Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Ringu (Ring 1998, Hideo Nakata)


What I have learned from horror movies is that when the TV turns on by itself, that’s bad. Such was the case in Poltergeist, yet also it happens in the incredibly unsettling Japanese horror classic Ringu, or Ring, which helped jumpstart so called J-Horror in Japan. This also started the trend of really creepy girls being a part of horror movies, although I’m sure that probably showed up somewhere before.

Nanako Matsushima is fantastic as the movie’s protagonist, Reiko, who is forced to investigate the tape and unfortunately watches it. Teaming up with her ex husband, she desperately tries to solve the mystery of the really eerie and weird videotape. I like how most of it still remains a mystery, and how the viewer is pulled into the frantic search to discover a way to break the curse.

Plus there is a scene that is famous for being pure nightmare fuel, and was made famous also by the American remake, which I might see even though I’m not expecting it to be as good as the Japanese original. Even the original spawned sequels and a prequel, which just goes to show that horror franchises are universal. That and the mirror part is also creepy-I loved how the movie has so many creepy small moments that build up into one freaky entity.

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989, Shinya Tsukamoto)


How does one describe Tetsuo: The Iron Man? Is Shinya Tsukamoto’s movie the disturbed love child of Eraserhead and David Cronenberg body horror? The beginning of industrial metal music, combined with music video style imagery and editing cuts? Or something even beyond all that, a nightmare fuel vision that draws the viewer in, never letting go, haunting all who view Tsukamoto’s masterpiece of flesh and metal. Bound together forever, entwined, destined to conquer a world that has let technology and industry that holds domain over mankind. After all, humanity has surrendered control to beings that will eventually overwhelm us if we are not careful. Plus the images presented are horrific yet also fascinating, literal but also metaphorical: I give this movie credit for managing to walk the fine line between desperation and meaning, a very uneasy task for any filmmaker tackling such material.

If you are looking for a movie with drawn out characters or an easy to follow plot, this movie is not for you. Instead if, like myself, you wish to seek out challenging films that present another worldview, then Tetsuo is a great choice. I also chuckled at how the end title says “Game Over,” as if the last insane act is a video game. Considering the 1980s, its a perfect title image, and predicted how many films in the years to come either adapted video games or choose to be structured like them. Also be prepared for a movie where a man has a giant drill coming out of him, not to mention turning into a monstrous pile of scrap metal, consuming all other metal around him. I wish I could write more about this film, however I wish to avoid spoilers and I think Tetsuo requires additional viewings. Which will have to be achieved through Shudder again, since according to Wikipedia all releases of the film are out of print. Maybe I should appeal to Criterion to add the film to their collection.

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