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The Boy from Hell The Boy from Hell   B-
review by Jim Harper

Frequently described as the king of horror manga, Hideshi Hino has been creating his own brand of graphic horror for nearly three decades now. Given the success of the many Junji Ito adaptations, it's perhaps surprising that there have been no attempts to translate Hino's stories to the big or small screen, although Hino himself directed two installments in the notorious Guinea Pig series (Flowers of Flesh and Blood and Mermaid in a Manhole). Both films showcased his talent for grotesque stories and over-the-top gore.

flipside's review | published 02.21.2006

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King of the Ants King of the Ants   A
review by Jim Harper

First, a word of warning: if you're looking for the latest slice of gory, over-the-top horror from Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon, you've come to the wrong place. You won't find anything Lovecraftian in King of the Ants, nor will you find zombies, tentacled things, or secret cults, although there is a severed head. What you will find is extreme violence, black humor, and a twisted tale of love and revenge.

flipside's review | published 07.07.2004

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Koma Koma   B-
review by Jim Harper

With so many filmmakers choosing to take their cues from Seven and The Silence of the Lambs, it's refreshing to come across a director with a few ideas of his own, not to mention an obvious familiarity with the works of Brian De Palma and Dario Argento. Koma, the latest film from Hong Kong director Lo Chi-Leung, might not be in the same league as Dressed to Kill or Deep Red, but it's still a decent psycho-thriller with plenty of style and a fistful of nice twists.

flipside's review | published 07.25.2005

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Living Hell Living Hell   C+
review by Michael Scrutchin

Billed as "a Japanese Chainsaw Massacre," Shugo Fujii's Living Hell doesn't have any chainsaws, but the psychological and physical torment of its hero often feels like Chainsaw's nightmarish dinner-table sequence stretched out ad nauseam. Wheelchair-bound 22-year-old Yasu (Hirohito Honda) is recovering from a mental breakdown when two distant relatives arrive to stay with his family. One is a pasty-faced elderly woman (Yoshiko Shiraishi) and the other is a pale, skinny girl about Yasu's age (Naoko Mori), both of whom never talk or display any recognizable human emotions -- and who always stand side by side, looking on with cold, dead stares. When Yasu's father and older siblings are at work during the day, the creepy duo is left alone to torture the helpless boy.

flipside's review | published 10.25.2004

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Marebito Marebito   B
review by Jim Harper

Having directed five installments of his lucrative Ju-On/The Grudge franchise (with another two on the way), critics and fans alike have begun to wonder whether Takashi Shimizu would be able to demonstrate the same kind of talent outside those comfortable confines. His only other non-Ju-On film, 2001's Tomie: Replay, was one of the better installments of the series, but did not match the quality of his other works. It's hardly surprising then that there has been a good deal of interest in Marebito, a low-budget film shot in just over a week while Shimizu was waiting to begin work on his big-budget U.S. debut, The Grudge (2004).

flipside's review | published 12.08.2005

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Marronnier Marronnier   B
review by Jim Harper

Marronnier is a horror film about dolls. Although influenced by films such as Child's Play, it's also a lot more. If you throw in the Evil Dead movies, House of Wax, and the body-horror fantasies of acclaimed manga artist Junji Ito, you might be getting close to the truth. Most importantly, Marronnier is one of the best low-budget horror movies released in recent years.

flipside's review | published 06.21.2005

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Reincarnation Reincarnation   B-
review by Jim Harper

After two mediocre installments, Infection and Premonition (both 2004), the J-Horror Theater series finally manages to raise the standards a little with Takashi Shimizu's Reincarnation. Unlike Marebito (2004), the director's last Japanese-language film, it's a big-budget commercial picture that stays close to the niche Shimizu has created with the Ju-On/The Grudge series, something that has lead critics to herald it as further evidence of the decline of Japanese horror.

flipside's review | published 08.29.2006

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Savage Harvest 2: October Blood Savage Harvest 2: October Blood   B
review by Michael Scrutchin

Savage Harvest (1995) was an early shot-on-video gorefest by Eric Stanze, the talented filmmaker and head of Wicked Pixel Cinema who would later secure his reputation in underground horror with fierce, disturbing shockers like Ice from the Sun and Scrapbook. In many ways, Savage Harvest was your typical demonic-possession romp with a cast of doomed teenagers -- The Evil Dead, only steeped in Cherokee mythos -- but Stanze's considerable passion behind the camera made all the flesh-eating, throat-ripping, chainsaw-roaring carnage seem fresh and exciting. The sequel, written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Jason Christ, builds upon Stanze's movie while establishing its own voice.

flipside's review | published 09.25.2006

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Suburban Nightmare Suburban Nightmare   B-
review by Michael Scrutchin

A pitch-black tragicomedy that depicts a once-loving marriage as it crumbles to pieces, Suburban Nightmare might have been an insightful and resonant satire on relationships if only it didn't lose its way in the end amidst all the carnage. It starts off well enough. Trent Haaga and Brandy Little play Charles and Deborah Rosenblad, a typical suburban couple who have the same squabbles that crop up in any long-term relationship. Of course, their fights are never really about what they're arguing over -- it's a constant power struggle, both of them jockeying for position. The fighting upsets their young daughter Becky (Haydon Tweedie), bedridden with the flu the night on which the film takes place. But Becky has a bit more to be worried about than the squabbling: her parents are serial killers.

flipside's review | published 06.29.2004

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Sweet Home Sweet Home   B
review by Jim Harper

Thanks to the offbeat serial-killer movie Cure (1997) and nerve-shredding ghost story Pulse (2001), Kiyoshi Kurosawa is recognized as one of Japan's premier exponents of the fear film. His long association with horror began in 1989, with Sweet Home, a big-budget haunted-house film inspired by The Haunting (1963) and Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist (1982). The pulsing soundtrack and eye-catching special effects are a long way from the subtle, metaphysical terrors of his later works, but it's still a superior horror film that deserves a wider audience.

flipside's review | published 08.10.2006

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