Well, Mrs. Horror Boom has had a pretty unpleasant cold the past few days, and when I woke up today the bug must be “peaking” because I could barely drag my ass out of bed long enough to grab some Tylenol, over-the-counter cold tablets, and a couple bottles of water, then crawled back into my bed. Felt a little better after the cold medicine started working, but still could barely shuffle around the house, coughing and feeling sorry for myself. I coughed so much today I sound like “Big Ange” (no, I don’t watch ‘Mob Wives’, or most reality shows*, but I’ve seen clips from the on E!’s The Soup “Reality Show Clip Time!”, reminding me why I never watch them). At this rate I’ll sound like The Crypt Keeper next, which I can deal with as long as it goes away in 48 hours, but I REALLY need the symptoms to lessen and go away by Friday. I had a brief burst of energy an hour ago, but felt too shitty and slow-witted to write anything new. Bleh!
Good news is, I found a review I wrote for Ringu (“the original movie that inspired/started it all”, the new ad copy loves to say). This was written before the US remake was even in the works (though it was rumored). It’s much more easy to find now. I still stand by my ‘sleep with the lights on’ high-scare rating, even though I will grudgingly (get it? har-de-har) admit the US remake w/Naomi Watts was better than the Japanese original. The ONLY remake, as far as I know, of an Asian horror movie that surpassed the original. Again, that’s not to say Ringu is a boring candy-ass movie. Not at all, no no no. I do feel that people who went nuts over the remake (especially if they’re big fans of it) should watch the original. It has less blood (definitely took the ‘less is more’ approach when it came to gore/violence), and a lower budget, but it still is frightening (and I prefer the show-stopping TV-crawl scene from Ringu, rather than The Ring; both chill me to the very bone, but nothing beats the first one).
Unfortunately for me, I read a review that gave away (more like blurted out with no spoiler warnings) the now-iconic TV scene at the film’s climax, but it still made every hair on my body stand on end. Shit! I’m a grown woman who has seen some pretty hideous, frightening movies, but I still spent at least the last half of the movie curling up into a smaller and smaller ball and covering my eyes in parts.
My cold medicine is wearing off, so I’ll post this for you to enjoy. Keep in mind it was written over ten years ago, but again, I stand by the review. I re-watched it last year when someone bought me the whole “Ringu: Anthology of Terror” boxed set with a prequel and two (I think) sequels (one so boring, sorry to say, it lost me in the fist 20 minutes or so–different creative team).** It still holds up and I barely changed a word. Hopefully I will not wake up tomorrow feeling quite as shitty–especially since I have a busy weekend planned for once–and able t o give you more updates! Also, I’m almost positive this was my first official taste of J-Horror. I’m glad it was such a good one, because it opened my movie geek world up and into a whole new universe of scary, scary, very scary movies (and nightmares, even a couple of panic attacks).
I heard a lot about this movie, and I also heard that 99% of the people who saw it say most often was that it scared the living shit out of them. In 2002, it was hard to track down in the US (I wondered if I’d have better luck just buying a used copy of the VCD on eBay than finding a video store that has it in stock) but worth it. Wonderful Scarecrow Video came through for me yet again; they didn’t have a DVD, but they had a strange mini-video disk they told me would work in my DVD player. Boom! It wasn’t available officially on VHS format at the time of this writing, which upon reflection, is probably wise due to the storyline. I don’t know if this is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely up there in my top 10. Also, it’s probably the movie in my top list of scariest movies with virtually no gore.
The plot centers on a reporter who investigates what could be a video tape with a ‘curse’ on it. Yeah, I know that sounds ludicrous, but the way the story is laid out, it doesn’t turn out that way, and I wasn’t seeing any humor at all in the idea. It starts with two teenage girls talking about the cursed VHS videotape, one telling the other a sort of urban legend (anything involving an urban legend scares the hell out of me right there-I think I heard too many of them at slumber parties as a kid and was permanently warped). Anyone who watches the tape, then gets a phone call (we never hear what the voice on the other end of the phone says exactly) telling them they will die in a week. So far, everyone who has seen it has died in exactly a week. And guess what? One of the girls saw it slightly less than a week ago! One dies, and the other goes incurably insane. One of the girls is the main character’s niece, so she and another journalist (who I think was her ex- the English subtitles on the copy I watched were pretty badly translated in parts, but you get the idea) have a week to track down the source and try to stop things before the next Sunday evening.
