Ginger’s Horror Corner
ICHI THE KILLER (2001) 129 mins, Japan
Dir Takashi Miike
Anime comic brought to brutal life by Japan’s most brilliant director.
From the fevered toolbox of Japan’s most consistently astounding director, this is surely the crowning glory in Takashi Miike’s bizarre canon of unique creations. Shredding the nerves with breathless pacing, fantastic characters and the generous reward of copious bodily fluids, not all of which are red, Ichi contains more highlights than one is able to take in on a single viewing, making this an essential purchase designed to be worshipped many times over.
What is basically a cat & mouse caper between pain loving gangster Kakihara (the always brilliant Tadanobu Asano) and sexually repressed super killer Ichi, this ultimately plays like a twisted sketch show with an uncommon interest in human suffering.
A subplot involving Yakuza boss Anjo and a hefty stash of missing yen acts simply as vehicle for the supernatural, masochistic force that is Kakihara, one of cinema’s most colourful villains, to perform some extreme methods of torture on both himself and others. In one particularly eye watering display Kakihara is seen cutting his own tongue in half by way of apology to a gangland boss, while in another he forces a sharpened tool repeatedly through the face of fellow mobster suspended by flesh hooks.
Extreme? Not at all.
Elsewhere we’re treated to a woman beater being sliced in half longways.
Extreme? Just getting warm.
How about the confused Itchi lopping off a girls leg before slicing her neck open as she hops around her apartment spraying claret all over the walls?
As safe a bet as it is that you haven’t seen anything like this before, Ichi The Killer crams so many novel ideas into a couple of hours that you wonder if you actually dreamed some of them. For nipple slicing, gangster dicing, face opening, hand munching, arm ripping, artery spraying fun look no further than this wonderful Japanese oddity, guaranteed to leave you cheering in bemused admiration.
DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) 126 mins, USA, Italy
Dir George A Romero
When the earth spits out the dead, the dead go shopping.
When Romero made this, the first genre horror ‘super-movie’ it’s warming to think of him knowing what an impact it would have on popular culture, how much it would influence and establish the zombie genre and how prophetic it would remain as a summary on greed, excess and consumerism. Still, it wouldn’t explain how he has managed to make so many terrible recent follow ups in the ‘Dead’ series.
We digress. Let us, instead, bask in the glory that is arguably the high point in career that has inspired more than most other directors could lay claim to.
In case you’ve spent the last 40 years living in space it goes like this, the earth is overrun with the living dead, flesh eating zombies. Civilization is in chaos, society is in mass panic, and a solution from the authorities looks unlikely to be forthcoming any time soon. In a bid to escape the escalating tension a shopping mall becomes a secret hideaway for two SWAT team members and two television station workers. But their sanctuary is about to be invaded, by the living and the dead.
Deliriously entertaining and absolutely chock-a-block with Tom Savini’s groundbreaking special effects Romero’s classic serves up the good stuff with multiple messy head shots and some awesome flesh ripping. No-one does flesh ripping like Savini.
The second act settles into cruise as our four central characters make themselves at home within the luxury of the empty mall while the zombie hordes are kept at bay. That is until a gang of militant bikers get the same idea and suddenly our stowaways have a new threat to their safety.
The third act is a dizzying compilation featuring some of horrors fondest set pieces as the final battle for survival takes place. And while it’s obvious that not everyone is going to make it Romero still finds space in that big heart of his for a relatively happy ending.