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! 

Screen shot 2014-07-19 at 5.20.01 AM

 

Film Review: ‘Tales From the Dark Part 1’

Even though Fruit Chan‘s entry, “Jing Zhe,” is supposed to be the best segment (remember “Dumplings” from Three Extremes? If you don’t, you didn’t see the movie), we can’t wait to see the other two – the set-ups sound great to us. Hopefully we won’t have to wait more than, oh, a year (SIGH) to get a look at Tales From The Dark, Part 1 (let us know if you have any leads, because we can’t wait)!

 

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

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 the covers pulled up to your chin? If that isn’t the stuff of nightmares, we don’t know what is.

Scariest Short Horror Film Of The Week – Check Out The Disturbing Japanese Found-Footage Short: “Haunted Hospital”

Four of us from work got together and went inside the hospital to test our courage. I got separated from the rest of them…
…I think I saw something red…   –Anonymous source

I swear, I’ve been sitting through WAY too many J-horror shorts lately to make sure I have enough ‘scariest short horror film of the week’ entries for the next couple of months. At this point, I’ve got almost a dozen stand-out scary ones. Now would be a smart time for me to stop watching the creepiest ones I can find, and quit while I’m ahead!

Right off the bat, this one begins with more of a statement than a warning: The images that follow have reportedly driven many viewers to insanity or suicide.  Since it’s a very cleverly put-together found footage ‘mockumentary’, we don’t have to worry about that*, but when you’re watching dozens of these after dark, in a fairly jittery mood (presidential elections do that to me, though this isn’t as bad as 2004) it slows you down just a tad. I wasn’t scared, but it sure as hell got my attention fast. At the very least, they’ve got balls to start with it right out of the gate. BAM!

Spirit photographs are creepy enough (especially if you’ve seen the original Shutter ).  When you’re watching “Haunted Hospital” and you get to a card that says THIS:

…and even the tiniest part of your brain speaks up in a polite, cautious voice, asking  uh, do you really want to watch this?   Unless there’s a warning about animal violence, if I’m watching horror deliberately (which is 99.9% of the time, I don’t watch horror accidentally) this usually never slows me down for a second.  Now that’s what makes an impression on us horror fans. Not too shabby!

Haunted Hospital

*though many comments on You Tube from younger (well, I hope  they’re younger) viewers of this piece swear it’s real – from reading the comments, they’re not trying to start anything troll-ish , they really seem convinced. Though I suppose if you watch past the part warning that people who have seen these images have gone insane and/or blind,  some doubt exists (that or they’re really, really bored and decide to take their chances). If I thought it was real (on really scary short movies, the majority of people on You Tube, including me, scan the comments to make sure we’re not wasting our valuable minutes) from reading comments that repeatedly said so, seeing a message that The images that follow have reportedly driven many viewers to insanity or suicide  would make my brain call  Whup! Time out. How about you sleep on that and maybe check back in the daytime?   Actually, Brain, that’s a good idea. Thanks.

 

Scariest Japanese Urban Legend of the Month – Teke Teke (AKA Tek-Tek) テケテケ

A lone boy was walking home from school later than usual; dusk had just begin to hit. The streets were nearly deserted, so he was surprised to hear a sound behind him. He looked around for the source of the sound, and soon saw a lighted window. A pretty young girl his age was sitting at the window, hugging her elbows, which were propped on the open window sill…

Creepy-ass poster art from the J-Horror adaptation of the Teke Teke legend (2009)

I honestly don’t know which creeps me out more– Teke Teke or the Slit-Mouthed Woman. They both frightened the bejeezus out of me when I first discovered them… on You Tube. A few years ago. When the only internet connection in the house was also in the most dimly lit, coldest room in the house. The desk in the room can only be placed one way,  so my back was always to the door. I may have also mentioned that about this time, the two kittens we’d adopted (who I swear could violate the laws of physics) weren’t allowed in that room because there were too many irreplaceable possessions in there for them to destroy, (no matter where in the room we hid the breakable stuff), so we kept the door closed at all times. This room ALSO had the one door in the house with some kind of frame dysfunction, whereas the kittens discovered if they both hurled themselves against it enthusiastically enough*, the door would crash open so they could enter (more like ‘explode into’) the office!  You can read about my first experience with that here (funny now, NOT funny then).  My point is, imagine watching one of the scariest videos  on You Tube for the first time, sound up, after dark, then adding the door to the room crashing open so hard it bounces off the wall (with no warning whatsoever). Someone might as well have snuck in the room behind me and tossed a lit firecracker under my chair.

Which brings me to Teke Teke (テケテケ). I hadn’t heard of either of the blood-curdling, horrifying Japanese urban legends at the time, and I discovered Slit-Mouth Woman and Teke Teke within the same half hour!** Oh, what a nice ninety minutes or so of sleep in had that night …when I wasn’t having nightmares about being chased around by Slit-Mouth woman or Teke Teke.

