Thursday, May 11, 2006

Suicide Club

Kill yourself! Kill yourself! Jesus loves you! Oops, that was a typo. Sorry, but I've had those words stuck in my head since I read them. It makes me long for the days of "look at all the little fishies..."

Last night I re-watched an excellent Japanese horror film, Suicide Club. Spoiler alert – if you’re planning to watch it, skip to the next paragraph. The movie starts well, with a gory mass suicide involving 54 Japanese high school girls in their darling uniforms and a fast-moving train. I can’t help it that when I look at young J-hotties in those uniforms, my guy brain does the standard evaluation – Can I mate with it? Can I have it for lunch? – and the answer to both questions is “Hai”. That’s “Yes” to you fecking ignorant Westerners.

Note – if you haven’t seen a J-horror film and you have a reasonably strong constitution, I suggest you watch Suicide Club, Battle Royale, and Ichi the Killer (the last is particularly graphic). BR is arguably more action than horror, but it works on both levels. If you’ve never seen a J-horror film then you probably don’t know this is one area in which the Japanese have a clear advantage over us. American horror films of the 70’s (our golden era for that genre) were designed to make your date cling to your arm during the show and possibly give you nightmares. Modern horror is basically teenie comedy with a little whitewashed violence added to the mix. J-horror, on the other hand, attempts to psychologically scar you for life.

When asked the difference between fiction and reality, a famous author (I don’t remember who) said “Fiction has to make sense.” Apparently nobody told the Japanese. My favorite J-horror films have been bloody, erotic (maybe that’s just me and my predilection for cute little J-corpses), thought-provoking, and have left me wondering “What happened?” when they’re through. Last night’s second viewing of Suicide Club didn’t reveal any more to me than the first viewing. I wonder if I’ll understand it better the next time (and yes, there will be a next time).

Pleasure Room

In last night’s cerebral assault (don’t worry, I won’t give away any more of the plot) a woman finds herself the prisoner of a guy and his minions. The dude can best be described as a blonde Japanese Johnny Depp. While in his pleasure room (his words – the room is actually a bowling alley with a throne and littered with victims, live and dead, human and animal, whole and dismembered, all wrapped in sheets), he grabs a guitar and begins to sing to her. I thought “Yes! That’s what was missing – a musical number. Also J-boobies.” The music I can only describe as slow techno-rock, the band comprised of his guitar and an accompanying organ. As they played, he sang the following ditty:

Time and time again the sky is blue
And yet it's strange how people seem to always fall in love
An unfamiliar yellow dog
Keeps grinning as it tears us from the ones we love

(refrain - in English)
Because (the) dead
Because (the) dead
Because (the) dead shine all night long

I want to die as beautifully as Joan of Arc
Inside a Bresson film
Lesson one, apply the shaving cream
And smile as you then slowly slice away the heart

(refrain - in English)

Feel the warmth of the spring rain as it gently moistens down a cheek
That's streaked with dried up tears
A guileless boy but five years old stares blankly in the face of death
While his heart is cut and torn away.

(refrain - in English)

Japanese Johnny Depp

Note - a girl is being stabbed to death while this is being sung. Further note – now my brain can’t stop repeating the refrain. It’s an improvement.

I don’t know about you, but I’m fairly certain that song makes no sense in any language. A lot of Japanese music strikes me that way – it’s filled with powerful (sometimes discordant) imagery, but as a whole it doesn’t follow a clear line of logic. And yet I like it anyway. If only the Japanese could manufacture some decent heavy metal (and if you try to tell me about the band Loudness, it only proves you don’t understand the concept of good HM).

Another good example of confusing Japanese art comes from the movie Dead or Alive 2. The characters wrote and performed a play for small children, wherein one guy dressed as a lion assaulted a character that looked like a flower / bird combination with a flashlight for a penis. The lion and other animals yanked his glowing penis away, smashed it on the floor, and then gang-clobbered and kancho’d Flower Bird into submission. Afterward they stood, faced the enthusiastic crowd, and informed them that strength and courage will always win in the end.

Clearly I’m writing in the wrong country. Lack of imagination has never been my problem. My problem is putting it all into a coherent form. But since the Japanese have no need for sense, I went ahead and wrote an episode for a children’s show.

Opening scene: a stage littered with disparate objects (doesn’t matter what – just root through the dumpster behind the studio). The narrator, wearing bicycle shorts, clown shoes, a puffy shirt, and a Samurai helmet, goose-steps onto the stage singing the following song I wrote all by myself:

Rocks fall through the ether
Like dying rain in an afterbirth
Mentally, I shelve the marmalade
Like, you know, whatever.
(repeat repeatedly)

He then produces a chainsaw and dismantles a bowl of porridge.

Break for commercial.

