Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Perfect Blue (1997, Satoshi Kon)


Deciding to go from being a successful pop singer to an up and coming actress, Mima thinks that she has made the right decision, although an insane stalker doesn’t seem to think so. In fact this person is not only watching and following her, but has also created an online diary where they pretend to be Mima. Still Mima goes ahead with her plans, even though this results in the stalker escalating and even killing people, all in a plan to drive Mima insane. There is a moment where the audience is almost tricked into thinking that Mima has gone crazy, and it’s executed beautifully in a horrific and violent way. This film’s animation is fluid and stunning, another prime example of how the Japanese have quite possibly surpassed the Americans, although both have their own unique styles and contribute greatly to animation and cinema.

Another thing I love about this film is how it proceeds two other great films about talented people going crazy in Black Swan and Mullholland Drive, although Mullholland is more complex and better than either Swan or Perfect. Regardless this film builds up Mima’s descent into madness very slowly, coming to a fever pitch and at times leaving the viewer unsure of her state of mind. The last act is a walking nightmare, and what occurs is both creepy and stunning.

Plus this whole business starts when Mima chooses to be a part of a moment on the TV show she’s on that leaves her disturbed and haunted, as the film showcases in close ups that reveal that her mind is damaged by the experience, even though what she went through was pretend, not real. However it also causes her stalker to drive to new heights of rage, and in a way some of this film also reminded me of Opera, too, another film where an actress is in grave danger from a homicidal admirer. Not to mention the nods to Hitchcock, as he previously featured films where the protagonist-be they male or female-thought they were going crazy.

The last act is particularly captivating, as reality and fantasy blend together in a way that is rather unhealthy. I rather liked how the film ended, and this is one of the best horror films of the 90s. The score for this also is rather great, going from the fake pop music ballads of the group Mima leaves to creepier, more horror movie style scores that underline the film’s darker moments. Perfect Blue by the final shot is a memorable and excellent experience, a kaleidoscope of colors and moments in time. In a way it also is a social commentary on how people worship celebrities, obsessing over them in unhealthy ways and not realizing that they are not myths, but actual people, flesh and blood just like anyone else.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971, Dario Argento)


That mask was insanely creepy. Really it was another one of Dario Argento’s stylistic flourishes, a nice touch early on in his  famous Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971). One of his earliest works and another fine example of his contributions to horror cinema. I also liked how Argento works in a Hitchcock style plot about a man tormented by a psychopath who knows about his accidental killing of a man that had been following him.

Ah Roberto you are in over your head, unable to go to the police, a prisoner in your own home. The list of suspects is long and the body count piles up fast. Best put on the old thinking cap if you want to survive, and Roberto is lucky that he has friends capable of aiding him. Plus a private detective that is not as incompetent as he seems.

There are some typically freaky deaths in this film and Argento deploys his wonderful and usual brutal tricks. I’ve always liked how Argento would use what scares people in real life-actual fears-and not things that scare people that only happen in the movies. That is highly effective and there were several moments in the film where I was freaked out.

Despite having a so-so last act redeemed by a great, fatalistic ending, Four Flies On Gray Velvet is another really good entry in Argento’s library. I look forward to continuing his filmography, even though his 90s and 2000s works have received mixed and bad reviews. He is still a master of horror regardless of a decline in his work, and I imagine I might even like some of his later movies more than others do.

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