The Mystery of Rampo


This is a confusing, overly-arty, sometimes boring movie. It concerns a writer named Rampo and a story he's working on that seems to come true as he writes it. The character is very one-dimensional, showing less emotion than an android.

There are parts of the movie that are so artsy it seems like they were done by someone using LSD. It's a movie that simply just does not work at any level. I'd classify it as one of the worst I've seen.


An opening narration.

The film then changes to black and white.

Then there are scenes of young boys playing soldiers.

Then we get to see someone's library.

Then there's some animation.

The guy in the animation suffers from some kind of illness. He's playing hide-and-seek with some kids and climbs into one of the memory boxes but it locks on him. Meanwhile, the woman has just lost her umbrella due to the wind.

He can't get out.

After some more animation, some of it strange, we find out it's a story that has not been approved for publication.

Rampo. If he tries to publish the story, he'll be arrested along with the publisher.

He gives a speech at a wrap party for a movie based on a book he wrote. No one listens to his speech.

He leaves the party and sees a woman. He thinks to himself about being in some kind of personal forest of darkness.

He walks into a really beautiful room.

The woman is standing in the room. She suddenly vanishes.

His publisher hands him a newspaper with an article about a murder or accident. The events in the article parallel the events in one of his books. Yet it's a book that was banned and never published.

They spy on the woman. Her husband died just as the man died in the animated story earlier in the movie.

He has visions of the woman closing the chest on purpose.

He goes into a bookshop/antique store run by the woman whose husband died. Later he has a strange dream.

He had gotten a music box at the woman's shop. She told him it didn't work any more, but suddenly it starts playing music.

The store is closed, and someone has left nasty messages on the door. The woman leaves the store and he follows her.

He enters some abandoned building and there's the original woman in black that he saw before. Then he spots the woman he was following outside, burning something.

He leans on something and it collapses, and the woman sees him. She asks him to leave her alone.

Later he and his publisher look at the movie from his book.

There are some soldiers marching.

He has sent someone to buy a mirror at the woman's store. The mirror has a letter enclosed with it, saying she (Shizuko) wants to meet with him. They meet and walk and talk for a while. She leaves in a cab (I think), and he gets a cab to follow her.

There's some very strange footage, and then we see his alter-ego.

His alter-ego also gets a letter, and it's to investigate the lady.

His alter-ego parachutes from a plane, lands, and is attacked by a pack of dogs.

He's met by some guy on a horse who sucks blood (then spits it out) from a wound on his arm. The guy has a mansion near a cliff leading to the ocean. He invites the detective to spend a few days there and help celebrate his sixtieth birthday.

The woman is also at the mansion.

As the story goes on, the detective walks in front of a huge mirror and we see Rampo's reflection.

Her job. Then there's a short scene of him writing down the story as it is unfolding in his imagination.

This is the Duke (?) dressed up like his late mother (as far as I can figure out.)

He turns on a movie projector that shows a film of some guy raping a woman.

The Duke starts to do the same thing to Shizuko. (Things really get strange, then.) Then it's back to Rampo writing the story and he gets interrupted by someone delivering a telegram.

Shizuko has asked for his help about something. She asks for his help and says she wants him to hold her. He answers that there is nothing he can do for her.

Then it's back to the fictional story. The duke reads something from Poe while scenes from WWI are shown. The detective, meanwhile, goes snooping.

The duke rides his horse towards the edge of the cliff. He's done this before.

This time, though, he rides off the cliff, and both he and the horse are killed.

Later, she admits she killed the duke.

She wants him to get into the same box her husband died in.

A sudden wind comes up while his writing and blows his papers all over. He goes to the store and finds Shizuko is not there. He finds out the duke had died, and there's a painting she sent to the store that is directly from his story.

Back to the story, and the detective gets into the box.

Rampo runs to the mansion.

The woman apparently drinks poison.

She dies and the detective puts her on top of the box. Before she died she said she had wanted to be held by Rampo.

Rampo enters the room and meets his alter-ego.

Then we have an LSD-type of series of “artistic” shots.

Then Rampo and Shizuko are seen together.

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