Skip to content

John’s Horror Corner: Japanese Hell (1999; aka Jigoku), a bizarre, mildly erotic, occasionally grotesque B-movie remake of such slow pacing it’s not worthy of the Tokyo Shock subgenre.

October 10, 2022

MY CALL: Sorry. But there’s not enough gore, bad movie antics or weirdness to make this worth your time for all its long boring sections. Not when there are so many other great, weird, shocking, provocative Asian horror films out there. Still, it wasn’t regrettably bad, and might make for a solid Bad Movie Tuesday. MORE MOVIES LIKE Japanese Hell:  You want crazy bonkers Asian horror? Let’s try Mystics in Bali (1981; aka Leák), The Boxer’s Omen (1983; aka Mo, Black Magic 4), Seeding of a Ghost (1983; aka Zhong gui) or Lady Terminator (1989). ASIAN HORROR REMAKES: For more horror remakes, I strongly favor The Ring (2002), Mirrors (2008), The Grudge (2004), The Uninvited (2009) and Pulse (2006).

To save her soul, the mysterious Miss Enma (Michiko Maeda) offers Rika (Kinako Satô; Exte: Hair Extensions, Strange Circus) the opportunity to see Hell so she may avoid the sins that may lead her to such a fate. Guided by Enma’s young ‘non-human’ associate Mako (Yôko Satomi; Maid-Droid), Rika is forcibly disrobed, guided on a walking tour of Hell, and shown Hellbound sinners along with their sins and punishment. The visions of Hell largely amount to a fever dream of semi-nude denizens with disfigured faces twitching among grub-infested corpses.

Almost like an anthology movie, we see sinners’ sins as standalone vignette short films. Afterwards, we witness the infernal sentencing, which (in the case of the first sinner) included having his arm, then his feet, legs and head sawed off by some Yokai Monsters in rubber suits. The budget is humble. But at least everything boldly happens on-screen. This movie is doing its darnedest with the few dollars they scraped together to produce it.

At times, this is deliciously bad. Another sinner’s vignette shows assailants abducting a man and his wife “in slow motion.” But the actors are literally trying to move and even speak “slowly” in real time and are doing so inconsistently and out of sync with each other. Keeping in line with the “slo-mo” acting are the stop motion plastic roaches. We grin at the bad movie antics. But it’s just not doing it for me.

Fair warning, one vignetter features a cult leader who is rather rapey—so there’s that. The cult leader’s sinful story leads into Rika’s sinful inclusion in the cult. It’s a long stretch of very boring scenes that felt like a cult drama with several sexual assault scenes. This was a rough chunk of the film. The vignettes are generally long and soporific. Still, it’s not without its occasional merits. A truly cartoonishly stretchy tongue-removal was the absolute highlight of this movie.

In this remake of the 1960 film Jigoku (aka, Hell), writer and director Teruo Ishii (Evil Brain from Outer Space, Female Yakuza Tale) has cobbled together something which seems to mix very low budget theatrical over-the-top Hell scenes with grounded, normal, boring scenes in reality. The inconsistent result is like the proverbial worst meatloaf ever whose outside is burned while the inside is somehow undercooked—yet we still get to laugh at the mere fact it was served in the first place. Overall, this film featured not nearly as much gore, bad movie antics or weirdness as I had hoped. So it’s probably not worth your time when there are so many other great, weird, shocking, provocative Asian horror films out there. Still, it wasn’t regrettably bad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: