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Dark Tales of Japan
Dark Tales of Japan
Director: Hideo Nakata
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2005     1hr 33min

Five of Japan's best horror directors race to reach the outer limits of fear! Five horrifying episodes on one disc: The Spiderwoman, Crevices, The Sacrifice, Blond Kwaldan and Presentiment


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Movie Details

Director: Hideo Nakata
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Genius Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/25/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

For a Five Dollar Movie....
Jesse Penitent | Somewhere, Out There | 12/21/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I bought this at Wal-Mart for $5.00 and change. For that price, I don't mind that most of the stories were...well...boring. Curiously four of the stories weren't actually predictable...but they were, well, boring. On the other hand, the story that WAS predictable was also the most interesting to watch and that one really was worth the five dollars I spent.

In order of exellence:

Crevices: If you couldn't see where this was going, you have never seen a horror movie. On the other hand, this was the only one to create a genuine atmosphere of pure terror and creepiness. I slept with the lights on that night, even though I knew the lights wouldn't protect me.
5 BIG stars

Spiderwoman: Despite what folks have said about the "bad" CGI, I found it acceptable. The big reveal of the Spiderwoman (and her rapid fast movements) was on the chilling side, but I found much scarier the non-CGI effects that simply used camera trickery to make you THINK you were seeing extra arms and legs. The urban legend motif was just silly. 3 stars.

Presentiment: Annoying, but has a good (if rather expected) twist 3/4 in. And there is a second twist that isn't as shocking but does take you by surprise. The acting, however, was over the top. Or maybe I just don't understand Japanese culture. Two and a half stars.

Sacrifice: Weeeellll...who cared, really? Lots of camera cuts and people staring hard at something only they can see...but it all adds up to a mother-daughter bond and a giant head straight out of the old Muppet skits on SNL. Felt as if it had been cobbled together from various ideas that weren't good to start. 1 and a half stars.

Blond Kwaidan: Huh? Not even bad enough to laugh at. Almost no set up: just an obnoxious man with a thing for blonds and....a blond who may be dead. Or not. Yeeeeccccchhhhh. Negative Million stars.

To summarize: even though it's less that ten minutes long, "Crevices" is a compact, neat little chiller that is, indeed, worth the cash you have to lay out to get it. The rest is eminently skippable.
Not bad for made for TV
S. Boone | Louisville, KY | 04/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This comes off a lot like a Japanese "Tales from the Darkside", perhaps combined with "Monsters" so if you liked those "back in the day", you'll probably find something to enjoy in this. "The Spider Woman" is the best, as a tabloid reporter chases down an "urban legend" of a woman who changes into a spider at night. Some good humor thrown in here too. "Blond Kwaidan" is the throw-away of the lot, kind of not much to it although a take-off on the voluminous black hair thing that shows up in a lot of Japanese films these days. Overall this is enjoyable but it is made for TV so don't expect oodles of gore."
Amy | Oklahoma, USA | 07/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The first story "The Spiderwoman" was very good. 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion. It was a good story line with some humor thrown in there.

The second story "Crevices" was AMAZINGLY awesome. 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. To me it was a genius story line. The only problem is that this story should have gotten some more showtime. It was the creepiest one on the DVD. Norio Tsuruta did I VERY good job. So...congrats to him :)

The third story "The Sacrifice" had a good story line to it. 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion. I think they could have done something to make the hideous head a little more... scarier though.

The fourth story "Blonde Kwaidan" was HORRIBLE! 1 out of 5 stars in my opinion. I'm sorry... but there was really no story line to it. It hardly explains anything... it was just a waste of film. The film used for this story should have been used to make "Crevices" a bit longer ;)

The fifth and final story "Presentiment" was pretty good. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars in my opinion. It was kinda slow a bit, but it really did have a good story line to it.

All and all this was a very good DVD. Glad I bought it. I have no regrets. (Except for watching "Blonde Kwaiden")"
Worth your money at its cheap price, but as much for laughs
Pixie | 06/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A friend gave this to me as a gift due to the fact that I am a huge fan of Ju-On (The Grudge), and the director of that movie, Shimizu, directed one of the shorts on this DVD. That is what it is composed of: a handful of shorts. Some of them are very good. The rest of them are not so good. However, I even found two out of three of the less-than-stellar shorts to be good for one simple reason: they were hilarious. It's a "so bad it's good" situation here.

Let's start out with the ones I felt were good in the ways that they intended to be. Crevices, in my opinion, is the very best short on the DVD. It's about a man who has to go to an old friend's apartment due to the fact that the friend has not paid rent in three months. When the manager shows him the apartment, the man is shocked to discover that the room is covered in red tape. He takes the tape down and looks around for clues to his friend's disappearance, but it's not long before strange things begin to happen.

Crevices is all about the horror and the fantasy present in the mundane. Zombies and elaborate curses certainly have their place, but what could be scarier than danger attributed to something that is all around you, something you don't even give a second thought on a normal basis? The way the camera is handled really adds to the creepy factor. There are several wonderful shots that really add to the mood. The filming method is simplistic and not at all flashy, which adds to the feeling that there is much to be feared in normalcy. There is at least one moment that WILL make you jump. I promise. The only thing about this film is that you will ask yourself several times, "Why doesn't he just leave?!" The simple answer, my friends, is that then we would have no film.

