When I started typing this wrap-up a few days ago I was sitting in an airport in Atlanta, waiting for my connection to Pittsburgh. I had it about 90% done, but then I was out in the city today when my husband texted me about real life horror less than a mile from where I was standing. I specifically avoid politics, or anything of that ilk, on this website but I've never shied away from being open about my life and experiences.
I've said this before, but my mom used to say that she watched horror because it made the everyday things less scary. A supernatural slasher or strange atomic creature combined with your imagination is much more frightening than dealing with bills or your 9-to-5. Unfortunately for us, real monsters exist. There aren't many, but they're out there. Yet, for every Jason that exists in this camp of life there are thousands if not millions of camp counselors out there all willing to stop him. Every Elm Street is full of of hundreds of teenagers all looking to prevent Freddy from harming anyone. We, as horror fans, are a community. We, as humans, are a community.
So if you, or someone you know, needs help of any form then there are a lot of resources out there for you. There's never any shame in reaching out when you need it most.
There's a line that's stuck in my head from the band Behind Enemy Lines, and that's:
"We're in this together / Don't shut out one another / Don't ever forget that we depend on each other."
With all of that said, what's going on with 30DoP?
Since the next two months are going to be busy with holidays and such I plan on taking them off from the website and returning in January. It's much easier to handle watching films and reviewing them when I'm not juggling work, holidays, and travel the whole time.
I'll still do occasional posts and as I get screeners I'll post the Saturday Screamers.
Speaking of which, if you or someone you know has a horror movie, book, zine, comic, or game coming out and would like a review of it then please feel free to hit me up at 30DaysOfPlight@gmail.com.
Also if you just want to say "hi" or reach out in general, you can get a hold of me through that e-mail or via our Twitter @30DaysOfPlight.
Have a good holiday season and I'll see you in January...
I picked this film up at the one, and only, horror convention that has happened here in New Orleans since we moved here almost seven years ago. You would think that New Orleans would have more horror stuff but mostly it's just lame Anne Rice shit. Anyway, Tokyo Zombie has been on my to-watch list even prior to owning it. I just never had the chance to get a copy of it until then, and then it sat on my shelf since then as well.
I will never feel bad about my comics ever again.
Based off of a manga, I can only describe Tokyo Zombie as a live-action anime if they were still trying to make it as anime as fuck. The film itself is actually broken into two sections. The first half focuses on Fujio and Mitsuo, two guys that spend most of their time fucking around on mattresses with Mitsuo teaching Fujio jujitsu. Outside is a large pile of buried trash (and bodies) known as Black Fuji for it's immense size. When zombies begin to come out of it and eat people our duo decides to take their work truck and attempt to flee to Russia. Instead Mitsuo gets "bit" and throws himself off a bridge and into the river below. We're given a brief animated segue where we learn that the world has become this strange Hunger Games-esq land of upper class and slums and the only way to gain a measure of respect was in a zombie fighting arena. Fujio uses his learned jujitsu to decimate his zombie opponents until he finally has to face off against a "zombie" Mitsuo. Also there is apparently some strange revolution or Mad Max style raiders that exist here too.
Tokyo Zombie felt like I was watching a Japanese game show. There were a lot of moments where the humor tried to be too absurd and you're expected to laugh along but it just didn't reach me. The only solid comparisons I could give would be if you take Kung-Fu Hustle and put the Three Stooges as the main characters.
Now that I've said that, I'm okay with Tokyo Zombie, but that's it. Just okay. I'm concerned that I came into this expecting something else though so rather than complain about how this wasn't what I wanted I'm just going to say that I plan to revisit this again at another point and give it a fair shot now that I know what I'm getting into. So I'm going to do something different here and I'm going to suspend my rating of this film. In the future I will re-watch it and give it an honest go.
Ever since I bought this film, I continually forget that I own it. I wasn't even looking for it when I was searching for a film to watch, it just happened to be in the same binder as tomorrow's film and I found it first. So what does that say about Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness, aside from that title is too long?
Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (or Eko Eko as I'm going to call it from now on) opens with a satanic cult using magic to kill teenagers. Their apparent goal is to take the lives of 13 innocent teens in order to bring Lucifer to Earth to do whatever. This film is really vague on what the end goal is here so we get: Step 1: Kill Teens, Step 2: Summon Lucifer, Step 3: ????, Step 4: Profit! At the end of their opening ritual they get a warning about a strong witch coming that they should not make an enemy of. Enter Misa, said teenage witch that ends up trapped in the school with 13 other students and two perverted teachers. Her goal is to find the head person behind the killings and prevent the rise of Lucifer as this is apparently all she does in each school she goes to.
I forgot this happened.
Eko Eko had this weird feeling to it, like it never sat quite right with me. It looks like it was just a made-for-tv-movie and its short running time (at least compared to most J-horror films) only bolsters that sentiment. The plot is relatively straight forward and some of the set-up and magick effects look okay but you can tell that this was most likely made for a PG-13 audience. This isn't to say that films under an R rating are bad, just that in this case it all feels a bit immature.
Eko Eko was based off of a manga from the 70's and apparently spawned six fucking sequels and a short television series. I don't know how I feel about that info. I would like to go back and read the manga for a comparison just to see if they toned things down or if this was always as tame as I perceive it. You know, because I perceive the magickal murder of teenagers in order to invoke the rising of Lucifer to be a mundane task.
