April 27, 2006


(2005, Korea, aka 'VOICE LETTER')

PAL all-region Thai DVD (released by Rose)

Fourth in the Whispering Corridors series, Voice has the most lavish budget in the series and delivers a stylish, bloody ghost story

The 4 films are linked by similar themes rather than by ongoing characters. Each film is set in a girls’s high school ‘with a history’, with a story that involves suicide, lesbian relationships, and schoolgirls haunted by their dead friends. Whispering Corridors (1998) got the series off to a shaky start. Memento Mori (1999) however, is a very good drama, with convincing naturalistic performances depicting modern school life. Halfway through, the film then concentrates on the ghost story and becomes less individual. It’s a good film, but not an essential horror. The Wishing Stairs (2003) then fell back on Ring for horror ideas and failed as a drama due to a lower standard of acting. Other films, like Bunshinsaba, were using similar story ideas to greater effect, if horror is what you’re hoping for.

But now, Voice is a giant leap forwards for the series, with fresh new ideas on scares, ghosts and twists. There’s also enough money for some unique visual FX flourishes, like when the ghost tries to piece together her memories. The cinematography is stylish and beautifully realised, adding rich colour to some scenes, defying the muted colours of the school. The cast is fantastic and very watchable. The depiction of school life isn’t as realistic as Memento Mori, but Voice succeeds admirably as a ghost story, with the added slant of having the ghost taking centre stage.

There are some startling death scenes and some extensive FX to depict the various complications of being dead, for instance, the ghost girl being confined to the school. These are ambitious and imaginatively done, but look more scientific than spiritual, as if the afterlife were a natural phenomenon.

It all helps the story take some startling turns and makes for a very different and eventful modern ghost story. The film falters a little towards the end, as the climax is a little drawn out. But if you're after horror, this is the main film in the series to recommend.

The Thai DVD release (pictured at top) is very reasonably priced, but at the expense of the film's extensive sound design. Music and voices are central to the plot, but unfortunately the original Korean mix is only available in stereo. It would certainly be worth getting a version with the 5.1 Korean mix if you have the right audio equipment. Only the Thai dub is in 5.1 on this release. If that’s not a problem, and you’re not expecting any extras, this is a well produced DVD, with great picture quality and well-translated and presented English subtitles. Strangely though, a couple of scenes of a schoolgirl smoking has been digitally blurred out. It’s not crucial to the film, but it is annoying.

November 2007 update: a Korean DVD with English subtitles and 5.1 audio has since been released, available here. Presumably it will have none of the Thai censorship either.

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April 19, 2006

MUSHISHI (2005) - a wonderful new anime series

[Text UPDATED November Jan 2007]

A new anime without robots or guns or pocket monsters - just a mysterious guy sorting out elemental spirits in rural Japan

Ginko - the quietly spoken lead
in the Mushishi anime

This is my favourite anime at the moment... now concentrate...

Mushi are a strange, largely unknown part of nature - primeval entities in terms of biology, creatures exisiting somewhere between this world and the next.

n expert roams the countryside trying to help people who have problems with local mushi. He is Ginko, a Mushishi (or mushi-master), travelling around with a box of herbs on his back. He has a mop of white hair, though he isn't old, and he wears a brown trenchcoat. If it wasn't for Ginko's modern attire, you could easily think the series was set in the 19th century, or even further back. Everyone he meets lives traditionally, wearing kimonos and living in wooden houses.

This premise means that there are no modern distractions, or technological solutions on offer. Ginko solves problems with knowledge, deduction, simple science and occasionally herbs. I'm guessing here, but is it more than a coincidence that he's missing his left eye (hiding it with his hair) just like Mizuki Shigeru's popular character Kitaro the ghost boy? Could be just an homage, but I think Mushishi is very much a Gegege No Kitaro for an older audience. It's beautiful, paced, spiritual and keeps its humour understated.

This isn't to say that the episodes are slow - there's always something going on -usually a mystery or drama is unfolding - and the action frequently becomes spectacular. The artwork is beautiful, with bursts of intricate animation creating a sense of wonder, sometimes horror, of the other dimensions we're sharing space with...

Each episode stands alone as a story, with little need to watch them in order. There are a few links, especially the recurring character of the collector. My favourite episode so far tells of Ginko's childhood and how he became a Mushishi - it's a fascinating episode with many new mushi.

is based on the manga of Yuki Urushibara, whose stories the episodes closely follow - there's a sample of her artwork
on this page. But stories are running out, and the series looks set to end at 26 episodes. I can't get enough! To me it's unique and very different, very calming, very Japanese.

