Now Reading: Junji Ito stuff

I don’t have much knowledge or experience in the realm of manga, but I do know that Junji Ito is fucking awesome and I wish there was more stuff like this out there. His stories are extremely strange and very graphic, and his art style matches that tone perfectly. He is basically like if David Cronenberg and John Carpenter moved to Silent Hill and somehow had a baby together.

Gyo means fish and this is indeed a story about fish, sort of. It starts out with some fish crawling out of the water on mysterious new legs, with a bunch of tubes jammed in their gills. They seem to be acting strangely and emitting a terrible smelling gas. More and more sea creatures start appearing on these mystery legs until it becomes a worldwide plague, and it only gets weirder from there on. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s an extremely bizarre tale that features some truly grotesque (in a good way!) imagery.

Uzumaki, or spiral, is not as graphic as Gyo, but it is much weirder. Most of it is made up of a bunch of short stories following the people in this town that’s become “infected by spirals”. At first, people just seem to be getting mysteriously obsessed with spiral shapes, but then come the strange spiral-related occurrences and deaths, and it just keeps getting weirder and weirder as the whole town seems to be caught up in this mysterious curse. Most of the stories follow this main girl, Kyrie, who you would really think would get the fuck out of there after being directly involved in about a dozen blatantly supernatural and horrible deaths, but no, she and everyone else stick around until it’s too late and no one can leave anymore. At this point the story turns into a continuous series of tales about the final stages of the town’s curse and how the survivors try to stay alive and figure out just what the hell is going on.

Tomie seems to be his most famous work, having spawned 7 or 8 movie spin-offs, but it’s also one of his earliest and arguably the weakest of these 3. Tomie is really just a collection of short stories about Tomie, a mysterious undead girl who seems to be some kind of mash-up of a succubus and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Occasionally one or two stories in here are connected to each other, but for the most part they’re all standalone tales, and there isn’t really an ending to any of it. It’s still some pretty interesting stuff though. Tomie worms her way into random people’s lives, makes them obsessed with her and destroys their personal lives, and usually ends up being horribly murdered as a result, which just leads to her multiplying and mutating into even worse things. Again, very strange stuff.

Anyone else read this stuff and have any similar recommendations? I could really use more of this in my life. I’ve read Gantz and I’m going to get around to Berserk one of these days, but if you know of any other crazy horror or seinen stuff, I’d be glad to hear it (I think I actually already made a list somewhere of recommendations that I’ve been meaning to check out, but still, I could always use more)!

Watchin’ stuff

Saw this tonight finally. Man, it was great. They changed so much from the original stories, yet somehow it still felt like the most authentic Spider-Man I’ve ever seen in a movie. Spider-Man is one of my very favorite characters, but Raimi’s Spider-Man and The Amazing Sony-Man just didn’t do it for me and I’ve been waiting so, so long for a Spider-Man movie that I could actually enjoy, and this really delivered. Now that the non-origin origin movie is out of the way, I expect that things will get even better from here on out too. Oh man, it’s going to be so damn long until the next one comes out. Arghhhh.

A Dan O’Bannon classic. Maybe not as iconic or tightly produced as other movies he’s been attached to, but it’s still a pretty solid horror film. It’s a modern day (at least it was in the 80’s) re-telling of H.P. Lovecraft‘s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Just that whole part where they explore the catacombs makes it worth watching (and re-watching).

A supernatural horror movie starring Robert DeNiro, Sigourney Weaver, Cilian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen, and more? How the hell have I never heard of this? Oh. Because it’s not that good, and not even actually a horror movie at all. Weaver and Murphy play a pair of supernatural debunkers who end up facing off against DeNiro‘s character, who is basically the Moby Dick of spiritual performers. It plays out just how you’d expect such a story to play out, except with a twist, but the twist is telegraphed too blatantly too early on, and fails to have any impact when it’s finally confirmed in the end. Not a terrible movie, but not one I’d ever watch again.

