Posts Tagged Japan

The Invisible Man vs. the Human Fly

Wrapping up our look at the Japanese Invisible Man “trilogy.”

The Invisible Man vs. the Human Fly

Daiei had no history of werewolf, vampire, or mummy movies, and while it might have been cool to watch the invisible man square off against a traditional Japanese spirit or yokai the likes of which had been appearing in the studio’s ghost films, in the end it was obvious that the only fitting opponent for an invisible man is the invisible man’s natural enemy: a really tiny flying hitman. Thus was born Invisible Man vs. the Human Fly.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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The Invisible Man

THE INVISIBLE MAN

When news of the invisible man spreads across town, Yajima hatches a scheme to capitalize on the warning that another invisible man is out there. He dresses his gang up in the iconic Claude Raines style overcoat and face bandages and has them rob banks and race tracks while claiming to be invisible men themselves. The logic of this ruse is, well, there is no logic to it. Being an invisible man has pretty much one and only one advantage when it comes to pulling a bank job, and that’s being invisible. If you bust in fully clothed and clearly visible, merely shouting that you are an invisible man, it sort of undercuts the edge being invisible would give you during a heist. It’s like yelling that you have the strength of Superman while doing curls with a five pound dumbbell.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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The Invisible Man Appears

We’re slipping in one more for NO, THE OTHER ONE just under the wire, but before we get to that one, we have to talk about this one.

INVISIBLE MAN APPEARS

By 1949, the Invisible Man had all but vanished. But 1949 is the year in which Japanese director  Nobuo Adachi made Invisible Man Appears (Tômei ningen arawaru) for Daiei Studios. The heyday of the iconic Universal monsters was over, and the studio was pitting it’s classic creatures against Abbot and Costello (they would meet the Invisible Man in 1951). The last legitimate film in the Invisible Man series had been 1944’s The Invisible Man’s Revenge. This Japanese entry into the sweepstakes might not have been an official part of the series, but it certainly holds its own against Universal’s films, and in fact is a sight better than most of the official Invisible Man sequels.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Taiwan rips off a Thai rip-off of a Japanese Ultraman rip-off

MARS MEN
feat-marsmen“One thing noteworthy about Giant and Jumbo A, as it relates to Sompote Sands’ larger body of work, is that, because it relies so much on recycled footage, it provides little room for Sands to express the perversity that would later become a marker of his work. As such, it may be one of the very few films Sands made that is actually family friendly, free as it is of gratuitous nudity, violence against children, and graphic scenes of animals shitting on people. It is also worth noting, however, that scenes from Giant and Jumbo A later made their way into Sands’ film Magic Lizard, which contains all of those things.”


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Dracula’s Japanese Vampire Bride

VAMPIRE DOLL

vdoll34Japan’s occasional flirtations with an interest in vampires are, like most things having to do with Japan and Western pop culture, a bizarre mix of revulsion and fascination with the foreign — a dichotomy that is almost certainly born of the interests of the young simply not lining up with the prejudice of the old (something that is not unique to Japan, or to any culture). One portion of the Japanese population can import and read home-grown vampire fiction as cautionary tales about the corrupting influence of the foreign on Japan, while another portion of the population can read those same tales and simply walk away having enjoyed a fun horror story about strange creatures.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Tamiya Iemon is the Worst

A HISTORY OF YOTSUYA KAIDAN

yot1Ghost stories wend their way from Noh, Kabuki and the Bunraku puppet theater all the way through “J Horror” and the vengeful ghost ladies with invasive hair of today. There are many tales of love, bitterness and vengeful ghosts, but like a certain Scottish play, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan is unique in having a curse associated with it. Oiwa is one of the pre-eminent ghost ladies, and her story was so powerful that her character became, in some sense, real. In his play, Tsuruya integrated a 17th Century account of a woman named Oiwa who died and came back as a ghost to punish her unfaithful husband. And in at least one production, the audience was told that between acts Oiwa was watching them and could even be seated beside or behind them to spooky effect.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Cat Demon Blues

We’re celebrating Halloween early on TC.

