Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down to my favorite horror film released since last October and covered in this here AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days. That said, there were more on this list that DID have a theatrical run than in previous years which means the horror genre does seem to be on the upswing. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay or digital download.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2015 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column five years ago!) and worked and reworked the list until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth nothing or missed being on the list by a little bit for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
OVER YOUR DEAD BODY (2014)aka KUIME
Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Kikumi Yamagishi
Starring Ko Shibasaki, Ebizô Ichikawa, Hitomi Katayama, Nakanishi Miho, Hideaki Ito, Maiko, Toshie Negishi, Hiroshi Katsuno, Miho Nakanishi, Ikkô Furuya
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Life imitates art imitates life in Takashi Miike’s newest venture into the macabre, which I found to be stimulating on an artistic and narrative level.
Ko Shibasaki plays Miyuki, an actress in a Kabuki play who gets her husband Kosuke (Ebizô Ichikawa) a role in the same play. In the play, Kosuke’s character begins to lose respect for Miyuki’s character after she has a child and becomes interested in the young daughter of a nobleman, played by a younger actress (Hitomi Katayama). In their lives outside of the play, Miyuki wants to get pregnant, but is having trouble doing so. When she realizes Kosuke is having an affair with the younger actress from the play, Miyuki begins having trouble separating from her role in the play and her role in her real life relationship. Things get somewhat supernatural, as the doll used as the baby in the play begins moving on its own, and wounds Miyuki inflicts upon herself begin to show up on the young actress. The lines between the play and real life begin to merge as Kosuke finds himself trapped in his role as well and unable to escape. Shit gets weird.
While it’s not as straightforward terrifying as AUDITION or as bug nutz as GOZU or THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS, OVER YOUR DEAD BODY is a complex exploration of relationships that sort of over-complicates itself by flipping locales between the real world of the film and the play the characters are acting in. It’s not a difficult film to follow, but it doesn’t explain all that is going on and may lose those who take things more on a literal level. The overall tone of the film reminds me most of David Lynch’s films as everyone spoke slowly, zombie-like, as if in some kind of dream-like trance and limply acting out the dialog. I teetered on being bored with this film during these listless lines, but thankfully Miike keeps things moving by switching locales, which in the end might have been the saving grace of what would have otherwise been a pretty boring cautionary tale against infidelity.
What stood out the most for me was the set design of the Kabuki play within the movie. Set on a rotating stage, the play is supervised by rows of shadowed desks filled with directors and overseers. While not much is said by this shadow cabinet of onlookers, they most definitely are pulling the strings and are people of power here, and the way Miike represents them, cast against the vivid and ornate backdrops of the play, is utterly chilling.
This being a MIike film, there’s also quite a bit of the standard gory and chilling imagery. While some, like the long black-haired pale GRUDGE-like woman Miyuki, has become standard what has come to be called J-horror, there are also some much more visceral and nauseating terrors to behold, which actually proved to be effective in intensifying my nightmares, thankyewverymuch Mr. Miike. With OVER YOUR DEAD BODY, Miike definitely adds to the beautiful yet terrifying imagery he has compiled in films such as ICHI THE KILLER, GOZU, and AUDITION.
While the first part of OVER YOUR DEAD BODY very much reads as melodrama, Miike makes up for it in the last 30 minutes as things get ghostly, creepy, and very, very bloody. The late in the game twist really shook me, and most likely will do the same for you if you are patient and willing to stick with this one. The droning dialog and flipping realities may be too much for some to take, but those with an appreciation for creative narratives and artistic symbology definitely have a lot to chew on here.
OVER YOUR DEAD BODY is not Miike’s best, but it again shows us that he is a versatile and unique director like few others who isn’t afraid to take the viewer into the realms of uncomfortable, the unusual, and the grotesque. Here he seems to be making a statement about relationships, self-fulfilling prophesies, and revenge. Pretty simple concepts, but in Miike’s hands, it becomes the fodder for nightmares not long forgotten. OVER YOUR DEAD BODY is artsy horror, but delivers riveting moments and terrifying and beautiful visuals.
#26 – OVER YOUR DEAD BODY
#27 – SUMMER CAMP
#28 – EMELIE
#29 – BASKIN
#30 – I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
#31 – SOUTHBOUND
2015 #1 – THE CANAL
2014 #1 – PROXY
2013 #1 - MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 15 years & AICN HORROR for 5. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller and on his new website collecting posts for AICN HORROR as well as all of the most recent updates on his various comic book projects on MLMillerWrites.com.
A quick plug for my own work. I have a new comic book coming out this December called THE JUNGLE BOOK HOLIDAY SPECIAL: BAGHEERA’S SECRET. It’s a one shot reteaming my original JUNGLE BOOK artist Carlos Granda and myself (the same team who created PIROUETTE) and it is available to order now via Previews order# OCT162113. I’m getting pages of this book by the day and this book looks absolutely amazing so far. Fans of jungle adventure are going to love it! Please support me by telling your local comic book store to order tons of issues of this comic! Much appreciated, folks.
Look for Johnny Destructo, Stephen Andrade, Christian DiBari, and my own ramblings about random horror films on CultPop/PoptardsGo and Ain’t It Cool on AICN HORROR’s CANNIBAL HORRORCAST Podcast every other Thursday (or so…)!