Ox-Head Village 牛首村 (2022) Director: Takashi Shimizu [New York Asian Film Festival 2022]

Ox-Head Village   

牛首村 Ushikubi Mura

Release Date: February 18th, 2022

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Takashi Shimizu, Daisuke Hosaka (Script), 

Starring: Koki, Rinka Otani, Haruka Imou, Riko, Riku Hagiwara,

Website IMDB

Tuesday Jul 19, 9:00pm

Film at Lincoln Center

Director Takashi Shimizu will attend the screening.

Ox-Head Village is the third film in a series directed by Takashi Shimizu following Howling Village (2019) and Suicide Forest Village (2021). In each film, he has a haunted village taking centre stage and uses the same formula for each instalment: a mystery story framework where everything is typically initiated through an urban legend spreading on social media and a main young protagonist investigating it, all while having close encounters of the spooky kind. Curses are uncovered and a supernatural confrontation ensues.

This set-up is par for the course when it comes to Shimizu, the man behind Reincarnation (2005) but fans of his earlier works should be prepared to lower expectations on frights. This trilogy is Shimizu at his most audience-friendly. Compared to his earlier work, the cast of each film skews young, albeit with a supporting cast that has one or two veteran actors for background support. The characters get involved in a mixture of found footage, folk horror and also comedy, the latter of which is used to temper the supernatural scares. Ox-head Village adheres to the above formulas as it presents a solidly shot, broadly entertaining film that should appeal to a mainstream audience but leave horror fans slightly deflated.

The story begins when a duo of wannabe vloggers head for an overnight stay at a haunted hotel to live-stream a video of a girl named Shion (Koki) wearing an ox head taking a test of courage by entering an elevator reputed to be a portal to a supernatural realm. Things go wrong when spirits intervene and the girl, trapped in the elevator, actually goes missing. The video goes viral online. This is how Tokyo high school boy Ren (Riku Hagiwara) comes to see it and shows it to Kanon (Koki), the girl he is crushing on. The two realise that she bears an uncanny resemblance to Shion. This is just the first in a strange series of incidents that affect Kanon as she gets eerie calls on her smartphone, experiences the sight of a spectre, and has strange dreams that hint at a twin from her childhood. But with all this spooky stuff happening, could it be a doppelganger instead? Kanon becomes determined to find out the truth behind the video and travels to the site of Shion’s disappearance with Ren in tow.

Continue reading “Ox-Head Village 牛首村 (2022) Director: Takashi Shimizu [New York Asian Film Festival 2022]”

Live-Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Teaser Video

Kiki’s Delivery Service                         Kiki's Delivery Service Live Action Poster

Japanese Title: 魔女 の 宅急便

Romaji: Majo no Takkyubin

Release Date: March 01st, 2014

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Eiko Kadono (Original Novel), Satoko Okudera (Screenplay)

Starring: Fuka  Koshiba, Ryohei Hirota, Machiko Ono, Miho Kanazawa, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Rie Miyazawa, Michitaka Tsutsui

I posted a report about a new poster and a teaser video for the live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service on Anime UK News yesterday (sourced from Anime News Network) and while the teaser video doesn’t reveal much it is a good chance for us to get reacquainted as the film’s theatrical release of March 01st, 2014, creeps closer!

UPDATE: 16th December Here’s a full trailer:

Kiki (Koshiba) has turned 13 and must leave home to start her apprenticeship in witchcraft and become independent. She hops on her broom with her cat Jiji and bids farewell to her friends and mother (Miyazawa) and father (Tsutsui) and settles in a coastal city where she must decide what sort of area in the witching profession she should specialise in. The trouble is her only skill is flying her broom…

Continue reading “Live-Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Teaser Video”

Live Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Production Video

Kiki’s Delivery Service                         Kiki's Delivery Service Live Action

Japanese Title: 魔女 の 宅急便

Romaji: Majo no Takkyubin

Release Date: Spring, 2014

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Eiko Kadono (Original Novel), Satoko Okudera (Screenplay)

Starring: Fuka  Koshiba

I know Takashi Shimizu as one of the big names of J-hora guy with titles like the Ju-On Takashi Shimizu, director of Ju-Onseries, Marebito and Reincarnation so when Alua ran a story about Shimizu directing the upcoming live-action adaptation of Eiko Kadono’s novel Kiki’s Delivery Service I was surprised and unsure how to interpret it because his filmography is filled almost exclusively with yurei tormenting cute Japanese women and not heart-warming coming-of-age tales. Perhaps he’s expanding his range into the more family friendly area. Whatever the case a production video has been released showing the cast filming scenes on Shōdo Island and giving interviews.