Somehow, while watching old Twin Peaks, I got the bright idea to give this movie another chance because I seemed to remember it having the people who played Ed and Nadine as the villains. I never really got into this movie back in the day, and I personally don’t think Wes Craven had done anything worthwhile since Shocker, and I should have stuck with that original impression. I just don’t see the appeal. It’s like a cross between an episode of Goosebumps and a Tom and Jerry cartoon. If it weren’t for an occasional splash of blood and all the swearing, I’d think that this was made for children. I suppose the same could really be said of things like Nightmare on Elm Street (the later movies anyway) or Shocker too, but those had much more interesting villains and death scenes to make them stand out.

Uzumaki, or Spiral, is based on the manga of the same name by Junji Ito, one of the rare few manga creators I know and enjoy the works of. The original story was a dark and twisted tale that felt like a lost relative of Silent Hill or something, but this movie adaptation decided to take a much goofier tone for some reason. It was just too slow and silly to make the rare disturbing parts worth waiting around for. Better to just read the comic instead. In fact, now I really want to read some Junji Ito stuff again, and maybe find some new similar stuff (anyone know of any?).

Ahhh, now this was a manga adaptation that was much more to my liking. I actually haven’t read Blame! yet (it’s on my to-read list), but this was a really good dark sci-fi story that felt kind of like all the old 80’s cyberpunk anime I liked so much. It’s set in a future where machines have become the dominant life-form and turned the world into this giant, ever-expanding machine city where only a small village of humans remain in hiding. It’s a world with a whole lot of potential, that this movie only has time to get into a little bit of, but it does it really well and I think that manga just jumped up quite a few places on that to-read list. Apparently Knights of Sedonia, an ongoing anime also on Netflix, was made by the same creator too. I’ll have to check that out soon.

Oh boy, finally it’s time to watch the new Twin Peaks and see the resolution to that massive cliffhanger that the old show left! Too bad it’s fucking awful! Holy shit is this a disappointing mess. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something in such dire need of heavy editing. I know David Lynch loves to take his time and dwell on really superfluous and/or awkward details, but this is ridiculous. I’ve never seen a movie or show with so many completely unnecessary scenes, and I’m not even talking about the weird, confusing parts, because I fully understand that those are a part of any given Lynch production and most actually probably do have some yet-to-be-explained significance. No, I’m talking about the absolutely worthless nonsense like a doddering old lady noticing that there’s a weird smell coming from next door, then calls the police, then they show the police arriving and walking in, then have an overly long conversation with her about who might have the keys to the door, then she finally tells them who might have a key, they go to talk to him, end up running into someone else that they have another overly long and awkward conversation with, only to have the woman come to the window and tell them she actually had the key all along because she waters her neighbors plants when she’s on vacation. This is an excruciating almost 10 minutes of empty nonsense, all just so they can get in this door and find a dead woman, which anyone with half a brain could have told you was where this was heading in the first few seconds when no one answered the door and a weird smell was noticed.

Lynch uses this tactic of a lot in his work, the unnecessary drawing out of so many scenes, in what I feel is an annoying approach to trying to build suspense and apprehension, but he’s taken it too far this time. It just goes on and on like this, meandering all over the place with little to no direction, and a bizarrely small amount of screen time given to any familiar old characters. My wife and I couldn’t take any more after just 2 episodes of this, and you want us to sit through 18 HOURS of this? We have this awful feeling that this is all going to end with even more unanswered questions than there were before too. Boy, I would really like to know how this all finally ends though. Can I really force myself to watch another 16 hours of this crap? Maybe if we only watch 1 or 2 at a time until we’re caught up? I just don’t know. What a disappointment.

Awww yeah. An R rated Castlevania show written by fucking Warren Ellis? This can’t go wrong this time…can it? Oh good, some good news! This show is amazing! Much more violent and vulgar than I was expecting. You can sure tell that Ellis wrote this. The story and dialogue are top notch and the action is reminiscent of a dark, serious, hyper-violent anime. Vampire Hunter D comes to mind. The only downside is that there are only 4 half hour episodes for some reason. I know first seasons tend to be hesitant to be long, but man that’s short. There’s just enough time to set the characters up to embark on a grand journey to defeat Dracula and his minions, and then things are over just when they’re getting really good. On the plus side, it seems to have already been renewed for a second season, so I imagine it’ll be longer next time.