. GP 506 is, like R-Point another military horror. This time instead of ghosts we get a mixture of R-Point, The Bunker & The Crazies.
GP506 is an outpost on the border of North & South Korea in the DMZ (demilitarised zone) The guard post itself is a huge concrete structure full of maze like corridors. Each tour of duty lasts for three months & the soldiers are armed with live ammunition at all times. On the 29th May 2007 M.P.s break into GP 506 searching the facility room by room until they find a room full of blooded corpses & one survivor, coated in blood holding an axe. The man is disarmed & placed into custody. Sergeant Noh is called in to investigate what happened at GP 506 & is told he has untill 6am the next day to find out what happened before the army arrives & covers it up. Once at GP 506 Noh informs Lt Bang whose M.P. unit found the man with the axe that he will be assuming command. Noh goes to see the survivor, now in a coma as the doctor is preparing to move him & the bodies of the dead to HQ. He discovers the man was Corporal Kang. Checking the post’s records, Noh realises they are one man short & unaccounted for. The soldier is found hiding in the complex & identified as 1st Lt Yoo, head of GP506. Struggling to understand & piece together what happened at GP506 & running short of time Noh begins to notice strange behaviour in his own men & it soon becomes apparent that they might be dealing with a virus with deadly consequences.
GP506 is a movie I wanted to like. It’s beautifully filmed & takes its time establishing plot & character. Sadly the movie is confused & way too long for its own good. The story of what happened to the original unit at GP506 is told in intermittent flashbacks throughout the film including a couple of important plot twists. These flashbacks are at first very hard to follow. With all the soldiers past & present wearing full camouflaged military fatigues including helmets, filmed in the dark it is very hard to make out who is who & there is no clear sign when the movie moves between timelines making the first hour very hard to follow. Only once the characters are established does this become somewhat easier to follow. The plot itself is actually very simple & didn’t need two hours to tell the story. While I commend Kong Su-chang for taking his time to create atmosphere & tone there were many times during the film I wished the pace would pick up. GP506 doesn’t really seem to know what kind of movie it wants to be. The beginning hints at Park Chan-wook’s Joint Security Area. The middle of the movie hints at Su-chang’s earlier R-Point & ends like a Korean version of The Crazies. The movies climax doesn’t do the film any favours. The origins of the virus & what it is are never explained & the ending feels almost rushed which is surprising for a movie that moves with an almost pedestrian pace. There is also one scene that hints at a zombie style infection which is never followed up & at complete odds with everything else in the movie. Despite this there is a lot to commend in this movie. The setting of GP506 is wonderfully atmospheric & foreboding & the cinematography is excellent. The acting too, is first-rate. Its an ensemble piece & each & every actor puts in a fine performance. For me GP506 is a paradox. It should have been great, it just wasn’t.
GP506 is movie which a lot of people may enjoy. I would certainly advise anyone reading this to watch the movie & make their own mind up. Personally for me this movie just didn’t deliver but as they say, one man’s fish is another man’s poison. Worth a watch if you like slow-moving mysteries.