japan

“Attack on Titan” is easily the biggest thing to happen in anime in over a decade. Personally, I don’t remember anyone making a really big deal about any series since the six episode mini-series of “Fooly Cooly,” and to be honest, as good as “Fooly Cooly” is, I don’t remember even it getting this kind of buzz. However, after watching the twenty-five episode first season it’s not hard to understand how “Attack on Titan” gained such a following.

“Snake Woman’s Curse” follows the plight of a Japanese family that is indebted to a feudal land owner and forced to work for him as slaves. After the father of the family dies, the land owner tears down the wife and daughter’s house, and forces them to work for him weaving clothing for the next ten years to pay off their debt. The mother is killed by the landowner while trying to rescue a snake from being killed and then the daughter kills herself after being raped repeatedly by the landowner’s son.

“Jigoku” is both an incredible and truly bizarre film. The director of the movie, Nobuo Nakagawa, made 97 films over the course of his career, which is an ungodly large number by American standards (only two other of his films are easily available in the States, i.e. "The Ghost Story of Yotsuya" and "Snake Woman’s Curse"). If you think of a current director like Quentin Tarantino maybe making one movie every four years, many Japanese directors at the time, were making four or more movies every single year.

Koala Kacho seems to have everything going for him: he’s the vice-president of a pickle manufacturing plant, he has a beautiful girlfriend, and he’s about to seal a huge business deal with a South Korean kimchi company. Things couldn't get much better for a giant suit-and-tie-wearing koala right? Only he has one problem: sometimes he blacks out at night and then the women in his life end up dead.

A group of pirates hijack a boat to steal it’s cargo and in the process maliciously gun down everyone on board. Months later the ship continues to reappear off the coast and a young girl named Yoriko feels strangely drawn to this ghost ship. She makes her way on board to find out her twin sister was among those who had been murdered, and soon afterwards the gunmen begin to die one at a time.

It’s pretty bizarre to me that, as notorious as the film “Audition” is, I’d somehow I’d made it this long without either watching it or even so much as hearing any of the specifics of the movie. In fact the only thing I’d really known about this movie is that it was one of the films that helped inspire “Hostel,” thereby helping to launch the “torture-porn” craze in horror here in the States.

“Empire of Passion” is a Japanese film about a young man who becomes infatuated with an older married woman, who then eventually rapes her and convinces her to help him murder her husband so that they can be together. They strangle the husband and toss his body into an old well. Eventually the ghost of the dead husband comes back to haunt them and their lives begin to unravel.

I've got a lot of nostalgia for movies like "The Ring" and "The Grudge." I didn't really grow up with horror movies, so at the time these came out, "horror" basically meant: "I Know What You Did Last Summer" movies, the later and more embarrassing sequels of "Halloween," and a whole host of "Scream" knock-offs.

Every now and then I’ll stumble across a movie at my university library that I imagine someone must have snuck by an unwitting librarian. Such is the case with "Blind Beast", a bizarre Japanese sexploitation film from 1969.

Blind Beast tells the story of a blind sculptor who is so obsessed with a particular nude model that he decides to kidnap her with the help of his mother, and take her back to his art studio in the hopes of creating an entirely new genre of art for blind people (and doing a lot of groping).

In "Kuroneko", a woman and her daughter-in-law are raped and murdered by a roving band of samurai. After their death the woman and her daughter-in-law swear their loyalty to the devil in order for them to be able to return to the world as cat-like ghosts and kill every samurai they possibly can. They then lure unsuspecting samurai to their home, deep in a bamboo forest, where the daughter-in-law proceeds to get the samurai drunk and seduce them. When the samurai are at their most vulnerable the mother and daughter-in-law reveal their true forms and kill them.