[UPDATE 10th Jan 2007: Translated volumes of the manga have now been published in the US.

The region 2 DVDs in Japan are slowly being released but without english subtitles. There's a new 'grey' release from Hong Kong (pictured left) of the first 13 episodes, but these are not anamorphic, and the subtitles cross the lower edge of the picture. As usual with this type of release, there are plenty of spelling mistakes and the timing is very poor on the first episode, way too fast. Not the perfect way to see a near-perfect series.

November 2007 update: the series was eventually released in 2007 in the UK and US, 16:9 anamorphic with English and Japanese stereo and subtitles.

There are two CD soundtracks available in Japan. The incidental music is made up of quietly beautiful instumentals, but the opening theme song is too drippy for my taste, a love song with wet lyrics is out of keeping with this story, spoiling an otherwise perfect anime. Both CDs are still available from Amazon or CD Japan.

If you're in the mood for spoilers, there's plenty of screengrabs here on the Memento anime blog, with plot recaps and extensive analysis.

Joe Odagiri as Ginko in BUGMASTER, the movie version of MUSHISHI

[UPDATE 10th Jan 2007: this news from Twitch - Mushishi is now also a live-action feature film, known internationally as Bugmaster (not a great title) to be released in Japan in March, 2007. Directed by no less than Katsuhiro Otomo (director of Akira and Steam Boy). It seems to be a fairly low-budget film, simply presenting several episodic stories together. Ginko appears as a young man (like the anime), rather than a teenager (in the manga). I'm not reading the reviews until I've seen it for myself, but I hear they're not as good as those for the series. Midnight Eye online magazine has a rare interview with Otomo about the film.]

DORM (2006) - a coming-of-age story from Thailand, with ghosts

(Updated September 2013)

My coverage of charming Thai ghost story Dorm (Dek Hor) is rather fragmented in Black Hole Reviews, because I used to publish news as it came in. Also, my most thorough review wasn't even in this site, but written for Twitch news. Because that's now mostly disappeared (except for one paragraph!), I'm republishing the original text below, together with my other notes on the main DVD releases of Dorm so far...

(2006, Thailand, Dek Hor)

Dorm is likely to get caught up among many other horror films from Thailand. But it's not so much horror, as a ghost story. Despite the young cast, it's certainly not childish - it has an uncomfortably dark side, reminiscent of Stand By Me, that makes it unsuitable for a younger audience. Anyhow, while I can't quite categorise it, I can say that it's a great Thai film, though not nearly as creepy as The Eye or Shutter.

While on holiday in Thailand, I was delighted to find that Dorm had just opened, a film I'd been looking forward to (having seen the trailer on Twitch) and better yet, half of the performances had English subtitles! Before the film started, in a large cinema (in Bangkok's MBK Shopping Centre), I was caught out by the whole audience suddenly standing up for the National Anthem accompanied by a photographic montage of their beloved King. We don't even do that in England! 

The film opens with Chatree (Chalee Trairat), being sent to boarding school in his seventh grade. His father justifies the decision by saying it will enable him to study harder. Chatree is very angry, but we don't know why he's unable to complain. His life is made even more miserable because he's a 'new kid', joining the school halfway through term. The teacher who doubles as the school matron, Ms. Pranee (Chintara Sukapatana), does little to make him feel welcome.

All the boys in the school sleep in one huge dormitory. On the first night, a gang of four misfits decide to pick on the new kid by telling him ghost stories. Lying under the covers, they tell Chatree that the school, the dorm, Ms. Pranee, even the very bed he's sleeping in, all have a dark history. They tell him about the school worker who committed suicide, the deserted swimming pool, and a ghostly caretaker. The stories are shown like 'flashbacks', but just how much of it are they making up to scare him? Their ruse works better than expected - Chatree has to get up in the night and visit a deserted toilet. Outside, dozens of dogs are looking up at his window and howling. He's too scared to find out what's scaring them and he rushes back to the dorm. Next morning, everyone sees that he's wet the bed.

Humiliated, and now on the wrong side of Ms. Pranee, Chatree's not interested in schoolwork, or even talking to his Dad on the phone. But at least he makes a friend. Vichien (Sirachat Jiantaworn) shows him the ropes, but also tells him that some of the ghost stories he heard actually have an element of truth. But Chatree about to find out for himself...

