East Winds Film Festival 2013 Information

The East Winds Film Festival is just over a month away and information is being released about its line-up. The website gives a glimpse of what films are on offer and so far from a Japanese film fan’s perspective there is a notable J-horror title in the form of Koji Shiraishi’s film CULT:

CULT                                        CULT Film Poster

Japanese Title: カルト

Romaji: Karuto

Running Time: 84 mins.

Director: Koji Shiraishi

Writer: Koji Shiraishi (Screenplay)

Starring: Mayuko Iwasa, Yu Abiru, Mari Iriki, Natsumi Okamoto, Mari Hayashida, Hajime Inoue, Ryosuke Miura,

Koji Shiraishi loves scaring idols in his horror films. Noroi the Curse featured idols, White Eyes featured idols and the Ada Senritsu hen/Ada Zetsubou hen films released last week featured idols. Seeing pretty girls get chased by ghosts can be pretty fun. In this film  Mayuko Iwasa and her idol girlfriends are taking part in a paranormal television show covering the exorcism of the mother and daughter of the Kaneda family. A mysterious shaman/demon hunter seems to be the only hope to save everyone involved! This is the UK premiere and it takes place on Halloween!

The film was released back in July and was one of a trio of J-horror titles released over three weeks. The film was directed by Koji Shiraishi (Noroi: The Curse) and starred a set of idol girls getting tormented by spooks. This is one of the titles on offer and as the days go on more will be revealed. To go back to Japanese films, if the two other films released in this trilogy and another J-horror released recently, The Seeds of Anxiety, get a screening I reckon this will be a pretty good line-up of recent J-horror.

 Here’s a press release with more details:

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Carved – The Slit-Mouthed Woman 口裂け女 (2007)

Genki Carved The Slit Mouthed Woman

Carved – The Slit-Mouthed WomanKuchisake Onna Poster

Japanese Title口裂け女

Romaji: Kuchi Sake Onna 

Release Date: 17th March 2007 (Japan)

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Koji Shiraishi

Writer: Koji Shiraishi,  

Starring: Eriko Sato, Miki Mizuno, Yurei Yanagi, Haruhiko Kato, Chiharu Kawai, Rie Kuwana, Kazuyuki Matsuzawa, Kaori Sakagami, Ryoko Takizawa, Manami Hisamoto, Mei Tanaka

Koji Shiraishi (Occult, White Eyes) used the documentary format in Noroi: The Curse to make a conventional J-horror different. Here he updates a classic Japanese urban legend by interweaving modern themes and characters into the familiar story.

Thirty years ago, the streets of a suburban town named Midoriyama were terrorised by a beautiful woman. She was tall and had long hair. Her mouth was covered with a mask. She would roam the streets and ask people, “Am I pretty?” She would then reveal her mouth which was slit up to her ears. Her jealous husband had disfigured her face. She would then take people to her hideout and slit their mouths in a similar fashion. Everybody knows this urban legend. When a young boy disappears his friends claim that the slit-mouthed woman is back in town. Kyoko Yamashita (Sato) is a new teacher starting at the school the boy attended. She, like the authorities, is concerned and takes measures to protect the children. When one child she escorts home, Mika (Kuwana), disappears she sees the slit-mouthed woman first-hand. A fellow teacher named Noburo Matsuzaki (Kato) seems to know something about what is going on and he is determined to stop it with Kyoko helping.

Carved Matsuzaki (Kato) and Kyoko (Eriko Sato)

There are a few different versions of this story. The oldest version dates back to the Heian period (794 – 1185) which describes how a samurai slit the mouth of an unfaithful wife/concubine and asked her “Who will think you’re beautiful now?” The scarred woman would then wander streets her mouth covered with her kimono and ask people, “Do you think I am pretty?”

If a person answered she would lower her sleeve and reveal her ghastly visage and ask, “Do you think I am pretty now?”

Whatever the answer she would then mete out a fate similar to the one she suffered. The legend has persisted in Japan and turned into a popular urban folk-tale, altering and updating every time it is retold and adding new touches like her facial disfigurement is the result of plastic surgery gone wrong. She also wears surgical masks which are used to stop the spreading of common colds serving a double purpose as they can also hide the grotesque disfigurement. There are usually twists added such as ways to outwit the ghoul which involves giving her a lollipop.

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Noroi: The Curse ノロイ (2005)

Noroi - The Curse Tape HeaderThis found footage film opens with the narrator stating: “This video documentary is deemed too disturbing for public viewing”

Which had me responding, “Really? Awesome”

Noroi - The Curse - Masafumi Kobayashi and Two WitnessesMasafumi Kobayashi is a TV journalist who has been chronicling supernatural phenomenom since 1995. At first he is investigating a mysterious case of disembodied voices surrounding a woman named Junko Ishii (Maria Takagi) and her son but he soon gets involved in a number of cases that are seemingly unrelated. One is of a young girl named Kana Yano (Rio Kanno) who has amazing psychic powers and another concerns the celebrity Marika Matsumoto who has encountered a ghost. At first they seem to be separate but it soon becomes clear that they are linked by a 200 year old curse.

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