Friday, May 27, 2011

Film #65: Reincarnation (2005)

Weezer said it best:
“God damn you half-Japanese girls! You do it to me every time.”
Of course by "half-Japanese" they meant half-human, half demon-ghost. And by “do it to me every time” they meant cause full grown men like the RDHP to fetal curl in a pool of our own fear-liquid every time we see them in a movie.

Ah, J-horror and creepy Japanese girl-ghosts: you go together like depression and suicide.
As prophesied, those half-Japanese girls did it to us again in this week's mid-2000s flick, “Reincarnation.”

A movie director obsessed with a hotel massacre of 12 people decides to make a movie about the horrific event. Seems a college professor interested in reincarnation decided to hurry up the process on his own family, knifing them into sushi. Why stop there though, so he chop-chopped the rest of the hotel staff, and guests too, before cutting his own throat. And they died happily ever after... or did they?

When casting for the part, the director discovers an unknown actress who seems to have a mystical connection to the storyline. Something is just a little too familiar about the script and murders for the actress, and she starts to suspect she is the reincarnation of one of the victims.
Meanwhile on the other side of town, a school girl who has been having strange dreams about a red roofed hotel (no, not the Red Roof Inn) begins to have visions of a bloody child with a mega-creepy doll. “Together forever” the ghost girl chants. Chills in the audience ensue.

As the filming progresses, the spirits of those murdered start to get pissed. The exploitation of their suffering has the dead more riled up than a can of bees. Seems they are looking for revenge, and call upon their reincarnated selfs to possess their modern day body hosts and converge at the massacre site hotel to avenge their deaths.

Did that just confuse you? Yeah, okay, cool, because we thought it was just us.
But the confusion just leads to more terror in the 2005 Japanese horror hacker “Reincarnation.”

RDHP Ratings and Review
C-Rating: 4.0
Chris Dimick moshi-moshis:
“American horror may have been number one in the 30s, 40s and 50s. But by the 2000s, like most things, the Japanese were producing more efficient, better performing, and purchase worthy horror films. Sorry USA, but I’m exporting my interest to J-Horror’s superior products until you step back up. While American filmmakers were cranking out craptastic movies like "An American Haunting" and "The Fog remake" in 2005, the masters of horror at legendary production company TOHO was creating this gem of a spook tale – Reincarnation.

Yeah, the creepy long black hair haunted spook girl is getting a little cliché in J-horror, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Those girls are scary as shit! There is one of those little urchins in this film, but there is also well-paced suspense and a creep level that hits goosebump factor 10 (out of 10).

The Japanese seemed to have tapped into what scares folks in the 2000s better than US filmmakers. It’s not gore and serial killers that creeps out people anymore, USA. That is just so 70s. No, today the supernatural is what really scares. Well-filmed screens of creep outshine guts and glory blood fests. Some in American get this (the makers of Paranormal Activity; Altered; Shutter Island; Cloverfield get it). But many don’t (how many SAWs do we need?)

This film also packs a twist that doesn’t seem tacked on and trite. It is relevant and inline to the story… and actually surprised Nick and I with its cleverness.

The plot was somewhat confusing, hence the reduced marks, but that may have been a “lost in translation” thing seeing as Nick and I had trouble distinguishing two of the characters apart from one another. (They seriously looked exactly alike!)

Let me just say this. I got chills multiple times during this flick. Granted, some were from a very creeptastic doll (which is just cheating, movie). But still, the chills repeatedly bring delivered by J-horror makers will make me spend my attention on Japanese horror products... and least until the US stops pretending it is superior and actually produces horror products that match it’s big-junk talk.”

N-Rating: 4.0
Nick Rich moshi-moshis:
"It could be the sushi talking here, but in my book Reincarnation was just plain fresh (without that pesky fishy smell too!). Maybe it was the difference of Japanese culture, which brings with it a different perspective on life and naturally finds its way onto the screen, but there was something about this flick I found refreshing.

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised with a name like "Reincarnation", but this film felt like a new experience for me in the project. The entire time we were watching, there was a quiet stillness that just seemed to seep out of the film (which, upon reflection, reminds me of how I felt during Let The Right One In) which contrasted beautifully with the scare moments as they gently (and not so gently) surged forth from the story. As if this weren't a departure enough from our normal project horror vibe, I was also joined by my wife for the last half hour of the film (which always adds its own sense of abnormality to a viewing as it is such a rare occurrence).

Normally, when grading movies in the project I review all of my previous grades and try to determine where the film of the week figures into the grand scheme of things. It usually turns into a game of "was it better than (insert movie title)?" This week however, given the reprieve from the comfortably mundane weekly ritual the RDHP has taken in my life I was a bit at a loss when it came down to rating. Seeing as I agreed with Chris in his assertions about the quality of the film, I figured I could also come to terms with having the same rating as him. I must admit it feels a bit icky to agree with him, but I suppose it is bound to happen sometimes.