Besides ghost stories, Dorm is about coming-of-age, with an atmosphere that changes with the central character's moods. As Chatree discovers more about the history of the school, he becomes less scared of it, and the film's horror tactics relax. The mood remains quite morbid, however, and the carefully coloured cinematography keeps us cautious.

As the lead, Chalee (or Charlie) Trairat ably carries the film, but I'd liked to have found out more about what he's thinking - he's kept too busy with moving the story forward. The gang of boys who scared him have far better, quirkier characters and provide much-needed comedy. It's Chintara Sukapatana, as the matron, who impresses the most, though I failed to recognise her from a major role in Good Morning, Vietnam.

The young director, Songyos Sugmakanan (above left) previously co-directed another Thai hit, My Girl (Fan Chan) also starring Chalee Trairat, but Dorm is his first solo directorial effort. The story is partly based on his own bittersweet experiences of boarding school, and he's taken great pains to capture the atmosphere of the time (around 1985). In interviews, Sugmakanan also voiced his concerns about how the film has been advertised. I think the posters make it look no different from gory Thai horrors out there, such as Hell or Scared.

Though the story may be too much for an audience as young as Chatree. Maybe I'm being over-protective, but I'll warn you that there's a lot of urinating in the film! Close-ups of kids wetting themselves, boys peeing in bushes, lots of scenes in toilets - you don't get this in Harry Potter. (With a Thai audience, all the pee didn't seem to be a problem, but the schoolboys swearing seemed to be unusual.)

Throw in a brief sex scene (not involving the boys) and you've got yourself a censor's headache. There's also a vivid depiction of hanging that would certainly be a problem in the UK. Incidentally, I swear that the long shot of the hanging (glimpsed in the trailer) wasn't in the print I saw in Thailand. A clue to this could be in the two different versions of the film on release in Singapore, each with a different rating.

While it's not my problem to sell the film or decide whether kids should see it, I can recommend it as a beautifully-shot film, with finely-judged performances, and an unusual story set in quite a different culture. It's scary, but also funny, dramatic, suspenseful, sad... but all-round satisfying.

Dorm opened in Thailand in February 2006 and coincidentally had a Special Presentation at the Bangkok International Film Festival the same week. It's been a box office hit domestically and I hope it finds an international audience.

Dorm was then released in the US in 2007, but with a completely misleading cover - this scene doesn't appear in the film, and it's not an 'extreme' movie either. This region 1 DVD has audio commentary, deleted scenes, and a featurette. 

A reasonably-priced deluxe 2-disc DVD boxset (pictured) was released in Thailand, but region 3, and without any English subtitles. Best of the deluxe DVD extras is the uncut six-minute of 'clips' from Mr Vampire. A specially-filmed recreation that plays during the school's 'movie night' scene. It uses lookalike actors and recreates footage of the best gags from Ricky Lau's superb 1985 Hong Kong comedy horror. There is also plenty of behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, a Chalee Trairat pop video, and most of the original soundtrack.

April 17, 2006

DRAGONHEAD (2003) a realistic Japanese disaster movie

DRAGONHEAD (2003, Japan)
Movie review

A downbeat, spectacular, post-apocalyptic drama

Imagine you're on a train on your way back from a school trip. Just as it goes into a tunnel, the train crashes. You wake up in the world of Dragonhead - trapped underground with a hundred corpses, not knowing why you crashed.

Dragonhead is a recent, big-budget disaster movie from Japan. After a slow start in the tunnel with a wrecked bullet-train - the story opens out into a classic apocalypse scenario - a handful of survivors facing what looks like the end of the world. There's plenty of action, but this isn't a gung-ho adventure - it's more realistic, with the survivors usually in a state of despair, facing challenges to their survival and their morale.

Throughout the film, there's a consistent feeling of loneliness too. The survivors are dwarfed by their desolate surroundings. Each place they encounter underlines how easily society can unravel. The mood is similar to earlier downbeat apocalypse movies like The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Crack in the World, Deep Impact, or even The Omega Man.

The special effects are spectacularly realised, offering visions of the results of widespread destruction. This was achieved with seamless digital compositing that combined computer-generated vistas with huge sets and actual locations filmed in Uzbekistan. The film was shot 2.35 widescreen, and appears to have been recorded on High Definition video - the quality is excellent and rarely looks like video (this doesn't look like 'v-cinema', by any means). HD was probably used because of the huge number of digital effects (the same method that George Lucas used for Star Wars 2 and 3).

