The long haired female ghost has become such an iconic if overused convention in Japanese horror that it seems an easy and obvious target for parody – and one might assume from the absurdly over the top plot of this film that this is the case here. But, perhaps not. Director Sion Sono takes the nonsensical premise and delivers it with such a twisted rapid fire straight-faced seriousness that you have to wonder if it is a sly put on or not. Though it certainly skips happily across the top of a seemingly crazed spoof, it contains more than enough authentic creepy and freaky scenes to warm the black hearted cockles of most horror fans. But then what else would someone expect from the director who sent fifty school girls to their mass deaths in Suicide Circle! In the end it doesn’t really matter what the director is intending because this is simply enormously fun - perversely so perhaps but a film that will have you giggling one moment and in horrified glee the next. And it has Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill) in it. It doesn’t get much more fan boy happy than that.

It begins with two security guards patrolling the docks in Japan with one of them complaining that his nose hairs are getting wildly out of control. Those aren’t the only ones. They discover the female body of a corpse with her head completely shaved in a container crammed full of hair from top to bottom. At the autopsy it is discovered that her organs were removed and the police assume she was harvested for these and her body hidden in the container. The sleazy morgue attendant Yamazaki (Ren Osugi) has a particular interest in the corpses he cares for – a bug-eyed fetish for their hair that he will sometimes cut and sell to local salons to be used for hair extensions. He soon notices with a near orgasmic thrill that the new body is still growing beautiful lustrous hair – lots of it and very quickly.

In a nearby salon, the long-haired Yuko (Chiaki) is training hard to master the art of hair. She lives with her roommate and they talk cute in third person narrative about their lives. One evening she comes home to find that her small niece Mami (Miku Sato) has been deposited on her doorstep by her wildly neurotic and selfish party girl sister (Tsugumi). It turns out that mom likes to beat her kid a lot as well. Rarely, have I ever wanted to smack a film character so badly. Yuko decides to keep the child and becomes very protective of her – from her sister and from other sinister forces that are growing nearby. Meanwhile, Yamazaki has taken his prized corpse home and is giving it the loving slobbering care it missed while alive and in gratitude it returns his love with hair – long flowing hair in massive quantities. Yamazaki begins selling it to stores, but this hair is filled with an immense anger and it does very bad things to the women who wear it. Lovely, crazy bad things that will almost make you want to applaud.

This is much more straight forward than some of Sono’s other films. To a large degree it follows basic J-horror tradition with some object mysteriously causing the deaths of innocents and the eventual revelation of a back story that explains where the bitterness comes from. But Sono makes this so much fun with some ludicrously lovely death scenes, an over acting smarmy lunatic performance from Ren Osugi and a beautiful sweet characterization from Chiaki, an actress that I never tire of watching. Sono also spends enough time on the growing relationship between Yuko and the adorable but abused Mami so that you really care when the hair comes for them. Good stuff all around.

My rating for this film: 8.0