Tuesday, September 26, 2006


This is an interesting subversive psychological film from the MATSUMOTO SEICHO SERIES of VHS releases in Japan. MATSUMOTO SEICHO is a very famous and gifted writer from Japan, and this series of VHS tapes utilize the best films based on his novels and screenplays. This particular movie starts out like an adultery-themed melodrama, but as the story unfolds, it becomes a strange and twisted tale of deception. In the beginning we meet middle-aged Japanese salaryman Hamajima (GO KATO) who is not very satisfied with his life and marriage at the moment. He is a good husband, kind of shy, and has a steady yet tedious job as a travel agent. One day, a beautiful lady named Taiko (SHIMA IWASHITA) recognizes him on the bus home and they start chatting. It turns out that this woman is actually his childhood friend from his hometown. Soon, they start developing a relationship that is closer than just friends. Taiko is a widow and lives with her 6-year-old son Ken-chan (HISATO OKAMOTO) in a small house, and Hamajima starts spending more and more time with his new-found adopted family, coming over evenings for dinner after work and even on weekends. Of course, during all of this, he is continually lying to his wife who is busy at home with her own business and hobbies, so she barely notices that he is gone.
In time however, Hamajima begins to suspect and believe that the 6-year-old Ken-chan wants to harm and perhaps kill him. Strange occurences like... the gas is left on for the oven while he is napping... and all the windows are locked shut, poisons in his drink, and more. At one point this little terror is even wielding an axe!
Is it just his imagination? Or is it real? The kid actor in this film is fascinating as the menacing and creepy little boy. And as you watch the film, you never really are clear as to whether you are watching imagined (and paranoid) scenarios inside Hamajima's head, or actual situations and events that are taking place. And then the twist in the story begins to take shape. The music score for this gem sounds like something from a European film of the era, with a groovy lounge-style atmosphere. And for you sleazehounds, this film does contain some nudity as well. You naughty people out there! This is a very artistic film with beautiful cinematography... it has that grainy soft & faded 70s look to the film stock. A highly recommended Z-Grade film that works quite well, even if it is lacking English subtitles. If you're interested in checking this gem out, click here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


This is a lesser-known entry into the backwoods brutality genre of films started by the classic DELIVERANCE. Derivative exploitation, but pretty good nonetheless. Please note that a majority of the reviews listed for this film (also known as THE HOUSE BY THE LAKE) in the IMDb are littered with errors in the who, what and where of the storyline... so let me set the record straight, at least based on my own viewing of this rare Japanese VHS release. Fashion model Diane (BRENDA VACCARO) accompanies her playboy swinger dentist friend Harry (CHUCK SHAMATA) to his country house to join several others for a weekend-long party. On the way, he allows her to take the wheel of his souped-up Corvette sports car and she engages a gang of hillbilly hoodlums in a dangerous road chase, which ends with the four miscreants crashing their hot rod Camaro off the road and into a creek bed, and the Vette speeding away. The menacing gang leader Lep (veteran DON STROUD) swears vengeance on the pair, especially the driver. Up at the house, Diane is observed by Harry (the voyeur) via a two-way mirror taking off her clothes and nude in the shower. Nice guy this Harry. Not surprisingly, Diane soon discovers that there are no other guests coming up to the lake for the weekend. She also realizes that sleazy Harry just wants a quickie sex romp and another notch on his belt. Meanwhile, the psychotics in the Camaro are causing havoc all over town, nearly killing a local man of the law, in search of the two in the black Corvette. Of course, the vicious thugs arrive at the lake house, terrorizing Diane and Harry, and really begin messing up the place. Two of the gang members even take Harry's expensive speedboat for a spin out on the lake and kill some drunken hicks in a rowboat, who were out to help the dentist. When doctor Harry is revealed to be a bit of a wimp and the chaos really begins to ramp up, Diane in desperation, takes matters into her own hands and begins to exact her revenge, but not before she is sexually assaulted by Len, the crazed ringleader... and dry-humped by one the creepy gang flunkies while locked in one of the rooms of the house. Strangely enough, the ending of this film has a bit of an ambiguous tone. You'll have to watch it for yourself to see what I'm talking about. Recommended backwoods brutal shocker that is destined for Z-Grade glory. On auction right now, if you are interested in checking this one out!