Rigor Mortis (2014) – Movie Review

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Rigor Mortis (2014)

(Hong Kong)
directed by Juno Mak, 

produced by Takashi Shimizu

Chin Siu-ho, Anthony Chan, Billy Lau and Richard Ng, Chung Fat

With such a generic title, I wasn’t expecting too much from this film, but I guess something about the cover art and the 4-star rating on Netflix made me hold it in my queue for many months. I had no idea it would become one of my favorite horror films of the year. It is an Asian horror film, subtitled, and steeped in Asian beliefs and traditions about the dead. Traditions such as leaving food outside your door for your deceased relatives and knowledge about jiangshi would help understanding the film but Rigor-Mortis-posterI’d say most viewers can catch on quick enough.

A young actor, Chin, takes up residence in a low-grade housing complex after his wife and child are torn away through divorce. He feels great guilt and remorse for not spending time with his family while pursuing the selfish accomplishments of his career. In the first few minutes of the film he attempts suicide by hanging and is barely saved by the buildings insightful superintendent. However, being so close to death has awakened the dark side of the spirit world to his senses. The apartment complex is populated by a multitude of spirits who have not moved on and evil entities with bad intent. Chin is thrust into the role of defending the building and it’s inhabitants, especially a young mother, Yang Feng, and her albino son, from these entities while coming to terms with his own misgivings in life.

The film is visually stunning, high action, but evenly balanced with creepy atmosphere and thoughtful introspection. It’s populated with interesting characters and intriguing aspects of love, hate, jealousy, guilt and revenge, while never getting preachy or overzealous on moral stances. It shows that people just do what they do because they are human and are bound by human emotions. While I don’t think it would be a favorite for all horror fans, it connected with me on an intellectual and emotional level. You would have to enjoy and be partial to paranormal horror. If you like, The Sixth Sense, The Eye, Dark Waters, mixed with some spiritual Matrix-like fight scenes, I think you will find the film quite good.

High energy spiritual battle film worth a viewing for those who like the supernatural.

I give it 4.0 ghastly ghouls out of 5 on the scale of morbidly chilling fiends in the dark.

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A jiangshi, also known as a Chinese “hopping” vampire or zombie, (more like a ghostly ghoul to us) is a type of reanimated corpse in Chinese legends and folklore. A certain kind of rice is used in battling this demonic entity.

Cold Fish (2010) – Movie Review

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Cold Fish (2010)

directed by Sion Sono

This is one fantastic psychological horror film. Nobyuki, owner of a tropical fish store in Tokyo, is a humble man trying to do the best he can for his family. His first wife had passed away and he has remarried, to the ire of his teenage daughter, Mitsuko. She is rebellious and has no interest in making peace with her stepmother.Cold-Fish-poster

One evening, after dinner, Nobyuki gets a phone call from the manager of a local market. His daughter has been caught shoplifting. Upon arrival, he begs the manager not to involve the police. Luckily, the store owner, Yukio Murata, arrives and decides not to press charges. He is a successful businessman and also the owner of a giant Tropical Fish Super-store called, Amazon Gold. He takes a liking to the family. He is very friendly, always smiling, and understanding. He welcomes Nobyuki and his family into his home, store and life. He offers Mitsuko a job at his store, promising to provide structure and skills she will need for a good future. He offers Nobyuki to be in on a tropical fish business deal that will make them both a good sum of money. It seems too good to be true. It is. Behind that big smile and jovial façade lies a dark secret. Murata is a psychotic.

Soon, Nobyuki is tangled in Murata’s web of lies, an accomplice to murder, and manipulated by the overbearing man. He is plunged into a life of horrors. You can sense a real struggle ensue in Nobyuki. He tries to retain the honest family man he was, as he is influenced by Murata into a dark place in life. There is so much more to this film, but I’ll refrain so as not to be a complete spoiler. It is a gripping story, of sex, blood and horror on an insane level

I’m sure not everyone would give this such a high rating. Something about the movie really spoke to me. Perhaps it’s being a jaded New Yorker and not trusting people that are too nice or smiles that are too big. Whatever the reason, I found this to be one of the best J-horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Despite its insanity, it feels so real. It is loosely based on a true story of husband and wife pet shop owners in Tokyo. Don’t miss it!


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An excellent horror tale of manipulation and terror validating the uneasiness towards people who are too friendly.

I give it 5.0 dead guppies on the scale of upside-down floating and bloated fish.