‘J-Horror Anthology: Underworld’–Gore on a Limited Financial Plan (review)

Japanese movie, organized into six segments. “Chain Mail” shows three snobby girls getting their comeuppance from a girl they accidentally killed; “Left Behind in the Mountain” features a cruel prankster being taught a lesson; “Tattoo” is about a prostitute with a supernatural ink job; “Lost in Memory” concerns three young men and their ethereal friend; “Guardian Angel” illustrates a woman and her grandmother’s kindly ghost; “Mortuary” has a medical student haunted by car accident victims.


Like J-Horror Anthology: Legends, the stories are low-budget, but far from trashy. (Amusingly, in one scene from “Lost in Memory” we spend a few minutes seeing the world from a busted camcorder, putting the return to the cheap but functional cameras used for the rest of the movie in perspective.) The acting is decent, and so is the writing. The only aspect of the film I find silly is the host, who gives commentary before and after each segment. Something must be lost in translation, because often his ramblings don’t make much sense, like this statement from out of the blue: “What, forgot it? You don’t remember anymore?”


The film seems to have fewer moral lessons than Legends, but I’d say that a resounding theme in half of the stories is that technology is impersonal and desensitizes us. For example, Koichi from “Left Behind in the Mountain” is able to pick up girls with ease with a dating service on his cell phone (and then dump them in the woods when they don’t put out). Or “Chain Mail,” wherein the angry ghost kills by email.

j-horror underworld 2
Ugh spam mail

I think the most intriguing segment is “Tattoo.” It explores topics not often touched upon in the Asian horror films I’ve seen: prostitution, tattoos, and rape. Also, the tattoo artist could be construed as gay. She touches her client’s breast and comments on her own “open-minded lifestyle.” She practically lies on tops of her client to do the tattoo, and the sequence is shot like a love scene. Though few of the stories have the punch or squirm-inducing eeriness of Legends (“Chain Mail” has its moments), it’s still thought-provoking and entertaining.

In lieu of a trailer, which I could not find, here’s “Chain Mail”:

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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