Variety Calls The Canal (2014) “Twisted” “Eerie”, and “Spine-Tingling” – Read Their Review Here!

With overt references to Jacques Tourneur’s “Cat People” and a clear appreciation for the atmospheric creepiness of other early horror classics, Kavanagh proceeds to escalate the tension, putting David’s young son Billy (Calum Heath), trusting nanny Sophie (Kelly Byrne) and over-concerned co-worker Claire (Antonia Campbell Hughes) in potential danger of whatever’s lurking around his home. Meanwhile, the hallucinations become more frequent, to the extent that we can’t always discern where reality ends and fantasy begins.

But Kavanagh hardly sees fit to rely on old-school techniques to generate suspense, amping up the tension via jump cuts, red-lit interiors and a meticulously engineered soundscape that makes sparing yet effective use of eerie tones and spine-tingling scratching noises (even to accompany the old silent footage). After shrewdly raising the possibility that something otherworldly is lurking behind the walls and beneath the manhole cover in David’s backyard, the camera finally descends into the sewer, crossing over from the old-fashioned realm of suggestion-driven horror to the far more explicit territory of directors like Takashi Miike (who surely would approve). The pic’s early coyness offers little preparation for its twisted climax, in which this subterranean tunnel of death doubles as a perverse birth canal of sorts — an image that won’t die anytime soon in the minds of any who witness it.

 

-From the accompanying Variety.com review by Peter Debruge

 

So!  We’re just about to sit down (in the dark) and watch Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal,  a move we are starting to re-think the wisdom of after reading this last review. We’ve also read quite a few others over the past few days, and all of the professional critics have admitted the movie was not just creepy, but surprisingly scary. Scary as hell, in fact! We’ll let you know… especially if we can’t sleep and have some time on our hands until the sun comes up.

Click “View original” in the lower left to read the entire review on Variety.com.

NOTE: we are aware of the annoying HTML tags that are automatically inserted every fucking time we re-blog a piece from Variety or EW.com. We have been trying to figure out how to correct this, and are getting really frustrated, but we did want to let you know we are aware that it not only looks sloppy but unprofessional as shit. We’re working on it. Thanks for your patience and for continuing to read Horror Boom!

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Horror Boom’s Ten Scariest Asian Horror Movies Ever Made – #8 – “Uzumaki” AKA “Spiral” (2000)

First up: Disturbing image warning.

We’re slowly but surely working our way up the list of our picks for the ten scariest Asian horror movies ever made. This is a good time to point out that Uzumaki (AKA Spiral) isn’t #8 on the list because it’s less scary of a film that any of the others.  They’re all scary as hell (though we would rate, say, Shutter over Three… Extremes; then again, Shutter is in the our Top Ten Scariest Movies ever made PERIOD, list), we’re just not listing them in order of importance/scariness.  This J-horror pick for the Top Ten list is based on a manga by one of the most popular and terrifying names in horror manga, Junji Ito (more on that later), so there’s a whole new type of media to augment and expand the fright generated by Uzumaki. I wrote this up for the IMDB in 2011 and to this day, I stand by my 9/10 stars rating. Watch the trailer below (it’s short, but long enough to give you a pretty good idea of how the movie ended up on this list):

If you had told me* fifteen years ago that I would be so frightened I would be on the verge of a panic attack merely by watching a horror movie whose plot centers on a small town being terrorized by a geometric concept, I probably would have laughed in your face. Well, that was before Fangoria magazine recommended a horror movie from Japan called Uzumaki (possibly in the same issue as Ringu) and I finally found a copy to rent. This one I unwisely made the decision to watch after dark (after deliberately watching several like A Tale of Two Sisters in the daytime), when I was the only one in the house still awake; all the lights on the whole upper floor of the house were off except the one from the TV. As disturbing and frightening as the manga of the same name that the movie is based on (and if you’ve read ANY of the three books that comprise the manga, you know that is no easy task) this one-of-a-kind J-horror flick also has images I still can’t quite get out of my head, and I watched the movie in 2008.

