SPOILER ALERT !!
Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here. One of my favorite critics on the web right now is Vern, a guy who tells it like it is at his website, Then Fuck You, Jack. He’s got eclectic tastes to say the least, and when he recommends something that’s off the beaten path, I’ve found it’s normally worth the effort to check out whatever he’s excited about. Let’s see what’s got him in a lather now.
Hey there Harry, Morry, Father Geek and etc.
Remember me, it’s Vern. One of if not THE most established web based ex-con Writers on the films of Cinema in the past 7-8 months.
Well boys today I have something important for you, ol’ Vern is gonna tell you about a movie series everybody in your clique will be talking about a ways down the line. While you guys have been running circles around the New Line Cinema trying to find out what’s going on with these hobbit movies you never even realized that it was all just a distraction from the REAL franchise New Line is trying to develop. Not LORD OF THE RINGS but just THE RING.
You see THE RING (or RINGU) is a very creepy and atmospheric horror picture which is the most popular horror picture EVER over there in the country of Japan. In fact it is a bonafide phenomenon where it has grown from a series of books to a tv mini-series to a movie series to two different tv shows. Understandably the individuals over at New Line saw a possible zeitgeist type deal in the making so they snatched up the American rights. The trouble is according to my connection they are not planning to release the picture but instead to remake it for mainstream (i.e. white) audiences who I guess don’t think it’s scary if it’s only happening to a Japanese gal.
Anyway somebody told me this was one of the scariest movies ever. I decided hell I will be the judge of that thank you very much so I watched it. Now I don’t know about you but when I think of the overseas horror I think of the crazy violent weird shit like the Dario Argentos and the Lucio Fulcis and when it comes to Japan there’s the dude that did the Tetsuo pictures. I think I was expecting something along those lines. But what it turned out to be is a very tense, atmospheric and suspenseful ghost story. In my opinion there is very little violence or monsters but there is a whole assload of creepiness. It’s not like BLAIR WITCH PROJECT where everything supernatural is offscreen and has to be imagined. But for the most part the movie takes place in the real world, and you have to wait long enough, and the tension is finely tuned so that when something weird happens, it hits you like a stab in the dick. Now look here jack I am not some kind of pansy in my opinion but there were parts in this movie where I couldn’t help but go *GULP* like in the cartoons.
But what is it about, Vern? Quit beating around the bush asswipe. Well hell I guess I will tell you now. I know how you ain’t it cool newsies work, you want me to write *SPOILERS* before I give away every last thing that happens in the movie. But shit I know what goes on here if I write about all the good parts you’re gonna read it even if I tell you not to. So let’s leave it at this: There is a weird videotape that is being passed around that is rumored to be cursed. It is a montage of fuzzy, strange images. The story goes that after you watch it, the phone rings. If you answer it, there will be nobody there, just a weird scratching noise. And exactly one week later, you will die.
When her cousin dies from this curse, a reporter gal begins investigating the rumors and of course what does she do, she goes and watches the tape herself. Whoops. And to make matters worse, her son watches it too. So the movie is about the following week and her attempts to figure out how the curse works and where it comes from and how to escape it before something spooky comes after her.
Now this premise alone may not be enough to hook you but what is so fucking great about this baby is the way the story is told. It is the second movie from director Hideo Nakata who is definitely an individual to keep an eye on. Unlike many horror pictures, even some of the best ones, this is a movie with very good and believable acting from start to finish. There is some creepy music that helps set the mood but the scariness is very understated, it is all in the somber type tone and the slow march of time from the day she watches the tape to seven days later. This is not a movie with comic relief or wisecracking killers or satirical swipes at the conventions of the horror type film. The characters talk in hushed tones. Their fear is not usually manifested in screaming, instead its that look in their eye where you know what they are thinking about even when they’re not talking about it. They are not too melodramatic but they’re not cynical either. They are smart enough to try to find scientifical type explanations for what is going on but they’re also not too uptight to accept that sometimes a cursed videotape is just a cursed videotape.
Yes, this is a dead serious thriller about curses and ghosts and those weird things that you can try to explain but the more you learn the more shit you get yourself into. You never really know for sure where the story is going but it keeps delivering creepy surprises without ever feeling big or theatrical or show offy. As they uncover some of the history of the curse it is not like STIR OF ECHOES or something where learning the answer makes the question seem less interesting. This is partly because some things are left ambiguous and you’re still not COMPLETELY sure what in fuck’s name is going on here. It’s like a big ball of thread that keeps unraveling and unraveling, but it’s dark so you never really know for sure when the ball will be completely unrolled.
What the hell kind of analogy is that? Sorry folks bear with me here I’m only a novice.
Well I loved THE RING but I am a greedy motherfucker so what did I do, I went and saw THE RING 2 the next day. And it was not a disappointment. THE RING 2 is almost more impressive because it’s a horror sequel that manages to feel almost as fresh and perfect as the original. You never get that Freddy-picture formulaic feel, like “How is he going to kill them this time?” It really feels like they saved some of the best stuff for the sequels, like 1 and 2 are two really great chapters of one story.