The other short I really enjoyed was Presentiment. This one is about a man with a plot to steal some sort of sensitive, confidential data from his work and run away. His family is awaiting him to join them on vacation, and someone else is waiting for him too... his frantic, suicide-threatening mistress, whom we gather he is planning to run off with. He gets into the elevator to exit his office building. Inside the elevator are three people: an elderly couple and a young woman. They look a little strange, especially to be in an office building elevator, but at first this does not particularly worry the man. He has quite a bit on his mind already. The elevator seems to take forever, though, and soon enough the tension begins to mount. His ride is far from over, however, and things are only going down from here.

Some people complain about Presentiment's slow pace, but I think the film is very suited to it. It allows the tension to gradually rise and for the viewer to get more and more suspicious about the three passengers right along with the man. It also gives the viewer a sense of what the man must feel- that time in the elevator is stretching out and running in slow motion when he needs desperately to be on the fast track. I also really enjoyed the acting. The three passengers made this short shine, for me.

Now onto the bad. First I'll talk about Blonde Kwaidan, because there isn't really a lot to say. Ironically, the Shimizu film that prompted my friend to purchase for me is the one that stands out as the worst. I didn't even manage to find much humor in this one, aside from one or two lines. It's about a Japanese man on a business trip to America; he is to stay in the house of an executive director from his work because the executive director is on vacation. The man has a great obsession with blondes, and is beside himself with jealousy to see a photo of a beautiful blonde girl he assumes to be the executive director's girlfriend. Soon enough, though, he starts to see things out of the corner of his eye and get the feeling of being touched. I won't spoil the ending for you, but it isn't much of an ending.

Another short is called The Spiderwoman. I loved it. This one isn't good because it's good, but because it tries so very, very hard to be good (and falls flat on its face). Something to keep in mind about the Japanese is that they have many urban legends and creature tales; it's simply a part of the culture. Several traditional urban legends are mentioned, such as the "man-dog", a dog with the face of a man. No, they really didn't make that part up just for the film.

The main focus in this story is, obviously, the spiderwoman. They say there was once a woman who hated spiders despite their helpful nature. One day she was cursed by all the spiders she killed and turned into a hideous spider creature herself. By day she appears to be a normal human, but by night, she turns into the spiderwoman and hunts her victims. The story surrounds the employees of a magazine called Mademoiselle that begins to run stories on the spiderwoman. Response to their stories is tremendous, so they continue to try to find more out about the spiderwoman. Most of the letters reporting sitings seem to come from one area, so they conclude that this is where the spiderwoman must be. One of the reporters goes to investigate, but he disappears. Another reporter goes to search for him.

This could have actually been a pretty creepy story, but it just isn't. The plot jumps all over the place and there are random scenes just to bring up the spiderwoman in different situations, such as how she is said to eat-and-run in a restaurant, and an "example" of how the spiderwoman hunts her prey and how to get rid of her (featuring a random night janitor you've never seen before, and will never see again). Things make very little sense plot-wise and logic-wise, most of the plot twists are pretty predictable, and the reactions people have to the spiderwoman's existence are so exaggerated and unlikely. The effects are on the lower end of alright, but they couldn't hope to save this film. What saves it is that all of this adds up to one HILARIOUS equation. I was laughing non-stop at how overdramatic it was. By the time it was over, my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. It's even better the second time around, because you realize even more strongly just how ridiculous the entire thing is. If you can embrace that, it's great.

The last film is called Sacrifice. It's kind of mediocre, halfway between decent and hilariously bad. This is about a woman who is asked out by a co-worker. She declines him, but finds out that another girl also turned him down and what he told that girl was this: "I'll put a curse on you." Interestingly, the "cursed" girl quit a short time after that. The protagonist starts to find mutilated bugs on her desk and one night arrives home to see a shape in blood (and the fake blood they used was a terrible quality- bright lipstick red) outside her door. Soon after this her mother falls ill and so the protagonist returns home to visit her. She is reminded of the time her grandmother died, at which time she saw a frightening apparition in the room with the shrine to her ancestors.

The story's plot isn't too bad, and the special effects aren't terrible, but it just drags on and in the end hasn't much substance to it. The apparition was really very unecessary and just seemed to be added for extra "scare" value (though I really didn't find it scary... just ugly). The funniest thing about this one is Fukuda, the man who puts the curse on the girl (whose name, you probably have gathered, I have forgotten). He's probably the creepiest guy I've ever seen. If I turned around in the light of day on a crowded street and saw him behind me I'd probably still scream. He almost looks like he would be very mild-mannered, yet he is so obviously a stalker, and obsessed with curses to boot.

So, there's my long-winded review on this not-so-long DVD. Basically, if you're looking for something to scare the pants off of you, to dazzle you with beautiful effects, or to keep you on the edge of your seat with a suspense-filled plot, you might want to keep looking. If you're looking for simple entertainment and want to spend less than ten bucks, I recommend this."