Directors: Hiroaki Hirakata, Hiroshi Ikezoe, Tadafumi Tomioka & Naoto Yamakawa
Rating: 4 / 5
This is a series of six Japanese short films based on local legends. Some are not scary at all, some are funny, while others are utterly terrifying. But this is a wonderful watch, nonetheless.
Peony Lamp: A young woman visits her ex lover in hopes that he has not forgotten her, since she had supposedly died. He welcomes her to his bed with open arms. He father did not want her seeing her lover, because he was of lower class, and her side of the story was that her father had lied about her death - to keep her lover from trying to see her. But the man's friend is convinced that the young woman is a ghost trying to take him back to the underworld with her, and sets out to help his friend resist his temptations in order to survive.
She-Bear: This is the best in the collection, and one of my favorite movies, short or otherwise. Two young girls are traveling through a tunnel (may be a subway, I'm not quite sure). They see a sign that says "Run away from She-Bear" and it refers to a local legend. They put it off as nonsense, until they see the creepy old lady in the corner. She carries a stuffed teddy bear around, sings creepy songs, and...kills people for their jewelry. This woman, this thing, this She-Bear is terrifying. Can the two girls run away from She-Bear?
|Terrified girls from "She-Bear"|
Yamamba: A couple of reporters are investigating a local legend about some sort of demon called Yamamba. The locals are very vague and distant, and they refuse to talk about the beast. One man finally comes clean and says that, "Whoever speaks of Yamamba gets eaten by Yamamba." They decide to look for the demon and end up getting lost in the woods. They are taken in by a friendly young woman for the night, only for one of them to end up as dinner.
Nurarihyon: A young boy sees a spirit in his home - a lumpy-headed ghost named Nurarihyon. His magic is initiated when he says his own name, in an extremely comical way, and he likes causing mischief. Of course, the young boy gets blamed for a little while, until his mother finally discovers Nurarihyon and flips her shit. But, this ghost - like Casper - comes in peace. When their home is invaded by burglars, Nurarihyon comes to the rescue.
Heartbroken Trip: Two friends decide to take a trip after one's ass of a boyfriend breaks up with her. One of the girls is late getting to the hotel, but assures her friend that she will be there as soon as she can. She tells her that there has been a terrible accident on the highway and it is backing up traffic. Meanwhile in the hotel, one of the girls is starting to see creepy things - ghosts that seem to be incredibly pained. She almost has a nervous breakdown, when her friend finally arrives. The friend makes a speech about their friendship and fond memories, and when she wakes up in the morning, her friend is gone. She finds out a little while later that her friend was not telling the whole truth about the accident.
Lost Souls: A young couple is taking a drive and looking for a place to eat. They go into a little noodle shop, where the place mats read: "Do not look." A strange family enters, and the waiter will not look at them as he takes their orders. He instructs the young couple not to look at the family if they wish to go straight home, but the woman cannot resist. She looks, and they get stuck on a stretch of road, driving repeatedly by the same spot. It seems that this family, after driving off the bridge and into the lake, would like some new friends.
These stories are quite nice, though not all of them are scary. Some are sad (Heartbroken Trip), some funny (Nurarihyon); but some others are downright scary. My favorites in this are She-Bear and Lost Souls. While the collection is good, I would give it three stars for the most part; but that extra star goes to She-Bear alone. It is definitely worth it for any other J-horror fans out there.