J-Horror Anthology: Underworld
The DVD consists of six programs, all of which are extremely short, less than 15 minutes in length.:
1. “Chain Mail”:
The episode starts out with a guy talking about e-mail.
A girl gets an e-mail claiming to be from a dead girl that jumped off the roof of the school the year before.
A different kind of mailing technique.
As in most e-mails of the kind, there is an implied threat of punishment if you don't pass the chain-e-mail on.
The email then shows a photo of the dead girl.
However, it appears it was a prank. The girls, however, had bullied Tomoe when she was alive. (See the subject of ijime in my section on Japan and education) The girls are Atsuko, Yumi and Sayaka.
The girls are going swimming at night.
The other two girls go to swim. Sayaka gets a message on her cell phone, using a ring tone she's never heard before. It's the same kind of chain-e-mail.
The three girls had thrown Tomoe into the pool, knowing she couldn't swim. This night, one girl goes swimming but is suddenly caught by something and pulled under the water.
Yumi, the girl in the pool, drowns. Her face matches the photo Sayaka received on her cell phone in the changing room.
Atsuko says she could hear Yumi saying this as she was being attacked in the pool.
Later, Sayaka gets another strange call on her cell phone.
A different message this time, with Atsuko's photo.
Atsuko in a lab room (which, unless I'm totally wrong, is directly from another program.)
Atsuko has been buried under lab equipment.
The phone starts to ring again.
The next message.
She sees Tomoe.
Still at the school.
Sayaka tries to claim innocence in the bullying.
The excuse isn't working.
A teacher spots Sayaka on the roof and that tends the attack. She later tries to explain what happened.
She leaves some flowers for Tomoe and prays for her spirit. As she's walking away the phone rings again.
Then it's back to the narrator. When he finishes the episode ends, so we don't know if the last phone call was one where Tomoe forgives Sayaka, or another of the “this-is-how-you're-going-to-die” type of messages.
It's an interesting episode about something very significant in Japanese schools, and that's the subject of bullying (ijime.) I do wish that the ending would have been a little more definitive, however; either forgive or another attack, but not just a who-knows-what-happened type of thing.
2. “Left Behind the Mountain”:
The narrator again.
The blind date doesn't go well.
He drives off and leaves her alone.
Another blind date, another failure, and this time he kicks the girl out of the car and drives off. He just keeps doing this type of thing over and over.
He takes this girl clear out into the woods, supposedly to look at stars.
The girl is terrified because she's been left in the forest dark alone.
He gets back to the city and is making another call when the girl suddenly appears. She tells him she forgot something there and gets him to drive her back. (Why did he agree, considering the type of jerk he is?)
She's sitting next to him in the car, but she doesn't cast a reflection in his rear-view mirror.
He tries to take off on her again but she's suddenly back at the car with him. She says she can't see well and shows that her left eye is missing.
Suddenly she's trying to pull him down as he starts to fall down a ravine.
He falls to his death, then we go back to the narrator.
Not a bad episode, with the jerk paying a heavy price for his mistreatment of women.
The episode again opens with the narrator.
Various offers are made for panties, used clothing, etc.
Mina, the girl who has been meeting the offers.
The place where the tattoos are done.
The person doing the tattoos is a woman.
Mina gets ready for the tattoo.
She admires the tattoo later. She has a nightmare about the skin moving beneath the tattoo, though.
She has a client that night but he's nuts.
Just as he's about to cut her bra off a face appears where her tattoo is. (With some of the most stupid special effects possible, by the way.)
She turns in to some kind of monster and kills him.
She stabs herself to kill the face in the tattoo.
A fairly scary story, but it's hurt by extremely poor special effects.
4. “Lost in Memory”:
Again, the narrator opens the show.
Three friends go for a vacation at a seaside cottage.
One guy has a nightmare about someone trying to drown him.
They see an attractive girl through the viewfinder of the video camera. Yuta (the one who had the nightmare) tries to hit on the girl and it works.
The camera gets hit with something and is dropped. When the guy uses it again, it acts strange, showing the woman as a young girl in the viewfinder, even though she appears to be a grown woman when looked at otherwise.
She gets him into the water to join her.
She tells him that she has waited for him for years.
She tries to drown him, but apparently changes her mind.
They recognize her as a girl that drowned when she was there and in third grade.
She appears again. She then changes back into what she looked like as a young girl and disappears.
The narrator again closes out the episode. This was an extremely well done one; all the special effects worked and it was a good story with a good ending.
5. “Guardian Angel”:
Again the narrator opens the episode, this time with a white background instead of the red one.
A young Yumiko with her grandmother. Her parents are dead (notice the family altar behind the grandmother).
In the intervening years lots of things have gone wrong for Yumiko. She's planning on killing herself.
She tries to hang herself but the rope breaks.
Next she decides to use a knife. She had taken up with some guy who took all her money and ran after the company he was starting failed. Just as she's about to cut her wrists the lights go out and she hears a strange noise.
She keeps hearing noises and goes through the house. Suddenly she's pushed from behind and the knife drops, imbeding itself into the floor.
A teddy bear she had found on the floor earlier is hanging in the air (unsupported )behind her.
The TV comes on suddenly and the news announcement is that the guy who had taken her money had drowned. The TV turns itself off. The girl thinks the guy's spirit wants her dead and more strange things happen in the room.
Smoke starts to appear.
Suddenly she's in front of the altar to her grandmother. She apologizes to her grandmother for not listening to her earlier when the grandmother warned her about the guy.
She lights a candle in the altar and suddenly it starts to shake. A hidden envelope drops down from the top of the altar (I'm assuming it is something that will help solve Yumiko's current problems.)
It's a very good episode, although the ending probably makes more sense to someone brought up in the Japanese culture since I'm not sure what the two envelopes that were in the one big one signify.
As usual, the narrator opens the episode.
A doctor and a medical student were unable to save someone's life.
The trainee has to take the body to the morgue. Notice the altar with incense at the left.
The person who died is a young boy. The boy's body moves and it terrifies the trainee.
The mother arrives. She insists the boy is still alive.
She's talking to someone that the trainee can't see.
The trainee tries to explain that the boy is dead, but the mother insists he is just sleeping.
He gets a phone call and finds out that the mother is dead.
She starts bleeding.
He curls up and then hears a voice. It's a nurse bringing another body. The mother has disappeared, but he finds it's her corpse on the gurney.
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