Country : Japan
Genre: Horror / Comedy
Running Time: 104

Producer: Kenzo Horikoshi, etc.
Director: Hiroshi Takahashi
Cast: Takashi Urai, Aki Miyata, Rena Komine, Shoko Nakahara


Story: Bad things happen when innocent blood is shed. In the early 1700s, Lord Sodom Ichibei is celebrating his wedding day when his bride-to-be suddenly vomits blood on her white gown and dies. Suspecting witchcraft, he kills his bride's two maids, but once he realizes their innocence, he becomes completely insane and kills everyone around him. 300 years later, his descendant goes through the same: one of the innocent victims is reincarnated and poisons all the guests at his wedding, while his bride dies in a similar bloody manner. This transforms Ichiro into the evil and vengeful 'Sodom the killer', a cursed man who becomes blind at the spot (except he can see cats, dogs, trees and flowers). He finds a group of minions and starts a master-plan for the world's destruction.

Review: SODOM THE KILLER seems to be a horror comedy, but it's neither funny nor scary. SODOM THE KILLER seems to be a spoof, but a spoof of what exactly? I don't know. SODOM THE KILLER seems to be intentionally bad, but does that really distinguish it (and make its watching worthwhile) from flicks that turned out bad while striving for the good? That is the key question, and on its answer depends whether you'll find it enjoyable or just plain horrible. The film opens with a relatively straight face: a typical prologue of 'how the curse started'. It becomes slightly suspicious when the bloodshed comes, and you see it shot completely bloodless, and extremely poorly staged. Once you spot the very modern pipes in an 18. century castle you realize that perhaps you're not supposed to take this seriously. OK, so far so good. But, once you see through the real intention, does that make the film any more enjoyable? Well, that's where SODOM THE KILLER lost me. 

I do not deny, some of the jokes are not too bad: for example, an evil master-plan to replace one single bag of real money with counterfeits manages to create a nation-wide inflation and is followed by a starving family massacre of the entire restaurant because they cannot pay for the meal. Also, there are plenty visual jokes which try to make the film's deficiencies into its strengths, like using an obvious dummy instead of a human stand-in for a fight scene. Later on you see a life-sized photograph of an actress glued to the back window of a car in full-speed instead of a stunt double. If that's your idea of humor, you'll laugh yourself senseless. What else do we have here? Toy aero planes instead of real (or at least CGI) ones. Dodgy rear-screen projection in several cases: in one scene, a toy-train in stop-motion is 'derailed' in a fuzzy rear-screen projection while the video-sharp shot actors react exaggeratedly in front of the screen. In another, towards the end, a character abandons the 'car' and runs off the rear-screen projection down the corridor. Numerous such winks and reminders of the medium of cinema and its conventions make this flick a solid inspiration for another of those dry academic essays on post-modern discourse in contemporary film, layers of reality and their appropriation in genre cinema, and the like. Yeah, right. But does THAT make the film any more fun? 

How hard is it to make an intentionally bad film? It's cheap, and does not even pretend that there was anything remotely resembling a budget around. Shot on digital video, it looks cheap and ugly. Its look becomes tiresome pretty soon, just like its humor, or what passes for it. The whole thing leaves a strong impression that perhaps it could be palatable only with a strong dose of alcohol or some stronger brain-addling additive, in which case the silliness might be alchemically turned into entertainment and the time might no longer be a factor. You see, a good spoof should not exceed 85 minutes, whereas this one is at least 20 minutes too long. If you watch this sober, you'll feel almost every one of those minutes taken away from you.
SODOM THE KILLER also presents one of the more blatant cases of false advertising in recent times. The DVD case shows off a dark and gloomy, possibly satanic imagery, and promises that it comes 'from the creator of RINGU'. Uh-uh, I'm creeped out already! I wish they lied about the latter. Sadly, this flick is really written and directed by Hiroshi Takahashi, the genius who wrote the screenplay for the original RINGU - but also the dumb-ass responsible for its underwhelming sequels and even for the despicable American remake-sequel, THE RING 2. Why should a man like him want to be involved with an homage to Ed Wood and Ray Dennis Steckler right now and in this manner is anyone's guess. As it stands now, I think another RINGU is required from him to annul this mediocre (at best) endeavor. 

From the above it's quite obvious that you should not expect a horror film, or anything remotely similar in quality to RINGU. No horrors, no creepiness, not even a trace of sodomy - unless the latter refers to the feelings of those innocent souls who buy or rent this DVD expecting a scary movie and end up being f***ed in the ass by a completely different, dumb creature!

4 коментара:

  1. I really like your reviews. As a suggestion though, would it be possible to hide some stuff with spoiler tags? I'm not complaining but having read this all the way through, I now feel like I've seen the movie because of the details you've put in. You definitely know your horror/sci-fi.

    Are you by any chance looking forward to the remake of The Thing that is slated for October? I saw the trailer and it looked good...seemed like they would honor John Carpenter's creepy masterpiece.

  2. Thank you for your comment: you're probably right and I may do something like that from now on. My policy re: spoilers is like this - if I consider a film unworthy, poor, weak etc. I don't think I'm doing any harm by revealing significant details because how can you spoil a rotten thing? I never include spoilers in films I like or think are at least average.
    As for the new THING: I'm very eager to see it, but don't expect much more than some fine creature effects. I'm pretty sure it'll be off-the-mark and unnecessary and has very poor chances of stepping beyond average (at best). I'm sure Carpenter has no reason to fear that his pitch-perfect masterpiece would be even remotely approached by this. I'm open to surprises, would be very happy to be proven wrong by a truly great horror-SF, but... I doubt it.

  3. You know...I was thinking today at how horror and science-fiction cross over so much. For example, the Thing is a science-fiction story. But it is also a horror story. I know your blog is about movie reviews per se...but you may have an opinion on this. The question I have is when do you think a movie stops being science-fiction and becomes horror or vice-versa? Is there a line that gets crossed from one to the other?

  4. Horror is more than any other genre characterized by its STYLE - by the formal elements through which a story is told. Therefore, there is no such thing as a horror story per se. It depends on the WAY it is told. It depends not on WHAT but on HOW. Thus, if you can see that in a certain film there are predominant devices which serve building of a creepy mood, of suspense, indeterminacy, fear, uncertainty, unease, shock, repulsion etc. then you know that you're in HORROR territory. Therefore, films like ALIEN and THE THING remake are clearly horror, in spite of their SF trappings.