Saturday, November 21, 2009

In short: Kazuo Umezu's Horror Theater: Death-Make (2005)

The operator of a website specialized in the paranormal makes some kind of deal with a local cable TV show and carts a bunch of "sensitives" into the empty warehouse where every second cheap horror flick takes place, ahem, I mean where a group of young girls supposedly disappeared years ago.

The group builds four walls out of white sheets and does nothing of interest, until mildly strange things start to happen. Soon, the intrepid explorers into the paranormal find themselves in another dimension or some such, not hunted by the expected ghost, but by a shitty looking crabmantisspider.

Death-Make (whatever that is supposed to mean) is one part of a series of short films either made for Japanese TV or the direct to DVD market, based on manga by the loveable excentric Kazuo Umezu aka Umezz. Unfortunately, this one has not been helmed by a real director (for example Kiyoshi Kurosawa) like some of the other episodes, but is directed by the series' main special effects guy Taichi Ito, who is really bad as his job.

The monster looks so terrible that I would find it difficult not to take it as a personal affront, if not for the fact that the rest of the effects is just as bad. Therefore, logic suggest a case of incompetence and not of malevolence.

Of course, I would gladly be willing to just ignore the crappiness of the effects if the plot, the acting or the direction would be any good. Alas, it isn't so.

I'm not going to come down too hard on the actors, though. There is only so much someone can do when given nothing at all to work with. As it happens, "nothing to work with" is exactly how I would describe Death-Make's script. There's no rhyme, no reason, no characterisation and not even enough plot for the 50 minutes of my life this thing has stolen from me. Worse, every potentially neat idea (all two of them!) is destroyed bei Ito's direction.

I would not be surprised if the man had learned (or rather not learned) his trade making videoclips, what with his love for nonsensical jump-cuts, useless black and white footage, puzzling rewinds and digital filters only a blind man would find appropriate. Ito's direction is just astonishingly bad, at once completely without an ability to build mood and filled with the sort of self-important "look at mah wicked stylez!" stunt directing you can only get away with when you know exactly what you are doing. Ito surely doesn't.

While this may sound less than encouraging, I suspect that the outright stupidity of the script, the inept effects and Ito's interesting ideas about film direction could make for something well worth pointing and laughing at in an intoxicated state.

Too bad that I was astonishingly sober while watching the "film", as always.


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