3 young stars head the cast: pop singer Sayaka, Satoshi Tsumabuki (who rarely seems to be out of work) is here re-united with a co-star from the Waterboys movie, Takayuki Yamada. Satoshi and Sayaka carry the brunt of very demanding, physical roles as the young hapless teenage couple Toru and Ako.

The director is George (or Joji) Iida, whose Rasen (1998) was an under-rated first sequel to the now infamous Ring (also 1998). His sci-fi thriller Another Heaven (2000) was much more successful.

You won't be surprised to hear that Dragonhead was based on a series of manga. Written by Minetarou Mochiduki, his Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl was also made into a film, which I watched yesterday without realising the two were linked!

The quality of special effects rivals Hollywood and the story takes some twists new to the genre, but this film has only just emerged on DVD in the US. I'm constantly amazed at how we miss out on such large-scale movies until years after their release.


SHARK SKIN MAN AND PEACH HIP GIRL (1998) Hip Japanese gangsters

(1998, Japan, aka Samehada otoko to momojiri onna)

Bloody, good, gangster shootout comedy

Very enjoyable, though I couldn't tell that this was based on a manga. You can usually guess if you're watching something with 'comic book' origins, but this is a well-written script brought to life by adult performances.

Plot time. Bankrobber Samehada tries to cheat money out of his mob. On the run he's rescued by Toshiko, a timid hotel clerk who is also running way - from her lecherous uncle. Heavily armed, the outrageously well-dressed mobsters close in on Samehada, not realising that the uncle has contracted a kidnapper to apprehend Toshiko.

This is one hip movie, though maybe it lays on the cool a little thick: the clothes are designer labels, the guns are big, and if you smoke, you light up in the flashiest way possible.

To be fair, the characters are as memorable as their outlandish outfits, brought to life by an ensemble cast who look like they've been on the road together for years. The way they bicker, constantly assert their pecking order, and kill time together looks very real.

Yet this is a black comedy, not reality. The dialogue aims for a Tarantino quality, successfully so. But while the gangsters amuse us with their trivial preoccupations, we don't forget what they really do, as an early gun battle proves. Likeable characters die, blood gets spattered up the walls. This is as it should be - I'm personally very tired of 'gun-comedies' where hundreds of rounds are fired but no one gets hurt.

The film is fast-paced, yet the director keeps the camera quite distant, usually static. There's no shaky 'action movie' handheld camerawork to fake the excitement. Instead we get carefully framed tableaux within which the characters can perform. This is a method that director David Lynch often uses. Mercifully, we are also kept distant from some of the violence - a beating with a baseball bat looked like it couldn't possibly have been faked!

The cast are uniformly strong, but the female characters are underused (the gangster 'moll' in particular) and the Peach Hip Girl gets plenty of action but none of the juicy dialogue. We start the film almost exclusively in her company, and share her pain and disorientation as events rapidly overtake her. But we then lose her viewpoint as the chaos escalates and the rest of the gang moves in.
But I guess this is more a movie about guys, for guys. It's all about criminals solving situations the violent way. You're forced to identify with the guy who commits the least worst crimes - anti-hero Samehada, played effortlessly by Tadanobu Asano. This actor has appeared in Takeshi Kitano's recent works as well as cult hits like Ichi the Killer. He keeps the tone light without playing it for laughs. He plays Samehada with a wicked smile and the confidence of a bankrobber who rarely loses his cool.

His formidable opponents include bossman Tanuki (Ittoku Kishibe) who wears a black leather overcoat and waistcoat custom-made to hold his collection of throwing-knives. There's Uncle Sonezaki (Youhachi Shimada), a slave to his centre-parting who hires a hitman to sort out his lovelife. My favourite was Yamada (Tatsuya Gashuin), the nerdy hitman, who wears his stripy tank top sweater tucked into his trousers... All these guys only have limited time onscreen, yet you want to see much more of all of them.

The only real disappointment is that the story doesn't keep moving locations, and starts to run in circles. This is the only evidence of the relatively low budget, everything else about the film works.

Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl is a marvellous debut for director Katsuhito Ishii. I can't wait to see his subsequent non-gangster films, starting with Panic 7.


April 15, 2006


(1977, Japan, aka YATSU HAKA-MURA)

Hong Kong region 3 NTSC DVD review (Panorama Entertainment)

A gory epic murder mystery from Japan

I wish I'd seen this film back in 1977 - I'd have switched on to Japanese cinema far earlier. It's a mystery of the calibre of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS intercut with violent flashbacks as gory as THE WILD BUNCH.

