Case Number 09651

TALES OF TERROR FROM TOKYO, VOLUME 1

Media Blasters // 2004 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 11th, 2006

The Charge

Ninety minutes of freakish, pale Japanese people scaring the crap out of me.

Opening Statement

The always-reliable Tokyo Shock branch of Media Blasters has put together another anthology of J-horror shorts, a compendium of ghostly tales that are heavy on the atmosphere and jump scares. Intro nutshell: fans of the genre should shell out the yen for this disc.

Facts of the Case

This disc contains eight stories from seven different directors, all supposedly inspired by real Japanese legends. Compiled by writers Hirokatsu Kihara and Ichiro Nakayama, these tales are tied together by a binding theme: creepy-ass ghosts.

The Evidence

Eight stories. Here we go:

* "The Night Watchman"
Directed by Akio Yoshida

A higher-up from a security firm is concerned with the high turnover rate for a specific property. When he goes to investigate, he is stunned to discover the place is crawling with specters. Weirder still, the one steadfast employee has developed a coping tactic: keep telling yourself it's all in your mind, even if you're being strangled every night by a ghost girl that clings to the ceiling. A nice, atmospheric short with a surprising touch of dark humor.
Pants Check: Pretty clean. Maybe a few spots.

* "Wisps of Smoke"
Directed by Kosuke Suzuki

Three giggly girlfriends find themselves stranded in some spooky woods. Even spookier: an apparition that smokes and blinks out of existence one body part at a time. The forest is a neat setting, but there is too little revealed to be effectively disturbing; the smoke doesn't cut it.
Pants Check: Immaculate.

* "The Weight"
Directed by Kosuke Suzuki

The briefest entry, "The Weight" tells the story of a woman who is awakened at night by a tremendous amount of pressure on her chest. When she gets out of bed she notices a dude with a wacky grin on his face bounding up and down on her child's chest. Points for insanity, but that's about it.
Pants Check: Nice and crisp, just like the day I bought them from Wal-Mart.

* "Gloves"
Directed by Hirohisa Sasaki

A woman in a new apartment wakes up in the middle of the night, feeling a sensation like someone is strangling her. At first she thinks it's her new male roommate, but the truth reveals itself as something a lot less corporeal. Kinda long, and just okay, this tale is saved by a neat -- though obvious -- twist.
Pants Check: Snug as a bug in a rug.

* "Full-Length Mirror"
Directed by Ryuta Miyake

Two high school kids tempt fate by checking out a mirror that is rumored to be cursed. When they find it in storage, one of the kids is sucked in by an unseen spirit. When his pal looks around for him, he notices the face of a pale girl reflected in the mirror. He freaks and runs into the gymnasium where an even scarier sight is there to meet him. My favorite of the batch with a truly unsettling final image.
Pants Check: The dam giveth way.

* "Line of Sight"
Directed by Keisuke Toyoshima

Reminiscent of The Ring, this story finds a schoolgirl stumbling on a ghost caught in her video. Apparently, it's a leftover from a murderous fire that rampaged through the school, and this particular spirit is grotesque as all get-out. Good stuff, and a final sequence that should send shivers up the old spine.
Pants Check: If I untuck my shirt, maybe no one will notice.

* "The Promise"
Directed by Keita Amemiya

When a carefree guy rents a swanky apartment from his uncle, he is forced to follow just one rule: answer when called to. The cryptic directive makes sense during his first night, when an ethereal voice calls out a name that isn't his. So he answers. As the days pass, he falls into the routine of answering the voice, until one day, when he's distracted by his girlfriend, he forgets to answer. Things suddenly go bonkers, culminating in a frightful face-off with a giant female ghost. Another humorous offering, punctuated by a sufficiently creepy reveal.
Pants Check: Yeah, I need to be excused.

* "Hisao"
Directed by Shunichi Hirano

Our final tale is the most unorthodox of the batch. The story is told from the perspective a seemingly unstable woman, conversing with her unseen son who happens to be dripping gallons of water wherever he goes. The disc ends on a high note with a tasty supernatural revenge story and nasty little ending.
Pants Check: Ahhh...laundry day can wait a little longer.

Closing Statement

My overall impression: Media Blasters has unleashed another solid J-horror disc. It looks really, really good (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) and sounds fine (thankfully, no crappy dubbing). Just trailers for extras. Content is king, and the cumulative creepiness earns Tales of Terror a "sensei" rating.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Seriously, that gym scene is f***ed up.

Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 60
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile
Studio: Media Blasters
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Trailers

Accomplices
* None