Kiki (Koshiba) has turned 13 and must leave home to start her apprenticeship in witchcraft and become independent. She hops on her broom with her cat Jiji and bids farewell to home, friends and family and settles in a coastal city where she must decide what sort of area in the witching profession she should specialise in. The trouble is her only skill is flying her broom…

Continue reading “Live Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Production Video”

Takashi Shimizu’s Latest Western Horror Movie: 7500


Release Date: August 2012 (UPDATE: the movie has been delayed to an unspecified date in 2013)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Craig Rosenberg

Starring: Leslie Bibb, Ryan Kwanten, Amy Smart, Leni Ito, Nicky Whelan

The cast is filled with a whole bunch of actors I have never heard of… apart from Amy Smart who stars in Crank and Ryan Kwanten who is familiar as the loveable idiot named Jason in True Blood… The reason I’ve got my eye on this one is because it is being directed by Takashi Shimizu who created the brilliant J-horror series Ju-On and handled its rather good American remake The Grudge. I have to admit that the trailer left me cold until the final five seconds but at least it doesn’t give too much away.

Brad (Kwanten) and Pia (Smart) Martin are heading to Japan with two of their friends when the aircraft they are on suddenly comes down with a severe case of haunting.

Update 1: CBS Films has moved the release date of 7500 to an unspecified date in 2013.

Update 2: Japanese film production company Oz (Ringu, Ju-On) which is part of the production group for the film has filed for bankruptcy. Is this the reason for the delay of 7500?


4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival: Full Line-Up Announced

Terracotta Far East Film Festival Logo

With the 4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival kicking off next week now is the time to take a gander at the full line-up. This festival is London’s premier celebration of film from the Far East and shows a selection of the latest and most interesting titles getting on the big screen as well as bringing over the big names from the cast and crew of the films for Q&As and master-classes and parties. This year there are a selection of great titles from Taiwan, Burma, China, South Korea and Japan. On top of live action films there is even anime.

The Terracotta Far East Film Festival is also an event to socialise and a platform for Asian culture at all levels; for this purpose the organisers have organised a new FOOD PASS, giving access to a number of restaurants in Chinatown. There will be other related events such as photo exhibitions and competitions announced on social network sites.

Joey Leung, festival director says: “New look, same ethos. We worked with our creative agency, What is Bobo, to roll-out the re-brand of the festival with their ‘pixels’ concept. This lends maturity and longevity to our festival positioning, fitting now that we have passed the infancy of our festival and into our fourth edition.”

Here is the full line-up of films!

12th April Opening Film:

My WayUK premiere

Dir: Kang Je-Kyu Running Time: 137 mins. Starring: Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing

My Way Action ShotMy Way is the latest film from Kang Je-Kyu who directed the awesome action picture ‘Shiri’, and tells the story of two marathon runners, one Korean and one Japanese during Japan’s colonisation of Korea who are drafted into the Japanese army, and develop a close friendship through battles in Russia and Germany. It stars familiar actor Jo Odagiri (Bright Future, Adrift in Tokyo) and Jang Dong-gun who seems to have survived The Warrior’s Way.

Continue reading “4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival: Full Line-Up Announced”

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl 吸血少女対少女フランケン (2009)

Monami (Yukie Kawamura) in Vampire girl vs Frankenstein Girl Yoshihiro Nishimura followed Tokyo Gore Police a year later with Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, a movie based on a manga by Shungiku Uchida and far more accessible than Tokyo Gore Police thanks to its shorter running time and its utter adherence to care-free comedy.

The film takes place around Valentine’s Day in what seems like a typical Tokyo High School. On Valentine’s Day girls give boys chocolate in order to declare their love. Gothic-lolita Keiko (Eri Otoguro) has her sights set on handsome Jyugon Mizushima (Takumi Saito) but he is about to get snatched away by the quiet and devious care-free vampire Monami (Yukie Kawamura) who tricks Mizushima into eating her which is filled with her vampiric blood and turns him into a half-vampire. This sparks a war between the two which reveals that the school and its pupils are far from typical.

