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Kadokawa Mystery & Horror Tales: Volume 1 (Akaishi Tomoyuki 2005)


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Kadokawa Mystery & Horror Tales: Vol. 1
[Kadokawa Horaa Bideokan: zekkyou yashiki e youkoso hen]

Genre: Three Tales of Horror or Karmic Woe

review in one breath

This is the first in a series of three collections released by Kadokawa Films. Each collection contains three tales by (potentially) up and coming directors versed in either supernatural horror or dismal karmic consequence.


intro

This and the other two Kadokawa collections were recently released in Region 1 subtitled versions under the general title of Kadokawa Mystery & Horror Tales (Vol, 1, 2 & 3). Whereas, for the most part, the directors represented in these collections have held only "assisitant director" titles prior to these films, it would be fair to deem these as a "low calorie" version of Three Extremes or Kaidan Shin Mimi Bukuro (both collections of various directorial works).

Links to my reviews of the other volumes:

Volume One (current review)
Volume Two
Volume Three

Although not reflected in the collections' English titles, each collection has a distinct subtitle, presumably referring to either one of the stories or an over-arching theme. (I'll be able to verify this after watching the other collections.) The current collection's Japanese subtitle is zekkyou yashiki e youkoso hen, which I would translate "Welcome to the House of Screams". (And this seems intended to correspond to the theme of the first story in this collection.)

In classic (and inexplicable) Western release tradition, the collections released to the West do not parallel the Japanese collections. In other words, for example, the Western version (volume 1) I am here reviewing is comprised of one story from Japan's first collection and two stories from Japan's second collection. Please don't ask me why. (I mention this here solely because we always spend way too much time figuring this out for other collections.) Thus, I'll specify the original order in my story descriptions for this series.

The following are brief descriptions of the three stories contained in volume 1.

Mei Nichi [Death Anniversary]

Genre: Supernatural horror

Original Japanese Appearance: Story number 2 of Volume 1

This tale is directed by Akaishi Tomoyuki whose only directorial work consists of three "films", one in each of the three (ORIGINAL) Kadokawa collections. (See below for explanation.) The lead role here is played by Mizukami Asami whom you will recognize from Shibuya Kaidan 1 & 2, Dark Water, and Kindaichi Shonen.

This story follows the plight of a family which moves into a house with a tragic history. The weakest member of the family soon proves vulnerable to the spiritual forces and though tell-tale signs slowly emerge, no one realizes the real nature of the malevolence until its strange cycle of curse soon engulfs the entire family. (NOTE: Although my summary sounds strikingly similar to Ju-On, this tale is quite different... though now as I reflect upon it, there is also a cat involved. Hmmm.)


Cruel Kidnapping

Genre: Implausible tale of criminal misfortune

Original Japanese Appearance: Story number 2 of Volume 2

This tale is ALSO directed by Akaishi Tomoyuki but seems much weaker in content than the preceding story. In fact, this particular tale is the weakest link in the entire series of nine tales. It is only one of two tales in the entire series which lacks any supernatural element and focuses instead upon a basic karmic principle. (Ie, foolishness and greed reap folly and unfortunate consequences.)

This tale follows the wholly immoral money-lover Kamijo, whose infant is suddenly kidnapped for a ransom of 3 million yen. Though completely broke through unsuccessful schemes of his own, he embarks on a foolish and ultimately tragic path which discards any remnant of common sense (and thus seemed to me to be wholly unbelievable). I'm not quite sure of the implicit moral lesson of this tale other than "Don't be an moronic a**hole".


Desire to Kill

Genre: PLAUSIBLE tale of criminal misfortune

Original Japanese Appearance: Story number 3 of Volume 2

This tale is directed by Nakanishi Kenji who (among 13 films) was assitant director alongside director Nagasaki Shunichi on the film Shikoku. (At last, a little experince, eh?) This film marks his directorial debut and his second (and only other) directed work is in Volume 2 of this series.

This story has some rather significant twists will could easily be the convincing foundation for an eery film of greater length. The emphasis here is upon originally unthinkable human responses in the face of sudden uncontrollable circumstance. And the influences directing these reactions are wholly believable and intuitable. In my opinion, Nakanishi's directorial skill is the most memorable and promising within this collection.


verdict

As I said above, this is indeed a "lite" version of other mainstream collections you may have seen. The redeeming value of seeing this is (a) to see what may indeed be the bud of a blossoming career for director Nakanishi Kenji, and (b) to check out the major horror cutie Mizukami Asami as a freaked out gal who once again is being approached by a creepy little girl.

Version reviewed: Region 1 subtitled DVD available via mainstream US venues.

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Here's a window into the newest directorial talent being groomed for greater things. Depictions of brutality, murder and dead people. No sex, but a couple HOTTIES. New ideas by new directors in the "horror" genre.

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