I give Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness 2 I-no from Guilty Gear out of 5:
If you haven't noticed by now, this week I'm going through my J-Horror collection and reviewing those things that I bought mainly because they looked cool. Surprisingly, I only just realized that a majority of these films that I own have something to do with Tokyo Shock (The Asiatic cinema/television focus of the larger company, Media Blasters). It makes sense though since most of my favorites have high powered blood sprays, lots of action, and insane creature design. So with that fresh in your brain, let's jump into Helldriver!
Kika's home life isn't ideal. She comes home one day to find her mother and uncle eating her still living father. During her escape attempt a meteor crashes through the mother's chest but her mom pulls Kika's heart out to replace her now missing one. At the same time, the meteor was an alien which takes over the mother and encases her in some sort of amber-like shield. Kika is thrown to the side but not before she gets the same shielding. The mother than shoots space spores into the air which turn those that breath it in into zombies with strange fungal antenna on their forehead (like ophiocordyceps unilateralis in ants). Kika is rescued and turned into a cyborg (although they say android here) with a metal chest plate and a chainsaw katana. She and a small group of sudden friends attempt to take out this zombie queen and save the world.
Look at this Silent Hill shit!
All the things I love with these Japanese hyper-gore films are present here. There's a lot of blood, intense action scenes, absurd and nonsensical things that only work for this movie (ie. a car made out of zombie body parts), and the overall feeling of not taking itself too seriously where it would ruin the film. If I had any real complaint with Helldriver then it would be my usual gripe about pacing. I was about 45 minutes into it before the title card appeared which made me feel like the whole first half of the film was meant to be an intro to the latter half, and in a way it really was. We have so much time spent establishing our characters and the world that, when we get to the heart of the matter, doesn't really need to exist. It's like playing an RPG and you have to grind for a few hours before you're even able to leave the first section and get to the actual adventure.
Helldriver is really a niche film. This isn't something I could just drop on a friend and tell them to check it out without advanced knowledge of their cinema tastes. In this case, it would have to taste like blood... a fire hose of blood all yelling at you in Japanese.
Coming from the same table at the same anime convention (although a year earlier) is 2004's entry to the Devilman series. Created by Go Nagai back in the early 70's, Devilman has had a manga, multiple films, and anime series with the most recent being on Netflix. Though much tamer than its counterparts, let's jump into today's review.
Grandma got me a Hot Topic gift card!
Devilman focuses on Akira and Ryo. Ryo is essentially a violent delinquent that describes himself as "pure evil." Akira is Ryo's only friend, despite being the opposite of Ryo in every way. Akira is the only person that can calm Ryo on his angsty rampages. One day Ryo has Akira go with him to his father's lab where an experiment with demons and demon energy has lost control and released the dark entities to our plane of existence. Akira is hit by a particularly nasty demon but is able to retain his humanity, while Ryo becomes angelic. The world descends into chaos as the released demons possess bodies and feed upon humanity and only Akira can stop them while also trying to save the world from itself. Ryo has other ideas in mind.
I've said this about other films in the past, but this is truly the center point between amazing and crap. Despite the long time it didn't drag too much but at the same time I wish the story pacing were a bit stronger. The CG could be a bit questionable but it works well for the fight scenes where there's a lot of action and not a lot of time to focus on the details. I also wish the Ryo reveal was done a bit more tactfully. We're presented with info in the second act that should really only exist for the final reveal. Otherwise, it is a solid film. It's just not enough for me to get behind. I would recommend Devilman with an apathetic "you might like it."
Holy shit, Wild fucking Zero! I picked this up a few months ago at the yearly anime/J-culture convention. There's one booth that is 90% anime sets but if you walk around to the side of the table they have a stack of movies and weird shit for you to sort through. This has been on my list to get for a while now as I never had the chance to see it but I knew about it through the early 00's Pittsburgh punk scene.
Wild Zero has a lot going on in it so bare with me. We start with a bunch of spaceships approaching the earth. While that's happening a meteor crashes into a town and zombies begin to overrun it, a la Night of the Living Dead. At the same time, we meet Ace, a Guitar Wolf fan that idolizes their rock n' roll machismo. When Ace stumbles into a stand-off between Guitar Wolf and a club manager he stands up for rock n' roll only to get knocked out. After Guitar Wolf shoots the fingers off the manger (while Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf comb their hair) he creates a rock n' roll blood brother pact with Ace and gives him a whistle to call Guitar Wolf if Ace ever needs them. The next day Ace inadvertently stops a robbery where he meets his new love interest, Tobio. Zombies attack, the club manager is attempting to track down Guitar Wolf for revenge, and the alien invasion eventually begins... and it's all turned up to 11. ROCK N' ROLL!
Fuckin' right on, Guitar Wolf!
After watching Wild Zero, this film is definitely in my top 10 all-time favorites, maybe even top five but I'd have to spend more time than I want thinking about that right now. For a movie that came out in 1999, it's surprisingly progressive. It takes all the things that I personally like about punk and rock, n' roll and rather than pushing the say, Motley Crue model of excess, it pushes this acceptance of everyone in the name of rock n' roll. It's almost like it's a polytheistic lifestyle, elevated above everyday life. Are Guitar Wolf gods? Is this their bible?! I'd go to church if it were just going in and having the word "rock n' roll" shouted at me from a microphone that shot flames!
This movie is hands down amazing. There's a drinking game on the disc as well if you're into that. If you are, then just do so responsibly. Drunk driving is not rock n' roll!
I give Wild Zero 5 copies of Joan Jett's I Love Rock and Roll out of 5: