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Case Number 11014

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Kazuo Umezz's Horror Theater: Volume 3

Media Blasters // 2005 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 15th, 2007

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All Rise...

Did you know that in Japan, Santa is looked at as both a bringer of Christmas joy and a homicidal maniac? Judge David Johnson learned that bit of cultural trivia from this import horror movie, where he gets all of his information of foreign countries.

The Charge

You better be good for goodness sake.

Opening Statement

Two 45-minute tales of tasty, whacked-out J-horror for your consumption.

Facts of the Case

Japanese horror-meister Kazuo Umezz serves another dose of his brand of horror, which, judging from this disc, involves a mix of over-the-top bloodshed and ridiculous CGI effects.

• "The Present"
A group of college friends decide to celebrate the Christmas holiday at a hotel for a night of drunken cavorting. Too bad for them there's a psychotic murderer running loose and he's dressed as Santa Claus. One by one the friends succumb to the violence that Santa has wrought, leaving only one girl (Mai Takahashi) to escape the torture chambers of St. Nick.

• "Death Make"
Filmmakers hoping to create an awesome horror reality show in a haunted warehouse, encounter more than they were expecting when a crab monster starts running rampant through the abandoned building, impaling anyone it finds. But there's more to this story than a simple creature feature, and it doesn't make any sense.

The Evidence

This isn't a bad pair of horror shorts. And, surprisingly for J-horror, the creepy-ass-little-girl presence is kept to a minimum; in fact, the little runts only turned up briefly in "Death Make," and even that cameo wasn't as skin-crawling as it could have been. This much-beloved and overused go-to J gimmick has been replaced with two seriously demented baddies: evil Santa Claus and Crazy Crab Creature.

• Evil Santa Claus
("The Present")
Obviously, the murderous Santa has had his run in many small-budget horror films over the years but I don't recall ever seeing one as malicious as this jolly bastard. Played by the only Westerner in both films, this Santa kills his victims with a lethal Christmas ornament tied to a chain that he flings with deadly accuracy. He can pull of limbs, cut people in two, even decapitate with this weapon, and the mayhem is shown in all of its disturbing, bloody glory.

The proceedings get even zanier when the scenes shift to Santa's subterranean torture realm. There he purees bodies, amputates even more limbs, and stuffs the sinew into big, blood-soaked sacks. I laughed at a line earlier in the film when a parent told her daughter that she better be good or "Santa will come to get you." Though that's not really how the Western mythology goes, but, man, after seeing the kind of violence a homicidal Kris Kringle is capable of, I will do everything in my power to stay off of the naughty list.

In what is to become a theme for this disc, the story wraps up with a confusing twist finale that actually twists multiple times until the straight-forward slasher fun that had preceded the climax is tarnished somewhat.

• Crazy Crab Creature
("Death Make")
Far less gory than its predecessor, "Death Make" and its evil villain Crazy Crab Creature depend more on sheer weirdness to spook its viewers. Umezz himself, in one of the interviews in the extras, attests that this story shouldn't even be qualified as horror. That's fairly accurate, though some of conceits of the genre are present, like mysterious killings, a jump scene or two and moderate amount of death. The Crab shows up about halfway to three-fourths of the way through and goes on a mini-rampage…and then things get really weird. Like so weird I'm not sure really what happened. I know the surviving characters ended up in an alternate dimension and then one of the girl did some super-terrific ka-pow! battle with the creature, and there was a lot of crappy visual effects and there was another big twist and another one and another one and then it ended. Trippy, but, overall, too convoluted.

Media Blasters delivers another solid disc for its obscure findings from the Land of the Rising Sun. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen is very clean, though the transfer backfires during the heavy visual effects sequences, which make the already iffy CGI work look worse. Japanese 2.0 stereo track provides the sound, subtitled in English. For the bonuses, Umezz offers two brief interviews, supplemented by two other cast interviews, a nifty, 15-minute making-of documentary and trailers.

Closing Statement

I had fun with this collection, particularly the gratuitous gore in "The Present," but unsatisfying endings and a below average showing with "Death Make," holds this collection back.

The Verdict

The accused was gets only a smidgen of coal in its stocking.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 80
Extras: 85
Acting: 80
Story: 75
Judgment: 78

Perp Profile

Studio: Media Blasters
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Foreign
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Kazuo Umezz Interview
• Cast Interviews
• Making-of Feature
• Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Volume One Review
• Volume Two Review








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