Regardless of my wife's opinion of the portion she saw (she thought it was lame... there really is no accounting for horror taste), I found Reincarnation to be a quietly compelling film that kept you engaged enough to harvest the chills from your spine as it wove its eerie tale; and really, what more can you ask of a horror flick?

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you somehow got it in your head that the likes of SAW and Friday the 13th (the remake) are what horror is all about... or if you want to feel racist for thinking the female cast members all look alike."

Things We Learned from Reincarnation:
-Japanese movie clapboards look like chop-sticks.
-All little Japanese girls are haunted. All of them.
-Life is a mixed bag of emotions.
-Nick forgets how tall Chris is sometimes.
-Even after all these years, TOHO’s still got it’s groove.
-In the 2000s, even broad daylight can’t keep people from getting haunted (or spooked).
-You can’t run away from the truth.
-Creepy dolls can get even creepier when missing an eye.
-‘Rut-roh’ is Chris’ favorite reaction to danger.
-Like infants, Japanese folks easily fall asleep in a moving car:

Quote of the Viewing:
[Our main character, whose name we can’t figure out, is handed the script for a film in which she will star in the leading role. She looks at the script in a confused manner.]
Nick: “Oh, how is she supposed to read that script?”
Chris: “I know! It is entirely in Japanese!”

Who is the scariest of them all? Let’s check out our hideous contestants, all vying for the title of creepiest little girl in the movie universe. You’ll see Japan is well represented. Still, we think the brats from those Toddlers and Tiara's competitions create more horror than these peeps ever could. First prize, ladies and fellas, is a house filled with easily killed teenagers!
Contestants, work what yo Mama and/or Demon gave ya!

Contestant #1
Samara – The Ring
Representing Hell, this little “beauty” is only half rotted, enjoys long swims in dark water, and is courteous enough to give you a week to prepare for death. Give it up for SAMARA!

Contestant #2
Kyra Collins – The Sixth Sense
A playmate fit for any date, lovely Kyra works it like a supermodel. And with all that puking, she'd fit right in with the girls of the runway. Yes, she wants to be Tyra! Hands together for sickly KYRA!

Contestant #3
Undead Gage – Pet Sematary
Giving credence to the old adage, leave dead enough alone, this little tot is back and dressed up in his finest funeral wear. Give a loud, blood-curdling scream for the fashionable GAGE!

Contestant #4
Malachi – Children of the Corn
Ladies note that this early-teen murderer’s carpet DOES match the drapes. Fire-haired, fire-crotched, and ready to light you Outlanders on fire, a round of applause for MALACHI!

Contestant #5
Potato-sack Head Boy – The Orphanage
We here at the Creepy Kiddie Beauty Pageant understand that it is not just what's on the outside, but what's inside that can make a person beautiful. Let's go with that crap for this contestant. This bag was placed for your protection... it is just a hot mess under there. Regardless, give it up for the pretty on the inside POTATO-SACK HEAD BOY!

Contestant #6
Grady Sisters – The Shining
Come and play with them indeed! You... love... football on TV, and, and GHOST TWINS! Double the fun, and beauty, comes with this perforated pair. Belt it out for the GRADY SISTERS!

Contestant #7
Toshio – The Grudge
He meows like a cat and loves to haunt naked. Just don’t let this party animal sneak between your legs while going down stairs. Put one hand onto the other for TOSHIO!

Contestant #8
Angela – Sleepaway Camp
Cut as a button and with a brain with as many holes, our little camp princess Angela is just full of surprises. Her beauty has you saying OMG, but her classic runway ending will have your screaming WTF! Let's hear it for ANGELA!

Contestant #9

Eli – Let The Right One In
And finally, this lovely androgynous blood sucker can charm the pants off the best of them. She loves night time dates, can suck a man dry in 30 seconds, and has no distinguishable genital. Truly any man’s dream. Root Root Root for our last contestant, the lovely ELI!

Announcer: "And the winner is... no, get back, all of you, GET BACK! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! (grugle, grugle)"

RDHP Salutes Japan!
A Cultural Journey

Our enemies turned freniemes are surely a curio to Americans. I mean, the Japanese and their ways are just so exotic and interesting. Nick, a Japan expert, helps the RDHP examine the non-horror pieces of their culture... Japan isn't just all long haired demon girls you know!

Dedication to Customer Service
In Japan, employees are very attentive to customers, even in dirt bags like McDonalds and 7-11. Thank you, come again... and I'll shower you with kisses and treat you like a king.

Love of Smoking
No, the whole country isn't having a Mad Men party. Japan just loves Johnny Tobacco! (It has the highest rate of smoking in the industrialized world.) You'd smoke too though if the threat of Godzilla loomed over each moment.