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I then watched Uzumaki again in Fall of 2011, this time making the equally stupid decision to watch it on a good-sized flatscreen. All the images I recalled were every bit as scary–just as much bang for your buck (or yen). Not only that, but there was one shot, a VERY disturbing, brief set-piece (and arguably the most bloody), that I only recalled about two seconds before it happened. The entire movie is so increasingly unnerving –not a lot of rests between scares, and little comic relief –that I suppose my brain wiped the scene out because it was just too much for my central nervous system to take in all at once.

Also, in between viewings, I read the complete manga– I’m not sure whether to recommend the movie or the graphic novels first. The series of graphic novels’ tone is even darker- WAY darker, and the movie’s not exactly happy-go-lucky to start with. I picked up the manga (which has won an impressive and lengthy list of notable awards and honors that were absolutely earned) after I saw the movie the first time–which at least warns you what you are in for–out of morbid curiosity. I was so blown away (and actively horrified, almost to the point of trauma; perhaps reading them all in a row beginning around midnight was not the smartest goddamned thing I’ve ever done) I went and rented the movie again to compare the two, and can report that other than excluding some storylines** that would’ve made the movie very hard to be released and marketed for all but adult audiences (and possibly too scary even for a J-horror movie, at least in 2000), the movie captures the tone and spirit of the graphic novels dead-on. Screen shot 2014-08-01 at 3.47.53 AMMany of the best-known, most fucking bloodcurdling haunting scenes from the manga are recreated perfectly, even when said scenes and setpieces in the manga would seem to be impossible to stay true to in a live-action format. if you do see the movie version –and don’t get so freaked out you have multiple borderline panic attacks like I did when I tried to sleep the next couple nights–and want more, buy or borrow the manga to get the full experience. If you do, that almost guarantees you’ll want another viewing of the movie. 

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By the way, there’s a really cool site out there called Mangashare.com. If you want to read Uzumaki  -Spiral Into Terror by Junji Ito online, free (and translated into English), you can begin scaring the shit out of yourself by starting the series using this link here. Reading these before bedtime isn’t advised, because here’s just a few images from the sheer nightmare of a manga written and drawn in vivid detail by Junji Ito:

Be glad they’re not in color.  So! After spending over an hour searching for and scanning the manga for the above handful of images, I’m not getting any sleep tonight! How about you guys?

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*Before I discovered Asian horror, that is; after that, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all to hear how disturbing the creators could make this. Especially based on a Junji Ito series.

**Here’s an interesting –and important– tidbit of trivia I found on IMDB when double-checking some facts for this re-write: “The movie was filmed before the manga had completed its run, and reveals a different ending and origins storyline than that featured in the manga.”  If they ever made a version of Uzumaki that follows the storyline and especially the original ending of the manga, it’d probably take me, oh, four or five fucking years to work up the nerve to see it.

This movie is not only a must-watch for fans of Asian horror; if you need your appetite killed for a few hours or more, this worked for me.

This movie is not only a must-watch for fans of Asian horror; if you’re trying to watch what you eat and need your appetite killed for a few hours or more, this worked for me.

 

 

 

 

Scariest Short Horror Film of the Week: Don’t Forget “The Promise” (Ghost Stories From Japan Series)

“When your name is called, you answer without fail. Just make sure you don’t forget this.”

 

This one is a slow-burn (if you’re a fan of J-horror, you’re probably already familiar with the slow, creepy pace), but it pays off. Big time. Check it out below… after dark.

When you’re in a supernatural-themed Asian horror film, if someone gives you instructions to follow while you’re staying somewhere alone, pay attention and do not fuck them up! 

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Theatrical Trailer for “Ju-on: The Beginning of the End (Ju-on: Owari No Hajimari)” Is Creepy As Hell

So, we STILL cannot find one with English subtitles for the dialogue. If you’re a Ju-on/Grudge fan, though, you don’t really need to know the translation; it’s still scary as hell:

Sadly, we can also find no evidence that Takako Fuji is in the movie (as Kayako). We’re keeping our fingers crossed that she at least shows up in a flashback. She pops up in this quick teaser, though, which also sends chills down our spines…

What is this Ju-On “reboot”, you ask? Well, it has to be better than the Grudge 3. Anyway….  take it away, general press release:

The film was first announced at a press conference held at Akagi Shrine in Tokyo on February 26, 2014, following a spirit cleansing ceremony at the shrine. Filming began soon thereafter on March 4, 2014. Beginning of the End is set to premiere on June 28, 2014 in Japan.

