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Brick McBurly
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:26 am    Post subject: 100 Tales Of Horror Reply with quote

This is a set the Lemony One recommended awhile back. Kaidan Hyaku Shosetsu/Monogatari (on DVD as ‘100 Tales Of Horror’) is an excellent TV series that ran in Japan a couple of years ago devoted to period tales of the macabre. Now, lest you get the wrong idea, you ain’t gonna actually get 100 tales-the title refers to a book, but only 11 hour long episodes were filmed. However, they’re 11 of the most well known and effective Japanese ‘ghost stories’ of all time, includin’ several that have been adapted as movies over the years. ‘100 Tales’ gives each a fresh new spin, and does an excellent job of infusin’ them with humanity, depth, and feelin’. Rather than just trot out the creature of the week, the ghosts and demons here are as conflicted and torn by emotion as the humans they torment. Quite a few of the episodes brought tears to the ol’ Brickster’s eyes, most notably episodes 2, 4, 11, and especially 3. That ain’t to say there aren’t vengeful and hateful ghosts with lots of violence and killin’ on display-episodes 1, 5, 7, 8, and 10 have those (but even these beasts are tempered with all too human frailties). There’s even a largely comedic episode (9). And for fans of history, episode 6 has Oda Nobunaga bein’ killed with a silver bullet by Akechi Mitsuhide. There’s not a bad episode in the bunch-they all have somethin’ to offer. Effects are good, especially by the standards of Japanese TV, and the actin’ is almost uniformly outstandin’ throughout. The series is held together by a central character-the Onmyoji, Ashiya Dosan. Dosan is descended from a long line of Onmyoji goin’ back to the Heian era, and although he actually has some supernatural talent, he usually relies on connin’ the rubes in order to make a livin’. Sometimes he’s an integral part and a player in an episode (like 1, 7, 10, or 11) but in others he might only make incidental contact at the beginnin’ or end with one of the main characters. Dosan is played with gusto by Takenaka Naoto (a veteran character actor, who plays parts such as Kato Kiyomasa in Azumi). He shows excellent actin’ range-he’s cowardly, snivelin’, inept, doltish, brave, compassionate, wise, and commandin’ by turns as needed by the script and totally convincin’ in each instance. In other words, he comes across as a real person-not as a cardboard stereotype. And he ain’t afraid to go for the LCD and indulge in fart humor, either. Anyway, here’s a listin’ of the episodes with a short recap of each:

1) Yotsuya Kaidan-the classic much filmed ‘Ghost Of Yotsuya’. A samurai poisons his wife in order to marry another woman. The story is a bit streamlined and characters pared down from filmed versions, but the ghost here is an absolute badass.


2) Yuki Onna-the snow princess of yore, who spares the life of a young man and later marries him in human form. This time around she’s as much a victim as an aggressor. The aptly named Matsuyuki Yasuko makes for a chillin’ snow princess, conveyin’ not only the unholy power and presence of the demon, but also its human side.


3) Ubasuteyama-this is based on the famous Japanese legend of a town that sends everyone who has passed a certain age to a mountain to die, so as not to be a drain on society. This is the episode that really touched the Brickster’s heart. Asaka Mitsuyo and Yusuke Santamaria are nothin’ short of stellar in playin’ a mother and son that are makin’ the journey up the mountain despite the son’s efforts to have her spared. At one point the son is injured. If the image of a poor old crippled woman walkin’ to her death strugglin’ to carry her full-grown son on her back up the side of a huge mountain doesn’t get to you, ya must not have a heart. The woman gains a reprieve (or does she?) and helps her son avoid the wrath of his evil wife and the local insane magistrate. This episode also says a lot about the relationship most Japanese men have with their mothers, especially vis-à-vis their wives.


4) Banchosara Yashiki-This is based on the legend of the ‘dish counting ghost’ Okiku of the haunted well at Himeji Castle. Kimura Yoshino plays the harmless, lovin’ ghost of a servant woman who sacrificed her life (by deliberately breakin’ a family heirloom, an act she knew carried a death sentence with it) in order to spare her samurai lover the choice of remainin’ the heir or marryin’ her and bein’ cast out. Watchin’ her gentle soul contact Dosan for aid and then writhe in pain as he at first tries to exorcise her is pitiable.


5) Miminashi Hoichi-this is the famous ‘Hocihi The Earless’ segment from the 60’s classic film Kwaidan. Here, the story has the added kicker that Hocihi was actually a member of the Taira clan who betrayed his family. He is doomed by the ghosts of the Taira to tell their story throughout the centuries.


6) Werewolf-we start out with Akechi Mitsuhide leadin’ the attack on Honno-ji, loadin’ a silver bullet into an arquebus and killin’ Nobunaga. It seems the Demon King had acquired a bracelet infused with black magic from an Italian trader-a seemin'ly livin' bracelet that gave its wielder the power to realize his dreams by turnin’ him into a beast. The bracelet later comes into the possession of a meek swordsmith’s apprentice while he is workin’ to restore Nobunaga’s armor. Will the unwanted power of the bracelet help him realize his dream of marryin’ the smith’s daughter, or doom it?


7) Kaguya Hime-This is loosely based on the tale of the Bamboo Cutter’s Daughter. An elderly bamboo cutter stumbles across an unearthly beauty while cuttin’ (what else) bamboo in the moonlight. He and his wife adopt her, and she soon becomes sought after by the local nobles-all of whom she assigns impossible tasks that result in their deaths. Turns out she’s the reincarnation of the princess of the Earth Spider tribe-a tribe that had been wiped out by the nobles. When she falls in love with the Emperor, will she and her Earth Spider ninja carry through her plan to kill him? This episode has a great blend of action, horrific images, and pathos.


