In Buddhism, there are eight hells. Or so the film JIGOKU tells us. Director Nobuo Nakagawa is known as the father of the
modern Japanese horror film. However, JIGOKU only has two things going for it, the performance late actor Yoichi Numata as
the evil Tamura and the imagery of Hell in the last 40 minutes where the director didn't have much money to create. The film
was created at the time when Shintoho was about to go bankrupt and be reborn as Toho (the studio best known for the Godzilla
Shiro Shimizu is a college student who is a guilt ridden loser. His religion brings him down and he wants to go to the
police after Tamura hits a drunk Yakuza gang leader one night (with the car Shiro and Tamura are in). Shiro shouldn't be guilty.
the world is better without that scumbag. Fate (or crap) happens that leads Shiro's pregnant girlfriend to die in a car accident
on the way to the police station where Shiro wants to confess. Soon, he sleeps with Yuko, the girlfriend of the dead gang
leader. Yuko and the gang leader's mother want to kill Shiro and Tamura. Shiro gets lucky when he gets a letter that his mom
is ill. He goes home to a small village where his corrupt father is head of an old folk's home. His father has a mistress
who wants to run off with Shiro to get away from the middle of nowhere. Next door is a drunk painter and his daughter that
a police detective wants to marry. She is the dead ringer for Shiro's dead girlfriend. Tamura soon shows up and things start
to go downhill. It is unclear whetehr Tamura is a demon, Shiro's doppleganger, or a very fast person in the way he appears
and even escapes death.
Since all the characters are good for nothing people or people with the inability to act, I was glad when everyone went
to Hell finally. The imagery of director Nakagawa's hell is disturbing at times, but the script still drags JIGOKU down. If
what Shiro did are crimes that send him to Hell, I have to say the judge of Hell is a biased twit. The big problem is Hell
is based on what values we think will get us punished in Hell. Shiro finds out he has a sister who is also in Hell too and
he has to save his dead unborn son (just another torture of Hell I think). JIGOKU may have lead to better J-Horror like DARK
WATER, JU-ON, and RINGU, but a bad script and characters I don't care for bring it down.
VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)
Criterion has done a nice job to the transfer. The film looks like the way it was shown back in 1960 to the type of film
stocks used back then.
AUDIO: Japanese Mono
Dialogue and sound are clear, but it is a mono track. No surround action.
BUILDING THE INFERNO- a 39 minute documentary on the making of JIGOKU and director Nobuo Nakagaw. Late actor Yoichi Numata
wishes he understood his role better, but the director let him play it his way. I think the actor did the best job of all
the actors in the film. Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (DOPPLEGANGER, CURE), the screenwriter of JIGOKU, and two Nakagawa collaborators
also are interviewed.
Also included are the original theatrical trailer and two poster galleries for select movies from Shintoho and director
FINAL ANALYSIS: JIGOKU is a mediocre Japan horror film with some great Hell visuals. The documentary was more enjoyable.
this review is (c)9-1-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to
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