Unlike the previous two installments, White Ghost and Black Ghost, this film focuses on the deceased Saeki family and its curse. An elementary school teacher named Yui (Nozomi Sasaki) visits the home of a boy named Toshio Saeki (Kai Kobayashi) who’s been absent from school for a long period of time. When she arrives, she re-lives the horrifying events that occurred in the Saeki household 10 years earlier.

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Again, no evidence of Fuji-san, and they even replaced the long-time veteran actor Takashi Matsuyama, who played shitty, homicidal jealous husband, Takeo. They even used him in Grudge 3 (insert my own croaking noise here), while they re-cast Kayako for that one. OK, I can see not using the same Toshio, for the obvious reasons that the actor is human and therefore doesn’t look like a little boy anymore. But Kayako and Takeo?

Tayako Fuji as Kayako Saeki

The One and Only Takako Fuji as Kayako Saeki

OK, don’t get me started. We’re still going to see it… but if they do a stair-crawl, they better use footage of Takako Fuji from… well, there’s at least 3 to choose from.

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Horror Boom’s Ten Scariest Asian Horror Movies Ever Made: #9: “Three Extremes” (2004)

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Straight up: do not watch the first segment of this movie, Fruit Chan’s “Dumplings”  if you’re pregnant (this may even be a bad movie for men whose wives/girlfriends are pregnant—though there is beautiful Bai Ling to look at). In fact, if a list existed of terrible movie choices to watch when ‘expecting’, I’m pretty sure it’d be in the top 10, along with Inside. Don’t eat while you’re watching it unless you have a very strong stomach. Though if you DO decide to eat, just make sure you are not eating …dumplings.*

Here’s the trailer for Three… Extremes:

Here’s a scene from “Dumplings”, though it could be spoiler-ish and isn’t exactly crystal-clear quality…

There’s a clip of the disturbing final scene on You Tube, but not only will it spoil the movie, it’s not as disturbing out of context. Just watch the entire film, it’ll earn the pay off.

Don’t expect much from the Park Chan-Wook segment, which is the only piece of cinema he wrote and directed that wasn’t spellbindingly above-par. I guess even the most talented, skillful, and hard-working among us drop the ball once or twice in their careers. Most reviews—by fans and critics alike—point to “Cut” as the weakest of the three films.  The fake-out opening was great, there was a twist or two, but it became a little too torture porny-y for my tastes. I’ll have to check and see if his longtime DP collaborated with him on this one, as it didn’t have the usual beauty and composition nearly every shot of a Chan-Wook Park film has.

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The Miike segment (“Box”) managed to scare me the most -and there was barely any blood. Replacing gore (though there is some disturbing imagery, it’s nothing compared to Miike’s usual bloodbaths), is a creeping dread that builds and builds until you get to a scary mental place where, if you’re not covering your eyes, you’ll want to. I’ve had to cover my eyes in two other features directed by Miike, but for different reasons. During the intense torture scenes in Imprint (the “censored segment” from Showtime’s Masters of Horror series) and Audition,**  I was covering my eyes out of squeamishness. In “Box,” I was covering my eyes because I was actively frightened of what I *might* see. Just the goddamned screen cap below from the trailer makes me feel uneasy.

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*Especially ones that crunch delicately when you bite into them.

**it is worth noting that Imprint‘s torture scene is definitely harder to watch than the notorious torture scene in Audition, though the latter’s sequence did make me briefly wince and cover my eyes protectively. If there’s anyone out there that can watch Imprint and remain perfectly calm and composed inside and out through the entire running time… then I don’t think I want to meet that person at all, let alone in a dark alley.