From the DVD cover, I thought I was going to get a low-key ghost story where the scariest thing was a close up of an undead samurai (even RING was guilty of blowing its scariest moment on the front cover). How wrong I was. This turns out to be one of the biggest budget Japanese movies of the seventies and one of the most successful. It works as a murder mystery and a ghost story, with generous flashes of violent samurai back stories. It doesn't actually scare, but it constantly manages to shock and intrigue over an epic 150 minute running time.

Briefly, a young airport technician, Tatsuya, working in Tokyo, is sought out by his estranged family via a solictor. He's invited back to his ancestral home, but not before his grandfather dies in mysterious circumstances in the solictor's office. Carrying his grandfather's ashes, and curious to learn more about his mother and his place of birth, Tatsuya returns to a valley deep in the mountains behind Osaka, to a mansion in the 'Village of eight Gravestones'. When another relative dies the same way as his grandfather, Tatsuya hears about an ancient samurai curse...

Most of the film takes place around an entire valley, the centre of which is the huge family home. It appears to have been shot largely on location, spectacularly captured in widescreen. The lush colour occasionally runs red during the nastier sword action, which involves clever and graphic violence that punctuates the detective work.

I'm astonished that this film isn't famous internationally. It's accomplished cinema that doesn't pull its punches. Director Yoshitaro Nomura was one of the mainstays of the Shochiku film studio, delivering over 80 films. His best film is cited as being CASTLE OF SAND which on the strength of VILLAGE, I'm tempted to check out. Sadly, he passed away last year. At least this has inspired retrospectives into the gems in his huge body of work.

It's not just Hollywood, the film was remade in Japan in 1996!

The DVD (pictured above) has reasonably good english subtitles, though they occasionally miss short sentences out and fail to translate signs and text. The mono mix is full and clear. The original 2.35 widescreen is presented cropped to 16:9 after the opening credits, resulting in cramped composition and some characters talking offscreen. The image is non-anamorphic, the subtitles dipping into the lower black bar.

This long film has been split over two DVDs rather than use the dual-layer facility. There are good liner notes and the director's filmography in english. No other extras. Obviously the side-cropped widescreen is annoying, but the film isn't otherwise available, even in Japan! This Hong Kong release is currently advertised on HKflix and DVD Asian.


The DAUGHTER - a Thailand DVD horror

THE DAUGHTER (Thailand, aka Phee thuay kaew)
Thai PAL all-region DVD

Low budget Thai video-movie rips THE EXORCIST the cheapest way possible

This is a warning to the curious - I'm not recommending this movie, just letting you know a bit more about it. If you flick through the DVDs online looking for new Thai horrors, you might be taken in, like me. I bought this on the cover art alone, hoping for a headless ghost at least. Turns out it's the head of a ghost superimposed into the upturned shot glass used for the seance, and not a huge jar with a floating head in it!

Story-wise, a young office-worker is fired after sleeping with her boss. Pregnant and out of work, she wonders what the future will hold. Her friend suggests a seance, but they unfortunately pick a rundown witch's shack to hold it in. During the seance, something happens to her unborn baby... 7 years later, the child starts behaving abnormally and no-one can get in her way.

Shot on video, this looks more like Thai TV than 'v-cinema'. The acting is good enough, but the budget lets down the special effects and the scale of the story. The scares are mishandled. The witch/ghost is simply an old woman with uplighting. There's even an attempt to make her glide (or judder) across the floor (how old is that?). The make-up makes the evil child look as if she's got flu, rather than supernatural problems. The child actor never looks more than angry, when she should be demonic (if you want to see a really demonic-looking child, check out the Korean horror film PHONE). Any murder scenes are implied with blood splattering up the walls, rather than onscreen violence - not much blood either. If you want to be disappointed and non-plussed by a film, then THE DAUGHTER is for you.

The DVD (pictured above) has good english subtitles on it, but is only referred to as THE DAUGHTER on the trailer. It's available online at ThaiCDexpress, who list it as PHEE THUAY KAEW. The DVD comes in a shorter than average size case, not to be confused with the VideoCD release.


April 09, 2006

HAAN (2005) Pearl Harbor double-agent

HAAN (2005, South Korea, a.k.a. HAN GIL SU)
Korean region 3 NTSC DVD

Disappointing WW2 espionage drama

The premise seemed very promising for this recent movie from Korea. A Korean double-agent playing the Japanese off against the Americans on the islands of Hawaii, just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Based on a real-life person, not much is actually known about what actually happened, giving the film-makers plenty of licence - unfortunately they don't provide much excitement or suspense in what should have been a nail-biting race against time.

