Some Halloween Posts for you Festive Folks

There are times when I feel motivated to write and then there are times where I feel uninspired to write especially around the holiday. I am not all that festive but I tried to be because a holiday is a great reminder that we should celebrate and have fun. Today, I am taking the easy route by recycling some older posts I have written.

It may seem as if I would never run out things to to talk about for Halloween because horror is my favorite genre, but this past two years since Covid-19 happened, I am just not in the mood for horror and dark. I think we seen enough of it in the media when people start dropping like flies or at least I have seen enough in my life. There is time to grieve and there is time celebrate. These days, I want to celebrate life without ignoring that we are living in scary times. For mental health’s sake, I find myself attracted to games like Tales of Xilia on the PS3, which I bought about 7 years ago! The game is about a goddess saving infants from playing with dangerous toys. Okay being sarcastic. Actually, I borrowed the words from the game! So far from what I am gathering, the female lead, Milla Maxwell is trying to protect the world from a mass destructive weapon. How does this game fits into celebrating life? Well, it’s about protecting the world and living in harmony with nature. What did you think? Did I make a great saleswoman?

Enough ranting, here are some horror-related posts you might have missed if you are new to my blog:

We got so many options these days to be entertained but too many options sort of discourage me from binging shows on Netflix. I have seen a few decent films but not enough to write about it:

  • Level 16 directed by Danishka Esterhazy (on Netflix)
  • Fear Street Part One: 1994 directed by Leigh Janiak (on Netflix)
  • The Thing (2011) directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. (on Prime Video)

As for T.V shows, I finally finished Twin Peaks season 1 and 2, and Death Note the anime. So stay tune for Death Note review but I haven’t decided to write up on Twin Peaks. It’s a great show. Most people know that by now. If there’s a show you think I might like, please leave a comment and I’ll check it out.

Until next time, Happy Halloween. Can’t wait to buy discount Halloween candy!

Pulse (回路,Kairo) Review: Help Me Escape Loneliness

Our world is ancient. People born and people die since prehistoric time. But what happens when there’s no more space left in the afterworld for those who have passed away? What are they? Ghosts? Wandering souls? When that happens, they bleed into our realm. The ghosts walk among us. So never open The Forbidden Room or else you will experience death, the eternal loneliness.

Pulse directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, released in 2001 in Japan and 2005 in the U.S, is a philosophical horror film with a touch of science fiction all mixed into one. Quite frankly I was pleasantly surprised this showed up in my recommendation of films to watch on Amazon Prime Video. I have been searching for this film for a while and seen it several years ago but forgot the title. If it were a video game, I would play it in a heartbeat. In fact, some of the horror titles I enjoyed in the past were released around that time:

The film is not as straight forward so watching it with full attention and twice is recommended. It’s like reading a heavy novel. There’s a lot to digest and piece together. Each frame, each scene ties well together, painting a world that is on the brink of human extinction. The scariest thing about this film is the internet and the red tape. Some places are just meant to be sealed away.

Why do we connect to the internet? Why do we need to connect with others? Most normal people go about wanting few interactions with people as possible or don’t see a need to fill up the void inside of them. That’s why if humans are too far apart, they are drawn together but get too close, they die. What’s the point of getting close? As Harue Karasawa (character from the film) explains a grad student programming project:

Two dots get too close to each other, they die and if they are too far apart, they are drawn closer together.

That’s the world we live in.

Take a moment to think about this abstract idea. How many times have you been honest with a friend but only end up hurting them instead? What’s the point of friendship then?

For horror fans, I don’t need to tell you to watch it because you might have already seen it, especially if you fall into the millennial age group. Japanese horror was a sensation back then. I remember the The Ring terrified many in theater including myself and I became interested in Japanese horror ever since.

One thing I took out from this film is that if I ever need to feel the need to connect with anyone, it might be wise just to turn off the device and connect with real people. Don’t glorify loneliness. It’s eternal death. Humans are no different from ghosts if we are pacing back in form in our rooms, trapped in the internet world.

Fun East Asian Horror Films for Halloween

Sometimes I just float where ever the wind takes me. I’m like a pollen just drifting in autumn’s air. Okay that is not scientifically correct where I am from, but it doesn’t matter. In my universe nothing makes sense.

I have been spending a lot of time streaming on Amazon Prime Video. That’s where I watch all my martial art films. I can’t get enough of them. They are that addictive and fun to watch. You spend enough time on the site, you’d eventually find some good horror films and that is what happened to me. In fact, I haven’t had nightmares for a long time until I watched the following films.

Kidan: Piece of Darkness

There are 10 short stories in this anthology. A few of them spooked me out that I started dreaming that my place is haunted. I woke up to the sound of a single note being played on the piano. I don’t own a piano. I guess the film was so scary I had bad dreams. Maybe you should skip this one. Nonetheless it kept my eyes wide open–just like the cover. It’s that suspenseful.

Next one….

Hitokowa: The Killing Hour

This one is not as scary as the first film mentioned, but visually appealing to the eyes. I am not going to lie, I like to stare at pretty girls, especially when they are well dressed because it’s like watching a fashion catalogue for clothes. It gives me inspiration to take care of myself. Dressing up can be fun sometimes. But the only problem with looking nice is that you attract all sorts of creeps, especially if you are walking in the dark. The whole time watching this film, I’m thinking not so bright girl. It might be wise to change into sweatpants and sneakers so you can outrun your predator. You never know!!! Overall, the film is more comically scary than bone chilling if that makes sense. Ideally, I think the film is intended for female audiences. I had a great laugh. I laughed so loud my neighbors probably thought I am crazy.

