Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day #14 Hideshi Hino lets the Dead Girl Strut her stuff

For Day #14 of the Halloween Horror Challenge I stopped back into the work/studio of Japanese Madman Hideshi Hino and his THEATER OF HORROR!!!


Another entry in the shot for the home video market of short horror flicks based on stories by Japan's Manga comic master of the macabre Hideshi Hino (see the entry for BOY FROM HELL for details about Hino). This episode deals with a teenage girl who suddenly when morning dies without any rhyme or reason while watering her precious flower in her bedroom. the problem is that she is still mobile and moving around like normal. The local doctor pronounces her dead and her family immediately starts treating her like a pariah. They encase her room in plastic and ignore her as much as possible. But when she begins to stink they decide she is too much to bear and promptly decide to embalm her, against her will. All this does is make her mobility even worse, causing more bruising and rot to set in. So the family bonds together deciding to cremate her to get her out of their lives leading to a bedroom blood bath, that leaves her mother with one less eye and her little sister dead. Neither of which is her fault, but causes her to go on the run nonetheless. On the road she will encounter her old friends who are naturally terrified of her, an unsympathetic farmer and a charleton who wants to add her to his freakshow. All while rotting away even further.

This neat little short seems to be making some commentary on inter-family relationships and how parents can't seem to relate to their children. How they only can deal with them when they are perfect in their eyes, but there is a problem they rush to get rid of them as fast as they can. The movie also seems to be making a commentary on dealing with death as well on how some folks refuse to acknowledge it. Wanting instead to immediately get rid of every ounce of the loved one, so they don't have to feel their presence anymore. Better they should be gone for good than to feel any sort of pain or sorrow. The parents in this movie, never feel any sadness or regret at their daughter's passing. As soon as she is announced dead they immediately go to shame, and then anger without passing go. Perhaps there is a very Japanese commentary in there, but of course not being from Japan, I
cannot be sure on that. The end of the movie, which I will not give away, comments on the whole circle of spirit thing, with how one cannot die, without feeding the cosmos in some way, continuing the cycle.

Stylistically this is very interesting. Even though shot on video, there is a lot of care in the look and feel of this episode. It starts out in color, and then once she dies, it goes to black and white and remains that way, except for one flashback and the final shot. The entire movie is from the dead girl's point of view as the world has been drained of all color. It is also shot and scored like a classic 1930's horror film. The dead girl becomes a classic monster ala Frankenstein or one of Lon Chaney's creations where she is put upon and hunted, though she is a pathetic creature who has done absolutely nothing wrong and deserves our sympathy. She is hunted for being different and suffering. Even the score reminds one of the movies from that era. Another nice touch is that she has no dialogue once she is dead. All she has is an internal monologue that we see as on screen inter titles, not unlike a silent film would use. So her world is completely alien and closed off, with only us the viewers being part of it.

The only thing that doesn't really work is the climax. I can see were it would have worked in a comic book (were I am sure this originated) but as a movie it comes off cheap, silly and out of place. the movie is clearly going for a tragic climax, then tries to go around it, and then circle back. Plus the digital effect used is sub-public access phony and takes you so far out of the proceedings that it is hard to get back in for the final bit, which is rather touching.

With this being a movie called DEAD GIRL WALKING I am sure the gore hounds are wanting to know if it delivers. There is some gore on hand as she falls apart, with her tongue and arm falling off. Most nasty is a scene where her colon and intestines drop out of her ass while she is on stage at the geek show. That even took me for a loop, though it is more sad than outright gross. The slaughter/ knife fight with her family at the mid-point has some arterial spray that you have come to expect in Japanese movies as well.

All in all a fun and fairly rewarding entry into this series. I'm looking forward to the rest of them.

This APHEX TWIN video for RUBBER JOHNNY doesn't have a god damned thing to do with HIDESHI HINO or this series. But it is super damn creepy and the deformed monster kid in it reminds me of something that would being one of Hino's comics. Since i can't find anymore clips on line from this series, this will have to do.

Reviews © Andy Copp

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