Horror Movies Reviews

The Summer of Spook Review: Jigoku (1960)

The Criterion Collection cover of Jigoku.

The Summer of Spook Review #3

People fear death and the afterlife. They fear the punishment that they will receive for their sins and misdeeds. Films have explored death, the afterlife, demons, Satan, and Hell, but none have explored it with the same emotional and psychological horror present in Nobuo Nakagawa’s Jigoku. Jigoku doesn’t position the demons or devils of Hell as the tormentors but instead has the people in Hell tortured through their own guilt. The tormentors of Hell do torture and harm the people who have descended into Hell, but the movie shows people as their own tormentors plagued by guilt, and that manifests into torture and horrific bodily harm.

Jigoku tells the story of a young man named Shiro (Shigeru Amachi). Shiro is a theology student that is well-liked by his professor. He has recently gotten engaged to his professor’s daughter, his fiancee is possibly pregnant with their child, and everyone seems to think he has a bright future ahead of him, but Shiro is tormented by a hit and run that he and his friend Tamura (Yoichi Numata) committed one evening that left a man dead. Tamura is much more cold and lackadaisical about the manslaughter, but Shiro is haunted by guilt. It isn’t long before more tragedy begins to befall Shiro. His fiancee dies, and their unborn child dies in the process, his mother becomes mortally ill, he discovers that his father is an uncaring and philanderous man who refuses to aid his ailing wife, and the lover and mother of the man killed hunt Shiro wanting revenge. Nakagawa’s presentation of this material is quite dreamlike–nightmarish probably makes more sense–and surreal. The character of Tamura is unlike any other in the film, and his presence in the film adds to the surreal quality that persists throughout the entirety of the film. Tamura’s actor, Yoichi Numata, even expressed his confusion in the role and was unsure how exactly to play him. He comes across as devilish, and I was waiting for the film to reveal that he was tormenting Shiro as a ghost or Prince of Hell, but instead, he ends up in Hell tormented for his multitude of sins. 

Tormented by the fires of Hell.

Jigoku is an incredibly cynical film. There is no sign of hope or paradise anywhere to be found. The only redemption that anyone can receive comes in the form of endless torment in the depths of Hell. Nakagawa never dangles an ounce of hope in front of your face. From the start of the film, you know that it ends in Hell and torment. The end did leave me questioning whether or not Shiro had gained some form of redemption. In the end, Shiro’s lover and sister beckon him from afar, and where they are standing looks nothing like the Hell that he has just gone through, but having watched the movie I feel that the end may be a trick and a false sense of hope to lure the audience into believing that is some form of a happy ending. Ichiro Miyagawa joked about Heaven being in the sequel, but that was only a joke.

Jigoku is an emotionally taxing movie. The literal and figurative Hell that Shiro goes through is devastating and horrific to watch. Jigoku is a nightmarish portrayal of guilt and Hell. It is probably one of the most terrifying portrayals of Hell I have seen put to film. It is a masterpiece of horror cinema and an essential entry into the genre that shouldn’t be overlooked, but prepare to be tormented by the psychological, emotional, and violent horror present on the screen.

Rating 5/5

Movies Reviews

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) Review

Tetsuo: The Iron Man. This is nothing like Marvel’s Iron Man!

The Spring of Sci-Fi #16

To say Tetsuo: The Iron Man is one of the most bizarre movies I have ever seen is an understatement. When I initially watched this film over a week ago, I was planning to write a review on it immediately, but after it ended I didn’t have the words to express how I felt. Tetsuo is a truly unique experience, and trying to put into words what is presented on-screen visually is quite difficult. Oftentimes I find myself recounting plot points in my reviews and I feel that undermines the visual element of filmmaking and film viewing. Tetsuo: The Iron Man is not concerned with telling a neat plot; instead, the director aims to create an atmosphere with its visual body horror.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man was released in 1989 and has become a cult classic. The film was directed by Shinya Tsukamoto who directs the film with a frenzied energy which I haven’t seen in many films. The story concerns a metal fetishist, played by director Shinya Tsukamoto, who after getting an infection from inserting a piece of metal into his thigh runs into the streets and is hit by a Business Man, played by Tomorowo Taguchi, and his Girlfriend, played by Kei Fujiwara. The Business Man and his Girlfriend dispose of the body and are haunted by a metal virus that begins taking over different hosts to get revenge on them. This movie is reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s body horror films and David Lynch’s Eraserhead. The events of the movie unfold like a nightmare. Logic and reason are abandoned for madness and insanity. To clarify how insane this movie is: at one point as the Business Man is infected by the metal virus, his penis turns into a power drill.

This is less of a review and more of a lengthy recommendation. Tetsuo is a phenomenal movie that needs to be witnessed. I could tell you plot points or point out how frantic the editing is, but ultimately this is a movie that relies too heavily on surrealism and visuals to adequately explain. Shinya Tsukamoto wonderfully directs this frenzied film and created a cult classic. Tetsuo is a movie that invites multiple re watches and interpretations. Please give this movie a watch if you want to watch something insane and surreal. It is a unique experience that no other movie can give you.

Rating 4/5

Gaming Japan streaming Twitch

N1A Streams: Yakuza 0

Last night, we went from mainstream games to indie games. Tonight, we’re doing it again. We’re going to spend the night in Japan. Come chill and chat on Twitch at robertfrowniejr.

Batman DCAU Movies

Batman: Ninja

There are plenty of Batman stories to read, watch, or play. Batman: Ninja is truly a different Batman story. What would it be like if Batman operated in Japan? Ancient Japan that is. In this movie, Batman is transported to Japan in a mission that involves time travel.

Gorilla Grodd created a time machine to use against the villains of Gotham City. Grodd is a villain that is not normally seen in Batman animated movies. Grodd being an antagonist in this film gives the Batman animated movies fresh material. Grodd’s plan is to send the Gotham villains to the past, so Grodd can take over the city. Batman interferes which causes Grodd, Batman, and all of the villains to get sent to the past to Japan.

It’s clearly evident that this film’s stylistic choices are inspired by anime. The animation of the characters is odd. Characters move robotically and rigidly. There are beautiful nature shots in the film, such as rain falling over the forest where Batman keeps his hideout. The character designs are an artistic fusion of Japanese art while keeping true to the DC characters.

The plot makes odd choices in its storytelling. For example, in ancient Japan, the villains create robotic fortresses. There would’ve been no way for this to happen in reality. The robotic fortresses can turn into one gigantic robot if the villains bring the fortresses together. Batman’s idea for stopping the robot is even more absurd. Batman takes Grodd’s device that controls monkeys. He makes the monkeys come together to form a towering monkey. After that, he calls upon bats to combine with the monkeys to make a Batman as tall as the robot. It’s epic, but ridiculous. The movie should’ve played it safe. It could’ve been a stealthy Batman flick where he has to be a ninja in order to take out his foes.

Batman: Ninja is an artsy film with crazy plot choices. I do recommend watching for anime fans. It is something different from the Batman universe. The movie is a fun, over-the-top adventure.

Overall rating: 3/5.