Right away you know it’s not some fucking rehash because the characters know from the end of part 1 how to avoid the curse. And this adds a new level of discomfort to matters since the characters know that they must curse some other poor bastard in order to escape the curse themselves. It’s that guilt factor, you don’t have to die but is the alternative really any better? The whole cast from the original returns but there is new protagonists, so it doesn’t feel too different or too the same as the original. And by the way one of them is the funny droopy looking dude from BOILING POINT now playing more of a leading man. Anyway these individuals dig even deeper into the history of the curse making new revelations that seem like they were just under the surface all along, like we should have figured them out during the first movie if we were just paying closer attention. Or able to see it on a big screen instead of a tiny little square on my computer, god damn vcds. It is really a star trek trilogy type of deal, you don’t say “now that’s an interesting addition to the series,” you say, “Oh, is THAT why that happened in the first one?”
Director Hideo Nakata and writer Hiroshi Takahashi returned for this sequel which according to the Internet Movie Database was made in the same year as the original. They have perfectly recaptured the tone of the first picture while adding a little more sense of tragedy to its characters. Was THE RING 2 based on a book too, and that’s why it’s such a natural progression? Fuck if I know, I’m just a Writer not a professor of Japanese pop culture. But it brings the story in new directions and deepens the mythology and makes you feel like the story is really only beginning, which in my opinion is why New Line smells the “franchise.” I wouldn’t compare it as much to the SCREAM series or the Chucky pictures but more like TWIN PEAKS or some garbage like that that extends a creepy mood and story over a long story arc type deal. In fact in Japan the story must have turned into an epic judging from how many installments they have. First there was the book by Suzuki Kouji, then a mini-series in 1996 which according to the internet movie database is called RING: JIKO KA! HENSHI KA! YOTTSU NO INOCHI O UBAU SHOJO NO ONNEN. Which I guess translates to “THE RING.”
But then they made THE RING, THE RING 2, and THE RING 0: BIRTHDAY which I believe is currently or recently in theaters. In 1998, same year as the first two RING movies, a different director made THE SPIRAL (or RASEN) which is another sequel based on a book by the same author about the same curse. And both THE RING and THE SPIRAL have spawned their own tv shows.
Maybe part of the reason it has such an effect on people is on account of the whole universal unconscious type deal. Like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT for us Americans this one uses urban legends and the technology of videotape as elements of classic horror, twisting the mundane details of our daily lives into the tools of a powerful force of supernatural evil. Or whatever. And like SCREAM it uses the normally benign technological device of the telephone for scares. The phone call is not as important here, although I think the movie is named after it I don’t know why in fuck’s name else you’d call it “THE RING”.
Anyway there are little touches and moments that will remind you of SCREAM and THE SIXTH SENSE and STIR OF ECHOES and CARRIE and THE FRIGHTENERS, but only in a good way. This is one of those stories that takes many old ideas like ghosts and psychics and curses and makes it feel brand new. Like you watch it and you go, “Have you heard of these ‘ghosts,’ they are a new thing that is very scary.” That is why, my friends, the nation will soon be swept up in RINGMANIA. There is no telling if it will last longer than TAMAGOTCHIMANIA or not but alls I’m saying is, people are gonna like these pictures. Hell I bet newsweek will even have a little blurb about it, and entertainment weekly too. That is the kind of HUGE we are talking about here. They are not for everybody, for example if you only like crap, you will not like these pictures. But many others will.
Now listen buddy, I’m not saying if they released RINGU in its proper form it would be the big time mainstream american hit like the X-MEN or what not. But in my opinion, I don’t want to be controversial but personally I believe there are many people who like to be entertained and have fun. I hope it won’t be like PRINCESS MONONOKE where everybody wants to see the movie but the company that owns it is being a big pain in the asshole about letting them. Right now the only reason THE RING has not caught on in the US is because the only way to see it is to either a) fly to a film festival that is playing it like they did in Melbourne and Vancouver b) get a hold of an import VCD before New Line snatches them all up with their cease and desist order or c) learn the Japanese language.
Well hell I’m gonna be frankly honest with you boys I am not a sharp enough tack to go the C route. So I had to get ahold of it otherwise. With subtitles. I think New Line is worried about people like me not being able to read subtitles and that’s why they’re remaking it. But I can vouch for these first two pictures. I’m telling you boys, they will be treasured as minor classics. You mark my words. You heard it here first. Unless you heard it somewhere else smartass.
So being that this is a big important cultural phenomenal type deal and what not, I want to give my two cents to the americans who have the ball in their hands. I would like to address the gentlemen at New Line Cinema specifically. I am not as experienced at this kind of “open letter to the studios” deal as Harry or Moriarty but I will try to show a little tact.
Now listen up you sons of bitches. I hope you have sat down and thought this through, and not just at a meeting with a bunch of marketing freakos who know alot less about what people want than they think they do. If you’re gonna remake this picture DO NOT FUCK IT UP. You BETTER know what you’re doing. These movies don’t work only because they are about this curse where you watch a video and the phone rings and a week later you die. They work because of the whole creepy tone — the way the actors talk, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, the quiet pauses and subtle but eerie cine-mato-graphicry. This is some SOLID fucking direction so you can’t just go hire some music video fuckwad and tell him to run with it.
