One of the challenges of hosting a weekly movie night is being able to come up with interesting and engaging programs week after week. Having general guidelines and sources of inspiration is important. Ideas can come from your own experience, articles or reviews you’ve read, or other friends. However, taking recommendations from others without having seen the films yourself is not without its perils. Sometimes the people giving you advice are not familiar with your desired audience, or their tastes may just be unbelievably sucky.
Because my husband and I make a point of programming things we haven’t seen, and frankly we just don’t have the time to pre-screen everything we want to show, it is often a bit of a crapshoot. Sometimes the gamble pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. However, we have been doing this long enough to notice trends in what provokes the best response from the Peanut Gallery: movies with lots of blood; movies with lots of nudity; movies that are scary. Double points to anything that happens to come from Japan, (for some reason we loves that Japanese smut). So it was with this in mind that we concocted this week’s program.
Now personally, I’m a little burnt out on the whole J-Horror genre. “Ringu” scared the ever-living f**k out of me, as did “Ringu 2”. Ju-On certainly had its moments and One Missed Call was enjoyable if only for the fact that Miike Takashi directed it. But other than that I’ve been largely underwhelmed by the current crop of Japanese scary movies. But when Sinister Sam and our good buddy Cole both recommended J-Horror flicks within weeks of each other, we were too lazy to not let the program arrange itself.
First up was Cole’s choice, “Ju-On 2”, the original Japanese sequel to the low budget smash we’d screened last year. While I was a little leery of the digital video aspect, it did promise flying wigs, which was something. Sam’s recommendation was a screener called “Infection,” which boasted a haunted hospital and a melting disease. Unfortunately in the time between his recommending it and our programming it I’d managed to forget his warning that the ending kind of tanked the whole thing.
It was another busy night with 11 people in attendance, including our new favorite newbie Will who we had successfully corrupted last week (in fact he had asked me about purchasing the “Hanzo” box set). Our friend Joe had brought along his short “Attack of the Loving Dead” which we screened beforehand, along with another local short, “Benches and Bicycles, that Sam’s brother had directed. Reaction to both shorts was favorable and I would like to invite any filmmakers wanting to get a little more exposure for their shorts to get in touch with me, as I would love to screen them. I’m sure the Peanut Gallery would love to see them, too.
Because blaring sunlight and horror movies seldom mix, we decided to start a little later than usual which also gave the chronically tardy Damon time to drag his a*s to our house. This did not preclude us from propping up our Mr. Spock cardboard standee in front of the gap between our living room curtains, but hey, what can you do? Brendan and Will were concerned about not having seen the first “Ju-On”, but we tried to explain that it was a Japanese movie curse and that any attempts we made to relate it to them would only be more confusing.
Just like “Ju-On”, “Ju-On 2” follows the same non-linear structure of vignettes all dealing with the same house-based curse and that damned little blue boy. The twist this time is that they’ve decided to film a horror movie in the house (ah, the self reflectivity!) Our first victims are a horror starlet and her fiancé who encounter the curse while driving home. Somehow they manage to hit that black cat (the one whose soul is fused to that of the little boy) and after a lot of not very scary stuff, they crash the car, killing the fiancé and causing the “horror queen” to miscarry.
Brendan remarked that from the odd, swinging camera movements it looked like “it was filmed by a vampire flying behind the car” which prompted my husband to ask who else had seen “The Twins Effect” before remembering that we had in fact programmed it way back when. Graeme mentioned that the first appearance of our little blue friend really didn’t have the same effect this time around which also gave him the opening to make a joke about him being a “freaking Smurf” or “the second coming of Krishna” (all apologies to Richard Linklater). Corinne was confused by the fact that although the starlet had injured her hand and her head, only her head was bandaged upon leaving the hospital. Owen was concerned about keeping the characters out of the blue light, since we already know that blue is bad.
The best discussion point was the little blue boy touching the starlet on the stomach with Joe wanting her to give birth to a car and Owen suggesting that maybe he was just playing tag. Mike wanted to know where the boy’s mother who said “……..” was, imitating that creepy clicking noise from the first movie that kept everyone up nights. During the next segment there were big laughs for the boyfriend playing with a Pee Wee Herman doll—on his crotch no less. Damon taunted in a sing-song voice, “the boyfriend’s toast! The boyfriend’s toast!” Brendan was still confused, but Kat, Mike and Graeme all tried to explain yet again that it didn’t matter, when all of a sudden something cool actually happened: long black hair grew out of the ceiling and strangled Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber.
Things were starting to get creepy, but people were still being chatty as hell. My husband wanted to know why they hadn’t burnt the house to the ground yet, but someone pointed out that even if you did that the ground would still be cursed. A depth of 30ft was agreed on as to how far you would have to dig down, but then what to do with the cursed dirt and ashes? “Throw it in the ocean,” yelled my husband. Owen countered, “You want to curse the ocean?”
We were still trying to sort that one out when the other actually creepy part of the movie happened, and you’ll have to take my word for this, but it involved a row of black wigs. Brendan commented that it gave him “the right kind of chills”. Poor Will was still confused. I commented on the crap music which really undermined the atmosphere built up by the excellent sound design. The one thing we could all agree on was that demonic pregnancy was the best case for a woman’s right to choose we could think of.
There was some cool photocopier possession, and then another moderately cool sequence with a girl getting pulled through a bloodstain on the floor, and although people were still yammering, there were nearly as many genuine “oh my gods” as incredulous “oh my gods”. Then, the piece de résistance. Graeme felt it necessary to reiterate his decision never to have children. My sister made an “It’s Alive” joke and everyone felt the need to comment on the recent spat of Den of Sin programming choices that involved people getting slaughtered during childbirth.
The evening continues in part two of ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: J-HORRIBLE>>>