Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Classic Japanese Ghost Story
Scott David Foutz | Evanston, IL USA | 02/10/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Haunted Lantern is in line with the traditional Japanese ghost stories of the Kwaidan collection. The story involves (at least) three fated karmic cycles in which the main characters' lives are tragically and overwhelmingly intertwined. Japanese Buddhist and Shinto notions of karma, fate, kami (spirits), redemption and hell all play central roles in this tale. And unlike most Western ghost stories, where heaven and good eventually prevail in the last 10 minutes of the story, our Japanese tale pays great respect to the virtually inescapable momentum of spiritual karma. The DVD does not offer much in the way of "extras" other than a trailer and some text explanations of the "Bon" (spirit of the dead) festival which provides the cultural context for the tale. (The "lantern" in the title refers to a "bon lantern" which beckons/invites the dead back to their former homes during the festival.) I didn't listen to the English dubbed version, but the English subtitles were clearly visible and well-done.
All-in-all an entertaining historical tale of ghosts, love and fate."
Modern variation of classic Japanese ghost stories
Manfred Zeichmann | Austria | 02/02/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THE HAUNTED LANTERN is a contemporary variation of classic Japanese kwaidan (ghost) stories. Ghost stories are popular in Japanese literature and cinema and often concern otherworldly female apparitions haunting their former lovers. This is also the case with HAUNTED LANTERN.
The movie starts promising with a young woman in search of her beloved samurai friend. She finds him wounded in a hut and suddenly they are surrounded by enemy samurais. Resistance is useless and so the girl urges her lover to commit suicide together in order to be united in death. She slits her throat, but her friend cowardly refuses to kill himself...
This introduchtion turns out to be a nightmare of samurai SHINZABURO. He meets beautiful TSUYU and they immediately fall in love. But SHINZABURO's parents have a marriage proposal and want him to marry TSUYU's younger sister SUZU. For family reasons TSUYU is asked to marry another man, whom she does not love. To make a long story short, the love triangle situation results in the two sisters committing suicide. It is the time of the Bon festival, the festival of the dead. Soon the samurai (who does not know that TSUYU and SUZU killed themselves) is visited by his love and her sister...
It is after his shocking awareness of the otherworldly nature of the two women that the film goes a little off the rails. While prior to the discovery the movie is very athmosperic and eerie, it's action time now, including a scene, where a Buddhist priest battles the female ghosts. It is very similar to rather trashy Hongkong horror movies.
Things improve a little after that, when the film again shifts to a more eerie tone, only to add an unnecessary and a bit confusing twist ending to the wonderful and satisfying denouement.
The movie is entertaining, eerie and athmospheric, but marred by some special effects extravaganzas (flying ghosts, priest-vs.-ghosts battle). Some gore effects add to the entertainment value but do not distract from the story. Please note that the film is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. It is recommended to read the short text about the Bon festival in the extra features prior to watching the movie.
As for extras, there is the film's trailer, the aforementioned text about the Bon festival, a feature called "Triangle of Love" (texts concerning the relationships between the main characters) and trailers for five other Japanese movies: TERMINATRIX (enough said), BEAUTIFUL PREY (girl-with-gun film), THE NINJA DRAGON ( a ninja-karate-schoolgirl-splatter extravaganza featuring some gory and very fake looking face-off-the-skull-ripping ), TOKYO MAFIA: YAKUZA BLOOD (this one is with Rikki TAKEUCHI in his usual role as yakuza and looks quite cool) and NAUGHTY GUIDE TO TOKYO NIGHTLIFE ( you can guess, what this one is about, can't you?).
Unfortunately I can not comment on the DVD-ROM features since my DVD-ROM drive is contrary to my codefree DVD-player region code 2 only."