When we return, we see that he is now being assisted by a J-hottie in a schoolgirl’s uniform with a fish strapped to her head. They demonstrate Japan’s legal infrastructure using rice crackers and wasabi as she exclaims “Fooooo!” every time he makes a point. She laughs and leaves as he removes his shorts and sets fire to his underwear. As the credits begin to roll, he looks at the camera and delivers the day’s lesson: “All you need is love.”

I’ll write the next episode during my tea break.

I would go to Japan and become a script writer, but I’m worried about looking like a complete fool (as opposed to a partial fool) if I’m interviewed:
J-hottie: You are such a brilliant gaijin! Tell me, how did the wasabi on the girl’s nipples represent the Japanese concept of justice?
Me: Actually, even I don’t know what I was saying.

Final note – a lot of words in Japanese are obviously English in origin, and the amount of Engrish in their language is increasing. If I wait a few years, I can probably go to Japan and just speak English like everybody else. Good timing too, since America is converting to Spanish. :p


Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

¡Tan verdadero!

Penis flashlights? I think they based that on a nightmare I once had after ingesting too much wasabi and adult beverages...;)

~Deb said...

Let me just say---that comment that was left for me, “Kill yourself! Kill yourself! Jesus loves you!” was fricken EERIE as hell Grant! If it was you I’m gonna so bust your little Satanic cannibalistic arse!!! (ha)

On the other hand, I did see “The Grudge” which I believe was a Japanese influenced horror flick. It had a whole different feel to it. I liked it—but it made you think way too hard. (Not a thinking type of person…)

On the other hand, I wanted to tell you that the other night, my girlfriend and I went out to this really incredible sushi bar and steak house. There were these BEAUTIFUL Japanese women waiting on tables and I was so tempted to take some pictures for you…but that would be kind of ‘touristy’ and really odd to see me taking snapshots of these ladies while they work. I think I would have got kicked out—but it was all for you Grant! Next time! Oh, and the sushi was to die for! But not to “kill yourself over”…

Jesus loves you man!

Tracy Lynn said...

I agree, J-horror is way creepier than the American version.

I, personally, am a huge fan of anime, in all it's forms. One of my current faves is Bo-bobo-bo-bobobo, which never makes any sense whatsoever, and delights me every time I watch it.

SJ said...

I don't know if you meant to be funny and I don't care... HAR HAR HAR HAR!!!

Japanese movies?? scratchign head does Godzilla count?

Grant said...

pq - あなとはわかります。 And wasabi is good and good for you, even if it can induce nightmares.

~deb - twasn't me who left the comment, although I thought it was funny. I'm not quite that rude and never anonymous.
The Grudge was based on a Japanese movie, but that doesn't count (and it wasn't one of the better J-horror films anyway). Watch Ichi the Killer.
And next time you're in that restaurant, get pictures and tell them you're not a fecking tourist, you just know a wealthy influential Southern gentleman who's in love with them.

tracy - NetFlix doesn't have that title, so I'll have to keep watching Initial D and just be content with saying "Bo-bobo-bo-bobobo"

sj - Godzilla (actually called Gojiro in Japan) is not an example of modern J-horror, to which I was referring. Get Ichi the Killer if you can.

Doug Murata said...

Have you seen Slashers? It's an American horror film along the lines of movies like House of 1000 Corpses (i.e. just a gory, well, slasher.) The idea is that you've got a Japanese reality show making its American debut. The show is kinda like The Running Man, but there's no cover up. The contestants know they're fighting for survival, as do the spectators. Not exactly psychological horror, but, because it's supposed to be a Japanese show, you've got the J-Hotties in cheerleading uniforms with skull pom-poms and singing a bad theme song. It's pretty hilarious!

Tracy Lynn said...

Saturday nights, Cartoon Network, Toonami- Delightful, I tell you.

patti_cake said...

the closest i've came is Godzilla or The Grudge. I don't like thinking too much when watching a movie

messiah said...

it's not horror, but i think i'll stick with akira. i do agree, after trying to watch a couple other anime flicks - that their storylines are not logical, or linear. big into long drama (too long to hold my interest some days).

i'll have to see if my local rental store stocks ichi the killer. (no relation to itchy and scratchy?)

Grant said...

doug - I added Slashers to my NetFlix queue, but I'm betting it still falls short of true J-horror. I also recommend Entrails of a Virgin and Entrails of a Beautiful Woman - they're almost a blend of softcore porn and hardcore gore.

tracy - I don't do cable or sattelite TV. In fact, I don't do TV at all - just DVDs.

pattiunderscorecake - they're not really thinking people's movies - they're just baffling.

messiah - After Ichi, you'll never view Itchy and Scratchy as violent again.

Angie said...

"a blend of softcore porn and hardcore gore..." And you wonder why you have weird dreams.....

Kira said...

