Judge David Johnson found this ensemble of ghoulish J-horror shorts many times more disturbing than any of the recent Western gorefests he's trudged through.
Ninety minutes of freakish, pale Japanese people scaring the crap out of me.
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.
Eight stories. Here we go:
• "The Night Watchman"
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.
• "Wisps of Smoke"
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.
• "The Weight"
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.
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
• "Full-Length Mirror"
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.
• "Line of Sight"
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.
• "The Promise"
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
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.
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.
Not guilty. Seriously, that gym scene is f***ed up.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
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