Unholy Women

This three part horror omnibus has three different directors and three very different themes and styles. What they surprisingly have in common is how enjoyable I found them all because my experience with these Japanese low budget horror trilogies has not been very positive in general. I rarely come away feeling satisfied and full. One story might be excellent but the others usually turn out to be weak sisters or they all tend to feel overly influenced by other better known films/directors. These segments veer wildly in mood from frantically bizarre to freaky black comedy to a more restrained and traditional J-horror set up that is truly upsetting in its subject matter. They are each about 30 minutes in length and deal with the skewed scary female psyche that we have come to love so much!

Rattle Rattle
Dir: Keita Amemiya (Zeiram I and II, Moon Over Tao)

This short film makes very little sense and makes no real attempt to do so – it is basically a joyful 30-minute exercise in jump scares and fearful motion. Kanako (Noriko Nakagushi) returns home from a date with her fiancé Akira only to apparently have something fall on top of her from a building apartment and knock her out. When she comes to she first sees a little girl who may or may not be alive and when she gets into her apartment she receives a scared call from Akira that his ex-wife has a knife and is on the loose. Suddenly, someone is in her apartment - a freakish woman in red with a knife, an ability to crawl along the ceiling and a desire to kill Kanako. And she rattles when she moves. The film becomes a frantic frightening chase as Kanako tries to find someone to help her, but oddly no one seems to be around. This has a wonderful creaky Marronier feel to it that is very wacky, fun and nerve wracking.

Dir: Takuji Suzuki (Adrenaline Drive)

This film is so warped and funny that I nearly coughed up my lunch. Told in complete straight-faced seriousness, it is a first date of an unusual kind. Sekiguchi is a young man working in a car repair shop and his boss (Teruyuki KAGAWA) asks him to please do him a favor and take his innocent sister Hagana on a date. He shows him a picture of a young lovely girl and the quiet Sekiguchi agrees. When he shows up the next day, his date has a large burlap bag covering her from head to thigh (still exposing a mini skirt and some very nice legs) and Sekiguchi is too shy to ask why and his boss offers no explanation – just threatens to kill him if anything happens to his sister. In the car, the first thing Sekiguchi notices is a grasshopper that seems to come out from between her legs. It only gets worse as the girl constantly runs into things or falls into the river – but Sekiguchi finds himself oddly sexually drawn to her – especially when she uses her toes to write in blood – “more” and uses them to physically turn him on – but when he tries to untie the bag, bloody red meat falls out. Freaking out at this point he kicks her out and tries avoiding her but she hunts him down with blow darts from behind her burlap bag. This may be one of the oddest films I have come across – and one of the funniest sick things ever.

The Inheritance
Dir: Keisuke Toyoshima
Supervised by: Takashi Shimizu

One can clearly feel the Shimizu influence in this one – an eerie tale of ghosts and a family secrets that is if not particular scary, very disturbing. After a divorce Saeko and her small son return to live with her creepy muttering mother in her dark old house. The grandmother wants nothing to do with them and warns them to leave as soon as possible before something bad happens. This opens up the memories of Saeko who recalls that her brother went missing many years ago when he was seven years old and was never found. One day she goes into the rarely used shed and when she comes out she seems changed – and before long her son Michio finds her very distant and ominous – but she’s mom and you have to trust your own mother, don’t you? This is a chilling little dark piece of family horror.

Rating for the entire film: 7.5 – with Hagana being one of my all time favorite short films.