Grant, since you're sharing your love for the oddity of Japanese lyrics with us, I thought I'd share with you my most favorite Japanese "art" ever. Basically, it's an ad for Kikkoman Soy Sauce, and it's the Japanese ad for it. My favorite parts: the Kikkoman in bed with the chick and the hanging cat for no apparent reason. Check it out! You will not regret it!

Ayako said...

"Grant さんのコメント...
Mmm...ちゅうごくーうさぎ. I want one of my own. :p

Did you just enable comment moderation? Did you get a rude comment or something? "

First of all, that "Grant さんのコメント..." wasn't my idea. The computers at work are running Japanese versions of Windows XP and the default language is Japanese. Go figure =P

Why do you call girls "rabbits"? =P

I enabled comment moderation because I keep getting spammed by people who want to sell me ceiling fans. Too lazy to delete the comments so I'd rather just receive an email and decide whether to reject the comment or post it. Simple =D

fatty ~ said...

ur so fecking american arent ya! u can give up the facade =P

ok - these things are way too weird for me to process. Mainly because i don't like horror movies, am not turned on by jap hotties in school uniform, dont speak jap and can't hear this song.

but thats ok. I'm going to smile and nod anyway so u think i care. I dont want to be massacred. =D

Enemy of the Republic said...

Cool pictures--I like them. I can't relate to the thematics, but who cares. Your blog is always fun to read. By the way, what do you do in your spare time? And I still don't know what a redneck is?

Avitable said...

I've found that the Japanese horrors are effective because they don't have to take place in the woods or the countryside.

Just as we've evolved, so have the monsters that go thump in the night. They take over office buildings and computers and cellphones and cameras. That's what makes some of their movies so damned creepy.

That said, I don't know if I could watch a Battle Royale movie after reading the book and enjoying it so well. I am always disappointed by watching a movie after reading its originating media.

mal said...

mmmmmm, it seems the recurring theme is J-Hotties in cute school uniforms? Is all the rest just a vehicle to get the hotties and their uniforms out to the public?

PBS said...

Wow, I want to see those horror movies! Sounds like they go all out without the constraints of some of ours. I've watched anime and love it, even though it doesn't always (usually!) make a lot of sense to me.

The Stiltwalker said...

Grant what part of town do I find Japanese foods, films, etc?

BBB_0202020 said...

Lmao!! I heard that japanese scary movies are scary as Hell!!

BBB_0202020 said...

Lmao!! I heard that japanese scary movies are scary as Hell!!

Joe said...

But when has a bowling alley ever been known as anything other than a pleasure room?

Prata said...

Ichi the Killer, excellent...excellent movie. *twitches* Did I mention excellent? But yes, Japanese film makers are attempting to psychologically obliterate you. It's lead to massive amounts of me knowing I need therapy and not going. Mmmm...j-horror is the best..

The Grudge was okay, it was definitely different on style, watch the original of it and you'll be like Oh..that's disturbing, but there are definitely better j-horror flicks out there. Even some of the oddball j-porn has some disturbing undertones.

Grant when are we going to japan again? *blinkles*

hellbunny said...

I do like their horror.I haven't seen that one though.

Grant said...

angie - my dreams far predate my current Japanese craze.

kira - Dave Barry made that link famous, but it is an excellent example of the Japanese getting across a point while making no sense whatsoever.

ayako - I call you "bunnies" because I love you all and want to marry you.

fatty - ...except for you because you're only 17. Hurry up and age, girlie!

enemy - I have no spare time. In the little time I have, I read, write, study Japanese, and sometimes watch J-horror and anime.
I'll do a full redneck explanation later, but the best short description comes from Jeff Foxworthy - a glorious lack of sophistication.

avitable - I'm usually disappointed by a movie after the book, but that movie has enough eye candy to make up for the inability to peek into the character's heads.

mallory - the really good ones are valid horror stories (with or without nudity), but the direction in a lot of the Japanese B horror movies is basically "Get naked! Now, die horribly!"

pbs - some are quite restrained, but not the three I listed (although Suicide Club stops short of showing the most gruesome bits).

stiltwalker - this is an online reference in Japan that lists where Japanese places are in America. Just give it your local info and type in a keyword like "markets" and it will tell you where the local stores are. For the movies, I generally use Netflix but I found Suicide Club at my local Blockbuster (foreign films section).

tigerkiss - hell will probably seem tame after some of these flicks, but I'll let you all know.

joe - down here, I'm surprised they don't have valet parking and sushi bars. Come to think of it, I did see a place on the news listed as an Extreme Bowling Alley, complete with lasers and loud music. What's next? Extreme fly fishing?

prata - we can go as soon as I learn enough of the language to do more than sound like a complete moron. "Me is Grant. Give me sex, J-usagi."

hellbunny - if you like real horror, I think you'll enjoy my selection. GO RENT NOW!