There’s plenty of big jolts and scares in the movie-times where I really jumped. That’s scary enough, but what’s more frightening is the creeping sense of dread you get as the movie goes on. It’s filled with extreme suspense as well; captions show the days counting down and their time they have left ticking away. The dread was the worst-there are quite a few very creepy images, such as those shown on the videotape itself. You have a horrible feeling you’re going to see something you really, really would rather not at any moment, but you can’t take your eyes off the screen. This is a good one to watch with the lights off, as I discovered, though I am very glad my husband was asleep on the couch next to me.
Younger viewers who only have seen those teen slasher pics or torture-porn and expect every horror movie to be exactly like that may just not get it. Either that, or they’ll realize what they’ve been missing…
There’s a scene towards the end where the two main characters must bail water out of an abandoned well in an area that is already dark and scary. One of them, of course, has to be lowered down into the well (which is somewhere you *really* don’t want them to go, but they have to, lives are at stake) to fill the bucket, send it aaaalllll the way back up the well to her friend via a rope pulley to have him dump it out, then wait for the bucket to slowly trundle back down. I actually had to wake my husband up to hold my hand only about 20 seconds into the scene. That sequence is wonderfully, flawlessly filmed and edited (probably not a picnic to shoot for the lead actress, or camera crew, either). We feel the nail-biting suspense when the clock is ticking for the characters to bail out the deep well as quickly as possible to find what they need to, but though you are rooting for them, you also REALLY begin to dread seeing what the bailed water is going to reveal at the bottom (it’s not going to be a basket of friendly kittens) and that is a hard trick to pull off. It took everything I was made of at the time not to chicken out and mute the sound.
Unfortunately for me, I read a review that gave away (more like blurted out with no spoiler warnings) the now-iconic TV scene at the film’s climax, but it still made every hair on my body stand on end. Shit! I’m a grown woman who has seen some pretty hideous, frightening movies, but I still spent at least the last half of the movie curling up into a smaller and smaller ball and covering my eyes in parts. The story-line is clever yet simple, with a couple of twists, the scenes are beautifully filmed, the cinematography is gorgeous, the editing and pacing are perfect, and the acting is also pretty impressive. The score is great-I had to keep lowering the sound during the movie because it was giving my cat (and me) the creeps so badly. It also says a lot about the talent of the film-makers when a movie can actively frighten you without virtually any blood, gore, or the popular sudden-discovery-of-a-mangled-corpse effect.
I really can’t think of anything negative to say; this movie achieved exactly what it set out to do, and did it flawlessly. Younger viewers who only have seen those teen slasher pics or torture-porn and expect every horror movie to be exactly like that may just not get it. Either that, or they’ll realize what they’ve been missing. Viewers that get bored unless there’s not slam-bang action and over-the-top gore every other scene…I just feel sorry for them because they will probably get impatient and turn the movie off after 20 minutes and miss out. If you want that kind of movie, (not that there’s anything wrong with that) rent Laid to Rest or something instead. But if you don’t fall into either of the above categories, and enjoy a well-made, atmospheric movie while having the hell scared out of you slowly but surely, see Ringu.
Here’s the international trailer – I actually had to wait until daylight to search for, watch, and post. Uh …the temperature just seems to have dropped at least ten degrees in here…
*Though I really, really hope they bring back Monster Man for another season, and really wish “SyFy” (wow, thanks for dumbing that down for us, because you know how dense we SciFi fans are) would bring back Scare Tactics. I didn’t mind Scream Queens, either (no more Saw movies to cast the winner in, I guess). A couple of friends of mine recommend Project Runway. It’s mainly the ones on E! and the like, with the vile fame whores, that really make me want to puke.
** I think they went too far into Sadako’s back story (I shut down with the sequels/prequels when I heard she turns out to be a hermaphrodite-maybe it’s a cultural difference, but that detail doesn’t really add intrigue for me) in the other movies in the franchise. The American remake of The Ring gave away about as much information as they could without deconstructing it to the point where it turns into a procedural instead of a horror movie.
- RINGU Director Hideo Nakata to Helm Graphic Novel Adaptation THE SUICIDE FOREST (collider.com)
- Japanese Chilly Chair Makes Horror Movies Even Scarier (odditycentral.com)