KURONEKO

kuroKuroneko is a film that feels older than it is. Shot in 1968, five years after Shindo’s more famous horror movie Onibaba, Kuroneko hearkens back to the more humanistic period pieces and sword-fighting films of the 1950s. Kuroneko is also one of my favorite films. And not just because it has cat demon ladies in it. Though, really, cat demon ladies should be an enormous draw for anyone. Cat demon ladies and ghost cats have been around long before Ju-On / The Grudge or even before Utagawa Kuniyoshi illustrated a sweet party of a lady, two cats dancing with handkerchiefs on their heads and a giant cat monster interrupted by some guy in 1835.

 


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Beautiful Alien Yakuza Jerks

Oops. Lost track of time. Let’s get caught up with where Teleport City stands so far in 2015…

THE GREAT BEAUTY
gb1Arts and entertainment journalist Jep Gambardella has a problem. Standing in the middle of the swanky pageantry of Roman nightlife at the age of 65, he feels more than a bit foolish and, as a result, lost. When first we meet him, it is amid the thumping techno and drunken revelry of a lavish rooftop party that seems initially that it should be the purview of 20-somethings cutting loose in Ibiza. But through it all strides Jep, resplendent in his stylish suit but feeling increasingly out-of-place amid such bacchanal…
SPACE: 1999 – ONCE MORE WITH FEELING
featOther than the long wait since the end of season one, there was little in “The Metamorph,” the first episode of Space: 1999’s second season to clue you into just how much had gone wrong with the series, and how much more wrong was waiting on the horizon. Certainly, some things had changed. For starters, there’s a new theme song and someone must have found a box of colorful orange and blue jackets in a closet somewhere, because everyone has started wearing jackets. Alphans have also started wearing ID badges with their name and photo on them because…in a confined space for years with three-hundred or people or so, I am sure it was awkward for Koenig to still not know “that one guy’s name.” So he issued the command for “Hello My Name Is” tags to save everyone discomfort at parties.
SPACE: 1999 – ALIENS ARE JERKS
feat61Space: 1999 taught me two valuable lessons. The first is that space is depressing and best represented by the color taupe. The second is that, with few exceptions, aliens are jerks. At least in the first season, Space: 1999captures malaise, chronic low-grade depression and inertia perfectly. Moon Base Alpha itself is unsteerable. It is filled with people who have survived mostly by evaluating their situation and accepting it. Charleton Heston would not last long on Alpha—he would blow up the moon when he attempted seize control of his destiny and the moon by attaching engines to it. As the moon exploded, Commander John Koenig and Dr. Helena Russell would silently turn to one another in a final affectless, unspoken admission of their love.
COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN
caq11Since you can’t really expect subtlety in the action of a peplum film, you shouldn’t expect any subtlety from the comedy or the self-referential jokes. Taken for what it is within the confines of the peplum world, this is a clever film that plays off the gender clichés already emerging in the genre. The ladies of sword and sandal films almost never do anything other than get rescued, swoon, faint, engage in erotic tribal dancing, or make strange proclamations and predictions. The important stuff, like throwing rocks at monsters, plotting dastardly schemes in the throne room, and pushing over columns, is left up to the men.
BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR & HUMANITY II: DEADLY FIGHT IN HIROSHIMA
feat17I’ve been sitting here trying to think of an adequate way to describe exactly what it is that Sonny Chiba does and wears in this second film in Kinji Fukasaku’s highly enjoyable, highly influential Battles without Honor and Humanity series of films that delve into the world of organized crime and the role it played in rebuilding post-war Japan. The closest I can come up with to summarize the acting display by Chiba is to say that you should try to imagine William Shatner and Jimmy Walker being merged into one creature, which the director then instructs to “stop being so subtle.”

Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Rockers, Racing, & Romance

REDLINE

redline3This is the sort of movie that might spontaneously spawn during a Guitar Wolf concert. Well, this and Wild Zero of course– an oddly apt film to bring up, as the two films share rather a lot besides leather-clad rocker protagonists. It’s over-the-top, anarchic, and every frame is infused with the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll (if not actual rock ‘n’ roll; Redline‘s soundtrack is more thumping techno oriented). It also has a sweet, doe-eyed love story beneath all the engine revving and hair grease — and if you think that is somehow not in keeping with the tough, leather-clad exterior, you might not know many rockers. They are a sentimental lot at their core. Heck, Elvis wanted to be your teddy bear. And Roy Orbison! That dude was all about crying and being sad and taking advice from candy colored clowns we call the Sandman.

 


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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