They're Clean Mofos!
These peeps take being clean seriously. SERIOUSLY. Who cares if some fear the Japanese race will become extinct within 100 years due to their germ-a-phobic ways? Crowded Subway riders across the country appreciate the chronic cleaning!

Speaking of Subway riders...
still have room to breath on that train car? We'll take care of that! There's pleeeenty of space left!

Ghosts are Just a Part of Life
The country has shrines to ghosts in various obvious places, some with food for the hungry Caspers. Finally a group of people who recognize what horror's been saying for centuries!

Love Them Some Robots!
Sometime they prefer them a little too much... if you know what I mean.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Macabre Milestone: RDHP Hits 2/3 Point

Look at all the blood on our hands!
Ah, the memories…
As the Rich-Dimick Horror Project prepares to ingest its 65th film next week, we thought it appropriate to put down our red-stained machetes for a moment and reflect on the carnage.

The project has officially surpassed the 2/3rd completion mark, with 27 years/films remaining on the list. Our goal to view and review one horror film from each year since 1920 has taken us all on a mind-bending trip through spooky story history.

At this 2/3rd mark, or the aptly figured 66.6 percent, we’d officially like to thank you for joining us on this adventure, and encourage you to keep on readin’ through the final stretch.
As always, we invite you to watch along with us each week and provide add your own assy comments on films.

Over the last 64 films we have sometimes been asked why we started the RDHP. One reason was to examine the horror genre through time. Analyzing one horror movie from each year allows the viewer to observe how style, fear, and culture have changed over the last 90 years.
There is no better gauge of a time and place than what terrifies its inhabitants. The films of the RDHP continues to provide a fascinating and mind-opening trip through time and ideals.

Also, as rabid fans of the horror genre, we wanted to examine its roots and highlight long forgotten, but still relevant, films. We constantly watch horror movies, might as well do it in an organized format!
But the biggest reason for the RDHP’s creation is, simply, just for the fun of it.

Watching a horror movie a week has been a blast, and we invite you to do the same. It is better for the psyche and body than an apple a day, at least that's what asylum doctor told us. The RDHP is a celebration of horror for all fans of movies, obsessed or not. After all, why do anything in this world?!

As Robert Frost liked to remind us, there is no better time for reflection like the present.
Below, a look back at highlights and lowlights of the last 64 films, some of our favorite bits and quotes, and a quick look into the crystal ball for the final 1/3rd of the RDHP.


Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Film #45: blogged Oct. 22, 2010
C and N Rating Average: 4.9
What do you expect from two zombie-heads? The film that created the modern mind-muncher deserved its props. As biting today as it was in 1968. (Full review here.)

C-Rating: 5
What Chris said: “This story line of human reaction to an unfathomable situation is intriguing because it sets up the viewer to think “what would I do in that situation?” The idealist in most of us feels that given an extraordinary situation like a zombie apocalypse, mankind would bond together, set aside their differences, and fight as one against the invading undead masses.
In reality though, that is a bunch of hippie bullshit.”

N-Rating: 4.8
What Nick said: “For my money, conceptually, it doesn't get any better than this. In the middle of the still, 1960's countryside you're suddenly thrown into the throes of the Zombie Apocalypse, with nothing but a rickety farmhouse full of jackalopes standing between you and your brains becoming ghoul fodder - priceless! This film just feels like you're trapped in a world crawling with zombies.”

Most Memorable Moment: “Ben punching Barbra!”

Other High Rated Films:

Let The Right One In (2008)
4.85 average
Film #9: blogged Jan. 20, 2010
C-Rating: 4.8
N-Rating: 4.9
Most Memorable Moment: “Vamp poon!”
(Full review here)

King Kong (1933)
4.85 average
Film #40: blogged Sept. 20, 2010
C-Rating: 5.0
N-Rating: 4.7
Most Memorable Moment: “Fay Wray; Kong’s twitching fur and picking at felled foes.”
(Full review here)

Session 9 (2001)
4.6 average
Film #19: blogged April 1, 2010
C-Rating: 4.6
N-Rating: 4.6
Most Memorable Moment: “La-ba-to-MY!”
(Full review here)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
4.5 average
Film #11: Feb. 4, 2010
C-Rating: 4.5
N-Rating: 4.5
Most Memorable Moment: “Crazy, nightmare/dream like set!”
(Full review here)


Phantasm III (1994)
Film #48: blogged Dec. 10, 2010
Average rating: 0.7
The unofficial horror franchise of the RDHP, even our love for the hokey horror typically displayed in the Phantasm films couldn’t save this stinker sequel from getting a just thrashing. (Break out the nose plugs, there is still one more film, Part IV, to go!) Full review here.

