Tamiya Iemon is the Worst

Ghost stories wend their way from Noh, Kabuki and the Bunraku puppet theater all the way through “J Horror” and the vengeful ghost ladies with invasive hair of today. There are many tales of love, bitterness and vengeful ghosts, but like a certain Scottish play, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan is unique in having a curse associated with it.

Kuroneko

A crumbling ruin. A mist-shrouded forest. A lone samurai making his way home late at night meets a seemingly defenseless young woman. So begins the horror of Kaneto Shindô’s tale of ghosts, vengeance, and the wrongs visited upon women by entitled men.

Cultural Gutter: Beneath the Mysterian Dome

Over on The Cultural Gutter, I’m celebrating Eiji Tsuburaya, Ishiro Honda, and aliens who want to steal our women! Beneath the Mysterian Dome is a look at The Mysterians and Battle in Outer Space, two of the biggest special effects blow-outs the the Honda-Tsuburaya team created. Prepare yourself for tiny space battle son an epic…

Battles without Honor and Humanity II

I’ve been sitting here trying to think of an adequate way to describe exactly what it is that Sonny Chiba does and wears in this second film in Kinji Fukasaku’s highly enjoyable, highly influential Battles without Honor and Humanity series of films that delve into the world of organized crime and the role it played…

They Were 11

They Were 11 is an interesting take on sci-fi anime from the eighties, and definitely a marked departure from the space operas overflowing from the previous decades and the wham-bam sci-fi actioners that defined the eighties. There is really only one action scene in the entire movie, and that’s a pie fight. Yet despite the…

A Gaggle of Golgo 13

Golgo 13 was (is) a long-running Japanese comic book aimed primarily at bitter guys in dead-end salaryman jobs who harbored daydreams of being tough-as-nails murderous sex machines but, in reality, were just nerdy guys reading a comic book on the train before they started a day full of kissing their boss’s ass and shouting out…

Great Yokai War

After making a veritable tidal wave with a slew of twisted DTV hits including the Dead or Alive trilogy, Visitor Q, and Ichi the Killer, Japanese cult film director Takashi Miike hit a rough patch in which most of his films went unnoticed or, worse, disliked by the throngs who had so recently celebrated his…

Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro

Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, early in his career, takes the lewd, brash character of Lupin III and transforms him into a slightly more honorable gentleman thief for this breathtaking adventure. People who are not familiar with the character of Lupin the Third are still likely to have heard of and perhaps even seen this…

Odin: Photon Space Sailer Starlight

Let me start off by saying that I love Odin. Absolutely love it. All those people in the world who call it one of the worst animated films of all time? Liars. Every one of them. Dirty, rotten, filthy liars. Let me further preface that admission by freely admitting that I have no illusions as…

Lupin III: Mystery of Mamo

Created by Japanese artist Monkey Punch (surprisingly, not his real name) in the 1960s, Lupin the Third was a mixture of James Bond, Matt Helm, Cary Grant from To Catch a Thief, and whatever guy you can think of who grabs boobs a lot. Bill Clinton, I guess. Lupin the Third was meant to be…

Terror Beneath The Sea

Terror Beneath The Sea is a movie with a lot of charm. There are the wondrous conventions of Sixties science fiction: bold colors and sleek design, underwater cities built in miniature, torpedo battles, a safety-striped submarine, and even a Nehru-suited mad man. But Sonny Chiba is the most charming thing in Terror Beneath The Sea….

Karate-Robo Zaborgar

Karate Robo Zaborgar presented me with the sort of soul-searching conflict that often plagues those of us who worry about the higher philosophical questions in life. On the one hand, it was a presumably loving spoof of one of my favorite genres — the old “tokusatsu” superhero shows of the 1970s, with their karate cyborgs,…