 

S.H. Figuarts The Ring Sadako Yamamura

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Oh, this is to die for. Especially the TV and VHS tapes it comes with. 4,536 yen converts to about $44.00 US, and with the shipping costs…  it would almost be worth it to have it out on the coffee table, though!

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For plenty more REALLY cool photos, click “View Original” in the lower left.

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Film Review: ‘Killers’

OK, we’re not sure whether this review is an endorsement to horror/gore fans (sounds like you damn well better be into both if you plan on seeing it) or a warning. When a review describes a J-horror slasher/action movie as “utterly depraved” and “profoundly sleazy,” that’s going to get it in our watch list. On the other hand, the VERY red band trailer on Dread Central (which you can watch here on their site, there’s no You Tube link) does look sort of torture porn-y (even very ‘cinematic and sophisticated’ torture porn, as Variety’s reviewer Rob Nelson tells us). Every female in the trailer is a victim; though men are the victims of burnings and throat-slashings, the female victim’s deaths shown are more lingering and focused, with a little bit of the what the hell is wrong with me, purposely sitting through this?‘ vibe of self-disgust that certain graphic Japanese horror movies can give you. On the other hand, when a review actually tells you (in a one-word sentence) “Beware”, and is talking about the horrifying content rather than the worthlessness of sitting through the film, we’re not going to rule it out. Since the Sundance premiere on February 1st (we’re willing to guess at least a few moviegoers were heading for the exits during the brutal opening scene), North American distribution has been picked up by Well Go USA.

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The Grudge (2004) – VERY Scary Apartment Scene Will Make You Sleep With The Lights On! (HD)

NOTE: Yes, this is a re-print of an article originally published on November 26, 2012. Why a re-run, you ask? Due to missing over a week of postings in late May (got kicked in the ass by pneumonia and the unexpected death of a good friend) things got pretty sparse here as everything else went out the window at the time …so I’m filling them in (and back-dating them for the days we were on the disabled list) in with cool stuff and postings you may have missed the first time they were printed, because I hadn’t fully understood how to publicize properly back then.. Enjoy.

HORROR BOOM

When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage…

It’s almost impossible to pick the ten–hell, I’d have to really apply myself to get it down to twenty– scariest scenes or moments from the Ju-On (AKA The Grudge) series, let alone the scariest. OK, that’d be the stair-crawl,  but you get the idea. However, I’m pretty sure that this scene would probably make the top ten. Full of creepy moments (seeing Toshio pass by the elevator on EVERY goddamn floor, seeing your husband through the peephole and opening the door to the sight of an empty hall), Shimizu saves the best scare in the scene for last.

We doubt it’s necessary to sell you on Asian horror knowing exactly how to scare you and stand out from 90% of US horror films, but the idea of not even being safe in your own (formerly) cozy warm bed, with…

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Kristin Wiig Hosts SNL – Don’t Miss This Awesome Grudge Parody, “Aw, Nuts! Mom’s A Ghost!” – Wiig Does Kayako

Speaking of Mother’s Day, here’s one last themed treat. Someone on staff in the SNL writer’s room is a Grudge/Ju-On fan like we are! Yeah, we know Kayako isn’t a Korean water ghost*, doesn’t vomit up black goo and that it’s Sadako in The Ring that crawls out of the TV. We’d be pretty shitty J-Horror/K-Horror geeks if we didn’t get that right.

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MOM! we were trying to watch that!

So what happens when the Disney Channel does a new show about two kids whose mom gets drowned by a jealous man when she’s visiting Korea? Hilarity ensues. Plus Kristen Wiig nails it!

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Hey, watch it, mister.

Click the big red link below to watch the whole sketch (and see some very familiar moments). I couldn’t embed anything because, well, it’s Saturday Night Live which airs on NBC, and this isn’t going to pop up on You Tube any time soon.

Click here to watch “Aw Nuts, Mom’s a Ghost!” the J-Horror parody sketch on the Kristin Wiig – hosted May 11th episode of Saturday Night Live!

I don’t know about you, but if it existed, we’d watch the hell out of that show!

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Mooo-oom!

*Kayako Saeki is an Onryõ, the cultural Japanese term for a female ghost returning for vengeance! We know our stuff.

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