Yatterman

Yatterman is a colorful, overblown, largely idiotic live-action adaptation of an anime series from 1977. It’s also a painful illustration of every weak point wildly hit-or-miss director Takashi Miike possesses, while at the same time it fails to highlight any of the thing he does well. Miike’s staunch unwillingness to make anything less than 14,000…

Kuro-Obi

Japanese martial arts films have almost ceased to exist, with there being little more to the genre anymore than CGI movies or no-budget T&A stinkers. So a bunch of karate guys woke up one day and thought to themselves, “you know, maybe we should be the guys making karate movies.”

High Kick Girl

The dream of High Kick Girl was to take the Japanese martial arts movie back from the fumbling hands of CGI-heavy fantasy films and boob-heavy sexploitation stinkers full of AV idols flopping about and calling it karate, and return the martial arts film to the stewardship of people who actually care about it.

Vampire Doll

Japan’s occasional flirtations with an interest in vampires are, like most things having to do with Japan and Western pop culture, a bizarre mix of revulsion and fascination with the foreign — a dichotomy that is almost certainly (in my eyes) born of the interests of the young simply not lining up with the prejudice…

Dracula, Sovereign of the Damned

Drac’s dialogue was choice, and the comic was full of half-naked vampire chicks, crossbows, cane swords, reanimated corpses, and bikers in furry lambswool vests and droopy mustaches

Brutal Story at the End of the Tokugawa Shogunate

Samurai films have a curious knack for expressing compassionate, humanist ideals via soul-crushing bleakness and violence. One would be hard-pressed to find a bleaker, more violent indictment of the romance of the samurai — and the culture of violence in general — than director Tai Kato’s blood-drenched and aptly named Brutal Story at the End…

Ghost Stories of Wanderer at Honjo

Researching the history of Japanese yokai in cinema is a difficult task. At least, it’s a difficult task if, like me, you don’t read Japanese and are kind of lazy. Almost all of the English language writing about movies involving these bizarre and multitudinous creatures from Japanese folklore focuses on the three loosely related yokai…

Godzilla’s Revenge

If more Godzilla fans could get the broom out of their ass and actually enjoy the films rather than nitpick and dissect them under an electron microscope, they’d see that in its own way, for its own audience, Minya and Godzilla’s Revenge are as effective and important to the series as the original.

Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter

During the 1970s, Japan’s Nikkatsu Studio became famous, and yes most likely infamous, as the number one home for sleazy sexploitation, violent pink films, and just softcore porn in general. Although hardly the stuff of highbrow cocktail party conversations, the thoroughly exploitive nature of the Nikkatsu films doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of boldness…

Black Tight Killers

When we reviewed 3 Seconds Before the Explosion, we stated that it was one of two Nikkatsu Studio espionage films released onto the home video market in the United States, both starring studio mainstay Akira Kobayashi. We also said that 3 Seconds Before the Explosion, daft though it might have been, was the more conservative…

Toei Movieland Studio

Toei Movieland Studio hadn’t been on our official itinerary, but I convinced people to give it a try even though I was the only big Japanese movie fan in the bunch. Toei had given some of my absolute favorite sci-fi superhero shows, and the chance to see one of their studios was too good for me to pass up.

Arashiyama & The Iwatayama Monkey Park

There comes a time in every unwashed heathen’s life when he needs a break from serene Buddhas, and in those times, a man is well served by hopping the train to the small town of Arashiyama in order to hike Mt. Arashiyama and, if all goes well, see one of his friends attacked by an irritable monkey.