If you think the name of the legend, ‘Teke Teke’ sounds too goofy or even too cute to be scary,  join the club …though the club membership only lasts until you get the equivalent of Teke Teke 101 by watching this:

Aaaand I stopped seeing the humor in the name too!

Here’s a retelling –this one’s actually written by yours truly– of what I thought was one of the most frightening variations of Teke Teke…

A lone boy was walking home from school later than usual; dusk had just begin to hit. The streets were nearly deserted, so he was surprised to hear a sound behind him. He looked around for the source of the sound, and soon saw a lighted window. A young girl was sitting at the window, hugging her elbows, which were propped on the open window sill.
It was unusual place for a girl his age to show up, as it was an industrial section of town. Still, he couldn’t take his eyes away from her slender silhouette, her long hair blowing in the wind as she rocked gently on her elbows. Nervous but also curious, he slowly walked closer to the window and the girl so he see her face, ask her name.
As he got closer, he thought he saw her give him a slow, inviting smile as she rocked.  It was then that she suddenly leapt out of the window and onto the ground, landing on her hands. He froze as he realized with horror that the lower half of her body, below her ribcage, was missing. The girl’s head lolled on her neck and grinned at him as she balanced on her palms.  She lowered herself down further, onto her elbows. Then she began to rapidly drag herself towards him on her hands.  Since the flesh on her elbows was partially worn away, the bones made a distinct sound on the pavement as she skittered towards him: tek tek… tek tek… tek tek…
Horrified, he moved to run but stumbled backwards and fell; the impact when he hit the ground hard temporarily knocked the wind out of him.  He tried to shuffle back on his hands and push his legs back and away, opened his mouth and inhaled a huge gulp of air. The half-girl paused for a moment.
Before he could scream, however, she sprang onto him and tore him in half at the waist.
After the police arrived at the scene the next morning, they found the boy’s remains, but no trace of the girl. And though they searched for weeks, they never did find the lower half of his body…

something tells me I’m in for some real bad dreams tonight…

There’s a third re-telling that was made into a J-horror movie (Teke Teke, then the sequel, Teke Teke 2 Electric Bugaloo). Here’s the official plot synopsis:

Yuko Oshima stars as Kana, a schoolgirl whose normal life is turned upside-down when her best friend is found brutally murdered, having been cut completely in half at the waist. Soon, Kana hears about the urban legend of “Teke Teke,” the ghost of a legless woman who was found dismembered years ago and now haunts the railway station. If you see her, in three days you will be killed. In a race against time, Kana must search for the truth in order to escape the horrific fate that awaits her.

I’ve looked all over the goddamned internet to try to obtain or watch either movie in the series, but so far, no go. I did find a creepy trailer, though…

Plus a trailer for the sequel, which seems to be bloodier. Like, a lot.

If I do track these down, trust me, you’ll be the first to know. If you find the first one, every single review sternly advises that you stay after the end credits, which tie the two movies together.  I’ll also report back if I can locate the manga Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, which apparently cuts to the chase and features victims just being pushed in front of the tracks right off the bat.  The other version I found of the legend takes place in a bathroom stall (if you know much about Asian urban legends, you’ll know bathroom stalls–especially in any kind of school– are not the safest place to be when you’re alone.

In that version, Teke Teke (who again, lost her legs on the train tracks) haunts bathroom stalls and will ask the occupant where her legs are. Answering incorrectly will result in having your legs promptly ripped off. To save yourself you must answer and tell her that her legs are at the Meishin Railway. I don’t know what happens after that, but now you know what to do in the situation.***

*and LOUDLY enough, of course…

**I also discovered “Red Cloak”, and “No Face,” among other horrifying Asian Urban Legends , but let’s spread the sleep-with-the-lights-on posts out a little, huh? Good, I’d rather dial down the nightmares a little bit too.

***Also, if you run into the slit-mouthed woman, I’ve heard you should toss something shiny on the ground–or some candy– and run. Riiiight. Yeah, you know what, I’m not going to Japan any time soon.

If you see this, well, bad news …you’re fucked.

Make a wish

Cinderella (South Korea, 2006) – This Ain’t No Fairy Tale

 

Make a wishI have a list of “Top Ten Scariest Asian Movies” on IMDB. Cinderella (2006, directed by Man-dae Bong), may have been the weakest in my list; then I saw the skin-crawling Thai movie Coming Soon and decided it had earned a place. So I ended up bumping Cinderella, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to give this creepy Korean thriller its props. If you love K-Horror, this deserves a look. Yes, it has one or two elements that appear frequently in other Asian horror movies; the lead character finding out a horrible secret, a couple scary-ass ‘ghost girls’ that move/crab-crawl in a creepily unnatural manner, their long wet hair covering the dead white faces. In all fairness, I should point out that except in some extreme cases, I personally never get tired of this formula and the common images. Never gets any less scary, I cringe every time  I get the feeling one is about to pop out or swoop down. If I’m watching them after dark with all the lights off, sometimes I chicken out and hit ‘mute’ (but many times, still find myself sinking lower and lower, and in a couple of cases, peeking out from behind a pillow) . If you’re just completely goddamned sick of them and want something brand-new, perhaps you should give this one a pass. Either way, I advise watching the trailer for a good idea of the tone and art direction in the movie; there are few spoilers, which we horror fans always appreciate in a trailer.

