Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 Days of Halloween - Day 14 - Movie 2

Dark Tales of Japan (2004) is a made for tv movie made up of short scary films each handled by a different director. The connecting device is a bit on a bus in which an old lady tells each tale to one of the passengers. The stories themselves involve two reporters covering a local legend about a spiderwoman which seems to have no shred of evidence supporting it; a man who is brought to the apartment of a missing friend only to discover everything inside covered in red tape which isn't as strange as why that's been done; a young woman stalked by a coworker returns home to help her father take care of her ailing mother learns a family secret; a businessman on a trip to Los Angeles is haunted by an unusual ghost; and a man finds himself trapped on an elevator with three odd passengers.

As with any anthology, some segments are better than others. None of them is a particular stand out here. There's something very low budget about the whole affair, with lighting generally less nuanced than a soap opera or a program on HGTV. This does tend to distract from it, but it also, surprisingly lends some of these stories a genuine creepiness. The spiderwoman story in particular is effective because of it's no thrills aspects. Depending on the eyewitness report, the spiderwoman appears a number of ways, often as a woman with extra limbs, which are obviously the arms and legs of other people being introduced from off camera into the clothing of the actress playing the spiderwoman. But even recognizing how it's down, there's something unsettling about it. Certainly seeing real hands is more disturbing than the low end CGI and make-up effects creation that we see later. For all its flaws, and it is flawed, it's an interesting film to watch. These aren't the kinds of stories we get in Amicus films. Just brace yourself for something that has less frills than an episode of Ray Bradbury theater.

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