Cool Ugetsu Monogatari-loosely based on the short story, and doesn’t have much in common with the classic film. A ragged man sits sealed inside a shrine, waitin’ out the fury of the demonic spirit of a jilted lover. Y’know, I think I might have tried that trick myself once or twice. It didn’t work for me. Will he have better luck, or will the deceptions and illusions of the spirit lure him out?


9) Ghost-This one’s played for laughs, and gets them. When a man’s wife dies, she just can’t stay away. The ghostly busybody continues to interfere, offer unwanted advice, and scare the crap out of those who try to take advantage of him. He gets fed up with her antics and tells her to leave for good-and finds himself missin’ her when she does, right at a time when he needs her most.


10) Kaidan Genji Monogatari-this one blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Dosan seemin’ly finds himself enmeshed in a tale bein’ written by a jilted lover of the infamous womanizer Brick Mc….err, Lord Genji. A terrifyin’ ghost wearin’ the Noh mask of the Oni attacks the Shinin’ Prince’s new lover over and over, and the attacks seem to stem from the unconscious of his jilted lover (could it be Murasaki?). Will the truth be uncovered? As one character tells Dosan, “You will just have to stay until the tale plays itself out”. This episode also has very nice horror imagery and lots of action.


11) Botan Toro (Peony Lanterns)-A couple in the Heian era see their love come to nothin’ when the man is killed in battle, despite his pledges of eternal love. Generations later, a powerful man notices that when his sickly daughter is around a local baker, she seems to gain strength and vitality. He arranges for the baker to spend time in her company daily, and under his care she becomes stronger and begins to enjoy life. No wonder-they’re the reincarnation of the Heian era couple. However, this is brought to a screechin’ halt when the baker is thrown out on his ass when she becomes part of an arranged marriage. The baker throws himself into his work and is stunned some time later when the daughter shows up one night for a little midnight lovin’. This goes on night after night, and the baker slowly becomes more haggard and drained. He finds out from a friend that the daughter had committed suicide some time ago rather than carry through with the arranged marriage, and Dosan is called in. He confirms she is now a spirit that is nightly drainin’ the young man’s life energy, and if it keeps up, he’ll die. The ghost simply doesn’t realize she’s dead-but will she stop her nightly visits? Now, the Brickster thinks this actually sounds pretty damn cool. What a way to go, eh? Just like Hanzo the Razor voiced at the beginnin’ of ‘Hanzo The Razor 3:Who’s Got The Gold’, “Hmmmmmmm…I’ve always wanted to do a ghost”. And as his two flunkies muse, “How could you? They don’t have legs!” followed by, “Well, they’d grow some once they saw what the Boss is packing!” It’s complex metaphysical questions like this that make the world of the supernatural compellin’. The episode has a nice coda when, in present day Japan, two wheelchairs bein’ pushed by orderlies meet on the lawn outside…


Anyway, 100 Tales Of Horror is one of the best efforts of its kind, and at about $18 for 11 hours worth of viewin’ pleasure is a real deal. Forego that next tired ‘noble ronin’ or ninja film and pick this baby up instead.
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Akaguma
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
欲し〜い!!!
I'll ask Easter Bunny to offer me one ! Wink
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AJBryant
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Where can one find this DVD? It's not at Amazon. Sad
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Brick McBurly
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It's available from several importers that specialize in Chinese/Malay titles (3 disc set in original Japanese with Chinese and English subs-the English translations are actually pretty good, not that you need 'em), but I took the easy way out and got one on eBay.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ah, hadn't thought of that.

Thanks!!
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wicked iemon
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:39 am    Post subject: 100 TALES Reply with quote
The following is true .
This played on TV in 2003 we got all the way to ep 3 and the Tv Station yanked it and replaced it with some Rie Tomosaka soap .
Pissed as a newt.... i called the Tv Station enraged to say the least .
"Why did you guys drop it "i pleaded and they told me some elder viewers called up and complained it scared the beejabbers out of them and they could not sleep ("Ol Biatch time to hit the Gin and Xanex ").
I was mortified !!!
"but could you not ask them to watch something else i pleaded "
"But they are our loyal audience " they told me
"what am i ,i even sat through a whole year of that Genroku Ryoran crap "
Anyway no go ,it was yanked ,"damn ol biddies killed my Saturday Nights Stone Dead Brown Bread!!! ".

Anyway Fuji TV also put out a 120 minute tv movie in 2005 that was a sequel ,its not subbed but very easy to follow .
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:36 pm    Post subject: KOREAN VERSION Reply with quote
HOMETOWN LEGENDS
This is a Korean Anthology of 8 Joseon /Koryo dynasty ghost storys and subtitled in English too .

check out the great production values
enjoy
http://www.mysoju.com/hometown-legends/
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:38 pm    Post subject: HOMETOWN Reply with quote
Sorry i should have mentioned acroll down to the bottom of the site and you will see all 8 episodes
cataloged to watch .
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Sima Qian
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I actually so this whole series online a while back, wasn't half bad at all.

But it seems to have disappeared completely into the depths of cyberspace.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Kaguya hime is now a horror story?
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yep-along with Ballad Of Narayama (although they changed the name on it a bit, the basic story is the same).
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