‘J-Horror Anthology: Legends’–Scares and Campy Fun (review)

Japanese movie, AKA Inagawa Junji no shinjitsu no horror. It consists of six short films. “Peony Lamp” concerns a young samurai and his ghostly paramour; “She Bear” shows two girls and their run-in with a monster; “Yamamba” is about two reporters looking for a legendary creature; “Nurarihyon” deals with a friendly ghost and the family he saves; “Heartbroken Trip” reveals a young woman who finds out that a failed relationship is the least of her worries at a haunted lodge; “Lost Souls” illustrates the dangers of being too curious for a young couple.

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It’s very low-budget, but special effects aren’t relied on too much, and when they are used, they’re passable. Where it gets a bit silly for me (besides “Nurarihyon,” which is meant to be funny—my favorite scene is the ghost tossing robbers through the air, with subsequent robbers running up to challenge him, each shouting, “You rascal!”) is the host; he’s an elderly guy who sits in uncomfortable-looking chairs, delivering opening and closing thoughts for each segment. Most of his dialogue somewhat relates to the stories, but sometimes he just says random stuff like, “When you notice, it’s always next to you.”

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It definitely has its creepy moments. “Yamamba” has an eerie premise: she eats people who talk about her. “Heartbroken Trip” provides a hair-raising scene when protagonist Chiharu is looking in the mirror, and her reflection becomes an evil ghost. Then there’s She Bear, who is truly scary; she doesn’t show her face, and spends much of her screen time crawling, menacing people with scissors, and mumbling gibberish—she’s a dangerous enigma.

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I like how each story has valuable life lessons. For example “Lost Souls”: when a guy tells you not to look at a family of ghosts, you better not do it. Or, for Yoshiko and Rika from “She Bear,” the lesson seems to be that they should spend more time studying (Rika thinks H2O means oxygen), and spend less time buying jewelry, because a crazy lady with scissors wants their “pretty bracelet that hangs from the neck.”

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Their homework faces

I first watched this with my sister Suzy; we joked our way through it, as is our way. But I was not amused when later that night I had to walk up the driveway alone to my dark house.

In lieu of a trailer, which I could not find, here is my favorite, “She Bear”:

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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