Trust me, they had it coming!

The lead’s classmates are a bunch of mean-spirited little bitches! Trust me, they had this coming…

[30+ minutes of fruitless searching. on my Macbook Pro later] Guess what? I couldn’t find one subtitled in English! I had one carefully set away for this post, stored in more than one place, then boom, gone from my playlist.  Well, this way you’ll really be going in clean. Here’s. the poster art, thanks to our friends at Tartan Asia Extreme

Why the title? Don’t expect any glass slippers, but there is a connection. To tell you would be to give too much away, though…

I gave Cinderella seven out of ten stars rather than the nine to ten stars I traditionally give to perfect, borderline-soiling-yourself-in-utter-terror Asian horror masterpieces such as  Shutter and Shimizu’s Ju-on series. Cinderella begins with a hauntingly memorable pre-credits sequence. A dreamy image of slender candles being carefully lit on a child’s birthday cake; in the darkness, all you can see are what the warm candlelight reveals-a pair of female hands and the decorated cake. We see the hands gracefully lifting the cake and carrying it down a corridor, so dark that the cake nearly appears to be gently floating to its destination all on its own. Birthday candles on a cake, that’s a familiar, comforting, memory, right? The lilting music-box playing is… oh, I can’t do it justice right now, so just check out this teaser trailer (no English subtitles, but you’ll get the idea):

…and the fairy-tale spell is jarringly broken. That’s the kind of punch this movie is capable of packing. Some parts, especially the first act, suffer from pacing issues, dragging down the film (and viewer a bit). But get ready for the last act-it grabs your ankle like a cold

Yeah, I decided to go with the natural look after all.

Things I’ve Learned After it Was Too Late, Vol. 24: don’t work on the Cinderella gallery when you have a sinus infection that already hurts like hell.

hand from under your bed.  Through flashbacks, there’s a pretty classic, even Gothic, sick back story that stuck with me. There’s a couple hints, but it turns out to be way uglier (no pun intended-if you’ve seen the movie you’ll get the unintentional play on words) than anyone imagined. I also actually started talking back to the flat screen TV a couple times (if I’d seen it in a theater and said the same things at that volume, I would have been asked by an usher to calm down).  I’ve noticed that South Korean chillers like “A Tale of Two Sisters” or Korean crime-revenge thrillers like “I Saw the Devil” and “Memories of Murder” consistently get me so hooked in that (more than once) I almost blew off a deadline because I HAD to know what happened.

VERY bad sign after surgery in a K-horror movie

There’s no possible way that’s gonna end well…

I saw that many reviewers cited the movie for being ‘too melodramatic’ and ‘more like some soap opera’. I can see a base argument ( I guess) for ‘melodramatic’ ; fair enough, I suppose (though I personally don’t agree-how calm would you be if you walked in a room just as your daughter hanged herself –on her birthday?). However, a SOAP? Jesus, if so, I’d like to ask what the hell kind of fucked-up soaps YOU’VE been watching?*  Do they include images of someone trying to slice their own face into gory ribbons? The only thing on TV right now that is a ‘horror-drama’ and would even come close to this claim is American Horror Story. Actually, if you’re a big fan of the show AHS –like I am–you’ll probably enjoy this movie.

 I ended up giving it 7/10 rather than 10/10 for the following reasons: the lead character’s (who has at least graduated high school) mother doesn’t look a day over thirty. Tops. I know Asian women usually look fantastic for their age (Bai Ling was born in, I think, 1966 and still doesn’t have one line on her face) but here it’s sort of distracting (and kind of creepy if you do the math). The film suffered from some pacing issues as I mentioned above–it could have been tightened up by removing 10 minutes or so. Finally, the ending is too close to one of those, “uh…YOU decide how it ended!” types. With pretty solid storytelling throughout, it was slightly irritating to not have at least one major character’s fate resolved, instead of having the narrative just sort of flap away on slow wings. Yeah, Cinderella is no Tale of Two Sisters or The Eye (then again, nothing is) but if you’re looking for some Korean-style genre scares and a twist or two you didn’t see coming, there’s much worse ways (and much worse movies to watch, trust me) to spend 100 minutes. As long as you weren’t really planning on sleeping like a log that night…

Never mind, I'll come back later when you're in a better mood.

Bad body language for an Asian horror film…

*Well, Nip/Tuck did get messed up enough to have sponsors pull advertising towards the end, but that’d probably fall under FX Drama, not ‘night-time soap’. Oh hey–AHS is from the creators of Nip/Tuck. Suddenly, now it makes sense. I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection until now. I have a piece I wrote coming up called, “Ten F-cked Up Things That Happen on Nip/Tuck”, and it practically wrote itself, it could easily be twenty and I wouldn’t have to shake the tree at all.

This Ain't No Fairy Tale