Final one…

The Mimic

This film is mysterious enough to keep me on my toes, and the sentimental mother and daughter scenes made me well up with tears (let’s just say my relationship with my mom is strong), but the way how the story is being told is not so good. It felt too Hollywood for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great Korean horror films, but this one just didn’t make the cut.

I listed 3 films rating from 1 to 3. The first film mentioned is the best on this list.

Okay, I hope you enjoy my small list of reccomendations and hopefully it makes your film selection easier as there are so many films out there to choose from. Until next time, bye bye.

Kwaidan: A Different Type of Horror (Part III)

Please refer to my other posts for complete film analysis : Part I and Part II.

The last story in this film is In a Cup of Tea. This is the shortest story and my least favorite. I wonder why they put this story at the last section of the film. The ending of this story is as unfinished as the actual ending of this film. Did I confuse you yet? Keep reading.

The year 1900 Meji era, a writer mysteriously left his book unfinished. The narrator in the film attempts to explain what happened. Around New Year, Lord Sado Nakagawa visited the area and stopped at the temple with his entourage at a temple in Hongo. Kannai one of the travelling men, became thirsty and went to get a cup of water, but soon an apparition appeared in the water, smiling at him. He tossed the water out, but the reflection of a strange man kept appearing when he scooped a new cup of water. Irritated, he drank the water.

Later that evening, the strange man in the cup of water appeared in the manor in human form. He called himself, Heinai Shikibu. Frightened by the appearance, Kannai claimed to never have seen him, when asked if he recognized the mysterious man. Heinai Shikibu got upset when Kannai threw the water on the ground earlier that morning at the temple. Kannai reached his sword and attacked Heinai Shikibu. And then, the “wounded mysterious man” disappeared behind the wall. No one believed him when he said there was an intruder entering the manor.

The next following night, three visitors came to visit Kannai. They claimed to be Heinai Shikibu’s retainer. The visitors said Heinai Shikibu will come back on the 16th of the month to get his revenge. Kannai became angry and started to swing his sword at the visitors. Those ghostly visitors could not be killed because they were not real. Kannai turned into a mad man, laughing hysterically because he could not defeat them.

Then the scene goes back to the writer, who left his book unfinished. The publisher came to check on the writer as the deadline is approaching. It appears that the writer’s suffered from writer’s block and could not come up with a satisfying ending “to a story about a man who swallowed another’s soul.” So he left it for the publisher to come up with an ending. The ending shows the writer inside a big water vase. Very strange.

I personally think this story is confusing no matter how many times I watched it. Writing it out doesn’t make it any better. Did it make any sense to you? Perhaps the way the tale is being told is intentional. Well I guess, as the narrator said, some books are mysteriously unfinished. This tale is in fact very mysterious. The only part I really enjoyed was the three visitors fighting scene. Strangely the three visitors reminds me of Raiden from Mortal Kombat. He is my favorite.

To summarize my entire experience with the film: it did not scare me. Horror and haunting are two different words. Did it succeed at giving me the chills? Maybe Hoichi the Earless did. For the most part, it left me feeling satisfied and grateful that I am alive.

Kwaidan: A Different Type of Horror (Part II)

Hoichi the Earless is the third story in the film. The longest story out of all the four stories and the most complex to dive in, but artistically on point.  I watched the segment repeatedly, analyzing every scene from the painted red/orange sky to the watermelon.

It starts off with a gloomy song about the last battle fought between the Genji and Heike clan. Three thousands people total fought along the shore of Dan-no-ura.  In the song, it mentions how the Heike clan got defeated.  And thereafter, the sea became haunted for 700 years. To console the dead samurais, a temple was built.  And thus is the beginning of the strange haunted story between Hoichi, the blind musician and the supernatural.

Hoichi plays a musical instrument called biwa. He surpasses his master at reciting the battle’s story. One day, he is called by a spirit to perform at Akamagahara, which is actually a cemetery for the Heike spirits, located near the temple. Hoichi agreed to visit Akamagahara thinking it is an honor to play in front of a high rank.

The next day, a dead body appears on the shore—the villagers blame the sea ghosts for taking the life, and we later find out another ship has sunk on that very same night Hoichi recited the battle story. Apparently when the story is recited, a life on the sea is taken.

Hoichi’s encounter with the dead causes him to become pale. He would sleep during the day and visited Akamagahara at night. The master of the temple and everyone begin to take notice of his disappearance at night and his odd behavior and wonder if they could trust him.

One pouring night, Hoichi left again to Akamagahara. They found Hoichi reciting the last “Battle at Dan-no-ura.” This section is beautifully well pieced in the story. Throughout each disappearance at night, we don’t see Hoichi reciting the battle. It is until the last portion where he is discovered, the recite from the beginning is played.

It is then, the master of the temple confronted Hoichi that he has been lured by a menacing spirit. Soon, it will possess and kill him. In order to save Hoichi from the spirit, scriptures were written all over his body except for his ears. He has been told not to respond to the spirit when it calls for him.  And so, during the evening, just when the spirit is about to call for Hoichi to attend the cemetery, the spirit got angry because he could not find Hoichi but only his ears (the scriptures made his body invisible). The spirits then tore his Hoichi’s ears apart. The strange tale between Hoichi and the supernatural has made him rise to fame to the point that the living lord requested to hear him perform the Heike Tale. Hoichi did not decline. As long he is alive, he will play his biwa with all his soul to mourn those thousands of spirits.

How is this a haunting tale, you might wonder. It’s haunting in the sense that the spirits could never be put to rest without replaying the whole battle at Dan-no-ura over and over and over. For 700 years, the shore where the battle took place between the Genji and Heike clan, has been haunted.

In summary, it’s kind of frightening to know that one can be lured by a spirit without knowing. That alone, sends me chills. I hope when the time come for me to depart from this world, I hope it ends naturally–not sorrowfully like those from the Heike clan.