Konchû daisensô (1968)

Directed by Kazui Nihonmatsu [Other horror films: Uchû daikaijû Girara (1967)]

I’ve not seen that many Japanese horror films from the 1960’s, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Konchû daisensô, better known as Genocide, but I was pretty happy with it come the conclusion.

The plot here isn’t really that stellar, but the consistent anti-war message throughout was certainly welcomed (and, from a post-World War II Japan, logical), and one of the characters references both the arms race between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. as foolish, along with both the Superpowers being arrogant, which is a nice sentiment to see (and largely accurate).

With topics like this, not to mention the horrid experiences Jewish people, and others, went through in Germany, or issues of environmental concern, it’s probably not a surprise that Genocide (even the title’s invocative of a dismal story) has a somewhat nihilistic conclusion. Not that it’s entirely dark, but certainly it’s probably one of the more depressing endings I’ve seen in recent times.

The cast is generally solid, though not perfect. In particular, I think Kathy Horan was a bit over-the-top at times, which didn’t feel right for this movie. Most main performances, though, such as Emi Shindô, Yûsuke Kawazu, and Keisuke Sonoi, all do commendably enough.

Like I said, I’ve seen only a few Asian horror films from this time period, and to be honest, I was thinking that this would be a lot cornier than it even came close to being. I won’t go as far as to call the movie ‘amazing,’ but I had a fun time watching it, and would certainly recommend it, especially if they want a slice of horror that deals with more serious topics.

7.5/10

Vargtimmen (1968)

Vargtimmen

Directed by Ingmar Bergman [Other horror films: Jungfrukällan (1960)]

I’m not a big fan of experimental films. Antichrist was a film I rather disliked. Most of what I’ve seen from Cronenberg and Lynch, not to mention Tsukamoto, I’ve not particularly enjoyed. The same goes for this Ingmar Bergman classic. When I first saw it, I just had a massive headache afterward. This time around, I’ve grown to appreciate a bit more what it was going for, and they did that job well, but I still rather would have watched something a bit more coherent.

The story is simple: A man and his wife go to their small cottage on an island, and the man slowly begins losing it. He begins seeing bizarre people and experiencing intense paranoia. And he snaps.

Like I said, this movie does a very good job at showing us the bizarre spirits haunting our main character. Many of the scenes, while not outright terrifying, have an ominous, creepy atmosphere about them. And I truly do appreciate that.

What I cannot abide, however, are the random scenes cobbled up, not to mention the dialogue, much of which doesn’t make sense. Indeed, such is a well-done portrayal of losing it on an isolated island, but it’s not something I enjoy at all. On a positive note, I did enjoy how this movie was put together – the wife is being interviewed about her husband and her experience on the island, and so the majority of the story takes place as a flashback. It gave a pretty documentary feel to it, and I thought it came across as sort of cool.

That said, this isn’t a film I enjoy, and while there are the occasional cool scenes (a man removing his eyes, for instance), it doesn’t strike me as worth it. Despite being a Swedish classic, Vargtimmen (or Hour of the Wolf), probably isn’t something I’d soon watch again.

5.5/10