C-Rating: 1.0
What Chris said: “Following the first nonsensical, pointless, so-bad-its-kinda-good-but-mostly-bad Phantasm viewing, Nick wanted to quit this much hyped 80s/90s series. But I was determined that the sequels would hold answers to all of our Phantasmy questions, and finally explain just what the hell is going on in these film. Readers, I feel it is my duty as a kind hearted individual to list the all the plot answers to the above 5 W’s. This will be done so no other human will again have to watch the Phantasm series just to learn what the hell is going on in the plot.”

N-Rating: 0.4
What Nick said: “If you're thinking of checking this flick out because you love bad movies and want to experience the horror of this one - don't! ...Just don't. I say this with the same sincerity a former teen-mom has during the abstinence talk with her blossoming daughter... just don't."

Most Memorable Moment: “Home Alone rip off.”

Other Low Rated Films:

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
1.2 average rating
Film #28: blogged June 11, 2010
C-Rating: 0.9
N-Rating: 1.5
Most Memorable Moment: "Naked Old Man.”
(Full review here)

Faust (1926)
1.2 average rating
Film #56: blogged Feb. 18, 2011
C-Rating: 0.1
N-Rating: 2.3
Most Memorable Moment: “Faust’s beard!”
(Full review here)

Maniac (1980)
 1.3 rating average
Film #32: blogged July 9, 2010
C-Rating: 2.5
N-Rating: 0.1
Most Memorable Moment: “Mannequins hair pieces.”
(Full review here)

Abbott and Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)
1.4 rating average
Film #42: blogged Sept. 24, 2010
C-Rating: 1.5
N-Rating: 1.3
Most Memorable Moment: “Boris's outfit/headgear, Abbot's bad acting.”
(Full review here)

Behold, a look into the mystical future! Below lies the next ten years, ten films cycle the RDHP will partake in over the coming weeks. Feel free to watch along and post your comments!

Reincarnation (2005)
A Japanese actress (Yûka) comes face to face with a slew of restless spirits when she signs on to star in a horror film -- the true story of a crazed professor's murderous rampage that left 11 victims, including his young daughter, in its wake. But the film is being shot at the very site where the grisly killings took place. Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge) directs this darkly mesmerizing tale of crime, punishment and redemption.

The Haunted Castle (1921)
A suspected murderer crashes Baroness Safferstätt's stuffy party to reveal who really killed her husband.

Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)
Final Phantasm movie, finally! The horror that is the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) rises again as he goes in search of a successor in this Phantasm series installment. Our hero, Mike (Michael Baldwin), is trying to learn how and why the Tall Man became so powerful while simultaneously attempting to escape the madman's clutches. Mike will need help from his friends, Reggie (Reggie Bannister) and Jody (Bill Thornbury), but can they make it in time?

The Bat Whispers (1930)
An audacious arch-criminal known as the Bat loves to taunt police by tipping them to his next job. After pulling off a high-rise jewel heist -- with a legion of cops surrounding the place -- the Bat heads to the country home of a socialite spinster looking for $500,000 from a bank robbery that may be hidden in a secret room. Enter wily Det. Anderson (Chester Morris) to get to the bottom of it all. Will he go batty trying to solve the case?

Cujo (1983)
Based on horrormeister Stephen King's best-selling novel, Cujo chronicles a tale of man's best friend turned satanic killer. Slobbery St. Bernard Cujo is much loved by owners Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace) and her son, Tad (Danny Pintauro), but when a rabid bat bites Cujo, he morphs from happy pup into crazed canine.

Scared to Death (1947)
Bela Lugosi, the screen's most notorious personification of evil, stars in B-movie Scared to Death. The pieces of a puzzling murder are revealed one by one in a frightening story narrated by a dead woman.

Seizure! (1974)
In Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone's freshman feature -- a tale based in part on the German legend of Faust -- a novelist's creative side turns against him. After suffering terrifying nightmares starring three of his most frightening characters, author Edmund Blackstone (Jonathan Frid) watches in horror as they literally show up at his door.

The Black Castle (1952)
Horror icon Boris Karloff -- best known for his portrayals of Frankenstein's monster and Im-ho-tep the mummy -- takes on a wide variety of roles in this collection of classics. In the atmospheric chiller The Black Castle (1952), he stars alongside Lon Chaney Jr. as the personal physician of a sadistic count (Stephen McNally) whose behavior is anything but noble.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
After a drunk wanders into and disrupts his secret lab, Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) decides he must find a new place to set up shop. Conveniently, he finds an innocent young girl (Veronica Carlson) who happens to have a boyfriend (Simon Ward) employed by the local hospital. Seeing his opportunity, Dr. Frankenstein kidnaps the couple and forces them to take part in a dangerous brain-swapping experiment.

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FINAL 1/3 OF THE PROJECT! Come back next week for a freshly slaughtered movie write up, our 65th film, Reincarnation. As always, thanks for supporting the RDHP, where
if it screams, it screens.

Your horrific friends,
Chris and Nick