Sunday, 14 September 2014

Lesson of Evil (2012) Review

I have to admit, I've only seen a handful of Takashi Miike's films. But what I have seen have been excellent. So when I got the opportunity to get my hands a screener of the Lesson of Evil (based on the novel by Yûsuke Kishi) from Third Window Films I jumped on it.

Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassins and Audition are what I have seen. Audition was simply mesmerising and Lesson of Evil is no different.

Hideaki Itô plays the popular and extremely likeable Hasumi, a high school teacher that seems to have the kids best interests at heart. All he wants to do is crack down on the misbehaviour of exam cheating pupils and school bullies.

He has a real connection with the kids and puts it too good use, but it's not long before he steps over the line off the student / teacher relationship when he starts to manipulate not only child, but his fellow teachers.

After a student goes missing and a teacher has committed suicide, a small group of the children start to suspect something. However, Hasumi is still his charming self, despite visions / dreams of his dark past, and bonds an unhealthy relationship with Miya (Erina Mizuno) who's not as innocent as she looks.

Hideaki Itô is absolutely fantastic in the lead role. Even when he's up to no good he's still so damn likeable and attains an almost anti-hero status even though he's through and through a villain! By the end of the film I found myself kind of routing him. That's not to say I didn't feel for what the school children were going through towards the end.

The last 40 minutes or so is a, well, BLOODBATH would be the correct term for what happens as he stalks a group of kids round an otherwise empty school building. Showing no emotion, expect for a twisted smile, Hasumi goes from room to room with a high powered shotgun and relentlessly dishes out what he believes is justice.

Much like Audition, this film has a slow buildup to the berserker of a finale. But this was no negative thing as I found myself enveloped in rich story telling from Takashi Miike, as both director and screenwriter, as we get to know the characters and their motivations. We also get a bit of back story so we can get into the mind of Hasumi. I've said it already, but I'll say it again, Hideaki Itô is fantastic as the charismatic teacher. His enthralling performance gave way to some great and very natural performances from the wealth of young talent throughout the movie. They gave a real sense of dread, making you empathise with them while being frighteningly pursued by an equally lovable killer!

I also found the mix of Norse mythology an interesting addition to an otherwise traditionally modern Japanese film. Hasumi would often be visited by two ravens which he believes to be Odin's pets, Huginn and Muninn. If that wasn't enough, the film also has the orignal "Mack the Knife" (Die Moritat von Mackie Messer) playing through it, which adds both a humorous and unsettling tone depending on the scene it's played in and sometimes even both. The song also changes as the film goes on, in to it's more modern jazz versions, which could symbolise Hasumi's growth from serial killer to mass murderer.

Takashi Miike's direction is able to put the viewer in a hypnotised state, not just in keeping your eyes glued to the screen, but also in stirring up a thought process in your mind's eye. This works for both simple dialogue scenes and disturbing scenes. With the addition of Lesson of Evil, Takashi Miike is fast becoming one of my favourite directors.


Lesson of Evil gets 5 Stars

My fellow UK/European residents can pre-order a copy of the UNCUT Bluray here and the DVD here, which both come with a 2 hour long Making Of featurette. It is available in the US, but as far as I'm aware it's not an uncut version. If I'm wrong about that then please correct me.

Check out the trailer below...

Friday, 12 September 2014

Sins of the Past Book Cover Reveal & Release Date

Sins of the Past was started on November 9, 2013 by Kelvin V.A. Allison (or as we’ve come to know him as Scoobert Mills). Sins of the Past is a historical horror collection of short stories and contains seventeen spine-tingling stories that will leave you hungry for more. Each story is different from the next and happens within different periods of time.

From World War I, World War II, the Civil War, Rome, Vietnam War, etc. Each author brilliantly paints an image of whatever time period their story takes place in. All stories being accounts of history that have taken place but have been twisted a bit to reflect the horror genre that was needed in each story. From werecats to ghosts saving the day. Hangings to being maimed...

Stories featured in Sins of the Past:
  • VishKanya (The Poison Maiden) by Sunila Vig
  • Sic Semper Susurrus by Matt Lovell
  • Maleficium by Kerry E.B. Black
  • Good Puritan by Laura K. Cowan
  • Blood Tribe by Don Miskel
  • It’s All Good News by N.M. Scuri
  • Melusina by Kristin Roahrig
  • Sanctum by J. Kendall
  • A Ghostly Haunting by Chasity Nicole
  • Traitor Coward Betrayer by Joseph Lofthouse
  • The Beast of Alkali Lake by Jen Ponce
  • In the Stillness and the Silence by T.D. Harvey
  • Birthright by Andy Morris
  • Griddlebone by Debbie Manber Kupfer
  • Nature’s Revolution by Michael “Mad Mike” Nagy
  • We Pass From View by Misha Burnett
  • The Innocent by Cleve Sylcox

Now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The cover reveal...

The anthology is set to release on October 31, 2014. Details on where you can order a copy from will be posted closer to the day. In the meantime, "like" the Sins of the Past Facebook page and check out the individual banner art for each story...

VishKanya (The Poison Maiden) by Sunila Vig
“Not all seduction is sweet.”

Sic Semper Susurrus by Matt Lovell
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, which of you is trying to kill me?”

 Maleficium by Kerry E.B. Black
“A Tudor household runs afoul of sorcerous malintentions.”

Good Puritan by Laura K. Cowan
“A good preacher man is hard to find.”

Blood Tribe by Don Miskel
“Come out to the coast…let’s get together…have a few laughs…”

It’s All Good News by N.M. Scuri
“In the depths of the Great Depression, all he wanted was to go home.”

 Melusina by Kristin Roahrig
” In the time of the French Revolution, a Swiss guard finds that ancient family debts demand payment , no matter the means.”

 Sanctum by J. Kendall
” All riches come at a price!”

A Ghostly Haunting by Chasity Nicole
“Not all ghosts are bad ones.”

 Traitor Coward Betrayer by Joseph Lofthouse
“The terrors of Gettysburg were only the beginning.”

 The Beast of Alkali Lake by Jen Ponce
” Under the surface lies a monster.”

 In the Stillness and the Silence by T.D. Harvey
“In war, there is more to fear than the enemy.”

Birthright by Andy Morris
“Russia’s last heir just inherited a lot more than he bargained for.”

 Griddlebone by Debbie Manber Kupfer
“Never underestimate a cat.”

Nature’s Revolution by Michael “Mad Mike” Nagy
“Man’s War, Nature’s Retribution.”

 We Pass from View by Misha Burnett
“Sometimes a movie can change your life.”

 The Innocent by Cleve Sylcox
“Home is never what it seems.”