The script clumsily describes contemporary attitudes and current offscreen events through chunks of exposition. The characters' relationships are simple and melodramatic, but without much drama. It's also confusing in places - there's one scene that ends with Haan being tortured and his little finger is about to be guillotined off - the blade descends, the film quickly fades out to black - next shot he's in a hospital bed and you can't see his hands. What just happened? Did he lose a finger or not? A 'non secitur' if you like. Very confusing.

Worse still are the anachronisms in the film. The US Naval HQ building looks like it was built in the 1970's rather than the 1940's, and in one scene they ride around in modern speedboats, jarring the viewer back into modern times.

The film clearly labels which characters are Korean and which are Japanese, using stereotypical signifiers like kimonos, sake drinking and lots of Japanese flags hanging around the rooms. Realistically though, the characters speak in the correct languages.

The climax includes the cheapest recreation of the attack on Pearl Harbor that I've ever seen. A total of 5 American extras are onscreen at any time, and the explosions are all added digitally. A few reasonable shots of CGI Japanese planes have been made, but it's hardly worth trying to visualise this event on such a shoestring.

I'd still like to see a documentary about what was known about Haan and how much American intelligence knew about the impending attack. But this movie fails to convince with its version of events.

The Korean DVD (pictured above) has good, clear english subtitles on the main feature. Annoyingly they continue to appear when english is being spoken. The only extras are a trailer (made on video) and a brief look at one simple indoor scene being shot. You can also listen to 10 tracks from the soundtrack, from the CD option on the main menu.


April 06, 2006

SPECTREMAN (1971) - Gorilla TV

(1971, Japan)

An outrageously bad seventies live-action superhero TV show from Japan

Thai PAL VideoCD review

Hells bells! I thought there were a couple of dodgy special effects in the early Ultraman series. Wait till you see Spectreman. The opening title sequence alone packs in dodgy animation, dodgy models and dodgy, well, drawings - and that's the good stuff.

Spectreman himself looks OK, with his golden helmet and snazzy boiler suit (unlike Ultraman's expensive-looking, figure-hugging rubber outfit). But the baddies are, well, a guy in a gorilla mask wearing shiny pink and a blond wig - his sidekick is a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a lot of jewellery. I know Planet of the Apes was all the rage at the time, but this looks truly ridiculous.

The two Space Apemen sit in a flying saucer and try and wreak havoc by activating a load of really weird monsters.
The saving grace of the whole enterprise is that the monsters are fun because their designs are so way out. For instance the black furball with two foxes heads (on the cover of volume 5, pictured at centre) is unlike any real animal, but still lively enough for action-packed biting and fighting.

Spectreman's transformation involves a lot of rapid cuting between the guy in the suit and a drawing (apparently done in felt tip). His flying sequences involve close ups of him with his arms in the air, and a model of him swinging around on wires. His back-up team are 5 people crammed into a car - so no need for an expensive secret base.

Because of the bad special effects, the mad monsters and everyone taking it so seriously, it's an awful lot of fun in an Ed Wood sort of way. There's a fair amount of bad taste violence (bystanders being stomped by the monsters) to top it all off.

But I can't say it isn't entertaining... because it really is.

I found three double-episode VideoCDs (pictured at top) going for under a dollar each. The video quality is good, but the Thai dubbing is atrocious, adding to the hilarity. Strangely the theme tune remains in Japanese while all the dialogue has been replaced by Thai, obliterating all music and sound effects whenever anyone speaks!

Another way to see Spectreman in action is to hunt around on YouTube. At the moment, you should at least be able
to see the theme tune to the series, even though the entire episodes have been taken off the site.

A Spectreman DVD boxset is now available in Japan... see the CDjapan website for details.

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April 03, 2006

Update: TETSUJIN 28 - Region 2 UK DVD

TETSUJIN 28 is a remake of a classic Japanese anime that was redited as GIGANTOR in the USA. Latest news is that the first 5 episodes of this recent anime will be out on Region 2 PAL DVD in the UK on 24th April. Hopefully it will be presented in widescreen.

Details at play.com...
TETSUJIN 28 - volume 1 on UK DVD

My original review from December 2005, here...
TETSUJIN 28 - on DVD in Hong Kong

There may also be a release of the live-action Japanese movie version on DVD in the UK later this year.

I recently picked up this beautiful Bandai die-cast figure of Tetsujin's opponent Black Ox, in the toys section of the MBK department store in Bangkok. Posable, sturdily-made, with light-up eyes!