October 05, 2005
HAUNTED SCHOOL (1995) – Region 3 HK DVD review
HAUNTED SCHOOL (1995)
aka GAKKO NO KAIDAN
Region 3 HK DVD review (Universe Video)
First I saw HAUNTED SCHOOL 4 and had to see more of the series...
This is the first in a successful series of Japanese children's films, released presumably to tie in with the Japanese Oban festival season (a rough equivalent of Halloween). The titular school is full of demons and ghosts, some silly-looking, some seriously creepy. Japanese kids must be made of stern stuff judging by the almost RING-worthy opening scene.
Also the heavyweight make-up fx used later in the film rival (and rip) THE THING and THE FLY 2. I though I was watching a film from the eighties, but in fact it's a dated-looking 1995. Not many shocks, but very many original scenes for fans of the fantastic. The grinning demon, the giant legs and the upside-down room all make a unique impression.
This Hong Kong release is presented in a 1.85 letterbox (but not anamorphically). The (optional) English subtitles include a few typos, but are well translated. The pictures are a bit smeary but not bad. The worst defect of this DVD is the muddy sounding audio. The only extras are trailers for HAUNTED SCHOOL itself and the similarly interesting Japanese short story omnibus TALES OF THE UNUSUAL.
What I'd really like to get is an English-subbed DVD of HAUNTED SCHOOL 4 - an excellent, less childish take on the secrets of the school. The other 2 sequels are also unavailable (subtitled) on DVD at present.