On the other hand you probaly can’t just hire the same dude, Hideo Nakata, and tell him to catch another bolt of lightning in the same bottle. I mean it just doesn’t fly. Ever seen a movie called NIGHTWATCH starring Ewan McGregor? Me neither and neither has anybody else, ever. If you say you’ve seen it before, you’re a god damned liar. If you say you know somebody who knows somebody who saw it — yeah right, that happened to my friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s uncle too. Jesus you people are gullible.
Look buddy maybe it’s out of line for me to be pointing this business out to you. Hell you don’t tell me how to do my job or pee in my pool or whatever so I’m sorry to bother you. You know what you’re doing. You made the Freddy pictures for crying out loud, to say nothing of the Friday pictures. And one of the Paul Andersons you have over there is pretty hot, I believe it’s Paul T. Anderson if I’m not mistaken. That dude is hot shit in my opinion ask anybody but Kevin Smith they will tell you so.
Yeah, hell, I’m gonna say it. I’m not exactly the type of dude who has a favorite company, but if I was — IF I was — it would probaly be you boys. After all you have done for the dvd format, packing those bitches with so many extras you can’t even watch them all — I mean you guys are a-okay in my book. So I respect you boys and I don’t mean to chap your balls or nothin. I know it’s a pain in the cornhole to have a bunch of fuckjobs on the internet calling you every day to tell you how pointy a hobbits ears are supposed to be or whatever. Hell I just watched the movie TREKKIES I’m sure you guys have to put up with more than most men could handle I mean jesus have you seen that movie.
BUT STILL, I feel in my opinion that it is important to remind you that these RING pictures are very effective as is. If you MUST remake them please do not use that as an excuse not to release the original, uncut, Japanese speaking version on video and the popular DVD format. And especially do not do one of these jobs like they’re doing with the Jet Li pictures like doing a bad dub job of MY FATHER IS A HERO and calling it THE ENFORCER.
I mean what in fuck’s name is wrong with you people making decisions down there in california. I can’t believe I had to do hard time just for armed robbery and complications thereof while these lunatics are walking the streets free as a bird. Well okay admittedly I earned every day I spent in the can but still. MY FATHER IS A HERO is a sweet story about a boy’s relationship with his detached father who everyone thinks is a thief but is actually an undercover cop. The kid is the main character and this version doesn’t even show him on the front cover! And WHAT IN FUCK’S NAME IS AN ENFORCER you crazy sons of bitches, I dare you to explain it to me. MY FATHER IS A HERO is one of the best movies I’ve seen in months, but then I saw this murky looking dub job on tv and even I said “What is this garbage?”
And you fucking KNOW those fuckers are saying, “It didn’t even go over after we fixed the title and language. It seems there isn’t a market for Jet Li films in the states.” Please buddy do not throw away THE RING in this manner.
And while you’re at it go easy on this Hideo Nakata who is obviously a very gifted director. We don’t wanna do one of these Hong Kong import type deals like with John Woo, Chow Yun Fat and the dude that did BRIDE OF CHUCKY. “Yeah, come on over boys. It’s time for your interesting but lesser American films.” Leave the poor man in Japan.
I mean it’s embarrassing. Hong Kong let Chow Yun Fat do HARDBOILED, the best action film of the ’90s, but the first thing we do is dress him up in robes and having him make kissy faces at Jodie Foster. You’re making your country look bad, people.
So go ahead, go buck wild with your remake but then give us the originals. It would be a shame for people to miss out on seeing these great movies in their original form simply because subtitles are not considered commercial. Look pal we know how to appreciate film, we are not retards. And by the way that term is not considered acceptable in 2000 I’m disappointed in you for using it.
True, many americans ARE too dumb to read subtitles however they are studying hard and improving. There are many individuals in the correctional system alone who are learning to read and write well into their 40s and 50s.
Look bud alls I’m saying is make real sure you know how to adapt the original novel into a great american story. You got a bitch of a dilemma here because either you make it alot different from the Nakata movies and fail to capture what is so fucking great about them, or you copy them exactly and make us all scratch our heads wondering why you didn’t just release the originals in the first place. Hell I know what I would do if I was in your shoes, I would move to Vegas and grow a mustache so nobody would recognize me. You gotta realize that if you hold these movies back just so you can make a bad remake that nobody likes then you’re gonna look like a bunch of jackasses. So if you’re not sure you can pull it off then maybe just skip over the remake part, right buddy I think you know what I mean.
Seriously though did you see TREKKIES I mean that gal that has everyone at the print shop call her “Commander”!? jesus these people. She says, “I don’t want any of my soldiers to be embarrassed to wear their uniforms.” Holy fuck I’m still recovering from that movie. Maybe you guys should be remaking that one too.
Anyway thanks everybody, sorry I rambled on for so long, you’d think I was moriarty for cryin out loud.
Originally posted at Aint-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/6545