Franken-chicks in Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl Anybody suspicious that this whole rival monsters and human love-triangle might be the Japanese Twilight fear not. It loves gore and silliness too much.

Continue reading “Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl 吸血少女対少女フランケン (2009)”

Ju-On: The Curse 2 呪怨 2 (2000)

Kyoko Witnesses Something Scary in Ju-On the Curse 2Ju-On the Curse 2 Basic InformationJu-On: The Curse 2, like its predecessor, was an original video production and it carries on from where the first movie left off by following psychic medium Kyoko Suzuki (Yuuko Daike), a police investigation headed by Detective Kamio (Taro Suwa) and the haunted house’s new set of owners, the Kitada’s.

Ju-On: The Curse 2 has a much more linear structure with multiple narratives told sequentially. We start with the teacher from the first movie before following Kyoko and a new set of characters. It uses old footage from the first film used for about a quarter of the seventy-six minute running-time which may anger some but I felt it strengthened proceedings by providing a solid set-up and establishing the source of the haunting.

At first you would think there is nothing new to see. The film retreads the same ground but with slightly different variations and it uses all of the J-hora clichés what with the creepy shape with a livid eye and long hair glimpsed at the corner of your vision but Shimizu creates an enjoyably chilling film by exercising his imagination in urban terror proving once again that he is good at setting up supernatural surroundings.

Creepy Apartment in Ju-On The Curse 2

Continue reading “Ju-On: The Curse 2 呪怨 2 (2000)”

Ju-On: The Curse 呪怨 (2000)

Ju-On Attic HeaderAfter dedicating most of September to the J-hora films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa it seems fitting that I should now look at those of Takashi Shimizu.

Shimizu studied under Kurosawa at the Takashi Shimizu, director of Ju-On Tokyo Film Seminar/Film School of Tokyo. This relationship proved crucial for Shimizu because Kurosawa got him his first professional directing job helming two segments for Kansai TV’s 1998 Haunted School G series. These would form the basis for the Ju-On films which Shimizu is most remembered for.

Ju-On – A curse born of a strong grudge held by someone who died. The place of his death gathers his grudge and works on anyone who comes into contact with those places. Those with this curse shall lose their life and a new curse is born.


Ju-on The Curse Basic InformationThe film is split into six vignettes. Each one follows a separate person and they are not in chronological order. The first follows a teacher named Shunsuke Kobayashi who is concerned about the absence of one of his pupils named Toshio Saeki. While paying a house-call Shunsuke notices Toshio is injured, Toshio’s mother Ayako is nowhere to be found and the household in disarray with objects strewn around and the environment suggesting abuse. After helping Toshio apply first aid Shunsuke makes the decision to wait little realising the house is haunted. Cut to a few years later and new occupants are in the house. The Murakami family consist of the mother Noriko, son Tsyuyoshi and daughter Kanna with a father off-screen. Each of these people and those they interact with become haunted over time as the curse spreads and it becomes clearer that the house is haunted and the curse is spreading.

Ju-on's Outwardly Normal HouseOriginally a direct-to-video (original video) release, Ju-On: The Curse is the start of Shimizu’s highly popular run of yurei in suburbia titles that culminated in his helming the American re-make and even two films celebrating the tenth anniversary of the series which were directed by two new directors. I wrote yurei but it might be more accurate to call them onryou because these spirits are intent on harm. They terrify their victims (and the audience) to death with Shimizu playing on every fear an urbanite might have about their surroundings. The film is low-budget but high on imagination.

Continue reading “Ju-On: The Curse 呪怨 (2000)”

The Grudge Ju-on Girl in Black and Old Lady in White 呪怨 黒い少女 呪怨 白い老女 (2009)

Ju-on The Girl Black  and The Old Lady in White were made in 2009 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-on franchise which has resolutely stuck to the same idea: when a person is killed in an act of anger, the location where they died is cursed and anybody who goes into the area will be infected by the curse. These people will then go on to commit murders or are killed by malevolent spirits themselves.

Ju-on White Ghost Character Continue reading “The Grudge Ju-on Girl in Black and Old Lady in White 呪怨 黒い少女 呪怨 白い老女 (2009)”